COVID 2 Cremation guidelines
Dr K K Aggarwal
President CMAAO, HCFI and Past national President IMA
Category 2 , Yellow, guidelines: When handling of dead bodies
(a) Avoid direct contact with blood or body fluids from the dead body.
(b) Put on personal protective equipment (PPE) including Gloves, water resistant gown/ plastic apron over water repellent gown, and surgical mask. Use goggles or face shield to protect eyes, if there may be splashes.
c) Make sure any wounds, cuts and abrasions, are covered with waterproof bandages or dressings.
(d) Do NOT smoke, drink or eat. Do NOT touch your eyes, mouth or nose.
(e) Observe strict personal hygiene. Hand hygiene could be achieved by washing hands with liquid soap and water or proper use of alcohol-based hand rub.
(f) Avoid sharps injury, both in the course of examination of dead body and afterwards in dealing with waste disposal and decontamination.
3) Wash the body with bleach, rap with sheet and pack it in the bag wearing the PPE.
4) Remove personal protective equipment after handling of the dead body. Then, wash hands with liquid soap and water immediately.
Follow “universal precautions,” which basically means assume all corpses are infectious.
Wear nitrile gloves and wash hands religiously if participating in rituals.
Touching someone’s skin is far less concerning than sticking your hand in a bag of their organs while doing a post mortem. So, if body needs to be opened for embalming or autopsy one need to wear safety goggles, medical gowns, and face masks.
During the AIDS crisis, many morticians refused to deal with the bodies, citing concerns about their own health and that of their families. Same is happening with Corona. And during the SARS outbreak in Toronto, some funeral homes charged some customers extra.
The embalm and bury model, which was effectively the only way to deal with the dead a century ago, is in decline. Now, even more than 53 percent of Americans opt for cremation, which reduces direct handling of the dead and, at 1,400 degrees or more in the cremation chamber, is sure to kill off any virus.
1. Hold quick and simple funerals and avoid large gatherings
2. Ban friends and family to pay respects to the dead for deceased victims
3. Bereaved relatives who have come into close contact with victims would be at greater risk of contracting the illness themselves,
4. Decedents can be buried or cremated
5. CDC guidance states, There is currently no known risk associated with being in the same room at a funeral or visitation service with the body of someone who died of COVID-19
6. However, People should consider not touching the body of someone who has died of COVID-19.
7. Remind families about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as by staying home if you are sick, washing your hands, and covering coughs and sneezes.
8. Keep soap dispensers filled in public and restrooms.
9. Offer alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to guests
10. Have extra tissues on hand.
11. If, for some reason, an individual is unable to attend a service, discuss options with the family: Can the service be webcast using either a webcasting service or Facebook Live? Can the service be postponed? Can the family hold a memorial gathering – either in addition to or in lieu of a funeral service – at a later date?