COVID-19: Guidelines On Dead Body Management
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Being a new disease there is a knowledge gap on how to dispose of the dead body of a suspect or confirmed case of COVID-19. To prevent this, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India has issued these guidelines for its citizens.

According to the Covid-19 dead body management guidelines, the released document is limited in scope to hospital deaths. Here are some standard precautions to be followed while handling COVID dead bodies following the guidelines.

#Precautions for Health Care Workers

1. Maintaining hand hygiene.
2. Use of personal protective equipment (e.g., water-resistant apron, gloves, masks, eyewear).
3. Safe handling of sharps.
4. Disinfect bag housing dead body; instruments and devices used on the patient.
5. Disinfect linen. Clean and disinfect environmental surfaces.

#Body removal

1. Disinfect puncture holes or wounds with 1% hypochlorite and dress with impermeable material.
2. Plug Oral, nasal orifices of the dead body to prevent leakage of body fluids.
3. Dead body to be placed in a leak-proof plastic body bag & decontaminate with 1% hypochlorite. The body bag can be wrapped with a mortuary sheet or sheet provided by the family members.
4. The body will be either handed over to the relatives or taken to a mortuary.
5. All used/ soiled linen should be handled with standard precautions, put in a biohazard bag and the outer surface of the bag disinfected with hypochlorite solution.

#Dead body handling in Mortuary

1. Mortuary staff handling COVID dead bodies should observe standard precautions.
2. Dead bodies should be stored in cold chambers maintained at approximately 4°C.
3. The mortuary must be kept clean. Environmental surfaces, instruments and transport trolleys should be properly disinfected with 1 percent Hypochlorite solution.
4. After removing the body, the chamber door, handles, and floor should be cleaned with sodium hypochlorite 1 percent solution.

#Autopsies on Covid-19 dead bodies

Autopsies should be avoided. If an autopsy is to be performed for special reasons, the following infection prevention control practices should be adopted.
1. The Team should be well trained
2. Limited forensic experts and support staff in the autopsy room
3. Use full complement of PPE (coveralls, head cover, shoe cover, N 95 mask, goggles/face shield)
4. The round ended scissors should be usedPM40 or any other heavy-duty blades with blunted points to be used to reduce prick injuries
5. Dissect one body cavity at a timeUnfixed organs must be held firm on the table and sliced with a sponge – care should be taken to protect the hand
6. Negative pressure to be maintained in mortuary

#Transportation

1. The body, secured in a body bag, the exterior of which is decontaminated poses no additional risk to the staff transporting the dead body.
2. The personnel handling the body may follow standard precautions (surgical mask, gloves).
3. The vehicle, after the transfer of the body to cremation/ burial staff, will be decontaminated with 1 percent Sodium Hypochlorite.

#At Crematorium or Burial Ground

1. The Crematorium/ burial Ground staff should be sensitized
Viewing of the dead body by unzipping the face end of the body bag (by the staff using standard precautions) may be allowed
2. Religious rituals such as reading religious scripts, sprinkling holy water, and any other last rites that do not require touching of the body can be allowed
3. Bathing, kissing, hugging, etc. of the dead body should not be allowed
4. The ash does not pose any risk and can be collected to perform the last rites.
5. Large gatherings at the crematorium/ burial ground should be avoided

Note: Original document on " Guidelines On Dead Body Management" provided by MOHFW is attached as pdf.

Source: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/
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