The Union Health Ministry has asked all states and Union Territories (UTs) to hand over bodies of suspected COVID-19 patients to their relatives without waiting for laboratory reports confirming the infection. However, the last rites should be performed as per government guidelines, the ministry said.
A letter on the matter was sent to all states and UTs on Wednesday after issues were raised regarding the death of suspected COVID-19 patients and bodies not being handed over to relatives pending confirmation of test report by hospitals.
"I would like to clarify that the bodies of such suspected COVID cases should be handed over to their relatives immediately and laboratory confirmation of COVID-19 should not be awaited," the letter written by Director General of Health Services (DGHS), Health Ministry, Dr Rajiv Garg said.
These bodies can, as a matter of abundant precaution, be disposed as per the "Guidelines on Dead Body Management" available on the website of Union Health Ministry which directs that handlers in PPE accompany the body for final rites, the letter stated.
"If such death cases test positive eventually, then the requisite action for contact listing, tracking etc. should be carried out subsequently. Further necessary action may be taken as per the clarification given above," the letter said.
India's COVID-19 tally breached the six lakh-mark on Thursday, with a single-day increase of 19,148 cases while the death count rose to 17,834 with 434 fatalities in the last 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data updated at 8 am.
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