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Covid patients’ bodies pile up at Lucknow crematoriums as staff is ‘scared’ or visiting Kumbh

Lucknow municipal body scrambles for extra pyre wood, electric crematoriums as deaths surge. Doctors say number of critical patients in hospitals has gone up too.

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Lucknow: On Sunday, 11 April, Uttar Pradesh recorded its highest single-day spike since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic last year — registering 15,353 cases — and capital Lucknow was shown to have contributed around 27 per cent of them.

On 13 April, it emerged that the total number of Covid cases in Lucknow had gone up to 27,385 from 3,912 on 1 April — a jump of nearly 670 per cent — while the active case number for UP climbed to 95,980.

The state health department’s bulletin Monday showed that 72 Covid patients had died in UP in the preceding 24 hours (most of Sunday), of which 21 deaths were in Lucknow. The corresponding figures in Tuesday’s bulletin for the preceding 24 hours were 85 for the state and 18 for the city. However, Ajay Dwivedi, Lucknow’s municipal commissioner, told ThePrint that 69 bodies came to Lucknow’s crematoriums Sunday, leading to a long queue due to the shortage of staff.

Dwivedi said that while some staff are away at the Kumbh Mela, others have been “scared” to handle these bodies because of the bounce in infections.

“We were handling 7-8 cremations of Covid patients’ bodies on average per day (combined for the two crematoriums). But in the last one week, the number went up to 30 and then 40. Eventually, 69 bodies came for cremation Sunday. We were not prepared for this massive surge as some of our staff has gone to the Kumbh Mela. This is the reason that there was a long queue on the weekend at the cremation grounds,” he said.

Also read: Bodies are piling up at crematoriums & they’re raising capacity as it’s likely to get worse

‘Things being brought under control’

The rise of Covid deaths in Lucknow was underlined in a video that went viral Sunday, in which Lucknow DM Abhishek Prakash is seen talking to the doctors in a city hospital. “Increase ICUs, put people in isolation, do whatever is possible as you people are experts… Because now, people are dying on the roads,” he said in Hindi.

But Dwivedi assured that the administration had things under control now. “We have now employed 100 people who work in two shifts, day and night. We had already prepared 50 funeral pyres; the staff prepares them at night so there is no queue the next day. There have been no queues waiting Monday,” he claimed.

The commissioner added that wood for the pyres is being brought in on 10 trucks from the Sitapur Road, about 12 km outside the city, every day. “Looking at the numbers, we are preparing five electric crematoriums in the next 10 days, each of which can handle 8-10 bodies a day,” he added.

A bus turned into a hearse stands outside Gulala crematorium in Lucknow | Photo: Jyoti Yadav | ThePrint
A bus turned into a hearse stands outside Gulala crematorium in Lucknow | Photo: Jyoti Yadav | ThePrint

Yet, when ThePrint visited the two cremation grounds, Gulala Shamshan Ghat and Baikunth Dham, Monday afternoon, contrary to the commissioner’s claims, dozens of families were found waiting in the rising heat to perform the last rites of their loved ones. Almost every hour, a new body arrived for cremation.

Ajay Kumar, 33, whose uncle succumbed to the virus, was waiting, clueless, for his family’s turn. “My mausa ji (maternal aunt’s husband) was sick for a week. He complained of fever and cough, and died within one day of hospitalisation,” he said.

As families said their goodbyes to their loved ones, ghat employees continued to prepare new pyres. An employee at Gulala cremation ground said: “I have never seen a situation like this. I have seen more dead bodies in one week than my whole life.”

People reaching hospital in critical condition

The health machinery in the state capital is in a state of chaos, ThePrint’s visit to the King George’s Medical University, the main Covid facility, showed. A healthcare worker at KGMU said: “The last week has been horrible. People are coming in a critical condition and many of them aren’t surviving.”

The King George Medical University Covid-19 facility in Lucknow | Photo: Jyoti Yadav | ThePrint
The King George Medical University Covid-19 facility in Lucknow | Photo: Jyoti Yadav | ThePrint

Dr D.S. Negi, director-general of UP’s health department, told ThePrint: “This spike can be attributed to Holi when people came from all over the country to their hometowns. The general public’s attitude towards the virus has become too casual.”

Dr M.N. Siddiqi of Integral Medical College concurred. “People have started taking this virus lightly. Even if you go to the market, 50 per cent of the people don’t wear a mask. Healthcare workers are now getting infected in bulk. The second wave is more lethal as the jump in critical patients has gone up to 50 per cent.”

Most of the government and private hospitals in the city are full. But now many of these hospitals are turning their isolation wards into ICUs to accommodate critical patients, as people from neighbouring districts are also coming to Lucknow.

