Covid-19 deaths overwhelm Bengaluru crematoriums as daily cases, toll surge

On an average, every crematorium is getting over 20 bodies a day and it takes an hour to cremate a body, says an association member
Last Updated : 15 April 2021, 06:30 IST

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A sudden surge in Covid-19-related deaths in the past few days has left crematoriums across Bengaluru operating under intense pressure.

Vehicles ferrying the bodies of Covid-19 victims are being forced to park in queues for several hours waiting for their turn to cremate the bodies as per the Covid protocol.

Currently, out of the 12 electric crematoriums in the city, five -- Lakshmipura Cross, Summnahalli, Kengeri, Bommnahalli and Panattur -- have been dedicated to cremate Covid-19 victims.

"On an average, every crematorium is getting more than 20 bodies a day. It requires an hour to cremate a body," said Raju Kalpalli, General Secretary of an association of crematorium employees affiliated to the Ambedkar Dalit Sangharsha Samithi.

The association's President A Suresh revealed, "Every unit has two machines to cremate bodies but the one at Panattur has stopped due to repairs. The Kengeri unit has just begun operations for the last two days. Due to this, the family of the Covid victims have to wait for prolonged hours."

Insufficient PPE Kits

According to Kalpalli, the crematorium personnel have to change their PPE kits every time after attending a cremation.

"There is no supply of PPE kits and we are forced to cremate two or three bodies wearing the same PPE kit. Yet another personnel revealed that other essentials like gloves, sanitizers and masks are also not supplied timely. Further, BBMP had assured (us) of paying Rs 500 for cremation of Covid victims. The personnel are spending Rs 1,000 for each cremation at times and are yet to be reimbursed," Raju briefed.

Sources in the BBMP told DH that the sudden rush at crematoriums is attributed to a spurt in the numbers of Covid-19 deaths in the city. On Tuesday alone, the state made its highest daily fatality disclosure of 67 deaths in nearly five and a half months. Karnataka had recorded a similar figure on October 20 when 66 deaths were disclosed by the state government.

Since then, the number of deaths had steadily declined and had reached a low point between January 8 and February 10 when an average of only three new deaths was disclosed daily.

On October 20, some 52 deaths of the total fatalities had happened over a five-day period along with three people who were brought dead to hospitals. Of the new deaths revealed on Tuesday, however, 42 Covid-19 patients had died within a period of five days.

Most fatalities had transpired earlier and had come to the attention of the authorities days, if not weeks, after their passing. This includes seven people who died at home without ever being diagnosed in a hospital and an eight person who died at home.

"The problem is due to people delaying treatment of the problem, which has led to an increase in especially 'late presentation' fatalities," explained Dr Thrilok Chandra, Commissioner (Health). “We have assembled a team to pull up the background of these fatalities and once that is complete, we will know more,” he said.

Dr Anoop Amarnath of Karnataka's Critical Care Support Unit (CCSU), which offers treatment guidance for critically ill Covid-19 patients, added that the state's case fatality rate (CFR) is still not at alarming levels. “It is below 1.5% which is good,” Dr Amarnath said. As per data from the Karnataka Covid War Room, the state’s overall CFR is 1.2%.

On October 20, 48 people who had died were above the age of 60, while on Tuesday, 38 deceased were over 60 years of age. The deceased aged between 35 and 98, but included only three people below the age of 50, unlike the October 20 toll when there were 10.

Published 15 April 2021, 06:30 IST

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