Ghosts don’t scare them; bodies of COVID positive patients buried

Ghosts don’t scare them; bodies of COVID positive patients buried
It takes a lot of courage to live close to a graveyard. And residents who live around the Hindu Burial Ground in Hennur Road Bellary Road (HRBR) Layout 1st Block have made their peace. But for the last few weeks, there is a sense of disquiet about the goings-on at the graveyard.Residents are complaining that the bodies of those who died from COVID are being buried here. And this without following protocols specified for COVID burials.

Sujith Pavithran, a resident who lives close to the graveyard, said, “Covid-19 positive bodies should not be buried in graveyards which are located in such densely populated residential areas. In addition to dead bodies, the large number of mourners may also be a carrier risk because of their exposure to the dead person.’’ Pavithran also said that most mourners have nothing to protect them except a mask.

Incinerating the body is the safest way of disposing of a (COVID-positive) dead body. If that is not possible due to religious reasons, deep burial with lime around it is the recommended method. The contamination of groundwater is unlikely due to a COVID body.

— Dr Manohar KN consultant – Internal Medicine, Manipal Hospital

Gopi Shankar, another resident of this area said, “One of the ambulance drivers who brought a COVID-positive body washed the ambulance near the gate after the burial. Another driver was neither wearing a mask nor a PPE. We want the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP ) to ensure that all protocols are adhered to and only a minimum number of people are allowed to participate in the funeral,” said Gopi Shankar.

Groundwater contamination

Another concern that the residents have is the risk of infection through groundwater contamination.

Former corporate of the Banaswadi ward, A Kodanda Reddy, admitted, “The mortal remains of one of my relatives were buried at this burial ground.

He was COVID-positive. The gravedigger could not dig the grave beyond six feet as (ground) water started seeping into the grave. The burial ground is under the control of Banaswadi residents. I will speak to them to stop burying COVID-positive bodies here in the future.’’

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According to the residents, one COVID body was buried on August 25 and two more burials took place on September 15, of which one was a confirmed COVID case. The graveyard does not have a formal office or a doctor available to check the death certificate, as per protocol, said one of the residents on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, BBMP Medical Officer Dr. Sunitha has advised the residents to inform her whenever an ambulance brings a COVID-positive body to the burial ground.

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COVID positive patients

“This burial ground does not belong to the BBMP. It is a private one meant for a particular community. I deputed my subordinate to the spot soon after receiving complaints from the residents but the burial was completed by the time he reached the spot,’’ said Dr. Sunitha. She said that COVID protocols demand that the grave should be dug to a depth of 10 feet.

Doctor’s opinion

We asked a doctor if the fears of the residents were valid. “Incinerating the body is the safest way of disposing of a (COVID-positive) dead body. If that is not possible due to religious reasons, deep burial with lime around it is the recommended method. If a body is buried with a plastic wrap around it, it becomes a hazard. The contamination of groundwater is unlikely due to a COVID body. When the body decomposes, the virus dies naturally. Contamination could be a possibility if the plastic wrap around the body is not removed,” said Dr. Manohar KN consultant – Internal Medicine, Manipal Hospital.

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Sagar Biswas

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