Covering coffins with plastic unnecessary, says health department

Relatives of a COVID-19 victim pray over a coffin covered in plastic. AFP/Oscar Rosario

JOHANNESBURG - Concerns have been raised over the handling of bodies of COVID-19 victims as people fear that the virus might still be highly contagious.

The health department said wrapping coffins in plastic and attaching biohazard stickers is unnecessary.

READ: SA turns to temporary morgues as COVID-19 deaths soar

The department also said it's unnecessary for funeral directors to wear full PPE or to sanitise the graves and the clothes of people attending the funeral.

It said this is necessary only if prescribed as an additional measure by the relevant municipality, where the grave is excavated in an area with a high water table.

READ: SA records over 7,000 new COVID-19 cases, 753 deaths

The World Health Organization's latest guidelines indicate that transmission of COVID-19 from human remains to living people has not been proven.

The department has also warned the public against illegal exhumation of remains without the relevant authorisation.


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