The Delhi government on Sunday directed that no sample would be drawn for coronavirus test from a person after his death. However, it would be disposed as coronavirus case if doctors are satisfied by clinical examination that coronavirus infection caused the death, as per a new SOP issued for the disposal of bodies.
In its order, the Health Department suspended an earlier order on the 'Disposal of Bodies of Covid-19 affected persons' issued on April 3.
"No sample for Covid-19 test will be taken from the dead body. However, if doctors are satisfied from clinical examination that the cause of death may be Covid-19 infection, the body may be released as suspect Covid-19 infected body," the order signed by Padmini Singla, Secretary (Health and Family Welfare), said.
It also said the body would be managed in accordance with "Covid-19: Guidelines on Dead Body Management" issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, if the person tested positive before death; person found positive on the basis of the sample taken when he was alive; and person admitted to the hospital with severe symptoms of Covid-19 and doctors categorise him/her as a Covid-19 suspect.
The Health Department, however, issued the new Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the disposal of the bodies of Covid-19 patients/suspected patients if the death occurred at hospital or corona positive patient is brought dead; body found at a public place unclaimed or otherwise; or death occurred at home or at a healthcare centre.
As per the SOP, if death occurred at hospital or Covid-19 positive patient is brought dead, the hospital should provide trained healthcare workers to handle and wrap the body.
"Hospital should provide hearse to carry the body to the cremation/burial ground to ensure that no further infection is caused. A properly wrapped body will be handed over to the relatives as per the Centre's guidelines."
The SOP said in case no relative is available, the hospital should store the body in the mortuary after ensuring proper disinfection of the body and the body bag as per the guidelines. "Hospital should decide whether to carry out an autopsy or not."
The SOP said if the death occurred at a Covid care centre, Covid health centre or Covid testing centre of a positive person, then it will be managed by the linked hospitals as if it has occurred at their hospital.
"The hearse (in this case) will be provided by the area District Magistrate to transport the body to the mortuary of the link COVID hospital and further for cremation/burial."
For the death occurring outside the healthcare facility/home, relatives of the deceased patient should immediately inform area District Magistrate's office.
"The District Magistrate shall immediately inform the nearest hospital in the district."
The SOP said the District Magistrate shall provide the van to carry the body to the hospital and thereafter to the cremation/burial ground to ensure that no infection is caused.
"Trained healthcare workers shall be provided by the designated hospital to the District Magistrate for the van. They will handle and wrap the body after ensuring proper disinfection as per the guidelines. The body will be brought to the hospital for this purpose," it said.
If an unclaimed or otherwise a dead body is found at a public place and if the death is not falling in any of the categories of Covid-19 infection death, the body would be handled by agencies like Delhi Police and local bodies.
The order directed the DMs, Directors of hospitals and Delhi Police to follow the procedure to ensure protection from spread of coronavirus infection.
So far, about 150 Covid-19 deaths have been reported in the city.