COVID-19: How to handle bodies of deceased and complete last rites, check guidelines

By: |
April 2, 2020 1:02 PM

The number of positive cases for the novel Coronavirus crosses 2,000 mark with as many as 50 deaths reported.

The government has allowed both the burial and cremation as per the faith.

Coronavirus cases: Handling last rites of the deceased now comes with specific guidelines! The number of positive cases for the novel Coronavirus crosses 2,000 mark with as many as 50 deaths reported. While viral diseases can be tricky for those who are handling the patients or dead bodies, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has said that there is hardly any increase in risk of getting COVID-19 infection from a dead body to the healthcare workers or family members. The government has allowed both the burial and cremation as per the faith. However there is a standard procedure that all health workers and family members need to adhere to. Here are some guidelines recommended by the Health Ministry for managing funerals.

Guidelines for handling deceased at cremation/burial ground

  • Firstly it is important to inform the burial or cremation ground about COVID-19 patients and sensitise that there is no additional risk.
  • The members of the ground should wear gloves, masks and follow hand hygiene.
  • Relatives may be allowed to see the body of the deceased one time and the bag should be unzipped by a staff member.
  • All religious rituals that do not require touching the body can be performed. 
  • The government has not allowed touching, hugging or bathing the body.
  • All the family members and the staff at the ground are to perform hand hygiene before and after the cremation or burial.
  • In case of cremation, the government said that there is no risk from ash, therefore it can be collected later. 
  • Large gatherings for the last rite should be avoided. It is possible that close family members of the deceased may have symptoms for COVID-19 infection or shedding the virus.

Guidelines for health care workers while handling dead bodies of COVID-19 infected

  • The basic guidelines for hand hygiene is to be followed.
  • Workers are expected to use eyewear, masks, gloves and water resistant aprons.
  • All the sharps are to be handled carefully.
  • All the instruments and devices used for the dead body along with the bag housing the body should be disinfected.
  • All the linens as well as environmental surfaces should be disinfected.

It is to note that the Coronavirus is transmitted through droplets. Therefore, if the deceased body is handled with standard procedure, chances of transmission are unlikely.

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