ISLAMABAD: The ministry of health has issued a new document to ensure precautionary measures are followed while handling the bodies of suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus.
The federal government’s document aims to “provide management guidelines to the families, healthcare providers, managers of health facilities and mortuaries, religious and public health authorities, and to all those who attend to the dead bodies of individuals suspected or confirmed for COVID-19”.
The directives cover the entire process — from the beginning when a body is prepared to be transferred from hospitals and medical centres for the autopsy process [which according to the document should be conducted under engineered and controlled environment] to the burial and funeral rituals.
Burial, the document added, “should be managed by the authorities on a case-by-case basis, balancing the rights of the family, the risks of exposure to infection and the need of investigation the death cause”.
Anyone coming in contact with the dead body, including the health care or mortuary workers, must ensure the standard preventive measures including hand washing and disinfection pre and post interaction with the body.
Anyone attending the body must use appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) including gown, gloves, and mask etc. Use of face shield and googles, if there is a potential risk of body fluid splashes, is highly recommended.
Remove all lines, catheters and tubes thus preparing the body for transfer.
Keep minimum movement of the body and safe handling during the transfer.
Cover the body in a cloth and transfer to the mortuary area as soon as possible.
Body bags are not necessary unless there is any leakage of body fluids from orifices. Make sure the leakage is contained before transfer. Body bags used must be able to carry up to 125kg of weight.
No need to disinfect the body before transfer.
Transfer can be through ambulance or any other vehicle, no special arrangements required.
The funeral rituals must be based on the national and local requirements with the handling and disposition of the remains being dictated by the cultural appropriateness.
The clothes of the deceased or fabrics used like linen, towels etc. should be washed in a machine using laundry detergent and warm water at 60−90°C (140−194°F). The document has also listed guidelines and precautions to follow for mortuaries and those carrying out the autopsy.