Coronavirus grave yard troubles Istanbul locals

Residents in Istanbul’s Beykoz district have protested the burial of coronavirus victims close to settlements and schools, the daily Cumhuriyet reported on Friday.

Speaking to the daily, Mustafa Yildirim, the local representative of Cavusbasi Baklaci neighborhood said the authorities were making contradicting statements against the locals’ reactions over the closeness of the burial places to the living spaces.

“The [Istanbul] Governorship Office said there would not yet be burial [as] they had not realized that the place [of the cemetery] was in the city center,” the mukhtar asserted.

However, the officials from the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB) said the work on building the cemetery and the burial would go ahead, canceling the previously-set meeting with the locals to discuss the issue, Yildirim added.

“There are lots of contradictory remarks [by the authorities]. Everyone [the residents] is concerned [about the burial],” claimed the mukhtar.

According to another report by Sputnik Turkish, the local people, who gathered in front of the new graveyard on Thursday when the burial started in an attempt to protest the authorities, were dispersed by police.

The mukhtar further claimed that the construction workers have been acting without adhering to hygiene rules, and have been leaving their gloves and masks being scattered around the working area.

“The cemetery has been built in the forest. They cut the trees and are still doing so. This area is very near to the highway, an intersection point between Beykoz, Cekmekoy, and Umraniye [Istanbul’s three districts],” the headman warned.

Yildirim also said 17 virus victims had been buried so far, while 7 more were expected to be buried according to the preparations for new burial plots.

“There are other more isolated places [suitable for the burials] in Beykoz. Here are schools [just] 150-200 meters away. It is highly threatening to build the graveyard in a schools-region,” the local chief called on the authorities to take precaution accordingly.

Abdurrahman Oz, a resident in the district, questioned the decision on building the graveyard in the inner-city.

“If it is risky to establish a [corona] cemetery in the middle of such residential areas, why they [the authorities] are doing that. If there had not been a threat [to the health of others], those people [corona victims] would have been buried in their [own] family cemeteries. That means that [corona burials] are risky for others’health,” the indweller told Sputnik Turkish.

According to the reports, two places, Beykoz on Istanbul’s Anatolian side, and Kilyos on the European side have been designated as corona graveyards based on recommendations by the country’s virus-related science council and the Diyanet, Turkey’s top religious body.

Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca reported that there are  3,629 confirmed coronavirus cases and 75 deaths.

The Turkish government has taken drastic measures to curb the spread of the virus, banning mass prayers across the country, shutting down schools and universities, and canceling mass gatherings, among others.

According to the technical report by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on how to conduct safe burial of a patient who has died from suspected or confirmed COVID-19 disease, the decedents can be buried or cremated as usual.

The health authorities say the virus cannot be transmitted posthumously. However, the personnel responsible for handling the bodies must avoid direct contact with human remains or bodily fluids, as the virus can still survive on clothes, etc for a few hours.

The Turkish authorities are reportedly carrying out the funerals as unattended burials due to the risks amid the country’s novel coronavirus outbreak.

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