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Thursday, June 24, 2021

‘High number of deaths’: Open cremation grounds set up in 3 Gujarat villages

The District Development Officer (DDO) said that the administration has set up temporary crematoriums in government lands at Kotali, Ankhol, and Piparya villages.

Written by Aditi Raja | Vadodara |
Updated: May 7, 2021 8:16:09 am
As per the Vadodara administration, the official Covid-19 toll since March 2020 is at 435, with 11 deaths on Thursday.

The Vadodara district administration has set up temporary open cremation grounds in three villages to conduct cremations of Covid-19 positive and suspected deaths smoother and faster, given the high number of deaths in and around Vadodara.

The District Development Officer (DDO) said that the administration has set up temporary crematoriums in government lands at Kotali, Ankhol, and Piparya village to facilitate quicker cremation of patients succumbing during treatment at the extended Covid-19 hospitals.

At one such open cremation ground in Pipariya, five wooden pyres were functional early on Thursday when The Indian Express visited the spot. Heavily guarded by police, entry has been restricted to ambulances bringing in the bodies and accompanying relatives. Police officers on duty said they were “under orders” to prevent access to any other persons. At Kotali and Ankhol, the cremation grounds have about three pyres each.

DDO Kiran Zaveri told this newspaper, “There are 1000-bed Covid-19 government facilities each at Dhiraj hospital and Parul hospital, Pioneer Institute and Dhavalba Ayurvedic institute. Deaths also happen at other hospitals as far as Dabhoi taluka… The need was felt to have multiple cremation grounds to ease the load and ensure a faster process. The Pipariya cremation ground is helping manage deaths from Parul and Dhiraj hospitals… We have taken into consideration the sentiments of the people and shifted the Covid-19 cremations to another open ground.”

Zaveri said that the facilities have come up over the past 10 days and are witnessing cremations from Waghodia, Savli, Karjan and Vadodara rural. An official of the Vadodara health department said that though the number of deaths has declined slightly over a fortnight, the figure is close to 200 per day, including that of suspected Covid cases.

The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC), which manages the crematoriums in the city limits, had also set up additional wooden pyres in lesser used crematoriums on the outskirts — Kalali and Jambuva, in mid-April.

As per the Vadodara administration, the official Covid-19 toll since March 2020 is at 435, with 11 deaths on Thursday. These do not include the deaths of Covid-19 positive patients, who have been found to have died due to pre-existing comorbidity as well as deaths of suspected patients and those from other parts of the state or country seeking treatment in Vadodara.

According to volunteers managing and coordinating cremations in Vadodara, the highest deaths were witnessed in mid-April with a single-day high of 240 deaths. “The figure has now come down to an average of 175 deaths in a day. In non-pandemic time, the daily death toll in Vadodara is about 40 to 75…,” a volunteer said.

From the official toll of 241 deaths as on March 1 (since the outbreak of the pandemic last year) to 251 on April 1, VMC had recorded only 10 official Covid-19 deaths in one month. Between April 1 and 21, over a period of three weeks, Vadodara declared 51 deaths but in one week from April 21 to 27, the civic body declared 48 more deaths, taking the total toll to 350. However, 85 additional Covid deaths were declared in eight days between April 28 and May 6, taking the total to 435.

The maximum number of deaths is in the age group of 51 to 70 years at 284, while 69 deaths were recorded in the age group of 41 to 50 and 62 mortalities in 71 to 80 age group.

Officer on Special Duty Vinod Rao said that between March and April this year, Vadodara has seen a significant increase in mortality in age group of 45 to 60 years from 25% to 32%. Rao said, “In the age group of 30 to 45 years, though the percentage of mortality remained at 6%, this still made up for a significantly higher number of deaths in April given the much larger overall total toll. However, there has been a significant decrease in mortality in the age group of above 75 years from 25% to 15%, which is noteworthy. These trends are totally in variance with the mortality trends during First Wave. We have to broaden the definition of High-Risk Patients during this Second Wave. Earlier 60 Plus age group fell in High Risk. Below 60 it was limited to Comorbid Persons. Now, we have to widen the scope to redefine high risk patients.”

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