Health Experts Devise New Method To Handle COVID-19 Dead Bodies Without Fear
While most rejected the idea of an autopsy of the dead body to curb the spread of infection, may doctors were of the opinion that an autopsy is essential. They added that an autopsy will not only help the doctors detect the cause of death but also help in understanding how the victim contracted the virus.
Funeral rites of those losing the battle against the novel coronavirus has been a bone of contention in countries across the world. In India especially it created a huge row when residents of Mumbai took to the High Court to seek an order restraining burial of bodies of COVID-19 victims at the Bandra burial ground.
The plea was eventually rejected by the Bombay High Court through an affidavit filed by BMC Assistant Medical Officer Deepak Chavan which clearly stated, "except in cases of haemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola virus and cholera, dead bodies are generally not infectious. Only lungs of patients with pandemic influenza, if handled improperly during an autopsy, can be infectious."
However apprehensions regarding the handling and autopsy of the dead body of a COVID-19 victim kept looming over the people of India. While most rejected the idea of an autopsy of the dead body to curb the spread of infection, may doctors were of the opinion that an autopsy is essential. They added that an autopsy will not only help the doctors detect the cause of death but also help in understanding how the victim contracted the virus.
Quelling their fears, Prof Dr. Dinesh Rao, Head of Department, Forensic Medicine, Oxford Medical College in Bengaluru, reported to The New Sunday Express that he was aware of a technique where after post-mortem, the body can be cremated with all religious last rites without fear of the spread of COVID-19.
In a report to The New Indian Express, Doctor Rao explaining the procedure carried out said, "the deceased is disinfected first with hypochloride solution and then chlorine or bleaching powder is applied to the body. Next, all the oral orifices (like the nose and ears) are stuffed with cotton dipped in hypochloride solution, they should be made airtight. Then wrap the body with foil or cling wrap. The face can be left open for the family to see, the forehead and scalp will be sealed with duct tape."
He further added that this method was used in highly sensitive cases like HIV TB and H1N1 and had been successful in curbing the spread of any kind of infection. He also urged the states to take up this method provided the government cremates the body as the burial of the decomposed body may lead to contamination of the underground water posing further health risks.
As per reports, Dr Rao had approached the Government of Karnataka on March 23 seeking permission to carry out an autopsy of those deceased himself but is yet to hear from them.