October 28, 2020

Health, on those killed by Covid-19: “The ashes of a deceased can be handled, they do not pose any risk” – La Provincia

The three relatives authorized to say goodbye must wear “gowns, gloves and a surgical mask” and not establish “physical contact” with the corpses | The bodies of the victims must be transferred “as soon as possible to the deposit”. The document recommends not doing autopsies to avoid infections between forensics

The pandemic of coronavirus has already left more than eight thousand two hundred victims in Spain. People who have died in hospitals, in nursing homes, in their homes. The Ministry of Health has prepared a technical document entitled “Covid-19 Case Cadaver Management Procedure“, to which El Periódico de Catalunya has had access. Written by Doctors Carnicero and Hermida, from the Spanish Association of Pathological Anatomya, the 13-page manual includes “recommendations” that are “under continuous review” on how to deal with the bodies of the pandemic.

It was the fourth version of that technical document that asked the ministry on March 26 to suspend burials and wakes, the decision taken this week by the government. The specialists explain in the guide that “the corpse (of a deceased by Covid-19) can constitute a biological risk. “

No physical contact

So they establish some “steps to follow in handling the corpse“, which must be” transferred as soon as possible to the deposit. “Before transfer, yes,” family and friends must be allowed access, restricting it to those closest and closest (the government order has established a limit of three people) for the farewell, without establishing physical contact with the corpse or with the surfaces or other belongings in its environment. “

The three relatives who can come to say goodbye to the victim “must take precautions for transmission” of the virus and protect themselves “with a disposable gown, gloves and a surgical mask”, according to the Health document.

Initially, the pathology manual ordered that the body be placed in a sanitary transfer bag, but given that in some areas such as Madrid those bags are exhausted, it is indicated that “a specific waterproof bag may be used for that purpose or two waterproof shrouds not watertight. “

Bagged and coffin

The manual for the management of corpses indicates that they should be put in bags inside the room where they have passed the insulation. Then, that area “should be sprayed with disinfectant for hospital use or with a sodium hypochlorite solution containing 5,000 ppm of active chlorine.” When the body is placed in the bag, it can be removed from the room “without risk” to transfer it to the deposit and place it in a coffin, according to the health manual.

The document, which manages, in addition to medical and health personnel, national police, civil guards, the military and other groups that have had to participate in the discovery or transfer of bodies, has been directed by the Ministry’s Coordination Center for Alerts and Emergencies. and reviewed by the Madrid Institute of Legal Medicine and the Mortuary Health Working Group. Recommends “do not perform autopsies” to those killed by Covid-19 due to the risk of contagion for forensic personnel.

Regarding the subsequent actions on the corpse, the document asks that are limited “to the bare minimum” and must be performed “by funeral staff” who has been informed that it is a person who died from Covid-19. The Government also followed the recommendations of this guide when this week it prohibited the “thanatopraxia or thanathetic interventions” on the corpses.

Organ donation

The experts add that the external manipulation of the bags or shrouds with corpses do not present risks and that these can be introduced “in a normal coffin” to transport them to the mortuary. The alarm state allows the bodies to be buried without waiting the 24 hours that were previously mandatory after death, as well as possible organ donation and cremation.

In the latter case, the health manual concludes that “the ashes can be manipulated without posing any risk” of getting coronavirus. That is, family members can take them if they wish.


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