With more than a fifth of the world’s population under lockdown, all that’s possible is being done to #FightCoronavirus and flatten the curve. A total of 21,83,692 cases have been reported globally and 1,46,870 people have lost their lives due to COVID-19 related complications. However, the fatal virus is finding different ways to infect living beings. Days after the first human to animal transmission was reported, another shocking report of a health worker catching coronavirus from a dead body has emerged.
Thailand has reported the first case of COVID-19 being transmitted from a dead patient to a medical examiner. “This is the first report on coronavirus infection and death among medical personnel in a Forensic Medicine unit,” said a Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine study. The total number of coronavirus cases in Thailand are 2,672.
This comes as an eye-opener after the head of Thailand’s Department of Medical Services (on March 25) had announced that the bodies of coronavirus victims were not contagious. The announcement by Thailand’s medical department came after temples refused to perform funeral services.
Doctors and pathologists have now identified the need to use the disinfection procedure used in operation rooms also in various pathology and forensic units. The study also reveals that currently, there is no data on the exact number of COVID-19 contaminated corpses in Thailand since it is not a routine practice to examine for the virus in dead bodies so far.
“Not just the medical examiners, but morgue technicians and the people in funeral homes need to take extra care,” said Angelique Corthals, a professor of pathology at CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
The report is particularly challenging since very little is known about how the virus acts in dead bodies. World health Organisation (WHO) has recognised risk to workers who handle dead bodies from hepatitis, tuberculosis, cholera and ebola. A few unanswered questions so far: How long the new coronavirus can survive in dead bodies? Can corpses be contagious to people who handle them?
Health policy expert Summer Johnson McGee of the University of New Haven said, “Anyone coming into contact with a COVID19 positive body, alive or dead, should be using personal protective equipment to prevent exposure.” This is probably one of the best ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus via corpses.
The report comes at a time when some morgue workers across the world have already raised concerns about hastily built facilities that have been erected to handle excessive deaths due to COVID-19. Clearly, the need of the hour lies in not taking for granted the ones who take care of the dead. Hopefully, the possible measures will be taken to save innocent lives.
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