Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) Wednesday in a statement said that till date there is no evidence that anyone have contacted the virus from the exposure to dead bodies of COVID-19 patients.
DAK said during these trying times it is their responsibility to maintain the dignity of the dead and their families should be respected not stigmatized.
Based on current evidence, the COVID-19 virus is transmitted between people through droplets, fomites and close contacts and is not airborne.
DAK said, therefore, a dead body does not pose any potential threat of spreading infection if standard protocols of infection control measures are followed.
President DAK Dr Suhail Naik said soon after the death of coronavirus positive patient, the mouth and nasal orifices of the dead body should be plugged or sealed to prevent leakage of body fluids besides taking all other hospital infection control measures.
He said family members of deceased should be allowed to see the body when removed from the isolation ward.
“The dead body should be covered in a leak-proof plastic body bag and exterior of the body bag should be decontaminated. The body, secured in a body bag, the exterior of which is decontaminated poses no additional risk to the staff transporting the dead body with 1% hypochlorite solution and can be even-handed over to the relatives,” he said.
The vehicle, after the transfer of the body to home, should be decontaminated with 1% Sodium Hypochlorite.
Dr Naik further said that it is very imperative to understand that all the persons handling the body have to follow standard precautions and should wear a surgical mask and hand gloves.
“At home, any person can be family member, religious leader preparing the deceased should wear gloves to avoid any direct contact with the body. The clothing worn during the preparation of the dead body should be then immediately removed and washed or alternatively an apron or gown should be worn,” he said.
General Secretary DAK Dr Owais H Dar said viewing dead body by unzipping face end of the body bag may be allowed, for the relatives to see them for one last time.
“Religious rituals such as reading from religious scripts, sprinkling holy water and any other last rites that do not require touching of the body can be allowed. Bathing, kissing, hugging, etc. of the dead body should not be allowed,” he said.
Dar said at burial ground people should understand that COVID 19 does not pose additional risk.
“The people can practice standard precautions of hand hygiene, use of masks and gloves and social distancing.”
DAK said children, older people (>60 years old), and anyone with underlying illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, or compromised immune systems, should not be involved in preparing the body.
It said during this whole process people are advised to follow the social distancing, hand washing, mask for all.
“If deceased falls in “red zone area” then it is mandatory for the people and relatives to religiously follow the laid down protocols for the described area,” DAK said.