Coronavirus does not spread through dead bodies, reiterate medical experts
New Delhi: Medical experts on Wednesday reiterated that there is no study to prove that the novel Coronavirus can spread through dead bodies of COVID-19 patients. In a virtual consultation, health experts and human rights activists pointed out how there has been misinformation about the virus spreading through dead bodies, which has left families broken as they have not been able to bury or cremate their loved ones peacefully.
Replying to a query from Millennium Post, Dr Vandana Prasad, a leading public health specialist and founder of People's Health Resource Network, who was part of the panel, said that there is no spread of the virus from dead bodies. "The scientific community, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that there is no spread from a dead body because the body does not breathe," she said, affirming that SARS-CoV2 was a pathogen that spreads only through respiratory droplets.
All panelists unanimously said there was misinformation about the virus spreading through dead bodies and that burials/cremations need to be cleared so that families can cremate their loved ones without any fear. Images of family members breaking down metres away from the bodies of their loved ones as they were not able to bury or cremate their loved ones have gone viral on social media, raising these concerns, the panel maintained. As per government protocol, after four hours, the body can be cremated or buried without any danger.
"People are more likely to get the virus from the living than the dead," said John Dayal, a human rights activist who was part of the panel. He added if there is no crowd at the burial or cemetery site and protocols like masks and gloves are followed then it should not be an issue.
"If the family does not come in direct contact, which means no hugging or kissing the body, then it should not be a problem. Touching the body will not spread the virus," said a health expert who was part of the discussion.