Funeral to be held as per rituals in case of COVID-19 death

Dhaka  – If anyone dies of coronavirus (COVID-19), he or she can be buried or cremated following all the respective rituals, Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque said on Friday.

“As per the updated ‘Infection Prevention and Control for dead body management in the context of COVID-19: Interim guidance’ by World Health Organisation (WHO), a person who died of coronavirus can receive all kinds of
national and local rituals,” the minister said.

“We have already issued letters and guidelines to the authorities concerned and formed several committees to monitor the matter carefully across the country,” he said.

“Family and friends may see the body after it is prepared for burial, in accordance with customs but they should not touch or kiss the body and should wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after the viewing and physical
distancing measures should be strictly applied (at least 1 meter)” he added.

Persons who place the body in the grave or on the funeral pyre, need to wear gloves and wash hands with soap and water after removal of the gloves, Zahid said, referring to WHO guideline.

Burial by family members or for deaths at home in contexts where mortuary services are not standard or reliably available, or where it is usual for ill people to die at home, families and traditional burial attendants can be
equipped and educated to bury people under the supervision of the local administration, said the minister.

According to WHO, persons like family members and religious leaders who will prepare the deceased — washing, cleaning or dressing body, tidying hair, trimming nails or shaving — in a community setting should wear gloves
for any contact with the body.

WHO, a specialized agency of the United Nations, responsible for international public health, said for any activity that may involve splashing of bodily fluids, eye and mouth protection face shield or goggles and medical
mask should be worn.

Anyone who assists in preparing the body should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water when finished.

Suggesting the family members not to be more close with the body, the health minister said, “Children, older people (over 60 years old), and anyone with underlying illnesses (such as respiratory illness, heart disease, diabetes, or compromised immune systems) should not be involved in preparing the body.”

A minimum number of people should be involved in preparations. Others may observe without touching the body at a minimum distance, he added.

According to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, a total of six persons died of COVID-19 so far and all were buried (as all were Muslims) as per the WHO guideline. Agencies