Mangaluru: Voluntary helpers face challenges with increasing number of COVID bodies

Mafazah Sharafuddin
May 31, 2021

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As is the situation all over India, in Mangaluru too, the burial and cremation of the bodies of COVID patients has become an issue. The workers are overworked and face a shortage of materials needed to complete their tasks in a safe and healthy manner. 

There are several challenges that have arisen during the pandemic. One among them in the sudden surge of deaths, meaning there are more dead bodies on a daily basis than the workers at crematoriums and burial grounds are equipped to handle. This has given way to several groups of volunteers who are taking the initiative to solve the problem. 

However, the volunteers too, are facing several problems. Without government aid, they have to pay for protective gear, PPE kits, gloves, masks, shields etc. from their own pocket. While sometimes the family of the deceased pay for the same, there have been many instances where the family simply cannot afford to do so. In these instances, volunteer organizations conduct burials on their own dime.

In addition to this, they have also been facing the issue that sometimes, the family of the deceased are too afraid to touch the body, in fear of infection. The volunteers have taken to cleaning the bodies, too, rather than just burying them as the families refrain from touching the bodies. 

With it being death due to COVID, the situation becomes more complex. The bodies have to be transported from the hospital or homes by people in protective gear. The equipment costs money, and since most of the work is done on a volunteer basis, there is no government aid. 

Owing to this, not all of the volunteers have sufficient protective equipment. This makes them susceptible to infection. It is a precarious situation as they are working closely with one another, if one of them gets infected, the others are likely to do the same. . They use the equipment they do have to perform the task with as much efficiency as they can, doing all they can to avoid infection.

Further, the transportation calls for another slew of issues. The transport of bodies is a task that has to be done promptly. Due to the lockdowns, the movement of civilians is restricted. The volunteers aren’t official workers, and therefore, find it hard to obtain passes to safely travel without police intervention. 

They are understaffed, as it is unpaid work done in a voluntary fashion. There are several other tasks they perform in addition to this, like arranging for beds, transporting medicine, ensuring that patients get the benefits of the Ayushman card etc. This leaves them overworked and busy all day. 

It goes as far as the workers not having time to stop for meals although part of the work they do is providing food to those waiting with their loved ones in the hospital and those out of work and hungry due to the lockdown. According to the workers, they don’t think of food, and eat when they can. That falls low on their list of worries. 

The majority of the current crisis falls to the lack of attention from the administration. When asked what they could use assistance with, the answers were many. This includes PPE kits, face masks, shields, gloves, passes for transport etc. 

However, a volunteer stated that the real help they would get is only from the government. He said that for now they are able to feed themselves while still providing assistance to people, and that without proper measures taken people would be left without food to eat. He said that there was a dire need of lockdowns to be implemented well, keeping measures for daily wage workers and those who cannot earn money during a lockdown. He said there was also a need for ambulances, and protective gear provided by the government to ensure that people can be transported safely. 

According to him, while there are plenty of medical colleges and hospitals in Mangalore, the surrounding areas are suffering and people are unable to seek treatment. While the volunteers are doing all they can to assist the patients, and help provide proper services for the deceased, there is only so much they can do. Without government aid, it will be impossible to continue this for as long as it needs to be done.

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News Network
June 8,2021

Meanwhile, 15 states reported a positivity rate of less than 5 per cent, Luv Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, said.

Overall recovery has increased to 94.3 per cent (both home isolation and medical infrastructure) and the positivity rate has decreased by 6.3 per cent overall between June 1 and June 7. 

There has been a continued and sharp decline in daily new Covid-19 cases, which is an almost 79 per cent fall in the figure as compared to the peak of May 7.

India reported less than one lakh new coronavirus infections after a gap of 63 days, while the daily positivity rate dropped to 4.62 per cent, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday.

A single day rise of 86,498 cases was registered, the lowest in 66 days, taking the total tally of Covid-19 cases to 2,89,96,473.

The Covid-19 death toll climbed to 3,51,309 with 2,123 daily deaths, the lowest in 47 days, the data updated at 8 am showed.  

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June 3,2021

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Mysuru, June 3: Karnataka IAS officer Shilpa Nag has announced her resignation from civil service at a press conference alleging ‘harassment’ by Mysuru Deputy Commissioner Rohini Sindhuri.

Shilpa Nag, a 2014 batch IAS officer, is a Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) Commissioner since February 2021. Speaking to reporters, Nag said, “Deputy Commissioner Rohini Sindhuri is constantly calling the higher-ups and complaining to them that no work is being done in the MCC. There is no conducive environment to work in Mysuru, and thus, I am resigning from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and will send the resignation letter to the Chief Secretary seeking to be relieved from my duties.”

