Funeral homes ready for rise in Covid-19 toll: MCDs
New Delhi Taking note of the steep rise in Covid-19 cases, and apprehending a similar rise in related fatalities, Delhi’s three civic bodies on Wednesday said they are prepared to deal with any potential increase in deaths.
Authorities of the north, east and south civic bodies said they have resources to handle 450-500 Covid-19 fatalities (confirmed and suspected) every day across their 21 facilities — crematoriums and burial grounds.
According to the daily health bulletin, the city recorded 5,506 cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday and 20 deaths. The city recorded the highest single-day deaths on November 18 last year during the third wave of the infection in the city, when 131 people succumbed to the disease. As new infections and deaths peaked during the third wave, crematoriums struggled to cope with the increased fatalities. There were reports of people waiting outside crematoriums and cemeteries for five to six hours to conduct last rites. The Delhi high court, too, had asked the government to indicate steps it had taken to manage crematoriums and graveyards in the national capital.
Covid-19 deaths have increased sharply in the national capital over the past few weeks, since the outbreak of the fourth wave.
In the first week of March, the Capital recorded less than two daily deaths of the infection. This number jumped to 15 in the first week of April, giving rise to fears that the city’s crematoriums may struggle to meet demands, if the spike continues.
“Seeing the current steep rise in Covid-19 cases, we cannot help but be apprehensive about the possibility of the death toll rising too. So, we have made standby arrangements. At Nigambodh Ghat, we have opened three more CNG furnaces. We have also added 16 cremation platforms,” Jai Prakash, mayor, North corporation, said.
He said their crematoriums and graveyards can perform nearly 200 last rites a day.
Data from the three civic bodies showed that there are 21 crematoriums and graveyards where Covid-19 bodies (confirmed and suspected) are being cremated or buried.
Of these, eight facilities are under the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, eight under the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and five under the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC).
“We have eight facilities, including crematoriums and burial grounds, where Covid-19 bodies are disposed of. These facilities can handle 215 bodies per day. We have also made additional arrangements to perform last rites of Covid-19 victims,” Narendra Chawla, leader of the house, SDMC, said.
He said that a new CNG crematorium, with two furnaces, was inaugurated in Green Park in February, and the facility can be converted into a dedicated Covid-19 facility if required.
Sandeep Kapoor, former chairman standing committee, EDMC, said the civic body has dedicated five crematoriums and graveyards for Covid-19 victims and added that there is no rush at any of the facilities so far.
“We will increase the number of wood pyres if need be. We have also ample space available in graveyards and, so far, there is no cause to worry,” Kapoor said.
Experts, however, say the city is better prepared this time around to keep the Covid fatalities low.
“We still cannot be sure whether the disease is less severe this time around. However, the case fatality ratio is definitely lower now as compared to the first wave of cases (last March-April). This is because the hospitals were not well equipped back then; there was a shortage of PPE kits, beds, non-invasive and invasive ventilators.
“The treatment protocol had also not been finalised — now we know what to do at what stage of the disease. Also, people have become more aware. They are coming to the hospitals on time,” said Dr GC Khilnani, former head of the department of pulmonology, AIIMS.