As the lockdown came to an end (almost), Sindh government revised the SOPs for funerals of COVID19 patients, relaxing the tough conditions and allowing the deceased families to practice normal rituals.
On the recommendations of health experts, “normal” rituals have been restored with the revised SOPs issued by the provincial health department, advising people to strictly adhere to the precautions that are explained in the SOPs, to protect the participants of the rites from contracting the contagion.
According to the document, defining the revised SOPs, that is issued to health facilities across the province says,
“To devise a methodology which is convenient and safe to all involved in death rites keeping in view religious, cultural and customary dignified burial without compromising health of near and dear ones”.
The document says that the infection communication by a living Covid-19 patient is contracted through the droplet transmission (coughing or sneezing). While it is obviously not the case once the affected person dies, still care is needed in going close to the dead body. Hospitals told that the properly washed and shrouded bodies will be handed over to heirs.
Document also explains “Secretions coming out of natural orifices e.g. mouth, nose and anus may harbour the virus. People touching the body or coming in contact with body secretions can acquire the virus. Safety of those handling the body is of prime importance”.
“Adequate body disinfection in the hospital as well as at ghusl (washing) and kafan (shrouding) [stages] virtually eliminates the risk. To date, there is no evidence of a person having become infected from exposure to the bodies of persons who died of Covid-19.”
According to the same document, after shrouding, there is no need for government or administration personnel to remain involved in the funeral rites; once the body is handed over to the heirs, the remaining rites like funeral and burial, will be done by them.
It says, “Janaza prayers can be offered at a usual place, masjid or graveyard, there is no need to designate a separate burial place for Covid-19 deceased. They can be buried in the usual graveyards. There is no need for any special dimension of the grave. Usual graves can be used. [Crowding] at the burial site is however to be avoided. Minimum number of people should be involved to avoid cross infection between people”.
Add to that, however, a risk of person to person infection transmission at the gatherings is still there. Therefore, the government is limiting the number of participants and strictly warns to keep the distance between every two persons.
About lowering the body of COVID19 patients in the grave, the document highly recommends relatives of deceased to wear gloves and masks, usual handswashing is enough after the burial procedure.