No PPE, No Vaccine: The Plight of Overworked Crematorium Workers in India’s West Bengal

It is a funeral like no other. There are no mourners, only dead bodies that are piled one on top of the other and brought to the crematoriums straight from their hospital beds. Since the onset of the pandemic, the country has recorded nearly 300,000 deaths so far.

India is grieving the colossal loss of lives due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The growing number of deaths has overburdened crematorium workers, who are toiling over 16 hours a day without Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits. Despite being exposed to hundreds of bodies of people who succumbed to COVID, those who work at the crematoriums have yet to be declared frontline workers for priority vaccination.

The eastern state of West Bengal has declared that the last rites of all victims of COVID-19 will be carried out free of charge after complaints of fraud by middlemen at crematoriums and burial grounds came to light.

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