Mourning families are also tasked with arranging 1 litre sanitiser and four PPE kits. (Amal KS/HT)
Mourning families are also tasked with arranging 1 litre sanitiser and four PPE kits. (Amal KS/HT)

In Mohali, long and painful wait for Covid victims’ families to say final goodbye

Forced to wait up to a day for ambulances sent by civil surgeon’s office to transport the body to the crematorium
By Hillary Victor, Mohali
PUBLISHED ON APR 29, 2021 12:22 AM IST

Running helter-skelter for oxygen and beds, and still losing their loves ones to Covid-19 is not where the trauma ends for families in Mohali.

Thereon looms large the uncertainty over when they can bid the final farewell, for the body will not be moved to the cremation/burial ground until the civil surgeon’s office is informed and an ambulance is sent.

The wait can last over 24 hours, during which the mourning family is given a new task – arranging 1 litre sanitiser and four PPE kits for the crematorium staff and the one family member, who will be allowed to go in to light the pyre.

“We went through hell and still couldn’t save my 70-year-old father. Despite appeals, we were turned away by three private hospitals in Zirakpur and my father finally breathed his last at a hospital in Sector 69 on Monday,” said Ankur Singh of Zirakpur.

“But it didn’t end there. They refused to hand over my father’s body, stating that only an ambulance from the civil surgeon’s office will transport the remains to the crematorium. When we did finally reach there, preparing ourselves for the last rites, we were told to bring four PPE kits and 1 litre sanitiser,” he said.

A Phase 10 resident, who lost her 65-year-old mother at a Sohana hospital on Tuesday, underwent the same ordeal. “The hospital insisted that the body will be handed over only to the Covid nodal officer, who arrived the next day. It’s tragic that a grieving family doesn’t even get to say the final goodbye peacefully,” she complained.

Civil surgeon Dr Adarshpal Kaur said as per Covid safety protocols, the bodies cannot be given to the family members and were transported only by government ambulances to limit the risk of infection.

Separate enclosure at crematorium

Meanwhile, with the number of cremations going up in April, the city’s only crematorium in Sector 73 has created a separate enclosure for the last rites of Covid victims.

“Till last month, we were cremating only three to four bodies of Covid victims in the electric crematorium. But, now nearly 10 bodies arrive every day. So, we have set up a dedicated area for these cremations, as the electric crematorium has a daily capacity of only four cremations,” said Narinder Pandey, the head priest at the crematorium.

The civil surgeon said more bodies were also coming in, as even suspected cases were cremated in line with Covid protocols. “These include critical patients, who succumb at the hospitals before they are tested, and people who are declared brought dead without confirmation of presence of Covid,” she said.

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