Local newspapers reported incidents of crematorium workers and ambulance drivers refusing to handle Nipah victims for they were scared of the virus spreading.

Workers refuse to cremate bodies of Nipah victims govt steps in to sensitise
Health Nipah Virus Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 18:29

Following reported incidents of crematorium workers refusing to cremate victims of Nipah virus, the district authorities in Kozhikode have been on a mission to dispel misconceptions about spreading of the virus.

Earlier, local newspapers had reported that crematorium workers on Mavoor Road refused to burn the bodies of two Nipah virus victims, Rajan of Vattachira and Ashokan, fearing contraction. The cremation was delayed by over 7 hours, finally taking place at 5pm on Tuesday after special team from Ivar Madam arrived from Palakkad. The kin of the deceased lodged a complaint with the corporation over the workers' refusal to cremate the body.

"The issue happened as the blower of the electric crematorium was not functioning properly. Therefore a traditional crematorium was planned. Now, the issue has been fixed and no such hassles will take place," the Public Relation Office in Kozhikode confirmed to TNM.

Officers in the control room tasked with dispelling misconceptions and providing correct and timely information to the public also reaffirmed that with the right protective gear, handling victims of Nipah virus will not pose a threat to the staff, drivers or workers.

"All hospital staff and crematorium workers have been given gloves and masks to protect themselves. Such incident of non-cooperation only happens due to misconceptions about Nipah spreading. This natural creates fear among people. Technical measures have been taken to prevent transmission based on advice given by health experts," said the officers at the control room.

All doctors and nurses treating suspected or confirmed nipah victims are given protective coats apart from gloves and masks.

"Sanitizers and other cleansing liquids are placed everywhere. Victims are immediately moved to isolation wards in the hospitals after which there is hardly any human interaction. No deaf has been recorded since Tuesday. Those patients who have passed away are also immediately cremated in the district crematorium. Even family members are discouraged from attending cremation," said the official at the PRO.

Reports also stated that ambulance drivers were refusing to transport victims of Nipah. To tackle this, the government has allotted special ambulances in Perambra and Nadapuram districts in Kozhikode. These ambulances will only carry Nipah affected patients or those showing symptoms of the virus.

"Under the directive of the State government, all hospitals have set up isolation wards. Most of the patients are being treated in Kozhikode Medical College. Some are admitted to Baby Memorial Hospital and MIMS Calicut. All hospitals are equipped to take in Nipah patients,"

The authorities also confirmed that no random outbreak has happened and the situation is mostly calm now.

"Most of those admitted with symptoms were associated with the family in Perambra who contracted the virus initially. Even in the case from Malappuram, the patient had visited the hospital where they were being treated," the PRO said.

Authorities also confirmed that the government is contemplating other, more effective ways of disposing bodies of Nipah victims. However, decision is yet to be taken in this regard. 

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