In perhaps for the first time, a Latin Catholic church in Kerala on Tuesday allowed cremation of a COVID-19 woman victim at its cemetery in line with the government health protocol, a gesture which came in for praise from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The woman, 62-year-old Theresamma who died on Monday, was cremated at the St Augustine's Church at Mararikulam in Alappuzha as per the COVID-19 health protocol, in a departure from the practice of burying the dead. She was suffering from kidney ailment and had died on Monday.
Her samples later tested positive for the infection. Vijayan referred to an incident at Kottayam where a group of people led by a BJP councillor had tried to stop the health officials from conducting the final rites of a person who had died of the disease.
"Today was an entirely different experience. The Alappuzha diocese of the Catholic church informed that they will bury the ashes of the COVID victim after cremating, adhering to the health protocols," Vijayan said.
The act of the Alappuzha diocese was "admirable", and the district administration along with the health department will provide all assistance in the process,he said.
Bishop James Anapparambil of the diocese in a circular expressed willingness to cremate bodies of those who had died of the virus and said the decision was taken following requests from the district collector and health care workers.
In the prevailing situation, it would be difficult to perform funerals of COVID-19 victims in the cemeteries. Hence, bodies should be cremated at respective parishes in accordance with protocols of the government, the circular said.