Government hospitals in Maharashtra are all set to conduct rapid antigen test (RAT) on any dead bodies brought in to confirm whether the deceased was COVID-19 positive or not, according to a report by The Indian Express.
The government has shared a recent circular where it had listed the tests such as TrueNat/CBNAAT (tests used to detect tuberculosis) that are going to be conducted on the dead bodies in order to test COVID-19 so that the bodies can be handed over and facilitated easily and quickly.
Maharashtra has been facing a surge in coronavirus cases with over 10 lakh positive patients and over 29,114 fatalities reported till date. Mumbai, Pune and Thane have reported the highest number of deaths while districts like Jalgaon, Nagpur and Nashik have reported more than 1,000 deaths.
According to The Indian Express
report, mortuaries in the state are almost full with Sasoon general hospital reporting 40-50 deaths per day and at least 15 patients are brought dead. On the other hand, the Nagpur government medical college and hospital has reported 30-35 fatality cases on a regular basis with around 5-10 patients already brought dead.
Due to this rapid surge of cases, the government hospitals in the state have decided to conduct the rapid antigen tests that are less time consuming and can provide an accurate death toll.
According to state officials, since the results of the test are available within an hour, the dead bodies will be disposed of off quickly to curb further spread of the infection.
The latest circular issued on August 21 raised speculation on the safety of health workers who are involved in performing the autopsies of bodies in order to come up with the death caused as false negatives can be reported in the antigen tests. Therefore, the state advisories and the ICMR guidelines suggested removing the forensic autopsy step.
COVID-19 deaths do not require postmortem and the doctor handling the case can issue the cause of death certification.
The guidelines have also said that the patients who are likely to be COVID-19 positive and are brought in to the hospitals are going to be tagged as medico-legal cases by a doctor in an emergency and immediately sent to the mortuary.
According to the latest guidelines, every death cases will be reconsidered by the government hospitals through antigen tests following which other tests will be conducted to note the death cause.
However, various government medical college officials in Maharashtra have requested for certain guidelines as to the uniform medico-legal postmortem protocols for the governmental colleges and hospitals.
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