• Saturday, May 30, 2020
  • Last Update : 03:59 pm

Al-Markazul Islami stands by people dying of coronavirus

  • Published at 11:48 am April 10th, 2020
Al-Markazul Islami
Al-Markazul Islami bury Covid-19 victim maintaining WHO guideline. The photo was taken from Azimpur Graveyard in Dhaka Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

They have buried or cremated 18 bodies so far

While many are unaware or simply unable to deal with coronavirus deaths, a group of people have come to the forefront, as part of social and humane responsibility, to perform the final rites for those succumbing to the malady.

Upto 10 people now take part in funeral prayers before burying a confirmed or suspected Covid-19 victim since the government has decreed social distancing measures.

Relatives and neighbours of most of the deceased are not attending the whole burial process, not even the funerals.

They are afraid to touch the deceased, for fear of being infected.

Al-Markazul Islami, a multiple service providing organisation, stepped forward in the circumstances and now stands by the dead at their final rites.

The organisation collects bodies from hospitals – following strict guidelines – carries them to its own hospital in Mohammadpur via specialized ambulances and performs the final rites, including bathing the bodies, dressing them in shrouds, and offering funeral prayers, all free of cost.

After placing a body inside a polythene bag, and later in a  body bag, a team of six people take the deceased to either a graveyard or a crematorium as per the religion of the deceased. 

For Muslims funeral prayers are first held in the Al-Markazul Islami Hospital and once more in the graveyard.

There are two teams each consisting of six members, one in reserve and one in operation, Al-Markazul Islami acting chairman Hamza Shahidul Islam told Dhaka Tribune. 

"Initially the volunteers feared touching the body bags, even though the bodies were safely covered. But now they are not afraid anymore and perform their human duty on their own accord," Hamza said.

The final bath

The bodies of the deceased are washed and bathed for funeral according to Bangladeshi tradition and Islamic rituals. 

After WHO issued guidelines on dealing with coronavirus, the organization made rules in line with them. A disinfectant containing 60% alcohol and 40% water is first sprayed on the bodies, Hamza said.

Then a team, using a pumping machine, randomly pours water on the bodies for a long period of time to complete ablution, or bath, he added.

"We do the entire work from taking a body from the hospital upto placing it inside the grave ... the directors of specialized hospitals for Covid-19 patients are always helping us," he added.

After completing burials, team members burn the personal protective equipment (PPE) they have used. 

The organization initiated funeral services after directors of different hospitals, Islamic Foundation and Joint Secretary Health Saifullah Azam contacted it, he said.

“The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been providing us with body bags, cloth for shrouds, etc,” he said.

At least 18 dead, who succumbed to Covid-19 symptoms, were buried or cremated till Tuesday by Al-Markazul Islami --- one in Azimpur graveyard, 16 in Taltola graveyard and one at a Hindu cremation site.

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