According to Chennai Corporation sources, during pre-COVID period, the 110 burial grounds maintained by the civic body received less than 150 bodies a day. A few of the big burial grounds would receive 3 to 5 bodies while smaller ones occasionally received bodies. However, the number of daily deaths has gone up to more than 700, which is a manifold increase from 150 per day. The city usually records around 50,000 deaths every year.
“The number of bodies has gone up manifold in the last few days. At present, each of the big burial grounds receives at least 15 everyday on an average. Gasifiers are functioning without any break, “ an official said on conditions of anonymity.
Sources also clarified that at least 80 per cent of the bodies are cremated following protocols even as the government’s official figures on the number of COVID deaths in the city have remained between 50-60 in the last few days. “In most cases, patients are likely to have died after a few weeks after getting infected,” said an official.
The civic body has also instructed sanitary inspectors of the 200 wards to collect details of deaths that occured in the city between May 2019 and May 2021. “The head office has asked us to send the data, along with causes of deaths and number of bodies buried and cremated. Also, the list of COVID deaths has been sought,” a sanitary inspector said.
The Corporation has issued orders to supervisors of city burial grounds to keep the areas and gasifiers open after closing hours if they receive bodies. Earlier, the burial grounds would close at 6 pm. When contacted, senior civic body officials denied under-reporting of COVID deaths and assured that measures have been taken to manage the overcrowding at burial grounds. According to a bulletin released by the State Health Department, the total number of deaths in the city had crossed 5,000 on Thursday with another 60 more reported on Friday. A total of 5,081 persons have died due to COVID-19 in the city so far.