COVID-19: Families Can Hold Funeral Of The Departed, Says WHO In Its New Guidelines For Managing Dead Bodies During The Pandemic

COVID-19: Families Can Hold Funeral Of The Departed, Says WHO In Its New Guidelines For Managing Dead Bodies During The Pandemic

The new interim guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on dead body management during COVID-19 eases restrictions on attending the funeral of a near and dear one, says embalming or preserving of the corpse is not recommended since there is a risk of getting into contact with body secretions and air during the process
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COVID-19: Families Can Hold Funeral Of The Deceased, Says WHO In Its New Guidelines For Managing Dead Bodies During The PandemicAccording to WHO’s new guidelines on dead body management during COVID-19, even though the risk of infection from a corpse is low, wearing masks and maintaining social distance is recommended during the funeral or paying final respects
Highlights
  • Persons preparing the corpse for last rites must wear protective gears: WHO
  • WHO warns families and friends against touching or kissing the body
  • To open a body bag or coffin for viewing, use gloves and medical mask: WHO

New Delhi: COVID-19 has tested every aspect of human life in the last few months. The fear of contracting the virus and then spreading it has been a cause of widespread anxiousness. Once infected the separation from loved ones and the uncertainty can weaken even the most spirited. And for the less fortunate even in death the pandemic has been a traumatic experience for near and dear ones. The restrictions in place to control the transmission of the novel coronavirus meant that not many could pay their last respects or be there for the last rites of the departed. But now a new interim guideline for infection prevention and safe management of dead bodies in the context of COVID-19, released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on September 4 says that families can hold funerals and bodies can be buried or cremated according to family preferences.

Also Read: Sero-Survey Conducted In August Finds No Antibodies In 30 Per Cent Of Recovered COVID-19 Patient

The last rites have been shortened and limited to a minimum number of people in close contact with the departed person because of the pandemic. The new guideline of WHO says the family and friends of the patient who succumbed to the disease should follow local guidance regarding the number of people that can attend a funeral/ viewing or burial in community setting, including the home. The interim guidelines released by WHO on March 24 for dead body management during COVID, however, did not talk mention about families and friends holding funerals for their loved ones who died due to COVID-19. Both old and new guidelines recommend that funeral ceremonies that do not involve the disposal of the body should be postponed. WHO said in its guidelines,

Although burials or cremations should take place in a timely manner and in accordance with local practices, funeral ceremonies that do not involve the disposal of the body should be postponed, if possible, until the end of the epidemic. If a ceremony is held, the number of participants should be kept to a minimum. Participants should observe physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, local mask wearing requirements, and hand hygiene at all times.

The guidelines also say that the number of people performing autopsies, involved in preparing the body and those conducting the burial must also be kept at minimum and they must wear appropriate protective gears to protect themselves from any potential infections.

The WHO has, also warned funeral services, organizations and mortuary services facilities against embalming COVID-19 bodies as it involves excessive manipulation of that body that may expel air and fluids from the lungs. Embalming is the process of preserving the cadaver by treating it with chemicals and removing body fluids in order to prevent decay. WHO says in its guidelines,

Based on current knowledge of the symptoms of COVID-19 and its main modes of transmission (droplet/contact), the likelihood of transmission when handling human remains is low

Explaining about the low risk of infection from the dead body of COVID-19 patient, Dr. Ramana Dhara, Professor at Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH), Hyderabad said that unlike fevers like Ebola, Marburg, and diarrheal diseases like cholera that are Hemorrhagic or cause blood or body fluid to escape from a raptured blood vessel or organ, death from respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 do not pose any risks unless the person handling the dead body comes into contact with body secretions of some form. He further said,

Even though a person suffering from COVID-19 may have died and be no longer as infective, however, the lungs and other organs may still contain live viruses. Appropriate protective gears must be worn while handling the body and measure must be taken toward avoiding contact with the fluids.

