Meghalaya Govt issues guidelines for disposal of bodies of COVID-19

Shillong, Oct 28: Meghalaya’s Health and Family Welfare department has notified revised protocol for the disposal of dead bodies of COVID-19 suspects or confirmed case.

The department said that the new guidelines are accordance with those issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.

According to Sampath Kumar, Commissioner and Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, 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 body,” Kumar stated.

The new protocols also states that all present at the cremation/burial ground site will practice standard precautions of hand hygiene, use of surgical masks and gloves.

The Health and Family Welfare Department has urged to avoid large gathering at the crematorium/ burial ground as it is possible that close family contacts may be symptomatic and/or shedding the virus.

However, the department has allowed the viewing of the dead body by unzipping the face end of the body bag (by those performing the burial/cremation using standard precautions), for the relatives to see the body for one last time.

“Religious rituals such as reading from religious scripts, sprinkling holy water and any other last rites that does not require touching of the body can be allowed,” the department stated. But bathing, kissing, hugging, of the dead body is not allowed.

The Health and Family Welfare department also stated that funeral/ burial staff or volunteers and family members should perform hand hygiene after cremation/ burial.

Also the depth of the burial grave should be about 6 feet, and if cremated, the ashes do not pose any risk and can be collected to perform the last rites.

“The vehicle, after the transfer of the body to cremation/ burial staff, will need to be decontaminated with 1 percent Sodium Hypochlorite (available in Pharmacies). This can also be safely done by those who carry the dead body,” the State and Family Welfare department stated.