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Health Ministry issues guidelines for bringing home remains of Covid-19 patients

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New Delhi: The Health Ministry on Tuesday issued guidelines for bringing home the remains of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients but asserted that importation of human remains of such cases is not recommended.

However, according to the guidelines, if human remains of suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus arrive into India, the airport health officer will verify the death certificate mentioning the cause of death, ‘No objection certificate’ for the transportation of human remains issued by Indian missions and embalming certificate issued by an authorized agency.

The airline shall ensure that the external packing of human remains (coffin) is undamaged and the airport health officer will verify the documents and inspect the packing in accordance with the provisions under the Indian Aircraft (Public Health) Rules, 1954.

“If there are any obvious signs of damage to the external packing, the handlers shall use full PPE, cover the coffin in plastic sheets to avoid any contact with the body/ body fluids before hand-over of the human remains to the concerned authority for final burial/incineration,” the guidelines stated.

The personnel handling the human remains should follow the laid down procedures for donning and doffing of personal protective equipment and follow other protective measures for COVID-19, like hand-washing with soap and water to ensure that they remain protected during the procedure.

The packaging (coffin) shall be buried/incinerated following the norms for burial/incineration for human remains with high risk pathogens. The handlers would be monitored for 28 days and the designated vehicle shall be disinfected.

In all such cases, the airport health officer should direct the airline to carry out the disinfection of the aircraft as per the norms. In addition, the staff handling the cargo (human remains in question) shall be quarantined for 28 days.

The ministry, however, clarified that the “ashes remaining after cremation pose no risk to the relatives who handle such mortal remains” and will be cleared in accordance with the provisions under the Indian Aircraft (Public Health) Rules, 1954.

Any death on board during the pandemic, is to be suspected of COVID-19, unless proved otherwise and the pilot has to inform about the death on board to the airport health officer for appropriate measures, the guidelines mentioned.

If the aircraft lands within the Indian territory, the crew will cover the body with sheets and blankets and move the passengers from nearby seats to other seats. If the remaining flight time is more than 8 hours, the pilot would seek permission to land at the nearest airport.

The pilot has to mention in the general declaration, the details of any illness/symptoms reported/experienced by the deceased prior to death and submit it to the airport health officer.

All passengers should disembark before the body is handled inside the aircraft, and trained staff from the airport, using full PPE, should move the deceased from the aircraft seat to a wheelchair.

At the tarmac, a nasal swab will be taken by the state health authorities and sealed in triple layered package for testing at a designated lab.


Also read: Double layered bags & colour coded bins: Waste management guidelines for COVID-19 patients


“Thereafter, the body shall be placed in an air-borne pathogen-resistant body bag and hermetically sealed and the relatives of the deceased, if not co-passenger(s), will be informed immediately. Further, the body would be transported in a designated vehicle to the burial ground or crematorium. and the guidelines for the disposal of a highly infectious dead body are to be followed.

“The APHO should properly counsel the family members/ DSO (District Surveillance Officer) and Local Police officer, for careful handling and not to damage/temper/change the packaging of the human remains. Autopsy in confirmed COVID -19 cases is not recommended,” the guidelines stated.

If the report is COVID-19 negative, natural process as per law should be adopted.

The disinfection and decontamination of the aircraft is to be done as per the approved procedures, the ministry said.

The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 590 and the number of cases climbed to 18,601 since Monday evening, according to the Union health ministry.


Also read: Covid-19 death toll in India rises to 590, total cases reach 18,601


 

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


 

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