Also Read: ‘Excellent Safety’ Of Two Indigenous COVID Candidate Vaccines Revealed During Phase-I Trials: Minister

The guidelines further added that mortuary staff or funeral home workers or any family member or religious leader preparing the body by performing certain processes including washing the body, tidying/shaving hair, or trimming nails should wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) including gloves, impermeable gown or gown with an impermeable apron, medical mask, eye protection (face shield or goggles) and closed footwear or footwear protection.

The guidelines say that family and friends can view the body but they must be instructed to not touch or kiss the body in families where it is the part of funeral procedures and maintain at least one metre distance from one another and perform hand hygiene after viewing.

To open a body bag or coffin for viewing, use gloves and medical mask, and once the body bag or coffin is opened, remove gloves and perform hand hygiene, said the guidelines.

WHO has emphasised on respecting the dignity of the dead, their cultural and religious traditions. It has called for respect and protection to the families of the departed patients throughout the burial/cremation ceremony and has said that hasty disposal of the person who died of COVID-19 must be avoided. The belongings of the dead person do not need to be burned or otherwise disposed of. However, WHO recommends that the belongings should be handled while wearing gloves and cleaned.

It says that mourners who are above 60 years of age or with underlying conditions like hypertension, diabetes, among others must take necessary precautions like wearing a medical mask in order to carry out safe last rites. It suggests that people who are unwell should not participate in the viewing or funeral.

According to Dr. Dhara, health authorities of various countries across the globe have released their own set of guidelines regarding dead body management of COVID-19 positive patients that are mostly similar to WHO’s guidelines with some variations. In India, the current guidelines that are in place were released on March 15 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The Centre’s guidelines allow viewing of the dead body by unzipping the face end of the body bag (by the staff using standard precautions) if the relatives wish to see the body for the one last time. It does not allow bathing the dead body, kissing or hugging it and calls for practising hand hygiene after cremation/burial of the body. It prohibits large gatherings at the crematorium and says that social distancing should be maintained. The guidelines issued by the Centre states,

The main driver of transmission of COVID-19 is through droplets. There is unlikely to be an increased risk of COVID-19 infection from a dead body to health workers or family members who follow standard precautions while handling the body.

While there are no new updates in the guideline or standard operating procedure (SOP) incorporating changes added in WHO’s guidelines, an official at the MoHFW said that the states can release their own SOPs on the basis of Centre’s and WHO’s guidelines. For example, in Rajasthan, the bodies of patients who have died or suspected to have died of COVID-19 will be handed over to the family for cremation who must cremate the same following the safety measures mentioned in the guidelines. State Health Minister Dr. Raghu Sharma said on September 9 in a press statement,

The government apart from being alert and cautious is also sensitive. Knowing the intention of the general public, the Chief Minister has directed the department to hand over the dead body of COVID infected patient to the family members and get the cremation done by taking full caution. There should not be more than 20 people during the cremation. During the cremation, it will be necessary to wear PPE kit, gloves, mask, maintaining social distance along with to fully comply with all the other protocols. No permission from anybody is required to take a body from one district to another.

Dr. Sharma added that the protocol has been added to enable people catch a glimpse of the COVID patient for one last time. He said that touching, hugging, kissing the dead body would be prohibited.

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), as of now, there have been over 82,000 COVID-19 deaths in the country. Globally, as of Wednesday (September 16), more than 9.34 lakh people have succumbed to COVID-19 over the past nine months.

Also Read: Top Doctors Urge People To Strictly Follow COVID-19 Safety Protocol

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

3,22,27,134Cases
90,11,771Active
2,22,32,414Recovered
9,82,949Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 188 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 3,22,27,134 and 9,82,949 have died; 90,11,771 are active cases and 2,22,32,414 have recovered as on September 25, 2020 at 3:43 am.

India

58,18,570 86052Cases
9,70,116 3734Active
47,56,164 81177Recovered
92,290 1141Deaths
In India, there are 58,18,570 confirmed cases including 92,290 deaths. The number of active cases is 9,70,116 and 47,56,164 have recovered as on September 25, 2020 at 2:30 am.

