The Meghalaya Department today issued fresh guidelines for disposal of dead bodies of COVID-19 victims – suspected or confirmed cases – in accordance with the protocol of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The Health Department said that all those present on the cremation or burial grounds will have to practise hand hygiene or use surgical masks and gloves. Large gatherings at the crematorium or the burial ground should be avoided as it is possible that close family contacts may be “symptomatic or shedding the virus”.
At the site, viewing of the face of the deceased by unzipping the body bag by those performing the burial or cremation rites, should be done under precautionary conditions. Relatives of the deceased may be allowed to see the face of the deceased.
Religious rituals like reading from religious scripts, sprinkling of holy water and any other last rites that do not require touching of the body can be allowed. Bathing, kissing and hugging of the dead body should not be allowed.
The funeral, burial staff or volunteers, and family members should perform hand hygiene after cremation or burial. Moreover, the depth of the burial grave should be about six feet.
If cremated, the ashes can be collected for performance of rites. The vehicle, after the transfer of the body to the cremation site, will need to be decontaminated with one per cent sodium hypochlorite.
“COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets. Therefore, there is less likelihood for an increased risk of COVID infection from a dead body to health workers or family members or volunteers who follow standard precautions while handling the body,” the guidelines said.
Meanwhile, active cases of COVID-19 have come down to 1,411 since the Meghalaya Government stopped the free testing of the viral infection.