COVID Crisis frontline: Crematorium and Cemetery workers

Officially, more than 4000 people are dying everyday of Covid19 infection and the unavailability of basic healthcare facilities in India. The people who are involved in cremation or burial of the dead or  those conducting the last rites in accordance with religious or cultural traditions  have been instructed to wear appropriate personal protective equipment. The PPE  must include gloves, face-shield, goggles to protect eyes, medical mask and closed footwear. There is less chance of transmission of Covid 19  due handling of human bodies compared to diseases like cholera. But a person handling the bodies of deceased could be infected by the virus if they come in contact with the infected body fluid or secretions. The lungs and other organs of the people who died of Covid may also contain live and infectious viruses. As the death toll rises, workers in crematorium and burial grounds are working round the clock. They  often do not have access to  Covid vaccines, testing kits, proper protective equipment, financial support, food and mental healthcare. Many of these frontline workers come from historically marginalized and oppressed communities that still face institutionalised caste- based discrimination. It is time we recognise their roles as frontline workers during this health emergency and endeavour to improve their plight.

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