Cremation Of Virus Victims Emerging As A Big Challenge

By Binu Shrestha

Kathmandu, Aug. 17: With the escalating COVID-19 pandemic in the recent days in Nepal, death toll from the coronavirus is also increasing gradually. The infection rate is going higher day by day with the detection of over 400 new cases every other day. Nepal continues to witness resurgence in the number of cases of COVID-19 over the recent days, including increasing trend of infection in the capital.

According to the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), the death toll had reached 102 till Saturday. Each day three to four people have been dying of the virus these days. The sharply growing number of infected people has posed a challenge for the government to arrange proper health facility and treatment for them. The gradually growing death toll from the virus will raise another problem to manage the bodies.

It is heard that the administration has faced some challenges while trying to cremate the bodies of persons dying from the virus outside the valley. As per the guidelines of the COVID-19, the deceased can be buried or cremated performing rituals.

In the case of Kathmandu Valley, the government has decided that all those who succumb to COVID-19 should be cremated at the country’s only electric crematorium in Pashupati. It takes only 45 minutes for a body to be burnt.
The bodies of virus-infected persons are being cremated at the electric crematorium building. The building has two machines. The capacity of each machine is 8 to 10 bodies a day. But only one machine is in operation now.
“We have been running a single machine to cremate the bodies; another one has not run. The cremation process can be affected especially for virus-infected bodies if both machines stopped functioning. Technical problems can appear any time in the machine, said Dr. Milan Kumar Thapa, treasurer of Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT).

A tender bid had been opened around three months ago to set up other two crematorium machines in the new building. Seven companies had applied for the tender but PADT has not signed the agreement in lack of budget, he said.
“We had asked the Finance Ministry to allocate budget to purchase the machines and build new crematorium at a cost Rs. 150 million, but it was not allocated,” Thapa said.

Around 16 bodies of COVID-19 victims were cremated last month (mid-July-mid-August) at the crematorium building, said Subash Karki, an employee of crematorium. The bodies are brought at the chimney to cremate with the support of trolley operator and technician after the army leave the body at the building, he said.
The building is fully equipped with health materials to be safe from the infected during the time of cementation, he said.

The process of cremating normal bodies gets halted for 24-hours after cremation of a virus-infected body.
“We have not faced any problem in cremation of the infected body. It has managed to fully clean and sanitize the centre after cremating a body to prevent the spread of the virus,” he said.

– The Rising Nepal

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