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BMC withdraws order to cremate bodies of those who died of COVID-19 'irrespective of religion'

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Mumbai, Mar 30: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Monday withdrew an earlier circular stating tat the bodies of all those who die of coronavirus in Mumbai will be cremated irrespective of the religion of the deceased.

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Earlier, BMC commissioner Praveen Pardeshi had issued a circular in this regard.

"If someone insists to bury the body, they will only be permitted if the body is taken out of Mumbai city's jurisdiction and the funeral should not involve more than 5 people, it further said.

Adding that the cemetery staff should cremate the bodies using protective equipment like masks and gloves, the Municipal Commissioner added that the hospital authority should inform to the local police station and then hand over the body.

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Shortly after the circular was issued, Malik on Twitter said he has spoken to Pardeshi and the directive has been withdrawn.

Amending the order, the BMC said bodies will be allowed for funeral in Mumbai keeping in mind certain guidelines, that cemetaries should be big enough for funerals and precautionary measures be taken to avoid the spread of the virus.

Friends and family of a person who has died from Covid-19 infection can view the dead body, but not touch, hug or kiss the deceased, according to government guidelines issued.

Standard infection prevention control practices should be followed at all times include:

  • Hand hygiene
  • Use of personal protective equipment (e.g., water resistant apron, gloves, masks, eyewear)
  • Safe handling of sharps
  • Disinfect bag housing dead body; instruments and devices used on the patient
  • Disinfect linen. Clean and disinfect environmental surfaces
  • The guidelines allow religious rituals such as reading from holy books or scriptures, sprinkling holy water and other last rites that do not require touching of the body. However, bathing, kissing and hugging of the dead body will be prohibited.

At the crematorium/ Burial Ground

• The Crematorium/ burial Ground staff should be sensitized that Covid-19 does not pose additional risk

• The staff will practice standard precautions of hand hygiene, use of masks

• and gloves

• Viewing of the dead body by unzipping the face end of the body bag (by the staff using standard precautions) may be allowed, for the relatives to see the body for one last time

• Religious rituals such as reading from religious scripts, sprinkling holy water and any other last rites that does not require touching of the body can be allowed

• Bathing, kissing, hugging, etc. of the dead body should not be allowed

• The funeral/ burial staff and family members should perform hand hygiene after cremation/ burial

• The ash does not pose any risk and can be collected to perform the last rites

• Large gathering at the crematorium/ burial ground should be avoided as a social distancing measure as it is possible that close family contacts may be symptomatic and/ or shedding the virus

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