State & District Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
DistrictCases
Akola757
Aurangabad1974
Dhule228
Jalgaon1039
Mumbai45478
Mumbai Suburban5363
Nagpur692
Nashik1575
Palghar1421
Pune9920
Satara629
Solapur1291
Thane13660
Yavatmal150
Ahmednagar190
Amravati291
Beed54
Bhandara41
Buldhana88
Chandrapur32
Hingoli208
Jalna201
Kolhapur646
Latur139
Nanded176
Nandurbar42
Parbhani78
Raigad1462
Ratnagiri350
Sangli145
Gadchiroli42
gondia69
Osmanabad125
Sindhudurg114
Wardha11
Washim13

1282963 19164

275404 1521

973214 17184

34345 459

DistrictCases
Chittoor319
Guntur511
Krishna557
Kurnool795
Sri Potti Sriramulu Nell*296
Anantapur428
East Godavari356
Prakasam104
Srikakulam183
Visakhapatnam103
West Godavari199
Y.S.R.205
Vizianagaram23

654385 7855

69353

579474 8807

5558 52

DistrictCases
Bengaluru Rural40
Bengaluru Urban529
Mysuru107
Bagalkote103
Ballari60
Belagavi337
Bidar219
Chikkaballapura149
Dakshina Kannada179
Dharwad61
Gadag45
Kalaburagi669
Mandya346
Tumakuru36
Uttara Kannada95
Vijayapura201
Chamarajanagara0
Chikkamagaluru19
Chitradurga14
Davangere204
Hassan205
Haveri24
Kodagu4
Kolar29
Koppal5
Raichur369
Ramanagara3
Shivamogga67
Udupi1176
Yadgir538

548557 7710

95568 897

444658 6748

8331 65

DistrictCases
North Goa57
South Goa69

30552 673

5822 176

24347 490

383 7

DistrictCases
Chengalpattu1314
Chennai23324
Kanchipuram503
Madurai322
Namakkal83
Ranipet133
Thanjavur130
Thiruvallur774
Thiruvarur67
Tiruppur116
Vellore71
Virudhunagar185
Ariyalur444
Coimbatore188
Cuddalore477
Dharmapuri15
Dindigul175
Erode75
Kallakurichi324
Kanniyakumari110
Karur88
Nagapattinam99
Perambalur133
Pudukkottai53
Ramanathapuram119
Salem258
Sivaganga46
Tenkasi103
The Nilgiris17
Theni129
Tiruchirappalli119
Tirunelveli433
Tirupathur45
Tiruvannamalai496
Tuticorin333
Villupuram509
Krishnagiri43

563691 5692

46405 156

508210 5470

9076 66

DistrictCases
Kannur357
Kottayam73
Alappuzha76
Idukki40
Kasaragod333
Kollam118
Kozhikode90
Malappuram119
Palakkad224
Pathanamthitta98
Thiruvananthapuram104
Thrissur106
Ernakulam60
Wayanad36

154456 6324

45993 3135

107850 3168

613 21

DistrictCases
Raipur46
Korba100
Balod41
Baloda Bazar85
Balrampur17
Bastar2
Bemetara21
Bijapur2
Bilaspur100
Dantewada0
Dhamtari6
Durg31
Gariyaband10
Janjgir-Champa56
Jashpur77
Kabirdham52
Kanker19
Kondagaon0
Korea39
Mahasamund54
Mungeli87
Narayanpur0
Raigarh47
Rajnandgaon52
Sukma0
Surajpur9
Surguja14

95623 2272

36038 188

58833 2060

752 24

DistrictCases
Hyderabad2475
MedchalMalkajgiri75
Ranga Reddy183
Suryapet87
Vikarabad40
Warangal Urban32
Adilabad22
Jagitial77
Jangoan8
Jayashankar Bhupalapally9
Jogulamba Gadwal40
Kamareddy11
Karimnagar17
Khammam26
Kumuram Bheem Asifabad8
Mahabubnagar30
Mancherial43
Medak11
Nalgonda33
Narayanpet3
Nirmal21
Nizamabad76
RajannaSircilla16
Sangareddy26
Bhadradri Kothagudem5
Mahabubabad10
Mulugu3
Nagarkurnool8
Peddapalli5
Siddipet7
Wanaparthy1
Warangal Rural4
YadadriBhuvanagiri40

