Odisha govt allows willing families to take COVID-19 negative bodies for funeral

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Bhubaneswar, Jun 30 (PTI) Modifying the existing guidelines for the disposal of corpse of COVID patients, the Odisha government has allowed the desiring families to take the body of their dear one testing negative for the virus at the time of death.

Additional Chief Secretary (Health), PK Mohapatra in a letter to the District Collectors, Municipal Commissioners and Chief District Medical & Public Health Officers, instructed them to follow the new norms for conduct of the last rites in such cases.

Mohapatra made the new practice known to the media on Wednesday.

But, for this the interested families have to give an undertaking that they would abide by the COVID protocols like not opening the body bag or touching or kissing the dead body and observing COVID appropriate behavior.

The change has been made to honour the sentiments of many a COVID deceased families.

It has been seen that COVID patient died due to post COVID-19 complications even after recovering from the infection.

In some cases it has been noticed that people die even after 30 days of getting cured of the deadly virus.

As per the existing government guidelines, the dead body of the patient who dies during the course of treatment for coronavirus is to be disposed of by the local authorities, in consultation with the family members, in a dignified manner observing all Covid-19 protocols.

'However, if at the time of death, the patient is found to be COVID negative, and if the relatives of the patient claim the body, the same may be handed over to them in a sealed body bag with advisory of its safe disposal, so that the last rites can be undertaken by the family as per their customary practice,' Mohapatra mentioned in the letter.

The dead bodies can be handed over with certain formalities.

'Body is to be handed over only if the family members desire and give an undertaking to abide by the COVID protocols like not opening the body bag or touching or kissing the dead body, maintaining COVID appropriate behavior,' the ACS order said.

The district and municipal authorities have been asked to sanitise and pack the body as per the Government of India guidelines before handing it over to the family members.

As per the earlier guidelines, the family members were not allowed to take the bodies even though the deceased tested negative before death.

The family members were only allowed to see the face of the deceased and lit funeral pyres keeping safe distance from the body.

Padma Vibhusan Raghunath Mohapatra, who died at AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, had tested negative to the COVID-19 before he passed away on May 9. His body was cremated as per the old guidelines following COVID-19 protocol. PTI AAM SNS SNS

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