Indian Crematoriums Overwhelmed as Surge In New COVID-19 Cases Allegedly Underreported, Report Says

The news comes after the Southeast Asian nation surpassed Brazil to become the world’s second most affected country on Monday, with total infections nearly reaching 13.7 million. The nation also reported 161,736 fresh cases and 879 deaths on Tuesday.

Crematoriums and burial facilities in India are struggling to cope with a spike in deaths due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

Families have been forced to wait roughly two to three hours to cremate their relatives despite facilities working at double capacity following the first wave, according to sources speaking to Bloomberg.

“Earlier 15 to 20 bodies were coming in a day and now around 80 to 100 dead bodies are coming daily. We can’t afford to have long queues of people at the crematorium, as that again increases the risk of spreading infection. The situation is likely to worsen going ahead as hospitals across the city are filled to capacity,” Kamlesh Sailor, who works as a president of a trust in a crematorium in Surat told Bloomberg.

The report added that Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and his administration have been unprepared amid a surge in crowded gatherings, religious pilgrimages and other events. Experts believe the country has also underreported fatalities, namely in rural villages, and have only medically certified 20 to 30 percent of all deaths.

“There was a lull period in January and February with a much lower number of Covid deaths, but now in the last three weeks it is overflowing,” Namrata Singh, chief executive at private funeral service provider Antim Yatra, said in a statement.

New Delhi also reported a record high of 11,000 new cases on Monday, Bloomberg added.

Nigambodh Ghat, the capital’s largest crematorium near the Yamuna river, provisions have been made to “increase the number of wood pyres and have also planned for additional manpower,” North Delhi Municipal Corporation mayor Jai Prakash said.

The news comes a day after the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned the pandemic was reaching a “critical point” as new cases were “growing exponentially” despite national lockdown measures and restrictions from national governments.

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