Picture: Emilio Morenatti/AP/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Emilio Morenatti/AP/African News Agency (ANA)

Hospitals and mortuaries will have to take extra precaution with Covid-19 remains

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published May 26, 2020

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Johannesburg - Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has issued regulations regarding the handling of remains of people who have died from Covid-19.

These guidelines make amendments, under the disaster management act, to deal with the transportation and burial of deceased Covid-19 persons.

As of May 26, the country had recorded 23 615 cases and 481 deaths. The number of recoveries is 11 917 and 596 777 tests have been conducted. Over 12 million people have been screened for the virus.  

The amendments to existing legislation were gazetted on April 8.

All persons handling Covid-19 remains will have to wear personal protective equipment and they will have to practise hygiene with regular hand washing.

Other regulations state: 

  • Municipalities will have to ensure that the bodies of Covid-19 victims are buried or cremated in approved and suitable areas.
  • For mortuaries and funerals, undertakers will also have to follow a strict protocol in the handling of Covid-19 remains.
  • A body bag will have to be used for transporting the body of a Covid-19 patient and the body bag will have to be disinfected before the bag is transported out of the hospital.
  • Trolleys will also have to be disinfected and staff handling the bodies will have to take off their PPE before leaving the ward.
  • A mortuary may not keep a body of a Covid-19 patient for more than 10 days and the deceased person will have to be cremated or buried within 10 days of the person's death.
  • The delivery of remains should be done on the day of the funeral and not the night before, which is traditionally the case in most cultures.
  • Undertakers assisting with burial will have to wear full personal protective equipment to prevent possible contamination. 


* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak, visit IOL's special #Coronavirus page.

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit sacoronavirus.co.za 

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