Those handling dead should take extra precautions, wear PPEs; Burial bath can be dangerous: Dr M S Khuroo
Srinagar, July 21: Not much is known about how long the Coronavirus can live in the people who died of this deadly virus but as per the information and observations based on experiments conducted in some parts of the world, virus can survive between seven to ten days in the dead, experts in Kashmir revealed Tuesday.
Dr Muhammad Sultan Khuroo who heads the advisory Committee constituted by the government of J&K to find strong response to the COVID-19 pandemic, while talking exclusively to the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) said that the novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 survives on surfaces for a few hours. However, according to the study, not much is known about how long the coronavirus can live in the people who die of this disease and nobody can confirm exactly how long it will last on the body.
He said that anyone coming in contact with a COVID-19 positive body, should use proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to prevent exposure as autopsies and other investigations on the body pose a risk of contraction of the coronavirus as well.
“As the number of coronavirus deaths increased across the world, with record-breaking deaths reported almost every day, and mass burials of the deceased, it is extremely important for a medical professional who manages such bodies to be provided with proper equipment,” Dr Khuroo said adding that the scarcity of proper PPEs has been a common concern among medical professionals from around the world, but it is equally important to take care of people who are taking care of those who die of COVID-19.
He said that the body whether dead or alive has virus in his throat, lungs, nose and virus can only excrete virus once patient coughs, sneezes, breathes and talks. “But dead can’t do either of these things. So a body can’t excrete virus and infectivity chances from the dead in this regard will be very low,” Dr Khuroo said. “The dead itself is infectious because the body has virus in lungs and throat, so it becomes an article like table and other things which have large amounts of virus and you can get infected once unless you have close contact with it.”
He said: “If we put the body in an airtight bag and seal it, then you can touch the body from outside the bag as the virus remains inside.” Dr Khuroo told KNO that from outside it becomes non-infectious.
He said that nobody can give exact details as to how long the virus will be in the body when patients die of COVID-19. “But it will not stay more than a week to ten days which is a significant time,” Dr Khuroo said. “We should treat bodies with respect but all precautionary measures must be taken in consideration. Giving a burial bath to such a person can prove dangerous.”
Dr Khurshid Ahmad, a leading Pulmonologist at CD hospital said that at present there is no exact information for how long this virus can stay in dead people.
“Virus remains on different things for different time and we just need to take precautions in last rites so that virus won’t spread more. If a body is air tapped, then there remains no virus outside the body,” he said. Dr Khurshid told KNO that a person who dies of COVID often has fluids like saliva, phelgium and blood oozing out and those could be a source of virus. This is the reason why there are clear national guidelines on how to handle bodies of people who die of Covid.”
Dr Khurshid said that funerals are being performed by the trained professionals who themselves are protected by PPE. “Relatives are allowed to see the dead with adequate protection but touching/hugging/kissing is not allowed,” he said.
He said that the scientific approach would be to cremate or bury without delay, he said.
“A properly-guided burial certainly ensures no virus will spread. At the cremation procedure, where the temperature is very high, will certainly kill the virus instantly,” the doctor said.