Sri Lanka Holds Mass Cremation as COVID-19 Cases Rises

Officials announced Monday that Sri Lanka had launched mass cremations to remove a backlog of dead bodies from COVID-19 as cases spread across the country.

In a month, the number of daily viral infections in the country has doubled to over 2,500, with around 100 deaths, putting a major load on hospitals. 

After the island’s primary hospital announced no more freezer room, the Colombo Municipality began mass burials on Sunday evening, disposing of 15 dead at the Colombo General Cemetery.

It was the first mass cremation since the government overcame religious concerns in December and burned 15 Muslim minority members, including a 20-day-old newborn. 

Following a local and international outcry, the government agreed to allow Muslims to be buried in a secluded part of the island’s east, as per Islamic tradition.

According to the Public Health Inspectors (PHI) union, bodies of COVID-19 patients stacked up at hospitals over the weekend, as crematoriums operating around the clock were unable to cope with the significant surge in mortality.

“At this rate, we may have to build new crematoriums,” PHI union chief Upul Rohana told local reporters.


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