NCDC releases guidelines for handling coronavirus dead victims

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This handout photo taken and released on April 9, 2020 by the New South Wales Police Force shows police officers about to raid the coronavirus-stricken Ruby Princess cruise ship and seize its black box at Port Kembla, Australia

The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control on Wednesday released guidelines for handling and burying dead victims of the coronavirus.

The agency said it developed the guidelines to ensure efficient transportation of bodies in compliance with regulations.

It however cautions that the suggested protocols are based on what is currently known about COVID-19.

The virus, it said, spreads through contact with contaminated respiratory droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

It also spreads from contact with contaminated hands, surfaces or objects.

NCDC said funeral directors and mortuary personnel were less likely to contract COVID-19 from deceased persons infected with the virus.

But their immunity is possible if they shield themselves by adopting appropriate infection control procedures and wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The health agency said precautionary strategies should be used to minimise public health risks and to prevent further spread of the disease.

“Contact and droplet infection control precautions should be used when handling deceased bodies confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19.

“Wear appropriate PPE at all times without contaminating environmental surfaces,” it added.

The NCDC noted that for transport and storage, the body must be placed and secured in a bag or wrapped in a manner that prevents leakage.

“The body bag should be labelled COVID-19 – Handle with care. Avoid unnecessary manipulation of the body that may expel air or fluid from the lungs.

“Embalming of a body confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19 is not recommended,” it said.

It noted that family viewing of the deceased may occur; however, family members should avoid any contact with the body.

The agency stressed the need to maintain the recommended social distance from families and friends of the deceased.