MOH issues New guidelines on disposing remains of deceased coronavirus patients

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BY UPESI REPORTER,NAIROBI,13TH APRIL,2020-The Ministry of Health on Monday  issued a raft of guidelines to be followed for the safe disposal of patients who have succumbed to the new coronavirus.

The guidelines were developed in line with World Health Organization (WHO) protocols and the Public Health Act Cap 242 of the Laws of Kenya.

Healthcare workers and anyone involved in the management of burial of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients will be required to adhere to the guidelines.

Three main processes will be involved; identification of the deceased, certification of death, and disposal of the human remains.

The disposal of the remains will be conducted in a manner that prevents infection, control the spread of disease and is culturally appropriate for the bereaved.

Deaths occurring outside a health facility will be reported through the established guidelines for notification of deaths from infectious disease causes.

If preliminary investigation suggests a natural death without concern for coronavirus, and if the deceased is properly identified, the body may be transported to a funeral home or crematorium with subsequent certification by a competent health professional.

If preliminary investigation meets the definition for coronavirus at the time of death, the Ministry of Health shall be notified and assume jurisdiction to determine the need for laboratory confirmation and autopsy.

Before commencement of the handling of the remains, the family will be fully informed about the dignified burial process and their religious and personal rights to show respect for the deceased.

The team which will handle the funeral will include; a family representative, a Public Health Officer, a local administrator (Chief / Assistant Chief), security and any other co ‘opted health professional.

The steps to be followed during the internment will be as follows.

1. Arrival of the Body disposal team

2. The staff should not be wearing PPE upon arrival.

3. Greet the family and offer your condolences before unloading the necessary material from the vehicles. Request respectfully for a family representative.

4. The communicator should liaise with the family representative for the final rites

Before handling the remains, health officials will be required to be in protective gear and will spray the body before placing it in the appropriate body bag.

If a coffin is necessary, it will be placed outside the house, and then the  body will be placed by health officials in full protective equipment.

A family representative in gloves will then be allowed to close the coffin after which it will be disinfected.

The body will then be interred.

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