The Health Ministry has issued a new circular on autopsy practices and disposal of human remains of deaths occurring in the country during the mandatory or extended quarantine periods or home quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Medical Officers confirming the deaths can request an inquest, if required , for deaths occurring during the mandatory quarantine period of 14 days or extended quarantine period .
All human remains where inquest is not required or postmortem examination is not ordered by the Inquirer into Sudden Death/ Magistrate are to be cremated irrespective of the result of the PCR test, since it is considered as “suspected COVID-19.”
Method of disposal of bodies where postmortem is conducted will be decided by the Magistrate/Inquirer in Sudden death , in consultation with the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO).
If the death has occurred during the home quarantine period, i.e. after the mandatory quarantine period or extended quarantine period , the medical officer confirming the death can request an autopsy if required.
A PCR should be requested and if the test is positive, the body has to be cremated.
If PCR test is negative, routine disposal should be done adhering to standard precautions.
The relevant circular has been sent by the Acting Director General of Health Services Dr. S Sridharan to all to all Deputy DGs of Heath, Provincial/Regional Director of Health Services , Medical Officers of Heath (MOH)s and JMOs.