Municipal workers wearing protective suits cremate the body of Covid-19 victim in Karad, Maharashtra.(PTI)
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Relatives violate Covid-19 funeral protocol in Ulhasnagar, 18 test positive

Over 70 people including relatives and friends of the deceased visited a hall where the body was kept.
By Sajana Nambiar| Edited by Sabir Hussain | Hindustan Times, Ulhasnagar
UPDATED ON MAY 30, 2020 05:34 PM IST

Eighteen people who were part of a large gathering of over 70 people at the funeral of a Covid-19 patient in Ulhasnagar in Maharashtra’s Thane district also tested positive for the disease on Friday, officials said.

The large gathering at the last rites of a 40-year-old woman was in violation of the Union home ministry’s orders limiting the number of people at funerals to 20. Many people at the funeral are also said to have flouted medical advice on how to handle the body.

This is the second such incident in the city in a month where relatives and friends of a deceased violated the protocol for handling the body during cremation.

According to the health department of the Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation the woman who was under treatment at the Central hospital died on May 25, and tested positive after her death.

“While handling the body we had explained to the relatives the protocol which needs to be followed during the last rites. We had specially mentioned no one should touch the body’s cover while performing the rites,” an officer from the health department said.

The UMC said the body was kept in a hall at Hira Ghat area where over 70 people including relatives and friends of the deceased showed up.

“What we have learned is they opened the cover and also poured water on the body as a part of rituals which is not allowed,” said the officer.

When the deceased’s report came positive and the civic body also learned about the violation at the funeral, they immediately quarantined around 50 people and collected their swabs for tests. Eighteen of them tested positive.

Suhas Manholkar, chief health officer of UMC said, “We will register a case against the relatives for the violations. Meanwhile our team is also checking on more people from the area if they have any symptoms they will be tested.”

Earlier on May 5, nine relatives of a 50-year-old man who also violated the protocol for cremation tested positive for Covid-19. The man had tested positive after his death.

Former UMC commissioner Sudhakar Deshmukh had lodged a complaint against three relatives for violation with Central police station. Later, 11 more relatives of the deceased tested positive.

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