The Delhi government's health department has announced additional guidelines for disposal of bodies of those who die of COVID-19 or suspected to have died of it at hospitals, directing that such bodies be sent to mortuaries within two hours.
The directions were issued on Saturday.
If the family or relatives of the deceased themselves contact mortuary authorities within 12 hours of death, the hospital shall schedule cremation or burial within 24 hours in consultation with the family and the area's municipal corporation, the order said.
If the family or relatives do not contact within 12 hours, an intimation be sent out to them informing about the place and time of the cremation or burial, authorities said.
In case of unidentified or abandoned bodies of persons who died of COVID-19 or suspected to have died of it, the Delhi police shall complete all legal formalities within 72 hours of death and dispose the body in next 24 hours as per the protocol, it said.
If the address of the deceased happened to be outside Delhi, medical director of hospitals must send a notice to resident commissioner of the respective state or Union territory, seeking communication from the other side in 48 hours, according to the order.
If no response is received, the body is to be cremated by the hospital in the next 24 hours, it said.
In view of the rising number of coronavirus cases in Delhi, the three civic bodies had recently doubled their capacity to dispose bodies of COVID-19 victims and have also allowed cremating such bodies on pyres made of wood.
"Keeping in view increasing number of coronavirus cases, a decision was taken by the three corporations to allow cremation on wood pyres at Punjabi Bagh, Nigambodh Ghat, Panchkuian Road, Karkardooma cremation grounds and electric cremation at Lodhi Road Crematorium," the SDMC had said in a statement.
The civic bodies were earlier using only CNG furnaces to dispose of bodies of COVID-19 patients.
The three CNG-operated furnaces are available at Nigambodh Ghat crematorium that can dispose 18 bodies per day. Four CNG furnaces are available at Punjabi Bagh cremation ground that could dispose 24 bodies per day.
In addition to these facilities, bodies of coronavirus patients are also being buried at the cemeteries at Bahadurshah Zafar Marg, Mangolpuri, Madanpur Khadar and the Mangolpuri Christian burial ground.
Cremation facilities are available between 7 am and 10 pm and due to more facilities, the corporations have increased the disposal capacity to 95-100 bodies per day from earlier capacity of 45 bodies per day, it claimed.
This is apart from the facilities available at four cemeteries and one Christian burial ground under the jurisdiction of the municipal corporations. The capacity can further be increased if situation arises so, it said.
India registered its highest single-day spike of COVID-19 cases on Sunday with 8,380 new infections reported in the last 24 hours, taking the country's tally to 1,82,143, while the death toll rose to 5,164, according to the Union Health Ministry.