Guidelines for burial of COVID-19 victims issued

Burial of COVID-19 victims

The circular containing the guidelines with regard to the burial of COVID-19 victims has been issued on Wednesday (March 03), the Health Ministry said.

Drafting of guidelines was completed after the committee of experts appointed to examine methods for disposal of COVID victims met on February 27.

Co-Cabinet Spokesperson, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella announced on March 02 that Iranaitivu Island was selected as the burial ground of COVID victims.

Key guidelines for burial of COVID victims are as follows:

  • The relatives of the deceased must inform the director or the head of the healthcare institution, where the death occurred, of their desire to bury the corpse without delay.
  • The director or the head of relevant healthcare institution will then obtain a written request from the relatives to carry out the burial procedure.
  • The director or the head of relevant healthcare institution will make necessary arrangements to include Iranaitivu Island as the place of burial in the death declaration form by coordinating with the nominee of DGHS.
  • The relatives of the deceased will subsequently be informed of the time and date for dispatching the body.
  • The relatives are required to provide the coffin as soon as possible.
  • The director or the head of relevant healthcare institution is in charge of transporting the corpse in the coffin provided by the relatives to a designated location in Colombo Institute of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology (Office of Colombo JMO) or Welikanda Base Hospital where the corpse will be received by a designated officer.
  • The vehicle transporting the corpse to Nachchikuda Pier will leave daily at 5.30 am from the designated receiving centre nominated by the DGHS.
  • Prior to the departure, designated health staff of the hospital wearing PPE will bring the corpse from the pre-designated area to the viewing area for the relatives to view the corpse. Religious activities will be permitted only at this point.
  • The relatives or unauthorized persons will not be permitted to take photographs, video and video calls in the relevant healthcare institutions.
  • Two of the relatives who visited the hospital where the death took place and identified the deceased will be allowed to be present at the Nachchikuda Pier in Kilinochchi District on the following day to witness the burial at the Iranaitivu Island. However, they should not be patients infected with COVID-19. Quarantined persons are only permitted under strict guidance and approval of the MOH or regional epidemiologist.
  • The coffin will not be opened during the burial and the relatives or next of kin will not be permitted to handle the coffin under any circusmtances.
  • The corpses must be buried 1.5m to 3m deep in the ground.
  • The bottom of the grave should be at least 2m above the groundwater table.