Punjab Ministers Attend COVID-19 Patient’s Cremation to Allay Fear

Balbir Singh Sidhu and Charanjit Singh Channi attended the last rites of a man in Rupnagar village.

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In a bid to dispel fears that one may contract COVID-19 by attending the last rites of an infected person, two Punjab ministers took part in the cremation of a 55-year-old man in Rupnagar district on Thursday, 9 April.

State Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu and Technical Education Minister Charanjit Singh Channi went to a Rupnagar village to attend the last rites of the man, officials said.

The coronavirus patient, who was undergoing treatment at the Chandigarh's PGIMER, had died on Wednesday.

He was also suffering from diabetes and hypertension when he tested positive for COVID-19. The initiative by the two ministers came amid reports that people were refusing to cremate such patients fearing the spread of the disease.

In a Facebook message and a video posted on the social media platform, the health minister said there was no danger in performing the last rites of coronavirus positive persons.

“Moreover, ashes also do not pose any danger,” Sidhu said, adding that the cremation is carried out in line with the guidelines and protocols of the Health Department.

In the past a few days, some incidents surfaced when people refused to accept bodies of their kin.

In Ludhiana on Monday, members of a 69-year-old woman’s family had refused to accept her body and cremate it, forcing the district administration to perform her last rites.

Similarly, the administration had to perform the last rites of a 65-year-old man in Amritsar on Tuesday when his relatives did not come forward for his cremation.

A group of villagers in Amritsar's Verka village had too refused to allow the cremation of Padma Shri recipient and former Golden Temple Hazuri Raagi Nirmal Singh Khalsa, fearing the spread of the disease.

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