GMOA asks for guidelines on handling bodies of those who die of COVID-19 at home

GMOA - Government Medical Officer's Association - Sri Lanka

The Ministry of Health should prepare guidelines for health staff on handling the bodies of those who die of COVID-19 at their homes to prevent the spread of the disease, Editor of the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA,) Dr. Haritha Aluthge said yesterday.

“We proposed that we do a review of COVID-19 deaths and the Director General of Health Services, Dr. Asela Gunawardena agreed. He has appointed a committee to look into it and they have been given a week to study the COVID-19 deaths so far. They have also been asked to analyse daily COVID-19 deaths and present the report to the DGHS within 48 hours.”

Dr. Aluthge said they had asked the committee to submit its report on COVID-19 deaths so far to the DGHS within this week so that future action could be determined as soon as possible. Aluthge added that from what they had seen, some of the deaths that occurred at home could have been prevented.

“We must remember that a lot of people die at home due to various diseases including COVID-19. Even before the pandemic came about, a lot of old people, those with chronic diseases and those who had returned home from medical procedures died at their homes. The difference now is that we have to determine if these deaths are COVID-19 related. If we have done a large number of random tests as we proposed, we could have identified at least some of those who had died of COVID-19.”

Dr. Aluthge said: “There are several practical issues that need to be addressed. There must be health guidelines on how to conduct PCR tests on those who had died at home; whether the tests must be carried out at home or the bodies have to be brought to hospital; how the bodies should be transported and where the bodies should be placed until PCR test results are made known.”

Dr. Aluthge said that while a body was being transported, there was the risk of others contracting the virus. The Health Ministry should talk to PHIs and MoHs who knew the practical issues and obtain their opinion before preparing the guidelines, Dr. Aluthge said.

(Source: The Island – By Rathindra Kuruwita)