The Health Ministry said today that the request made to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for 1000 body bags was not in expectation of a high mortality rate among COVID-19 patients but is a routine measure.

“The Medical Supplies Division of the Ministry of Health keeps additional stocks, not only of body bags but also of medicines and medical equipment as a routine practice. It is a technical requirement,” Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Dr. Anil Jasinghe said in a press release.

The DGHS made the clarification after a letter sent by the Health Ministry to the ICRC was leaked over social media yesterday. The letter addressed to the ICRC’s Forensic Coordinator Angelica Guzman said that it is expected to have some deaths as per the mortality patterns of the pandemic and requested the body bags to dispose bodies according to international standards.

Dr. Jasinghe  said that there is an opportunity to obtain the stocks of body bags from the ICRC given the present situation and that these can used not only  to keep bodies of  those who die of coronavirus,  but also others.

He cited the case of the Easter bomb attack victims whose remains were stored in such bags.

“We do not expect a high mortality rate in Sri Lanka from COVID-19 given the manner in which our prevention programs are progressing,” Dr. Jasinghe said and requested people not to harbour unnecessary fears over the request for body bags.