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No stats on the cremated

The Health Ministry has no statistics on the exact number of dead bodies compulsorily ordered for cremation, according to Epidemiology Unit Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Sudath Samaraweera.

Dr. Samaraweera told The Sunday Morning that the decision to cremate a dead body should be taken by the officials of the relevant hospital.

He reiterated the necessity of following health guidelines issued by the Government when handling the deaths of Covid-19 patients and suspected Covid-19 patients.

The Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) reiterated that they were following the guidelines issued by the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) when conducting post-mortems on deceased Covid-19 patients and suspected Covid-19 patients.

Attached to the Ministry of Health, Consultant Forensic Pathologist Dr. Channa Perera told The Sunday Morning that it had been mentioned in the guidelines issued by the DGHS how such bodies should be disposed of.

The Health Ministry in January announced that the bodies of deceased victims of Covid-19 would be cremated to prevent any potential biological threat.

In a gazette notification issued last week, Health Minister Dr. Pavithra Wanniarachchi said that the bodies should be burned at a temperature between 800-1200°C for a minimum period of 45 minutes to one hour.

The Health Minister noted that the cremation shall take place at a cemetery or a place approved by the authorities.

According to the regulation, the body of the deceased will be handed over only to those involved in the cremation process and that the ashes of the deceased may be handed over to their close relatives upon their request.

Furthermore, the attire and non-reusable personal protective equipment used by persons who handle the corpse shall also be destroyed during cremation.

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa