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News18 » India
1-min read

No Autopsy or Touching Body: Guidelines for Health Workers, Kin after Bengal's 1st COVID-19 Death

Experts said there is very little chance of health workers or family members getting infected from a body if standard precautions are followed.

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:March 23, 2020, 11:18 PM IST
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No Autopsy or Touching Body: Guidelines for Health Workers, Kin after Bengal's 1st COVID-19 Death
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Kolkata: The West Bengal government has decided to not to hand over the body of the state’s first coronavirus victim to his family members.

The man (57), a resident of Dumdum in North 24 Parganas district, passed away around 3.35pm on Monday following multi-organ failure.

Due to lack of awareness on how to handle bodies of victims amid the pandemic, the Government of India has issued a series of advisories in this regard.

Experts said there is very little chance of health workers or family members getting infected from a body if standard precautions are followed. As there is a risk related to the lungs of a coronavirus patient, the government has decided against conducting any autopsy.

The state health department has written to the authorities of the private hospital in Salt Lake to ensure that the healthcare staff handling the body maintain full hand hygiene and are equipped with all required protective gears, including water-resistant apron, gloves, masks and eye-wear.

“Disinfection of bag in which the body will be wrapped is a must. All tubes, drains and catheters on the body should be removed. Any puncture holes or wounds should be disinfected with 1% hypochlorite and dressed with impermeable material,” the government guideline read.

A senior health department official said, “We have asked the hospital to plug oral, nasal orifices of the body to prevent leakage of body fluids. We are doing this as per the Union Health Ministry guidelines.”

He said a restricted number of family members would be allowed to have a last view at the body from a distance.

“Only one person would be allowed to perform the rituals and sprinkle water from the Ganga on the body from a certain distance. After that, the individual would be sanitised. No touching, bathing, kissing or hugging the body would be allowed. However, the man’s last remains can be collected to perform the final rites. Health workers who will be present during cremation have been asked to video graph the entire process for keeping a record,” the official added.

The victim, with no history of travelling abroad, was admitted to a private hospital with fever and dry cough, was the fourth person in the state to have tested positive for COVID-19 on March 20.

His family members, who came in contact with him over the past week, are also in isolation in the same private hospital.

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