The Mumbai civic body’s order – that bodies of coronavirus patients can only be cremated – was withdrawn within hours this evening after the state government intervened in the matter. The Brihanmumbai Corporation said they took the decision as part of the safety measures against the highly contagious virus, which has infected more than 1000 people in India and killed nearly 30 people.
The circular issued in this regard today said the bodies of persons who have died of COVID-19 will be cremated irrespective of their religion. It also said only five persons can attend the funeral and rituals involving touching the body should be avoided, reported news agency Press Trust of India.
“The existing burial grounds are in highly dense locality with high chances of contamination of dense community/residential areas nearby,” read the order from Praveen Pardeshi.
But later in the evening, state minister Nawab Malik tweeted: “This is to bring to your kind attention that I have spoken to @mybmc Commissioner Mr. Praveen Pardeshi regarding the circular issued by him for cremation of those who have lost their lives due to the #CoronaVirus. The said circular has now been withdrawn”.
Earlier this month, the Centre said it was framing guidelines for handling bodies of those who die of COVID-19. The guidelines framed during Nipah virus outbreak has been taken as a model.
The possibility of infection from a body has triggered a sea change in funeral practices in Europe. In most countries, especially in Italy, where the virus has taken a huge toll, the procedures have been severely curtailed.
“Cremation of a person who has died due to coronavirus poses no threat through any methods — using fire or electrical, gas or by burial,” Sudhir Gupta, head of the forensic medicine department of the AIIMS, New Delhi, was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust Of India.
But he had suggested that in case of burial, the surface of the grave should be cemented.