As per the new standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by Delhi Government on Sunday, it has directed that no sample would be drawn for coronavirus test from a person after his death. The new order comes in addition to an existing order issued by the Aam Aadmi Party government in March, based on the central government’s guidelines.
“No sample for COVID-19 test will be taken of a dead body. However, if doctors are satisfied with the clinical examination that the cause of death may be COVID-19 infection, the dead body may be released as the suspect COVID-19 infected dead body” read a revised order issued by Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Department, Padmini Singla. “Following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) will be followed for disposal of the dead bodies of COVID-19 patient/COVID-19 suspect person,” further the order read.
The new guidelines mentioned the procedure to be followed after deaths occurring in four scenarios – at a hospital, at a COVID care facility or testing center, at home, or if it’s an unclaimed body. If the death occurs at a hospital or a Covid-19 patient is brought dead, the hospital will provide a trained healthcare worker to handle the body, according to the order. In case no relative is available, a hospital should store the body in a mortuary after ensuring proper disinfection. If a patient dies at home, the relatives are required to immediately inform the office of the district magistrate concerned.
“The district magistrate shall immediately inform the nearest hospital in the district. The district magistrate of the area shall provide a hearse van to carry the body to the hospital and thereafter to the cremation/burial to ensure that no infection is caused,” according to the new order.
Also, the SOP guidelines highlight three requirements to identify an individual as a Covid-19 fatality – the person tested positive for Covid-19 before death, the positive test was based on a sample taken when he/she was alive and the person was admitted to hospital with severe symptoms of Covid-19 or doctors categorized him/her as a Covid-19 suspect.
“Many times, families were insisting for COVID-19 testing of dead bodies before cremation, even if a person died at home as they were scared,” said the Delhi government spokesperson.
Further, the order directed the District Magistrates, Directors of hospitals and Delhi Police to follow the procedure to ensure protection from the spread of coronavirus infection.