Fewer bodies at crematoriums as Covid death count drops in Delhi
In north Delhi’s Nigambodh Ghat, also one of the city’s largest crematoriums, there were only four cremations of people who died of Covid-19 on Wednesday.Updated: Aug 16, 2020, 07:05 IST
In the national Capital, officials managing crematoriums and cemeteries say that the number of deaths due to Covid-19 is decreasing significantly.
Only one body (of a person who died of Covid-19) was brought to the New Cemetery for Mohammedans (Qabristan Ahle Islam) in Central Delhi’s ITO, on Friday. On Thursday, there was none.
“It is such a relief,” officials managing the burial ground said, adding that until last month the cemetery received around 10-15 bodies of people who died of Covid-19 daily.
In north Delhi’s Nigambodh Ghat, also one of the city’s largest crematoriums, there were only four cremations of people who died of Covid-19 on Wednesday. Until two months ago, the crematorium had trouble handling the increasing number of bodies, which forced them to send them back to mortuaries.
According to Saturday’s government health bulletin data, the total number of deaths due to Covid-19 was 10 deaths in the past 24 hours. This was the second-lowest number of deaths since May 20, also when 10 deaths were recorded. The lowest since then was reported last week on August 11—eight. On August 5, there were 11 deaths.
On June 16, official records added 437 deaths in a single day—the highest on record—but the government clarified that this number included reconciled deaths from the past few weeks that had earlier not been listed in the state’s death tally.
At the beginning of June, an average of around 50 deaths was being reported every day, but by the first week of August, this number dropped to around 15 deaths a day, according to government data.
“I remember, we even buried around 15 bodies daily in May or June,” Mohammed Shamim, the supervisor of the cemetery at ITO, said.
“The number of deaths has decreased now. On Thursday, not a single body (whose cause of death was Covid-19) came to the ground. Three weeks ago, we sent back the earthmover that we were using to dig graves for people who died of Covid-19. We had to dig so many graves, it would have been very time consuming had we done it manually. The company that sent us the machine charged us ₹6,000 a day,” he added.
On May 28, HT had reported how bodies were piling up at the mortuaries because the crematoriums and cemeteries could not bear the daily load of deaths due to Covid-19.
Suman Gupta, the general secretary of the committee that manages the Nigambodh crematorium, too said that the number of bodies seemed to be declining. “One reason could also be that other crematoriums such as the ones in Jhandewalan or Karkardooma are now accepting bodies of people who died of Covid-19. But the number of deaths has definitely come down after Union Home Minister Amit Shah took charge of the Covid-19 situation in Delhi,” Gupta said.
In an interview to HT last month, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal credited the reduction in cases to the five-point Delhi model his government followed—increased testing, home isolation of mild cases, availability of hospital beds, transparency of data, and plasma therapy.
On July 31, HT reported how the health ministry intended to replicate the Delhi model in other states where there was a large outbreak of Covid-19.
Until Saturday evening, Delhi reported 151,928 Covid-19 cases, of which 136,251 have recovered. There are 11,489 active cases and 4,188 persons have died of the disease so far, according to the government’s health bulletin.
Puneet Mishra, a community medicine professor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, said that one of the major reasons for the reduction in deaths is because people now understand the disease better.
“There are fewer cases now. The treatment protocol has improved too. Using Dexamethasone in severe cases helped. We had very little knowledge about the disease four months ago. If we compare the treatment protocol in early May or June with the one now, we can say that it is improving day by day. We did not know about the effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. We must remember that we are winning, but the war is not over.”