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Retired IAS officers� body suggests info collection from cremation, burial grounds

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, March 30 - In view of the inadequate number of coronavirus testing facilities in the State and the North East and the meagre number of detected Covid-19 cases in the region, a body of retired IAS officers has suggested that the government authorities collect information from cremation and burial grounds about the symptoms and sequences before death.

�The very few number of Covid-19 positive cases in the region may have to do with the inadequate number of screenings. Hundreds of bodies are being cremated or buried in the State every day and one has reasonable ground to suspect that some of the deaths could be linked to corona. In the State, only 30 per cent corona testing capacity is being utilised. Underprivileged and vulnerable sections may be succumbing to Covid-19 without access to testing facilities and without treatment. Even hospitals will not have such data, which needs to be gathered from burial grounds,� HS Das, former Chief Information Commissioner of the State said.

�Some indicative, if not confirmatory, information can be obtained from a sample survey of all dead bodies at a few cremation grounds located in high-density population and other vulnerable areas by using a pointed questionnaire. Hospital data can then be cross-checked with this alternative data. It will cost very little in terms of money and manpower,� he added.

According to the association, if the statistics show an abnormal spike in the number of deaths following corona-type symptoms and sequences, the data can be used as an indicator.

�Such an exercise needs to be done because the uneducated and poor might lack access to testing facilities,� it said, adding that such a procedure was being followed in some countries.

The association said corona-relevant information like name, address, phone number, age, proximate cause of death, any corona-like symptoms prior to death, place of residence, place of death - hospital or residence, whether the deceased received any medical treatment, recent travel history of the diseased or of family members, occupation, and so forth, should be collected.

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