The Delhi government has issued a revised standard operating procedure (SOP) to hospitals for handling of dead bodies of COVID-19 patients. As per the latest order issued on May 17, a dead body brought to a hospital will not be tested for COVID-19. However, if doctors are satisfied with the clinical examination that the cause of death may be coronavirus infection, the body may be released as suspected COVID-19 infected body.
The order stated that the fresh SOPs would be followed in line with the COVID-19 guidelines on body management issued by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), Government of India. As per the SOP, if the death occurs at a hospital or a COVID-19 patient is brought dead, the hospital will provide trained healthcare worker to handle the body.
"The hospital should provide a hearse van to carry the body to cremation/burial ground to ensure that no further infection is caused. A properly packed body will be handed over to relatives as per the government of India guidelines," the SOP said.
In case no relative is available, a hospital should store the body in a mortuary after ensuring proper disinfection, it said, adding that the hospital management should decide whether to carry out autopsy or not.
"Hearse van used must be brought back to designated area in the district and disinfected as per the protocol before using it again," it said.
In case death occurs at a COVID care, COVID health centre or COVID testing centre, it will be managed by linked hospitals as if it has occurred at their hospital, except a hearse van will be provided by the district magistrate of the area to transport the body to a mortuary of the link COVID hospital and further for last rites, it said.
In the third scenario, if a patient dies due to coronavirus infection at home, the relatives of the deceased should immediately inform the office of the district magistrate of their area of jurisdiction.
"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," the SOP said.
A trained healthcare worker shall be provided by the designated hospital to the district magistrate for a hearse van.
"They will handle and pack the body ensuring proper disinfection as per the guidelines. The body will be brought to hospital for needful," it said.
In case of an unclaimed body found at a public place and if the death is not falling in any of the category of COVID-19 deaths, the body would be handled by the agencies like Delhi Police, local bodies, it said.
The revised order issued by Government of NCT of Delhi on Sunday was in addition to an order issued by the AAP government last month on the basis of the guidelines given by the Centre.
Delhi recorded 721 new coronavirus cases as of 8:00 AM on May 18, taking the total tally to 10,054, according to data released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Among the total people infected until now, 4,485 have recovered and 160 succumbed to the deadly virus.
With 10,054 cases, Delhi is fourth in terms of number of cases among all states and union territories in India. Maharashtra continues to remain the most affected state with 33,053 cases, as per the official data.
With PTI inputs