As borders in China are closing down and over 6,056 cases of the Coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide, governments around the world are starting to prepare for this growing epidemic. The UK government has released guidelines for healthcare professionals handling infected patients that are alive or deceased.
The released document is relevant for funeral directors and death care professionals, who will be servicing those who have been or are suspected to have been taken by the virus.
Section 20, of the Wuhan novel coronavirus (WN-CoV) infection prevention and control guidance, relays the following on handling dead bodies suspected of or having the Coronavirus.
Please read the full document for complete information.
- Handling dead bodies
- the act of moving a recently deceased patient onto a hospital trolley for transportation to the mortuary might be sufficient to expel small amounts of air from the lungs and thereby present a minor risk
- a body bag should be used for transferring the body and those handling the body at this point should use full PPE
- the outer surface of the body bag should be decontaminated (see environmental decontamination) immediately before the body bag leaves the anteroom area. This may require at least two individuals wearing such protective clothing, in order to manage this process
- the trolley carrying the body must be disinfected prior to leaving the anteroom, including the wheels
- prior to leaving the anteroom, the staff members must remove their protective clothing
- once in the hospital mortuary, full PPE should be used if the body bag is opened
- washing or preparing the body is acceptable if those carrying out the task wear PPE. Mortuary staff and funeral directors must be advised of the biohazard risk. Embalming is not recommended
- if a post mortem is required safe working techniques (eg manual rather than power tools) should be used and full PPE worn, in the event that power tools are used. High security post mortem suites are available if needed and can be discussed with the PHE incident team
- after use, empty body bags should be disposed of as category A waste”