LAHORE: The Punjab government has issued certain guidelines for the burial of people who die of coronavirus, declaring personal protective equipment (PPE) for the deceased, teams taking part in the burial and their relatives essential.

The guidelines encompassed all the last rites of a deceased person, including transportation of the body.

Notified by the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department, the guidelines were dispatched to all commissioners, chief executive officers and heads of the state-run hospitals for implementation.

Under these guidelines, no one would be allowed to touch an infected person’s body and distance would be maintained to minimise exposure. For burial, the authorities would form a gender-sensitive team and engage the relevant family for counselling to comply with the standard operating procedures to avoid the risk of spread of the virus.

The teams and family members preparing the body for burial must use PPE, including tyvek suits (full gowns), gloves, N-95 masks, goggles, long boots and shoe covers. The authorities concerned must ensure that all the clothing of the deceased has been disposed of properly, the body wrapped and packed

properly inside a coffin with five per cent chlorine, and the place disinfected.

The body would be transported in a dedicated vehicle.

“While offering funeral prayers of the deceased patient, avoid large gathering, ensure social distancing, hygiene,” read the guidelines.The notification further said the body would be laid down in the grave by a special team, while the family could participate in covering the grave. Under the guidelines, 0.05pc chlorine would be use for live surface and 5pc for non-living surface.

BURIAL DECREE: Clerics affiliated with Tanzeem Ittehad-i-Ummat Pakistan’s Shariah Board have issued a religious decree stating that the bathing of bodies (ghusl) of coronavirus patients is not necessary and they may be buried after tayammum (dry ablution).

The decree, issued by Pir Ziaul Haq Naqshbandi on Sunday, said it was necessary to take precaution while performing the last rites of a Muslim who died of a contagious disease so that it did not affect others.

Therefore, if doctors stressed that bathing the body of a coronavirus patient could spread the virus then tayammum was enough, and the body wrapped in a piece of cloth and placed in a casket for burial, he added.

Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2020