NELLORE: Allaying fears that one may contract coronavirus by performing or attending the last rites of an infectee, a group of people from Nellore district teamed up to conduct the last rites of unclaimed bodies of Covid-19 victims. They did this for around 18 bodies from Udayagiri, Kavali, Atmakur, Damaramadugu, Nellore city and Buchireddypalem in the district.
The approximately 25 members of the team have been following the Covid-19 protocol when cremating or burying bodies. They hail from Nellore city and rural mandals, and have been doing this for two months.
Since March, when Covid-19 hit the district, the team joined hands with the local hospital administration to perform the last rites of victims. They get calls from the Government General Hospital about unclaimed bodies, and get PPE kits from NGOs.
“There is nothing to fear about cremating or burying the body of a Covid-19 victim as the WHO and ICMR declared that the virus does not stay in a dead body more than six hours. We have been performing the last rites as per the victims’ religious traditions,” said Dr M V Ramanaiah, who leads the team.
“It is pathetic that even close relatives of victims hesitate to attend their funerals. This must stop, and the deceased need to be given a decent funeral. There is no danger in performing the last rites of Covid-19 victims. Even the ashes do not pose any danger. Every person needs a decent funeral, and this pandemic should not be allowed to alter the relationships between relatives, friends and dear ones,” said Vankadari Srinivasulu, a member of the team.
People on the team have been involved in various vocations and menial jobs in and around the city limits, he added.Nellore district reported 44,696 cases of Covid-19 until September 12, and has about 7,000 known active cases.
Another member of the team, Madala Venkateswarlu, said they started performing the last rites of victims to raise awareness among the public on that fact that the virus doesn’t remain in dead bodies for long. “We will continue doing this with the support of our team members, who are involved in various jobs,” he added.