Minister of Health and Indigenous Medical Services Pavithra Wanniarachchi yesterday ( 11 April)  promulgated  new regulations under  the  Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance making it mandatory for the body of  a person who dies or is suspected to  have died of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)  to be cremated.

The new regulations were promulgated  amidst growing calls from members of  the Muslim community to allow burials for people of  the Islamic  faith who succumb to COVID-19 .

The Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance which was  first promulgated in 1897 and amended  several times allows for both cremation and burial of persons who die of contagious infections or diseases of  epidemic nature.

The new regulations state that the bodies have to be cremated at the  temperature of 800 to 1200 degrees Celsius for a minimum period of forty-five minutes to one hour for complete burning, for the purpose of prevention of any potential biological threat and at a cemetery or place approved by the proper authority as well as under the supervision of such authority, in accordance with the directions issued by the Director General of Health Services (DGHS).

The regulations prohibit the handover of  the body of a person who dies of COVID-19 or is suspected to have died of Coronavirus to any person other than those who undertake the necessary duties of cremation .

The  attire and the non-reusable personal protective equipment used by persons who handle the corpse at such cemetery or place need to be incinerated by placing them with the coffin during cremation and  the  reusable equipment properly decontaminated and disinfected in accordance with the directions issued by the DGHS .

The  ashes of the dead person can be  handed over to the next of kin if they so request.

The gazette notification amending the  Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance was issued yesterday.

The gazette can be accessed at the link below:-

http://www.documents.gov.lk/files/egz/2020/4/2170-08_E.pdf