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Sanitation staff perform last rites of COVID-19 victims

By Harshwardhan Prakash
May 04, 2020 17:08 IST
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Amid the coronavirus crisis, sanitation workers in Madhya Pradesh's Indore district are not only doing their cleaning job in hospitals, but have also come forward to perform the last rites of COVID-19 victims whose family members are unable to bid them a final adieu.


Image only for representation. Photograph: PTI Photo

In the wake of guidelines to check the spread of coronavirus, only a few family members of the victims are being allowed to attend their last rites.

At such a difficult time, the sanitation workers are helping these families by performing the last rites of the deceased.

Indore, which is one of the worst hit by COVID-19,till Sunday reported 1,568 cases and 76 deaths, as per official figures.

"Irrespective of whether a Hindu, Muslim or person of some other religion dies of coronavirus, we are helping their families in bidding a final goodbye to the deceased. We don't have blood relations with them, but this is a case of humanity," Sohanlal Khatwa, 50, head of a four-member team of sanitation workers at the morgue of Sri Aurobindo Institute of Medical Sciences told PTI.

"There have been instances where we have ourselves lit the funeral pyre of the deceased as their family members were scared to come forward due to infection concerns. We have also laid to rest some of the deceased in graveyards, just like their family members would have done," he said.

He said as a precaution for protection against the virus, family members have to maintain a distance from the body during the last rites and have to leave immediately after performing the rituals.

"We understand their helplessness," Khatwa said.

"We also have families and children, so it is obvious that we also feel a little scared. But, now we have got into the habit of taking part in the last rites of coronavirus victims," he said.

Khatwa said they pray to Lord Mahakal (Lord Shiva) that the coronavirus may get eradicated from the world soon.

At the morgue, special chemicals are sprayed from a distance with the help of a pump on the body to prevent the hospital staff and those attending the last rites from contracting the infection, he informed.

After this, the body is wrapped in two layers of a plastic cover and cloth and then sealed in a special bag, he said.

"Before taking the body for last rites, we show the face of the deceased to their near and dear ones from a distance. This way the family members also pay their last respects to the deceased," he added.

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Harshwardhan Prakash in Indore
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