The Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) has observed that burial of COVID-19 dead bodies could be permitted in Sri Lanka according to the currently available scientific evidence.
The Association said that a decision was made by the Director General of Health Services to cremate all dead bodies of COVID-19 positive patients based on the limited scientific evidence that was available at the initial stages.
“There has been significant unrest among some communities regarding the government’s decision to impose compulsory cremation as the only avenue of disposal of COVID-19 deaths. This has the potential to cause much civil unrest. As a result, it was also found that people were generally reluctant to cooperate with the COVID control measures implemented by the Government. Many of them avoided seeing doctors and hence there were several deaths occurring at home without seeking medical attention or treatment,” it said.
The SLMA said they have made several observations taking into account some new scientific knowledge available now regarding the COVID-19 disease and after extensive deliberations by the medical experts in all relevant fields, they have observed that burial of COVID-19 dead bodies could be permitted in Sri Lanka.
The Association said according to their observations made , COVID infection occurs only through respiratory route and there are no reported infections through any other routes, including the gastro-intestinal portal.
They have also observed that virus itself can thrive only inside a living cell and it is unlikely that it could remain infectious within a dead body for any significant period of time.
Another observation they have made is that a positive PCR found post-mortem does not necessarily mean that the dead body is infectious.
The most important observation thay have made is that contamination of water supply by sewage, consisting of excretions and secretions of COVID-19 infected patients could be much worse than any possible contamination from buried corpses.
The Association went on to say that burial of corpses was one of the practices of disposal of infected dead bodies even in the case of severe waterborne diseases like Cholera.