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How to Safely Conduct Death Rituals During Covid-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of uncertainty about funerals and events commemorating the passing away of a loved one. While funerals have always been a chance for your immediate community to gather in unison and pay their respects to the deceased, such gatherings are no longer permissible or desirable during a pandemic. Yet, the dead need to be seen off ritualistically, and families will hold funerals for their dead either way, even if these events must be held privately, even for those who have died due to the virus.

Guidelines recently announced by healthcare advisories have instructed that only a limited number of individuals may have access to the dead body of a person who has died from the novel Coronavirus. It is because, like all surface areas, even those who died of COVID-19 can carry the virus. Those in contact with such a corpse remain at risk of contracting the virus through exposure.

Since the dead body of the infected person carries with it the virus for hours, it is recommended that this dead body be disposed of as quickly as possible. The family members of the deceased can choose whether they’d like to have it cremated or buried. Either way, they are recommended to take care of these death rituals as soon as they are able. Storage in extremely cold conditions such as under 50 degrees F might be able to stave off decomposition.

However, if the body is allowed to decompose, exposure from the virus contained will maximize. Individuals tasked with handling the dead body need to be extremely careful. If funerals are to be held publicly, they should, at no point, defy the rules laid out for social distancing. Also, these individuals should keep themselves safe from the risk of infection by wearing PPE or personal protective equipment like face masks and gloves.

The funeral handlers should also wear long-sleeved water-resistant gowns that they can later dispose, to keep themselves protected against contamination via contact with the dead person’s bodily fluids.

These times require abnormal procedures.


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