PATNA: More bodies continued to float downstream in the Ganges in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh even on Wednesday, triggering alarm over the possibility of Covid-19 infection spreading through water.
The contaminated area is around Balia and Ghazipur in UP and Buxar and Chapra in Bihar. On Wednesday, till 1 pm, 220 bodies had been cremated in the three districts.
Though no cases of waterborne transmission have been documented thus far, health agencies insist on utmost care in handling the bodies of people who have succumbed to Covid-19. As per the protocol, the body is carried in a disinfected bag and those attending to last rites must wear protective overalls, including masks and eyewear.
According to health experts, Covid-19 spreads mostly through respiratory droplets produced by an infected person while coughing, sneezing or breathing. Some of the droplets are very small, called aerosols, and they can be airborne over a distance greater than two metres. However, there is no evidence to suggest that running water or even a swimming pool can be the route of transmission for the lethal virus.
The District Magistrate of Buxar, Aman Sameer, said he had talked with his counterparts in Chapra and Balia and requested them to ensure bodies were not dumped in the river. Vigil is also being kept on the banks and the ghats.
On Wednesday morning, villagers, who went to the bank of the river for a bath, found four bodies enmeshed in a giant net that had been strategically placed at the mouth of the river by the Buxar administration.
A little while later, eight more bodies were found in the river bed at Bees ka Dera, an island close to Chausa ghat.
Bihar's DGP S K Singhal contacted his UP counterpart and informed newspersons that the bodies were drifting from UP. The DNA samples of the bodies were collected before burial, to establish their identity; also, swabs of a few bodies were taken for Corona tests.
A night guard posted at Baran ghat claimed the bodies were dumped into the river by some ‘mallahs’ (boatmen). The administration has requisitioned the services of divers to retrieve the bodies.