KUNAL CHATTERJEE, Kolkata: There is no chance of transmission of coronavirus in crematorium or burial area, Mamata Banerjee’s government has said in an advisory to state officials and the people.
The advisory came after there were protests by residents living in the vicinity of cremation grounds. In one case, residents had put up road blockade to stop government officials from cremating an elderly man, Bengal’s first casualty. There had been similar protests elsewhere too.
The Bengal health department advisory quoted from the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and the Union health ministry note to stress that there was no evidence of people becoming infected from exposure to bodies of persons who die from COVID-19.
The advisory noted that the main driver of transmission of COVID-19 is through droplets. There is no risk of Covid-19 infection from a dead body to health workers, family members or in the locality who follow standard precautions while handling body
“Temperature generated during burning of bodies is 800-1,000 degree celsius, under which, in no condition, can the virus remain viable,” it said. It also emphasised that there was no evidence either that the smoke generated from the pyre can cause COVID-19.
“Hence, it is clarified that if the protocol prescribed for transportation and disposal of dead bodies of COVID-19 positive persons is followed, there is no risk of any coronavirus infection spreading from the dead body as result of cremation,” the notice said.
According to virologist, Dr Amitava Nandi, the state government is making sure the body is sealed in a bag and put inside the furnace. “It is also a prejudice that the body can’t be buried. No need to panic as the virus can never contaminate from these process. But it is best to burn as we all know that fire is the best way to kill any virus,” he said.
Bengal isn’t the only state that has had protests, fueled by the health scare around coronavirus and rumours. There were similar protests in Delhi too when the first death was reported several days earlier. The Union health ministry had soon after issued guidelines on disposal of bodies and placed a restriction on the number of people who can be part of the last journey of the patient.
With inputs from Soumen Datta