With the current COVID-19 outbreak we will have deaths within the community of which we must be prepared to manage.
For provinces or areas where COVID-19 community transmission is active, if someone dies at home, please ensure that no one (Neighbours, family members from another household, friends etc.) enters your home.
Everyone residing in the same home as the deceased are to remain at home and assist each other to move the body to a space within the home to avoid close contact.
If the death is proven to be caused by COVID-19, all the people in the household are considered close contacts and you will quarantine yourself for 14 days and watch for symptoms of COVID 19. If you are a family member, do not meet others and stay in your own bubble so that you do not pass on the infection to others.
Call the National Health Emergency Operation Centre (NHEOC) on phone 115 or 25256 or National Referral Hospital Emergency Operation Centre on phone 21068 for health advise and instructions. Basically the body will be moved to the NRH morgue by relevant health frontline workers who will oversee and manage the preparation of the body for funeral and burial.
Current advice from health is to halt sending of bodies from Honiara to the provinces and vice versa. Should there be need for discussion on this please contact the police.
Funeral service will be held at the burial site with only 5 people in attendance. This includes, immediate family members, those preparing site for burial and a church worker who will officiate the service.
For those in the provinces and villages it is important to prepare for burial as soon as possible in both places which have covid 19 cases as well as those that are unsure. This is to ensure that these mass gathering do not become the super spreaders.
Should there be need and where possible, health workers will swab the body for COVID-19 infection for appropriate advise to family members and also for contact tracing.
Please do not hesitate but call the numbers outlined above if you also need guidance and advise on safe management of the dead.
It is important COVID-19 safe measures are strictly adhered to during these times such as wearing of face masks, maintaining social distancing, frequently washing hands with water and soap or hand sanitizer.
The Ministry of Health understands the great impact of such measures to those losing a family member, close friend and loved ones. We will ensure that we maintain and uphold the respect and dignity our lost ones deserve and therefore call for understanding especially at this difficult time.
These measures are undertaken to ensure that we continue to preserve our health and prevent anymore loss of lives from the COVID-19 that is now in our communities.