Nepal | August 07, 2020

Electric crematorium closed for past two days

Himalayan News Service
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Six PADT employees have been kept in quarantine inside Pashupati area after cremating the first coronavirus victim

Kathmandu, May 18

The country’s only electric crematorium at Pashupatinath has been shut for the last two days after cremating the body of the country’s first COVID-19 victim on May 16.

Staffers at the crematorium told THT that they had to close the facility since they did not have personnel protective equipment carry out their work. They also complained that they did know how to handle COVID-19 infected bodies, which had put them at risk of contracting the disease from the bodies. The employees also said no disinfectant was used at the crematorium area after cremating the body. The area was simply cleaned with water. “We have not been provided disinfectant to clean the area after incinerating the body,” said a staffer.

There are a total 16 people working at the crematorium, but so far they have been given only one set of PPE and it has already been used. “The authorities cannot exert pressure to carry out our duties without ensuring our safety,” the source said.

Pashupati Area Development Trust, an authorised body to operate the crematorium, however, tried to hide the truth behind the closure of the crematorium and said they had to do so in a bid to disinfect the area. “We closed the facility for 48 hours to disinfect the area and regular service will resume from tomorrow,” said Ghanashyam Khatiwada, executive director of PADT.

Khatiwada, however, also said that the cremation service wouldn’t be closed for such a long period from the next time as the Ministry of Health and Population had issued an order today to operate the facility within 12 hours after cremating any COVID-19 victim.

Six employees have been kept in quarantine inside Pashupati area after cremating the first COVID-19 victim. “We have provided isolation facility to employees to continue uninterrupted service. We have rotation policy for employees,” Khatiwada said.

Meanwhile, PADT employees have demanded that the house for observing post-cremation rites in Pashupati Area be shut considering the risk of transmission of the disease. PADT has agreed to close the facility for some time.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 19, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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