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Rule for handling of Covid patients’ corpses clarified

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Cemetery workers prepare to burn the body of a deceased Covid-19 patient in Prey Veng province last week. Prey Veng Provincial Administration

Rule for handling of Covid patients’ corpses clarified

In an effort to better manage bodies of deceased Covid-19 patients, Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has requested that all capital and provincial governors pay greater attention and further instruct people on procedures to follow at cremations and burials.

In his letter to the governors, Bun Heng, who is also chairman of the inter-ministerial commission to combat Covid-19, suggested that they instruct officials and staff to carry out this work with responsibility, dignity and respect religious traditions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and reduce public health risks more effectively.

“Autopsies are not permitted on corpses of Covid-19 patients. Their bodies shall be placed in bags and hermetically sealed by medical staff ... before being placed in coffin for cremation or burial. By so doing, the chance of Covid-19 transmission is slim,” he said.

He also said funerals shall be conducted in accordance with guidelines to avoid transmission. For safety, funereal organisers and coffin bearers must wear personal protective equipment (PPE).

“Once the funeral is finished, they have to remove the PPE properly and wash hands with alcohol sanitisers or soap with clean water. As for cremations, coffin bearers must number only four to six and wear PPE,” he said.

People attending a funeral must wear masks and no more than 10 people are allowed, and they have to maintain a distance of at least 1.5m from each other and at least 3m from the body. A procession of mourners is not allowed.

He said authorities and hospitals are best equipped to manage Covid-19 corpses. Medical officials can prepare the body after death and before transporting it out of hospital.

Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered on July 1 that 80 per cent of coffins be purchased for hospitals in Phnom Penh and provinces for deceased Covid-19 patients.

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