Shilpa Nag also accused Sindhuri of showing personal grudge against her. “If she (Sindhuri) has any personal grudge against me let her take it out on me but why target the officials who are all working non-stop to combat the pandemic since the second wave started? The atmosphere in Mysuru was too stifling to function anymore,” Nag alleged.

She also alleged that Sindhuri is targeting Nag since the MCC is doing a good job. “Rohini Sindhuri is targeting me after media reports stated that the MCC is doing a good job in controlling the Covid-19 in the city,” she said.

Meanwhile, Sindhuri denied the allegations leveled by Nag and said they are totally false and baseless.

Reacting to this incident, Mysuru district in-charge minister S.T. Somashekar said that the government will not accept Shilpa Nag’s resignation. Speaking to reporters in Bengaluru, he said, “Shilpa Nag has done good work as a city corporation commissioner, our government will not accept the resignation and I will talk to Chief minister BS Yediyurappa regarding the issue.”

Somashekar also said he will go to Mysuru tomorrow (Friday) and talk to Shilpa Nag and convince her to take back her resignation.

Recently, Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha and Rohini Sindhuri also engaged in a war of words regarding closing down 16 private COVID Care Centres (CCCs) or step-down hospitals in Mysuru district.

Simha had written a letter to Somashekar and sent copies to the CM and State Chief Secretary, seeking a probe into Sindhuri’s conduct and the District Health Officer (DHO) for closing down 16 private COVID Care Centres. He stated in his letter that the investigation must be done on who accorded permission to open the CCCs or step-down hospitals and closing it down.

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June 1,2021

Washington, June 1: Joe Biden warned in a speech commemorating America’s war dead on Memorial Day that US democracy was “in peril” and called for empathy among his fellow citizens.

Speaking at Arlington National Cemetery, the US president, joined by first lady Jill Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris and her husband, paid tribute to America’s war dead whom he described as making the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of democracy.

But he added that US democracy was itself in danger. “The mission falls to each of us, each and every day. Democracy itself is in peril, here at home and around the world,” he said, adding: “What we do now, how we honor the memory of the fallen, will determine whether democracy will long endure.”

Biden’s speech played out against a tumultuous time in American politics, which have been shaken by four years of erratic and norm-shattering rule by Donald Trump which culminated in the 6 January attack on the Capitol in Washington DC by a Trump-supporting mob seeking to disrupt the formalization of Biden’s electoral win.

It also comes at a time of civic unrest sparked by largely rightwing protests against shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the spread of conspiracy theories around election fairness stoked by Trump and the far right and widespread demonstrations against racism and police brutality.

Biden centered his speech on the ideals of a democracy that thrives when citizens can vote, when there is a free press and when there are equal rights for all.

“This nation was built on an idea,” Biden said in his address. “We were built on an idea, the idea of liberty and opportunity for all. We’ve never fully realized that aspiration of our founders, but every generation has opened the door a little wider.”

Since he beat Trump to the White House last year Trump and many other Republicans have sought to baselessly portray the election as having been somehow fraudulent. They have launched scores of court cases and even a so-called “audit” of the results in in Arizona’s largest county.

Republican state legislatures have also passed local voting laws aimed at restricting voting access that civil rights advocates say are aimed at communities of color. On Sunday night Texas Republicans failed to push through one of the most restrictive voting measures in the US after Democrats walked out of the state House at the last minute. But other measures have passed in states like Georgia and Florida.

While politicians from both sides of the US political spectrum routinely speak of a “battle for the soul of America” to describe their mission to voters, Biden’s holiday address came as Trump’s former national security adviser Lt Gen Michael Flynn also said over the weekend that a Myanmar-like coup “should happen” in the US.

Appearing before a conference of the QAnon conspiracy movement in Dallas, Flynn was asked by an attendee if what was happening in Myanmar – in which the military overthrew a democratically elected government – could be repeated at home.

“There’s no reason,” Flynn told a cheering audience. “I mean, it should happen – that’s right.”

Since Myanmar’s military seized power in February, and detained the country’s democratically elected leaders, at least 800 civilians have died and thousands have been arrested.

Flynn was fired by Trump in 2017 after it was revealed that he had lied to Vice-President Mike Pence over contacts with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak.

He later pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI, then withdraw his plea and the justice department dropped charges against him. Trump later pardoned the general. In January, Twitter banned Flynn from its platform in a purge of accounts promoting QAnon theories. 

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