Repatriation of bodies to India a challenge amidst UAE flight suspensions

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None of the cases coronavirus-related, Indian consulate clarifies

Dubai: Fifteen Indian expats have died in Dubai and the Northern Emirates due to reasons other than coronavirus in the past 10 days, with six bodies being repatriated home amidst travel restrictions, the Consulate General of India (CGI) in Dubai told Gulf News on Wednesday.

Neeraj Agrawal, Press Consul at the CGI, said, “Since March 22, a total of 15 deaths have been registered with us. Most of these cases have been natural deaths resulting from heart problems or a medical condition other than coronavirus. They also include accident cases.”

Agrawal said with the suspension of international flights and India on lockdown, the task of repatriating the bodies poses a logistical challenge, but UAE-based employers and social workers with the help of the CGI have managed to send six bodies back home on cargo flights.

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“Seven bodies have been cremated here itself,” he said, adding that two cases are awaiting clearances still.

Below daily average

Agrawal said the average number of deaths recorded by the CGI daily is four. “Given this average, the number of registered deaths over the past 10 days is lower. We wish this is the case, but if there have been more deaths, we request the community to come forward and inform us so that any help, if needed, can be extended,” he added.

According to the official, “The actual number could well be more given the average number of deaths registered by the CGI on a daily basis. Families who choose to cremate the bodies locally sometimes approach us only later to register the deaths and obtain death certificates. With people refraining from going out in the current climate, some may come to us in due course of time.”

Agrawal said many families back home, especially in cases involving labourers, seek repatriation of bodies, which is a request that is usually complied with by employers. In case employers do not cooperate, the CGI makes all arrangements to send the bodies home.

“It’s a personal matter for the families as they want to see their loved ones and perform the last rites in India. Sending bodies under the current circumstances is a challenge, but employers and social workers came together to send back six bodies on cargo flights in the last 10 days, since regular flights remain suspended as a precautionary measure to check the spread of coronavirus.”

He clarified that none of the 15 cases in question were coronavirus-related.

“There is different protocol that has been mandated by the Ministry of Health and Prevention for COVID-19 cases which have to be adopted,” he added.

Where to seek help in case of a death

Indian expats can write to [email protected] or call the helpline at 056-5463903 or 050-7347676.

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