The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in Mumbai on Monday withdrew its order, saying bodies of all coronavirus patients can only be cremated irrespective of their religion, hours after issuing it, PTI reported. Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik announced on Monday evening on Twitter that the order has been revoked.
Mumbai’s civic body had issued the order on Monday, stating the decision was taken as part of safety measures introduced by the corporation to contain the spread of Covid-19, the communicable disease caused by the novel coronavirus. It said only five people will be allowed to attend the funeral of a patient and advised against practicing any rituals that involve touching the body.
“The existing burial grounds are in highly dense locality with high chances of contamination of dense community or residential areas nearby,” read the order issued by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi.
Under the Epidemic Diseases Act, which has been invoked in Maharashtra, local authorities are empowered to decide on steps, including disposal of bodies, to limit the spread of the disease.
However, after the Maharashtra government’s intervention in the matter, the BMC head revised the circular and said burials will be permitted if there is an availability of a big burial site.
“This is to bring to your kind attention that I have spoken to commissioner Praveen Pardeshi regarding the circular issued by him for cremation of those who have lost their lives due to the coronavirus. The said circular has now been withdrawn,” Malik tweeted on Monday evening.
The fear of the transmission of the coronavirus from bodies has resulted in a change of funeral practices across Europe, with countries like Italy taking several measures to curtail the last rites rituals.
However, Sudhir Gupta, head of the forensic medicine department of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi, said: “Cremation of a person who has died due to coronavirus poses no threat through any methods – using fire or electrical, gas or by burial.”
He added that in case of a burial, the surface of the grave should be properly cemented.
The Maharashtra health department on Tuesday said five more people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state, taking the total to 225, ANI reported. This includes one fresh case in Mumbai and two each in Pune and Buldhana.
India reported its sharpest spike in the number of the coronavirus cases on Monday as 227 people tested positive in 24 hours, taking the country’s total to 1,251 with 32 deaths. Kerala has the highest number of positive cases at 202, followed by Maharashtra at 198. Delhi recorded 87 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 82 positive cases were reported from Uttar Pradesh.