Awareness on disposal of Covid victims’ bodies needed: NGO

Our Correspondent
Hoshiarpur, April 3

A society for social awareness, Savera, on Friday expressed anguish over Verka village residents for not allowing cremation of Padma Shri recipient and former hazoori ragi of the Golden Temple, Nirmal Singh Khalsa, at the village cremation ground.

What guidelines say

  • As per guidelines, both cremation and burial are allowed as per the faith of the deceased. However, there are certain measures that have to be followed. Minimum touch with the body has to be ensured.

  • The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, GoI, had listed five basic minimum standard precautions to be followed by health workers while handling bodies, including hand hygiene; use of personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks; safe handling of sharps; disinfecting bag housing the body; and disinfecting linen covering it.

Convenor of Savera Ajay Bagga said lack of awareness about the spread of Covid probably led to an ugly scene. On the demand of villagers, the cremation was done at an alternative site away from residential area at village common land. He said instead of persuading the villagers with a scientific logic, the administration too agreed to shift the site. “Such acts would add to discrimination and social stigma on coronavirus patients,” he said.

Dr Bagga said the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt of India, had already issued guidelines regarding disposal of bodies of coronavirus infected patients. As per the guidelines, both cremation and burial are allowed as per the faith of the deceased. However, there are certain measures that have to be followed. Also, ‘minimum touch’ with the body has to be ensured.

He said the ministry had listed five basic minimum standard precautions to be followed by health workers while handling bodies, including hand hygiene; use of personal protective equipment including gloves, masks etc; safe handling of sharps; disinfecting bag housing the body; and disinfecting linen covering it. All the staff identified for handling bodies at mortuaries, in ambulances, and at cremation/burial grounds has to be trained in infection prevention control practices. Vehicle or mortuary van used for carrying the dead body of Covid positive patient needs to be disinfected with 1% sodium hypochlorite.

The NGO demanded that awareness needs to be created by government, social and religious organisations that coronavirus does not spread through ashes of the infected persons bodies and they should be allowed to be cremated or burried as per the faith of the deceased.

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