Hyderabad: A COVID-19 patient from Nirmal district of Telangana, who succumbed  to the infection in the first week of April 2020, had only  three from his family in attendance to witness the funeral. The rest were barred, owing to the medical protocol.

The funeral of the affected  is turning out to be the most painful part of the pandemic, as not no more than five of the family get to witness the last rites. Md Musharraf Ali Faruqui, collector of Nirmal district- Telangana , told NewsMeter, ‘Two COVID-19 patient from Nirmal succumbed to the infection, they were buried in the wee hours and not more than three from the family was allowed. A separate land had to be demarcated, the grave   and surrounding  land  had to be disinfected. We ensured there is no video recording or pictures taken during the burial,”.

According to the guidelines released by the Telangana government , Family members of not more than  five  persons are allowed to see the body in the hospital through the protected glass window. They are not allowed to enter the mortuary or come into contact with the deceased person. The body also needs to be covered with a plastic sheet, keeping the face visible, and placed in a leak proof zip bag, with a transparent section to view the face. The body needs to be handled  by four designated handlers only.

In case of patients belonging to the Hindu community, pradakshinas over the pyre is allowed only by keeping 4 metres of social distancing, and lighting of the pyre needs to be done with a three metre long stick. No more than five members are allowed to take part in the ritual’ said the guidelines. In case of patients belonging to the Christian or muslim  community, the grave needs to be at least 10 feet deep, to be sprayed with Sodium Hypochlorite (1 %).  Only five members are allowed to witness the last rites. The handlers of the body also needs to take care of subsequent sanitisation with liquid soap, sanitiser and Sodium Hypochlorite (1%)

‘The district Collectors or Municipal Commissioners to ensure preparedness or the burial or cremation by demarcating the land for each grave.  The five family members permitted must have sanitizers and masks.  The designated standardized body bag and sheet and lower into grave Sodium Hypochlorite (1%) on top Post cremation the ashes urn collected safely using gloves and sanitizers. All surfaces inside graveyard to be power sprayed daily with Sodium Hypochlorite (1%) solution’, said the guidelines.

The  Committee dealing with the COVID-19   preparedness in the state have also asked district collectors and commissioners to identify   cremation grounds.

How should government or private hospitals dealing with COVID cases prepare for the disposal.

  1. Keeping in view the religious practices, to plug the nasal and oral orifices, the body needs to be  wrapped with plastic sheet, then with a White Cotton Cloth. Those involved should ensure that the body-handler wipes the body over the cloth properly, with proper PPE and then keeping inside the Body bag with zip, leak proof and with specified thickness. This body bag thereafter as per guidelines would be earmarked for transport directly to the burial ground.
  2. All the material on usage shall be bagged separately in “COVID disposed Material for Incineration” and sent in safe method of transport to Approved BMC facility for incineration as per standards.
  3. The hospital should appoint a COVID Liaison Officer from the hospital shall be the only single point informing and counselling the deceased COVID suspect or positive person.
  4. Hospitals must separate a single room for COVID mortuary and deploy 6 (1 driver +1 helper + 4 COVID dead disposal attendants equipped with PPE) per COVID body.

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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