Patna: The rising number of deaths from India’s surging COVID-19 outbreak has meant that grieving families have to wait longer to have their loved ones cremated.
The situation is bad in both Bihar and neighbouring Jharkhand state where there is a virtual scramble among the grieving families to perform the last rites of the dead.
As many as 43 bodies have been cremated in the past 48 hours in Bihar while in Jharkhand more than 70 bodies were cremated and buried since Sunday. The overall situation is so critical that people have had to resort to mass cremation of bodies at an open space.
“I have to wait for 10 hours to get my turn to cremate the body of my father who died from COVID-19,” said Brajraj, a resident of Patna. He also alleged the crematorium staff charged him Rs16,000 instead of Rs300 as fixed by the government to cremate the body.
The problem for the victims’ families is that only two electric crematoriums out of total three are operational now. “The situation has become critical as most people are rushing to only one crematorium having better facilities,” a Patna municipal corporation official Pratibha Sinha said.
The situation is more critical in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand state, where the people have to wait for 24 hours to get their turn at the crematorium. Harried villagers are now cremating the bodies in the open space to complete the mandatory formalities soon. Many are rushing to the river banks and even the places they never visited in the past to perform the last rites.
“I never saw such kind of horror in my whole life. The people are cremating bodies at the place where they used to park their vehicles earlier. They are also refusing to complete the basic rituals before consigning the bodies to the flames,” said Raju Ram, a cremation staff who has been in the job for long.
The burial grounds are also working overtime to cope with the situation. “We are unable to find workers to dig out graves. So we have hired an earth-cutting machine to meet the requirement,” an official at Kantatoli burial ground in Ranchi told a news channel on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the recovery rate of COVID-19 patients in Bihar has dropped sharply even as the infection rate has gone up. A health department report said the recovery rate has slumped by more than seven per cent while the infection rate has grown by two per cent in the past five days.
Health officials said till last month, the recovery rate in the state was recorded at 99 percent which has now slumped to 92.50 per cent - a fall of over seven per cent.
Health authorities are alarmed at the way the infection is spreading fast among the children who had remained unaffected last year. They said some 10 per cent children have now come in the grip of the virus and blame sheer carelessness on the part of parents for this situation.
“The children are going out to play despite the surging infection and the parents are not serious about this. During the first wave, the parents were more alert,” Patna civil surgeon Dr Vibha Kumari Singh said.
However, the people in the age-group of 25 to 49 are more susceptible to the virus, said a study conducted by the Patna district administration. The study found that of the total COVID-19 positive cases, some 50 per cent alone come from this particular age-group.
As per the study, a maximum of 50 per cent people getting infected fall in the age-group of 25-49 while 29 per cent patients come from 0-24 age-group. Similarly, 28 per cent of the infected people are from 50-74 age-group whereas only 2.3 per cent infection has been reported from 75-99 age-group.