Produce guidelines on managing bodies of COVID-19 patients: HC

The Madras High Court on Wednesday directed the State government to produce before it the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on handling the bodies of those who had died after testing positive for COVID-19.

Justices M.M. Sundresh and R. Hemalatha directed the State Government Pleader (SGP) to submit the guidelines by Friday. The direction was issued on a suo motu Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition taken up pursuant to the death of a neurosurgeon here in April.

The surgeon’s body was not allowed to be buried at a cemetery in Kilpauk here by the residents and therefore, it had to be buried at another cemetery in Velangadu, near New Avadi Road, where again a mob attempted to prevent the burial.

Irked over such inhuman behaviour, a Division Bench, led by Justice M. Sathyanarayanan, had taken up the suo motu PIL petition and issued a general warning to all people that they would be arrested and subjected to criminal prosecution for indulging in such acts.

When the case was listed again before the Bench, presided over by Justice Sundresh, on Wednesday, the judge wanted to know whether any guidelines had been put in place. SGP V. Jayaprakash Narayanan said that the Centre had issued elaborate guidelines.

Titled ‘COVID-19: Guidelines on Dead Body Management’, the document states that the main driver of transmission of COVID-19 was through droplets and hence, there wouldn’t be any risk of infection from a body if health workers and family members follow standard precautions.

It suggested measures such as plugging of oral and nasal orifices of the body to prevent leakage of body fluids, placing it in a leak proof plastic bag, decontaminating the exterior of the bag with 1% hypochlorite and avoiding embalming and autopsies.

Plea by doctor’s wife

In the meantime, it was brought to the notice of the court that the neurosurgeon’s wife, too, had filed a writ petition, through her counsel on record S. Elambharathi, for exhuming the body from the Velangadu burial ground and transferring it to the Kilpauk cemetery.

When senior counsel Ravikumar Paul made a mention about the writ petition and urged that he may also be permitted to make his submissions on the issue, the judges said they would hear him on Friday after going through the guidelines on dead body management.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 6:30:40 AM |

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