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How will life be for all those who bid adieu to their beloved ones. What are the threats of the burial/cremation ground staffers? Free Press, in its bid to bust the myths had spoken to experts... excerpts

Can COVID-19 spread from the mortal remains brought to the funeral ground?

City doctors have cleared the fears saying that lifeless bodies are no threat in spreading the killer corona virus.

Even the World Health Organization and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare released guidelines for safe handling and cremation/funeral of the body while busting the fact(s) that COVID-19 patient’s deceased body is not the source of transmission and needs standard procedure for performing last rites.

HoD of Respiratory Medicine in Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College Dr Salil Bhargava clarified that COVID-19 spread through droplets which is not generated through deceased bodies.

“Standard procedures to pack the body are followed due to which it doesn’t remain a risk for the health workers and the family members. People only need to follow the guidelines and hygiene practice. Those living near burial grounds should not panic as it is a myth that it infects the area,” he added.

Panic also prevails among people and even the families are not willing to perform last rites of the deceased of COVID-19 positive or the suspected patient.

Recently, two cases of suspected death of COVID-19 took place in Malharganj area when family members denied taking the body while one of the families had left the body of their young son unattended at MY Hospital fearing transmission of the disease.

Later, administration performed last rites.

Guidelines by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for dead body management

1 The main driver of transmission of COVID-19 is through droplets. It is unlikely that lifeless bodies of COVID-19 positive patients may spread the disease. Health workers or families of the decesased must follow the standard precautions while handling the corpse.

2 Only the lungs of dead COVID patients, if handled during an autopsy, can be infectious

At Burial Ground/Crematorium

1 The crematorium/ burial ground staff should be sensitized that COVID 19 does not pose additional risk.

2 The staff will practice standard precautions of hand hygiene, use of masks and gloves.

3 Viewing of the dead body by unzipping the face end of the body bag (by the staff using standard precautions) may be allowed, for the relatives to see the body for one last time.

4 Religious rituals such as reading from religious scripts, sprinkling holy water and any other last rites that does not require touching of the body and that can be allowed.

5 Bathing, kissing, hugging, etc. of the body should not be allowed.

6 The funeral/ burial staff and family members should perform hand hygiene after cremation/ burial.

7 The ash does not pose any risk and can be collected to perform the immersion.

8 Large gathering at the crematorium/ burial ground should be avoided as a social distancing measure as it is possible that close family contacts may be symptomatic and/ or shedding the virus.

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