Workers from an NGO spray disinfectant during the sanitization of a night shelter in Delhi on day 9 of the 21-day nationwide lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
Workers from an NGO spray disinfectant during the sanitization of a night shelter in Delhi on day 9 of the 21-day nationwide lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

‘Cremating, burying bodies of Covid-19 patients is safe’: Bengal govt

Bengal government’s advisory noted that the main driver of transmission of covid-19 is through droplets. There is no risk of Covid-19 infection from a dead body to health workers, family members or in the locality who follow standard precautions while handling body
By Shishir Gupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 03, 2020 03:24 PM IST

There is no chance of transmission of coronavirus in crematorium or burial area, Mamata Banerjee’s Bengal government has said in an advisory to state officials and the public.

The advisory came after instances of protests and chaos by residents living in the vicinity of cremation grounds. In one case, residents had put up road blockade to stop government officials from cremating an elderly man, Bengal’s first casualty. There had been similar protests elsewhere too.

Three people have been confirmed to have died in Bengal due to coronavirus, according to data released by the Union health ministry.

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The Bengal health department advisory quoted from the World Health Organisation guidance and the Union health ministry guidelines to underline that there was no evidence of people becoming infected from exposure to bodies of persons who die from Covid-19.

The advisory noted that the main driver of transmission of Covid-19 is through droplets. There is no risk of Covid-19 infection from a dead body to health workers, family members or in the locality who follow standard precautions while handling body

“Temperature generated during burning of bodies is 800-1,000 degree celsius, under which, in no condition, can the virus remain viable,” it said.

It also emphasised that there was no evidence either that the smoke generated from the pyre can cause Covid-19.

“Hence, it is clarified that if the protocol prescribed for transportation and disposal of dead bodies of Covid-19 positive persons is followed, there is no risk of any coronavirus infection spreading from the dead body as result of cremation,” the notice said.

But Bengal isn’t the only state that has had protests, fueled by the health scare around coronavirus and rumours. There were similar protests in Delhi too when the first death was reported several days earlier. The Union health ministry had soon after issued guidelines on disposal of bodies and placed a restriction on the number of people who can be part of the last journey of the patient.

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