Dr RS Gopakumar, a doctor in Kozhikode went beyond his call of duty and performed the last rites of the Nipah virus victim, with the close relatives staying away due to the fear of contracting the deadly virus,
He took the responsibility of handling the final rites of 12 bodies.
“I was a pall bearer for three bodies and performed their last rites too,” the 41-year-old told PTI.
So far, 12 people have died of the virus – 14 in Kozhikode and three in neighbouring Malappuram since its outbreak last month.
Gopakumar said he performed the last rites of a 17-year-old boy who died of Nipah as his mother was in the isolation ward for suspected virus infection.
The woman, who was unable to see her son for the last time, permitted Dr Gopakumar to perform the rituals.
“I was saddened that during his last journey there was none of his dear ones to perform last rites. I did not have to think twice and I decided to perform all Hindu rites for the boy as I wanted him to go on his final journey with all the dignity. It was my duty...,” he said.
After relatives of a 53-year-old man, who died of Nipah, informed him that they were not participating in the funeral, he conducted the final rites for him too.
Another last journey which tugged his heart was when he assisted the husband of a 19-year-old woman.
A 10-feet pit was dug and 5 kg of bleaching powder was spread inside the pit. The body was packed in an air-tight plastic double body bag and then lowered into the pit.
Dr Reshma Sahay, Scientist from the National Virology Institute, Pune was present as she had handled Ebola cases earlier.
"We followed Ebola protocol for the burial," Dr Gopakumar said.
Extreme care and standing operating procedures have been laid down by the experts of National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for handling Nipah affected bodies during the cremation and burial as exposure to Nipah virus (NiV) is highly hazardous.
Secretion and excretion from a deceased person are considered equally infectious like that of a living infected person.
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