Medical professionals in parts of Kerala have performed great heroics when dealing with the deadly Nipah virus. We all remember the poignant story of how one nurse lost her life to the virus while treating patients. In yet another show of selfless service, a doctor in Kozhikode has taken it upon himself to supervise the last rites of 12 victims, despite the grave hazards involved.
Dr RS Gopakumar, a health officer of the Kozhikode corporation also took the responsibility of being one of the pallbearers for three of the 12 victims, while also conducting their lasts rites. Authorities have confirmed 14 deaths from the Nipah virus in Kozhikode while the other three are from Malappuram.
Family members of the 12 victims stayed away from funeral proceedings fearing that they might contract the virus. Speaking to the Press Trust of India, Dr Gopakumar talked about the heartbreak involved in dealing with some of these cases.
In one instance, the mother of a 17-year-old Nipah victim, allowed Dr Gopakumar to conduct the final rites since she was suspected of carrying the virus herself. Relegated to isolation and with no one else in the family willing to take charge of funeral proceedings, the mother gave him her permission.
“I was saddened that during his last journey there were none of his dear ones to perform the last rites. I did not have to think twice, and I decided to perform all Hindu rites for the boy as I wanted him to go on his final journey with all the dignity. It was my duty,” he told PTI.
The Nipah virus is one of the deadliest viruses to affect India in recent years. Handling the bodies of these victims itself is an activity rife with danger.
Any fluid or solid matter secreted or excreted from those who have died because of Nipah is extremely hazardous. The infection the deceased carry is equal to those who are living.
The National Centre for Disease Control has established a strict protocol when dealing with Nipah-affected bodies. “As part of the standard procedures, the bodies should not be sprayed, washed or embalmed and personnel handling remains have to wear protective equipment like gloves, gowns, N95 masks, eye protection shield and shoe covers” reports PTI.
Among the 12 who died, nine had contracted the virus, while four others were suspects. Initially, even crematoriums weren’t taking keen to admit the bodies, but they soon came around.
Fortunately for Kerala, there have been no fresh Nipah cases reported since May 30.
(Edited By Vinayak Hegde)