The government is ensuring public requests to repatriate dead bodies to the provinces are appropriately handled, Minister of Health and Medical Services, Dr. Culwick Togamana expressed in his daily COVID19 updates.
Minister Togamana is responding to requests received from relatives of the deceased to transfer dead bodies to their final resting place outside of the Honiara Emergency zone.
Sending his heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones in our fight against COVID, the Minister states, a deceased person deserves timely, dignified, and culturally-appropriate burial.
Those handling bodies of the deceased should be aware that there is likely to be a continuing risk of infection from body fluids and tissues where COVID-19 infection is suspected or confirmed, Minister Togamana cautions.
He adds, although the risk of infectious transmission is lower than for living patients, action should be taken to mitigate that risk.
The virus can also be passed from a dead body infected by the virus to a living person. We still don’t know exactly how long the virus can live in the body even after a person has died, but it could be several days.
“If somebody were to go and touch, hug or kiss a dead corpse of someone who died of the coronavirus, then yes, there is a chance they might catch the virus from contact,” he states.
The Health Minister said, it is important that certain safeguards are put in place to prevent the virus from going to COVID free areas in the provinces.
“It means not allowing any person to accompany the dead body from Honiara to other provinces and also making sure that not more than 10 people collect to undertake the burial,” he stressed.
The Ministry of Health and Medical services will be issuing further instructions to educate our people for a COVID-19 safe burial.