The most recent lesson about the novel Coronavirus comes from beyond the grave.
The first incident of COVID-19 being transmitted from a dead body to a medical professional occurred in Thailand on April 14. This new development exposes crematorium workers to greater risks during the outbreak.
The new finding was published in a letter on the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, which was released on April 12.
"This is the first report on COVID-19 infection and death among medical personnel in a Forensic Medicine unit," reads the document.
"At present, there is no data on the exact number of COVID-19 contaminated corpses since it is not a routine practice to examine for COVID-19 in dead bodies in Thailand," the authors of the study wrote.
The letter said that although forensic medicine personnel have a lesser chance of coming into contact with infected patients, there is a probability that they can come in contact with 'biological samples and corpses.'
According to WHO (World Health Organization), except in cases of hemorrhagic fevers (such as Ebola, Marburg) and cholera, dead bodies are generally not infectious.
Only the lungs of patients with pandemic influenza, if handled improperly during an autopsy, can be infectious. Otherwise, cadavers do not transmit disease.
Although, not much is known about how long the novel coronavirus can live in dead bodies, yet, "Anyone coming into contact with a COVID-19 positive body, alive or dead, should be using personal protective equipment to prevent exposure," BuzzFeed News quoted health policy expert Summer Johnson McGee of the University of New Haven, as saying.
She added that autopsies and the ensuing investigations pose real risks for coroners to get infected by COVID-19.
According to the National Association of Medical Examiners, USA, the "risk of droplet transmission of COVID-19 after death is thought to be minimal," but it is probable since forensic medicine personnel regularly come in contact with corpses and biological fluids.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a set of specific recommendations for the collection and submission of post-mortem specimens from deceased persons with known or suspected COVID-19.
In India the Union health ministry reportedly allows both burial and cremation of the dead body in the manner wished, if at all, expressed by the victim or her family. The guidelines say that the body would be handled by a trained health professional, who must be wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE).
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