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Assam: Last rites of COVID-19 victim performed in Hailakandi

Hailakandi

North East India’s first Coronavirus (COVID-19 ) death took place in South Assam’s Hailakandi district. 

Hailakandi’s Borjurai village’s resident Foijul Hoque Barbhuiya admitted in the Silchar Medical College and Hospital (SMC&H) on the night of April 7 after his swab result tested positive, died at around 1.55 am on Friday. Foizul who had returned to Hailakandi on March 18 from Saudi Arabia where he went to perform Umrah Haj and also visited the Markaz at Nizamuddin in Delhi later developed pneumonia and had to be shifted to the ICU and put on a ventilator in the afternoon on Thursday. Though doctors tried their level best to resuscitate him, Barbhuiya, aged 65, passed away thus becoming North East India’s first COVID-19 victim.

Health authorities at SMC&H followed all the strictest norms of decontamination procedures before handing over the body to their Hailakandi health counterpart. The body wrapped in an airtight three-layered body bag was carried by the health personnel to Hailakandi in an ambulance in the wee hours on Friday.

Strictly conforming to the guidelines issued by Government of India regarding disposing of the remains of a COVID-19 victim, the district administration performed his last rites at a secluded place several kilometres away from the densely populated town of Hailakandi following the Islamic burial practices. Attended by a few relatives and friends while maintaining social distancing, his last rites were performed by an Imam, as his mortal remains shrouded in a white piece of cloth was lowered in a grave dug 12-feet deep, just moments after the janaja prayer (funeral prayer).

Persons, who handled the corpse wearing personal protective equipment went through the proper sanitisation process along with disinfectant of the vehicle carrying the body from the hospital to the new burial ground for the COVID death.

Prior to his last rites, the district administration informed the family members of Borbhuiya, who are under quarantine in a centre about his passing away. Out of swab results of five members of the family of the deceased sent to SMCH, three have tested negative while results of two are awaited.

Following the completion of the last rites, Deputy Commissioner, Keerthi Jalli said, “It is reiterated that all forms of precautions have been taken to ensure safety of all personnel involved. All due SOPs have been followed with investigative reports including X-Ray and videography have been undertaken. Please don’t believe in pseudo-science. There is no reason to fear contamination of any kind whatsoever. We assure you we have done our best.”

The civil and police administrations along with health surveillance teams are on a contact tracing of the persons with whom the deceased came in contact with. 43 persons have been identified so far.

Containment zone demarcated

Containment zone along with buffer zone has been clearly demarcated around a one-km radius of Borjurai village where the deceased COVID-19 victim resided, to prevent the further spread of the virus.

The order that came into force on the night of April 7 prohibits the entry of all vehicles, except those in emergency and essential services and that too, after proper sanitisation.

Meanwhile, all arrangements are being taken by the administration to ensure quarantined family members are made comfortable. Mosquito nets have been provided with 24×7 electricity generator supply. Baby food along with biscuits and chocolates have also been provided to the children. Coffee for adults and horlicks for children have been supplied with. Mineral water is also being provided to ensure their well being.

Urging everyone to set aside personal differences and come together to fight the pandemic, Jalli said, “I urge that personal differences be set aside to come together to fight the pandemic. The disease doesn’t see any difference. Let us unite to fight this together.”

Warning against the rumour mongers,

Jalli said, “No rumour mongering/panic inducing/fear exciting activities be taken up by anybody. We are constantly monitoring all social media and WhatsApp activities and we will not hesitate to take strictest action necessary.”

FIR against news portal for fake report 

In the wake of a fake report in Way2barak under the headline ‘Govt performs last rites of COVID patient in Hailakandi in presence of his son’, the district administration directed District Information and Public Relations Officer, Sabir Nishat to file an FIR against the news portal. The report stated that the son of the COVID victim was allowed to take part in the last rites of his father on Friday. As a matter of fact, all the family members of the deceased COVID-19 victim are under quarantine at a quarantine centre.

FIR against locals 

In another development, Executive Magistrate, Tridip Roy lodged an FIR at Hailakandi Sadar Police Station on Friday against some persons of Ward No.1 under Hailakandi Municipal Board for blocking the municipal workers from carrying the cleaning work at Ajachukpally fearing that they might be infected with the virus. It is also stated in the FIR that some people jumped home quarantine and blocked the road. Despite pleas by the Executive Magistrate, they did not budge an inch forcing Roy to file an FIR against them. The Executive Magistrate asked the police to take necessary action under Section 188 IPC and other sections of IPC under the Assam COVID-19 Regulations, 2020.

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