181627 2381

30387 350

150160 2021

1080 10

DistrictCases
Baleshwar190
Bhadrak137
Jajapur322
Dhenkanal36
Kalahandi33
Kendrapara164
Khordha238
Koraput16
Sundargarh102
Anugul26
Balangir129
Bargarh16
Boudh34
Cuttack155
Deogarh33
Gajapati61
Ganjam581
Jagatsinghapur91
Jharsuguda8
Kandhamal28
Kendujhar34
Malkangiri20
Mayurbhanj73
Nabarangpur2
Nayagarh86
Nuapada69
Puri103
Rayagada2
Sambalpur16
Sonepur29

196888 4340

35092 545

161044 3779

752 16

DistrictCases
Barwani60
Bhopal1880
Dewas140
Dhar132
East Nimar266
Gwalior211
Indore3839
Jabalpur276
Ujjain799
Agar Malwa15
Alirajpur3
Betul35
Burhanpur351
Chhindwara16
Dindori29
Harda4
Hoshangabad37
Khargone196
Mandsaur112
Morena109
Raisen71
Ratlam51
Sagar228
Shajapur39
Shandol14
Sheopur26
Tikamgarh18
Vidisha37
Anuppur22
Ashoknagar13
Balaghat9
Bhind87
Chhatarpur35
Damoh26
Datia12
Guna8
Jhabua14
Katni3
Mandla15
Narsinghpur17
Neemuch319
Niwari0
Panna20
Rajgarh31
Rewa39
Satna24
Sehore12
Seoni2
Shivpuri15
Sidhi17
Singrauli13
Umaria10

115361 2304

22744

90495 2327

2122 45

DistrictCases
Ahmadabad17125
Anand107
Arvalli134
Banas Kantha147
Bhavnagar146
Gandhinagar410
PanchMahals107
Surat2311
Vadodara1555
Bharuch56
Botad55
Chhotaudepur37
Dang5
Dohad43
GirSomnath45
Jamnagar63
Kachchh99
Kheda98
Mahesana159
Mahisagar125
Narmada25
Naysari35
Patan105
Rajkot135
SabarKantha101
Surendranagar55
Tapi6
Valsad47
Amreli16
DevbhumiDwarka22
Junagadh31
Morbi4
Porbandar11

128787 1408

16327

109079 1505

3381 14

DistrictCases
Ajmer379
Banswara91
Bharatpur563
Jaipur2177
Jhalawar329
Jodhpur1748
Kota503
Nagaur500
Alwar90
Barmer34
Bhilwara250
Bikaner112
Chittorgarh188
Churu81
Dausa61
Dholpur60
Dungarpur374
Hanumangarh31
Jaisalmer53
Jhunjhunu64
Karauli17
Pali352
Rajsamand140
SawaiMadhopur26
Sikar231
Tonk171
Udaipur724
Baran59
Bundi5
Ganganagar8
Jalore164
Pratapgarh14
Sirohi130

122720 1981

18993 1

102330 1965

1397 15

DistrictCases
Faridabad867
Sonipat404
Ambala93
Bhiwani60
CharkiDadri43
Fatehabad38
Gurugram2950
Hisar98
Jhajjar114
Jind38
Kaithal48
Karnal104
Kurukshetra55
Nuh68
Palwal120
Panchkula39
Panipat78
Rohtak145
Sirsa50
Yamunanagar19
Mahendragarh47
Rewari56

