Number of Covid-19 funerals in Madhya Pradesh raise underreporting fears

  • On Tuesday, 47 bodies were cremated according to Covid-19 protocols at Bhadbhada Vishram Ghat, 28 bodies at Subhash Nagar, and nine bodies were buried at Jehangirabad graveyard.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the bodies were tested for Covid-19, in keeping with an Indian Council of Medical Research guideline issued last year during the first wave of the pandemic.. (ANI Photo)
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the bodies were tested for Covid-19, in keeping with an Indian Council of Medical Research guideline issued last year during the first wave of the pandemic.. (ANI Photo)
Updated on Apr 15, 2021 03:57 AM IST
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By, Bhopal

On Tuesday, 84 bodies were cremated or buried in Bhopal with Covid-19 protocols, according to the officials of two crematoriums and a graveyard of Bhopal, even though the health department reported only five Covid-19 deaths in the city, and 40 across Madhya Pradesh.

State health minister Prabhuram Chaudhary denied allegations that the state may be underreporting deaths. “We came to know about the cremation of bodies in large numbers and we are looking into the matter. But there is no under reporting of cases and deaths.”

Madhya Pradesh reported 6,477 cases and 32 deaths a day on average over the week ended Wednesday. The state has thus far recorded 363,352 cases of Covid-19 and seen 4,312 deaths.

On Tuesday, 47 bodies were cremated according to Covid-19 protocols at Bhadbhada Vishram Ghat, 28 bodies at Subhash Nagar, and nine bodies were buried at Jehangirabad graveyard.

Pradeep Kannojiya, 32, a staffer at the Subhash Nagar crematorium, said: “I am cremating Covid-19 infected bodies for the past a year but I have never seen such a pile up of bodies as I have seen in the past one week. People have to wait for hours for cremation. The relatives are waiting with ambulance outside the ground for cremation. This is endemic now.”

“The situation is getting so bad that crematoriums are facing a shortage of timber as about 400-450 quintal wood is being consumed daily...,” said Mamtesh Sharma, an employee of Bhadbhada Vishram Ghat.

Jehangirabad graveyard incharge Rehan Golden said, “We are digging the burial pit in advance as nine bodies reached the graveyard on Tuesday, which is highest number of bodies buried in a day in recent years.”

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the bodies were tested for Covid-19, in keeping with an Indian Council of Medical Research guideline issued last year during the first wave of the pandemic.

Madhya Pradesh is among the 12 states and Union territories in the country where the second wave of the outbreak has surpassed the peak witnessed during the first wave. The current seven-day average of daily cases in the state (6,477, and rising fast) is 2.6 times that of the peak seen in the first wave (2,523 new cases every day for the week ending September 22, 2020). In other words, the state is reporting 2.6 times as many cases every day as it did during the worst of the first wave.

Experts said deaths from Covid have increased as people are reacting late to the symptoms and by the time they reach hospitals it is too late. They said that an overburdened health infrastructure has created panic.

Rachna Dhingra, the convener of an organisation working for the victims of the Bhopal Gas tragedy, Bhopal Group of Information and Action, said: “On Monday and Tuesday, a (Bhopal) gas tragedy victim had to wait 48 hours to get an ICU bed and his condition deteriorated due to delay in getting treatment...but patients are not getting ICU beds and oxygen supply equipped beds. There are reports of deaths even before RT-PCR report as labs are taking 3-5 days to provide test results.”

“The state government has failed completely in controlling the situation...Shortage of Remdevisir injections and oxygen supply is creating lot of panic. People are dying without treatment at home and their deaths are not recorded in government data,” claimed Amulya Nidhi, convener Jan Swasthya Organisation, a pan-India network of civil society health workers. HT could not immediately confirm his claim.

Health minister Chaudhary said he has sought a report on deaths in Bhopal from the district administration and that his department would issue a clarification in a few days.

Bhopal district collector Avinash Lavaniya and chief medical health officer Prabhakar Tiwari couldn’t be contacted for comment despite repeated attempts.

Chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, held a review meeting on Wednesday and said, “We are installing eight air concentrators and work in Ujjain, Shivpuri, Khandwa and Seoni have completed...We have received 31,000 Remedevisir injections and will receive 12,000 on Thursday.” Air concentrators are needed for concentration of oxygen from gas by removing nitrogen.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    She is a senior reporter based at Bhopal. She covers higher education, social issues, youth affairs, woman and child development related issues, sports and business & industries.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2022