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How To Handle Corona Positive Dead Bodies
Boldsky | 25th Mar, 2020 02:30 PM

Coronavirus or COVID-19 has caused more than 16000 deaths worldwide. The number of infected people and deaths are increasing day by day and the main concern people and healthcare workers are facing are how to handle the dead bodies of people who have died of COVID-19.

Since COVID-19 is a new disease and highly contagious in nature, there is a lot of misinformation spreading across many media platforms related to the disposal of coronavirus positive dead bodies. Seeing the panic among the people, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India has come up with certain guidelines for the y management and disposal of the dead bodies of people who have died of COVID-19.

Guidelines For Healthcare Workers
  • Adhere to hand hygiene while operating dead bodies.
  • Wear protective gears like gloves, face masks and eyewear to prevent the entry of infectious bodily fluids.
  • Disinfect devices or instruments which are used during the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
  • Disinfect the areas and surfaces around to maintain a hygienic environment.
  • If there's a break in the skin or any wounds, wear heavy-duty gloves over the normal ones.
  • Wear a long, clean and water-resistant gown while handling COVID-19 dead bodies.
Guidelines For Removal of Dead Bodies From Isolation Rooms
  • Wear the aforementioned protective gears.
  • All devices attached to the body (tube or drains) should be removed cautiously without touching them with bare hands.
  • The punctures or holes in the dead bodies due to these devices should be disinfected and dressed properly to prevent leakage of liquids from the body.
  • All the intravenous sharp devices should be handled safely while disposing of them. They should be disposed of only in separate containers.
  • Place nasal orifices to the dead body to prevent body fluid leakages from the nostrils.
  • Keep the bodies only in leak-proof plastic bags.
  • The outer part of the dead body bag should be disinfected with 1% hypochlorite solution.
  • The dead body should either be sent to a mortuary or send properly to the family of the dead person along with providing them counselling related to the cremation.
  • All the equipment and protective gears worn by healthcare staff who had handled the dead body should be decontaminated according to the infection prevention control practices.
  • They should also maintain hand hygiene after handling dead bodies.
Guidelines For Handling Of Dead Bodies In the Mortuary
  • The dead bodies of COVID-19 patients should be stored in cold chambers with a temperature of around 4-degree Celcius.
  • Cleanliness should be maintained in the mortuary and all the surfaces and trolleys should be properly disinfected.
  • Doorknobs and handles should also be properly sanitized.
Guidelines During Autopsy Of the COVID-19 Patients
  • The team of forensic experts and support workers should have proper knowledge of the protective gears and trained in prevention control practices.
  • Wear cut-proof gloves, waterproof apron, face shield and fluid-resistant gown during the autopsy.
  • Wear N-95 respirator or other high-grade respirators.
  • Shoe cover and surgical caps should also be worn while handling dead bodies.
  • Limit the number of people during the autopsy and allow only one person at a given time to perform cut in the body.
  • If any postmortem specimens like nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs are collected during the autopsy, it should be properly handled and tested according to the guidelines.
  • The sharp objects or needles used during the autopsy should be contaminated well or disposed of in puncture-proof containers.
Guidelines During The Transportation Of Dead Bodies
  • The exterior of the dead body plastic bag should be properly decontaminated to prevent the risk of infection to the staff who are involved in picking up the dead bodies.
  • People handing the body should wear gloves and surgical masks.
  • After the transference of the dead body to the cremation ground or to the family, the vehicle should be decontaminated properly with 1% Sodium Hypochlorite.
Guidelines In The Burial Ground
  • The burial ground healthcare staff should be aware that COVID-19 do not cause any additional risk if everything is kept under control.
  • They should be well aware of hand hygiene all the time.
  • The staff should inform the family members of the dead person to not make any large gathering in the burial ground and maintain sufficient distance from each other.
  • Relatives may want to see the face of their dead family member one last time. In such a case, unzipping the dead body bag should only be performed by the staff with certain precautions.
  • While performing religious rites, the staff should make sure that no object should touch the dead body in any case. Also, no bathing rituals of the dead body should be allowed.
  • Burial ground staff should be able to counsel the family members of the dead person in case of emotional breakdown or when they try to kiss or hug the body.
  • Hand hygiene should be maintained after cremation or burial.
  • The family members can then collect the ashes as it does not pose any infectious risk to the person.

All the information is as per the Health Ministry and is for general guidance. Please follow the instructions of the hospital you are visiting.[1]

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