118554 1698

18889

98410 2063

1255 22

DistrictCases
Agra933
Aligarh215
Amroha80
Bareilly17
Bijnor157
Bulandshahr166
Firozabad190
Gautam Buddha Nagar1119
Kanpur Nagar286
Lucknow386
Mathura129
Meerut504
Moradabad252
Muzaffarnagar117
Rae Bareli78
Rampur203
Saharanpur298
Sant Kabeer Nagar132
Varanasi243
Auraiya37
Ayodhya120
Azamgarh138
Baghpat68
Bahraich73
Balrampur49
Banda27
Basti214
Bhadohi60
Budaun23
Etah52
Etawah46
Ghaziabad794
Ghazipur159
Gonda59
Gorakhpur166
Hapur225
Hardoi49
Jalaun41
Jaunpur194
Jhansi41
Kannauj69
Kasganj16
Kaushambi6
Mainpuri46
Mau48
Mirzapur22
Pilibhit15
Pratapgarh15
Prayagraj30
Sambhal116
Shamli40
Shravasti23
Sitapur32
Sultanpur97
Unnao42
Ambedkar Nagar92
Amethi206
Ballia60
Barabanki168
Chandauli38
Chitrakoot4
Deoria143
Farrukhabad36
Fatehpur3
Hamirpur3
Hathras43
Kanpur Dehat4
Kheri72
Kushi Nagar67
Lalitpur3
Maharajganj85
Mahoba3
Shahjahanpur25
Siddharth Nagar159
Sonbhadra10

374277 4591

61300

307611 4922

5366 67

DistrictCases
Central4817
East2472
New Delhi3405
North3059
North East1914
North West5463
Shahdara1580
South2329
South East2446
South West2391
West4768

260623 3834

31125 289

224375 3509

5123 36

DistrictCases
Dhubri30
Goalpara19
Marigaon50
Baksa14
Barpeta28
Biswanath16
Bongaigaon12
Cachar80
Charaideo29
Chirang6
Darrang20
Dhemaji47
Dibrugarh61
Dima Hasao86
Golaghat203
Hailakandi57
Hojai89
Jorhat24
Kamrup42
Kamrup Metro276
KarbiAnglong13
Karimganj85
Kokrajhar37
Lakhimpur57
Majuli2
Nagaon143
Nalbari23
Sivasagar20
Sonitpur27
South SalmaraMancachar4
Tinsukia84
Udalguri28
West KarbiAnglong5

165582 2091

29830

135144 2432

608 11

DistrictCases
East District3
North District0
South District3
West District0

2692 64

607 32

2054 31

31 1

DistrictCases
Buxar134
Gaya115
Munger188
Patna279
Rohtas256
Arwal52
Aurangabad75
Banka134
Begusarai243
Bhagalpur266
Bhojpur103
Darbhanga143
Gopalganj123
Jehanabad178
Kaimur (bhabua)105
Lakhisarai72
Madhepura82
Madhubani199
Nalanda123
Nawada122
PurbiChamparan138
Purnia135
Saran101
Siwan139
Vaishali87
Araria68
Jamui47
Katihar175
Khagaria253
Kishanganj75
Muzaffarpur96
Pashchim Champaran57
Saharsa88
Samastipur139
Sheikhpura118
Sheohar20
Sitamarhi73
Supaul87

174071 1217

13015 57

160178 1156

878 4

DistrictCases
24 Paraganas North1031
24 Paraganas South281
Darjeeling97
Howrah1435
Jalpaiguri88
Kalimpong18
Kolkata2777
Maldah235
Medinipur East153
Medinipur West159
Hooghly604
Murshidabad125
Nadia139
Paschim Bardhaman70
Purba Bardhaman130
Alipurduar39
Bankura116
Birbhum206
Coochbehar210
Dinajpur Dakshin50
Dinajpur Uttar216
Jhargram9
Purulia66

237869 3196

25221 120

208042 3014

4606 62

DistrictCases
South Andamans33
Nicobars1
North And Middle Andaman1

3744 32

189 23

3503 9

52

DistrictCases
Pondicherry111
Karaikal2
Mahe4
Yanam0

24895 668

5097 244

19311 418

487 6

DistrictCases
Anjaw0
Changlang31
Dibang Valley0
East Kameng0
East Siang1
Kamle0
KraDaadi0
KurungKumey0
Leparada0
Lohit3
Longding0
Lower Dibang Valley0
Lower Siang0
Lower Subansiri0
Namsai2
PakkeKessang1
Papum Pare8
Shi Yomi0
Siang0
Tawang1
Tirap0
Upper Siang1
Upper Subansiri0
West Kameng0
West Siang1

