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SHORT COMMUNICATION
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 167-168

Ensuring safe handling of the dead bodies of people succumbing to coronavirus disease-2019 infection


1 Medical Education Unit Coordinator and Member of the Institute Research Council, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission12-Sep-2020
Date of Decision19-Nov-2020
Date of Acceptance13-Jan-2021
Date of Web Publication18-May-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) – Deemed to be University, Tiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet-603108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijhas.IJHAS_224_20

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  Abstract 


The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in the disruption of the lives of everyone, with marginalized and high-risk population groups being the most affected. As the transmission of the virus is predominantly through close contact or respiratory droplets or fomites, it becomes a careful consideration to carefully handle the bodies of the people who have lost their lives either as a suspected or as a confirmed case of the disease. As there is a definite possibility of the presence of the live virus in the organs of a patient who died when s/he was infectious, it becomes a mandatory requirement to ensure the provision of safety measures. In conclusion, it is of paramount importance to safely deal with the bodies of the people who have died due to COVID-19 infection. However, it becomes equally important to maintain the dignity of the dead and respect the cultural norms of the family as well as the community and at the same time taking adequate measures to ensure safety.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, Dead, Hand hygiene, World Health Organization


How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Ensuring safe handling of the dead bodies of people succumbing to coronavirus disease-2019 infection. Int J Health Allied Sci 2021;10:167-8

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Ensuring safe handling of the dead bodies of people succumbing to coronavirus disease-2019 infection. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Jun 17];10:167-8. Available from: https://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2021/10/2/167/316285




  Introduction Top


The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in the disruption of the lives of everyone, with marginalized and high-risk population groups being the most affected. The available global estimates depict that the novel viral infection has accounted for 27,486,960 cases and 894,983 deaths across the affected nations and territories.[1] As the transmission of the virus is predominantly through close contact or respiratory droplets or fomites, it becomes a careful consideration to carefully handle the bodies of the people who have lost their lives either as a suspected or as a confirmed case of the disease.[2]

Considerations for handling dead bodies

The people suffering from the infection might succumb to the infection either in the health-care establishments or in domiciliary settings or even in other areas.[3] It is not the right approach to cremate people who have died due to the infection and due consideration has to be given toward cultural norms, caseload in the region, and the availability of logistics and other resources.[3] In the process of preparing and packing the body from the room to any other place (namely autopsy, mortuary, burial ground, etc.), it is a must that all the involved personnel should strictly adhere to the infection prevention and control (IPC) measures, which essentially include hand hygiene, use of the specific personal protective equipment (PPE), and ensure that the possibility of movement or handling of the body is kept least.[2],[3],[4]

Cautions to be observed

It is of utmost importance to ensure that any kind of leakage of body fluids from any of the orifices needs to be contained totally and the body should not be disinfected any time.[3],[4],[5] As there is a definite possibility of the presence of the live virus in the organs of a patient who died when s/he was infectious, it becomes a mandatory requirement to ensure the provision of safety measures.[4],[5] Apart from ensuring the availability of PPE in adequate numbers, it is essential to perform the autopsy in a well-ventilated and place which has adequate lighting. It is a must that the number of people who are involved in the autopsy should be kept to minimal.[2],[3],[4] From the social perspective, if the family members want to see the body, they can be allowed with a strict instruction to not to touch or kiss the body and at all times maintain a minimum distance of 1 m from any person present in the room.[3],[4],[5]

As the available evidence has depicted that the causative virus can persist for almost 9 days on nonliving surfaces, cleaning of the environment has to be given topmost priority.[3] This includes cleaning and disinfection of the surfaces/instruments, use of PPE by the persons involved in cleaning, and maintenance of adequate ventilation always. The decision to bury or cremate the body should be taken as per the views of family and friends, nevertheless under all circumstances, the involved people must practice strict IPC.[3],[4],[5] In case of people who have succumbed to the infection in community settings, the body has to be covered with a sheet before handling. Any person who is handling the body should wear gloves and also use PPE to avert the possibility of acquiring the infection.[2],[4]


  Conclusion Top


In conclusion, it is of paramount importance to safely deal with the bodies of the people who have died due to COVID-19 infection. However, it becomes equally important to maintain the dignity of the dead and respect the cultural norms of the family as well as the community and at the same time taking adequate measures to ensure safety.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
World Health Organization. Weekly Operational Update on COVID-19 - 9 September 2020; World Health Organization; 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/weekly-updates/wou-9-september-2020-cleared.pdf?sfvrsn=d39784f7_2. [Last accessed on 2020 Sep 12].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Finegan O, Fonseca S, Guyomarc'h P, Morcillo Mendez MD, Rodriguez Gonzalez J, Tidball-Binz M, et al. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC): General guidance for the management of the dead related to COVID-19. Forensic Sci Int 2020;2:129-37.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
World Health Organization. Infection Prevention and Control for the Safe Management of a Dead Body in the Context of COVID-19 – Interim Guidance. Geneva: WHO Press; 2020. p. 1-4.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Khoo LS, Hasmi AH, Ibrahim MA, Mahmood MS. Management of the dead during COVID-19 outbreak in Malaysia. Forensic Sci Med Pathol 2020;16:463-70.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Vidua RK, Duskova I, Bhargava DC, Chouksey VK, Pramanik P. Dead body management amidst global pandemic of Covid-19. Med Leg J 2020;88:80-3.  Back to cited text no. 5
    




 

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