Yogi govt’s decisions

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath reviewed the Covid situation in the state and its capital Sunday, where he ordered the closure of all government and private schools till 30 April. The state government has also shut private coaching centres.

The CM directed that Era Medical College, T.S. Mishra Medical College and Integral Medical College should be transformed into Covid hospitals in the next three days. He told the officials to add 2,000 ICU beds in Lucknow in the next day, and add another 2,000 in the next seven days.

All districts of UP have been put under a strict night curfew, beginning at 9 pm. Only people with special passes are allowed to move after that hour.

(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)

Also read: Doctors’ association calls out VIP culture in govt hospitals for Covid testing in letter to Modi


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  1. A ToI report from Baroda shows that, all over the state, statistics of Covid deaths are being suppressed. Possibly 10 – 20% of the correct number is being officially acknowledged. Indians are not receiving their due even in death.

  2. Month of April in 2021 is stirring woeful momentum of COVID19 pandemic by each passing day in India as well.
    (A). There are many woeful pieces of news on COVID-19 front across the world, India as well during month of April 2021 being learnt through reports. While other States reeling under the COVID-19, mutated or new variant said to have come from UK or Brazil, are mulling imposing of stricter restrictions in the face of mounting worries, Maharashtra government announced new restrictions effective at 8PM on 14 April, 2021 for 15 days, in the whole State. This is only four hours prior to the date identified by this Vedic astrology writer for major worrisome milestone concerning COVID-19 pandemic or new variant in, among others, Maharashtra. Through the predictive alert in the article ,as follows , published at on 3 April, 2021, this writer had identified the period from 15 to 19 as one carrying major worrisome concerns in vulnerable States of India.
    “Major worrisome concerns in India during a period of nearly two months from about 7 April to 31 May 2021, calling for more care and appropriate strategy. Such strategy may have to be continued as long as 10 August 2021 in some form or the other”.
    Link to reach the article:-
    (B). A longer prior similar predictive alert for more care and appropriate strategy was sounded by this writer, through article ‘ India in the year 2021 – planetary impacts interpreted’ published at on 7 September 2020. The related text of the predictive alert in the said article reads as follows:-
    “( 5 ). The time – period of one and a half month spawning over second half of April to full May ( 15 April to 31 May ) in 2021 , looks to be one of strategy to vitalize farmers , agriculture and crop-shortages. Cost of energy resources like gas , oil , power , can either jump or some issues concerning production , storage , and distribution of these may get obstructed. Shortages of food , eatables and life-saving medicines can be in close focus. The right course can be to get involved on war footing as soon as any related issue comes to notice. Advice of best and credible experts in the related field may be had without loss of time , and acted upon to provide cover. Within this period of 15 April to 31 May , the one of 11 days from about 21 May to 31 May seems to be calling particular attention. The compulsive and restrictive nature of times may present situations before Delhi to either bear the enormity of worrisome concern or to take recourse to a bit contrary to certain principles or policies hitherto pursued. A decision to be taken may be hard but there may not be a broad choice available”.
    It may be noticed that predictive alert about shortage of life-saving medicines, compulsive and restrictive nature of times, taking recourse to extra-ordinary decisions and no broad choice than to take hard decisions, during about 15 April to 31 May 2021, are indicated there. These are reaching our ears and eyes these days in April 2021 through news TV Channels.
    Link to reach the article:
    (C). A still pretty prior predictive alert for more care and appropriate strategy in relation to COVID-19 and other major worrisome concerns was sounded by this writer through another article ,as follows, published at on 16 May 2020, closely a year ago.
    “ When is the world coming out from the dreadful grip of COVID-19? W.H.O. Chief said on 21 April 2020: The worst is not yet over”.
    The related text is reproduced here from the article:-
    “One more alert prediction here for exercising more care and appropriate strategy. A period of nearly one and a half month from mid-April to 31 May in 2021 , particularly last eleven days of May 2021 would call for more alertness and appropriate strategy. In the absence of alertness and appropriate strategy , COVID-19 can re-emerge with greater strength and mischief in vulnerable most parts of the world. The planetary impact appears to be prone to suggest another reading covering mid-April to 31 May in the coming year 2021 – full-fledged war somewhere , could even be something most dreaded WW3 besides crisis in economy , trade and food sectors”. This predictive alert was flashed to a number of news portals and newspapers in India as well at that stage of time near May 2020.
    Besides woeful fury of COVID-19 pandemic or newer forms of coronavirus said to have come from other countries, we are also hearing news reports of two to three fronts of war-like scenario – Taiwan , Ukraine and Middle-East.
    The aforesaid details are suggestive of meaningfulness of the predictive alerts, so prior.

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