The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that except in cases of haemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola, Marburg and cholera, dead bodies are generally not infectious.
WHO said this in its interim guidance on ‘Infection prevention and control for safe management of a dead body in the context of COVID-19’.
It said that only the lungs of patients with pandemic influenza, if handled improperly during an autopsy, could be infectious.
“Otherwise, cadavers do not transmit disease. It is a common myth that persons who have died of a communicable disease should be cremated, but this is not true.
“Cremation is a matter of cultural choice and available resources,” it said.
WHO added that to date, there was no evidence of persons having become infected from exposure to the bodies of persons who died from COVID-19.
It said that people may die of COVID-19 in the healthcare facilities, home or in other locations, adding that the safety and well-being of everyone who tends to bodies should be the first priority.
“Before attending to a body, people should ensure that the necessary hand hygiene and personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are available.
“The dignity of the dead, their cultural and religious traditions, and their families should be respected and protected throughout. Hasty disposal of a dead from COVID-19 should be avoided,” it said.