8416 283

2331 115

6071 168

14

DistrictCases
Dimapur20
Kiphire3
Kohima7
Longleng0
Mokokchung0
Mon8
Peren2
Phek1
Tuensang3
Wokha0
Zunheboto0

5730 59

1088

4626 90

16

DistrictCases
Dadra And Nagar Haveli20

2977 15

190

2785 30

2

DistrictCases
Ranchi148
Bokaro16
Deoghar5
Dhanbad32
Garhwa80
Giridih19
Hazaribagh110
Jamtara2
Koderma58
Simdega48
Chatra1
Dumka5
East Singhbum170
Godda2
Gumla28
Khunti10
Latehar14
Lohardaga8
Pakur4
Palamu27
Ramgarh75
Sahebganj0
SaraikelaKharsawan20
West Singhbhum21

76438 1349

12841

62945 1386

652 4

DistrictCases
Gomati74
North Tripura14
Dhalai196
Khowai24
Sepahijala174
South Tripura53
Unakoti49
West Tripura45

24130 341

6378

17487 509

265 5

DistrictCases
Kargil77
LehLadakh43

3969 36

1022

2893 49

54 3

DistrictCases
Anantnag395
Bandipora175
Shopian255
Srinagar300
Baramulla271
Budgam110
Ganderbal37
Jammu138
Kathua53
Kulgam295
Kupwara231
Rajouri39
Ramban151
Reasi26
Samba25
Udhampur155
Mirpur0
Muzaffarabad0
Doda27
Kishtwar10
Poonch35
Pulwama108

68614 1104

19451

48079 1549

1084 22

DistrictCases
Chamba29
Hamirpur117
Kangra105
Sirmaur11
Solan32
Una41
Bilaspur21
Kinnaur2
Kullu4
Lahaul And Spiti0
Mandi21
Shimla10

13386 337

3984 34

9252 293

150 10

DistrictCases
Jalandhar297
Ludhiana293
Patiala132
Amritsar485
Barnala25
Faridkot74
Firozepur50
Gurdaspur154
Hoshiarpur140
Kapurthala44
Mansa31
Moga65
Pathankot86
S.A.S Nagar137
Sangrur107
Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar (Nawanshahr)99
Sri Muktsar Sahib71
Tarn Taran163
Bathinda60
Fatehgarh Sahib57
Fazilka53
Rupnagar (Ropar)74

105220 1756

20679

81475 2231

3066 76

DistrictCases
Haridwar94
Dehradun370
Nainital323
Almora71
Bageshwar31
Chamoli36
Champawat45
PauriGarhwal36
Pithoragarh43
Rudraprayag30
Tehri Garhwal110
Udam Singh Nagar83
Uttar Kashi24

44404 684

11507

32355 1031

542 13

DistrictCases
Bishnupur7
Chandel5
Churachandpur32
Imphal East10
Imphal West21
Jiribam3
Kakching2
Kamjong5
Kangpokpi26
Noney1
Pherzawl3
Senapati6
Tamenglong2
Tengnoupal9
Thoubal18
Ukhrul4

9537 161

2106

7369 261

62

DistrictCases
Chandigarh313

10968 242

2482

8342 293

144 4

DistrictCases
East Khasi Hills22
East Garo Hills0
East Jaintia Hills0
North Garo Hills1
Ribhoi0
South Garo Hills0
South West Garo Hills4
South West Khasi Hills0
West Garo Hills5
West Jaintia Hills1
West Khasi Hills1

5078 117

1977

3058 199

43 1

DistrictCases
Aizawl10
Champhai0
Hnahthial0
Khawzawl0
Kolasib11
Lawngtlai2
Lunglei2
Mamit8
Saiha0
Saitual1
Serchhip0

1786 73

681 63

1105 10

0

DistrictCases
Lakshadweep District0

0

0

0

0

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