SRINAGAR: Even after the death of three persons due to Covid-19 in Kashmir, there is still a deficit in adherence to the Government of India’s guidelines for handling of bodies of Covid-19 patients. This was once again revealed on Tuesday when the body of a 52-year-old Bandipora man, who died of the disease at SMHS Hospital, was sent to the graveyard in an ambulance in which five of his relatives sat without any protection gear.
Suhail Ahmad, who was among the relatives who travelled in the ambulance, told Kashmir Reader that they were not given any protective gear when the body was handed over to them at SMHS Hospital.
“We were five relatives, the deceased’s son, brother-in-law, brother, and nephew. We were given nothing to wear that could protect us from infection. We spent nearly 1.5 hours in the ambulance,” Suhail said.
According to the GoI’s guidelines, the personnel handling the body should follow standard precautions, which include wearing of surgical masks, gloves and aprons. Suhail said that the relatives’ own efforts to secure protection gear could not materialise due to lack of availability in the market.
The relatives of the Bandipora man had spent the entire night and the following day without food. They had arrived at SMHS Hospital at 3pm on Monday, said Riyaz, son-in-law of the deceased. At 4:30pm, he said, the patient breathed his last. That night, and the day after, was spent in the hospital by the relatives waiting to be given the body to take home.
A second breach of guidelines, Suhail said, was when a gathering of about 40 persons was allowed to offer the funeral prayers of the deceased. The health ministry
has prohibited large gatherings at the burial ground because close family contacts may be infected and may transmit the virus. All the family members who had lived with the deceased at home and then at the hospital had participated in the funeral at Bandipora. The body was also lowered in the ground by the family members, but this time they were given protection gear from head to toe.
A molvi without the protection gear was also present at the time of burial. Now all of them have been put under quarantine.
This is for the second time that procedure for handling of the dead has been flouted. The second Covid-19 death in Kashmir, of a man from Tangmarg, had been followed by the same lack of precaution. According to a report in the Economic Times, the family were not provided any protection equipment to wear when they carried the body to the graveyard.
Medical Superintendent of SMHS Hospital, Dr Nazir Choudhary, said the body of the Bandipora man was covered in a bag, which reduced the possibility of infection.
When asked about the guidelines issued by the central government that require attendees to be in protection gear, he said the family members had left the hospital by that time.
“I had spoken to the DC Srinagar, who said he would provide the kits, but the family members had left,” Dr Choudhary said.