Bodies of COVID-19 victims being safely disposed of, Bombay HC told

The management and disposal of the bodies of COVID-19 patients by hospital staff is being carried out scrupulously as per the guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, the Maharashtra government’s Department of Public Health and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) told the Bombay High Court on Friday

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice N.J. Jamadar was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Ashish Shelar on a number of issues, including non-removal of bodies from active wards at the Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital (known as Sion hospital).

The PIL mentioned that every hospital, including Sion hospital, has to use considerably large areas as a mortuary hall and a post-mortem hall for dealing with bodies. The retention of the bodies in active wards in Sion hospital, as recently reported, is a matter of serious concern and gives rise to medical as well as humanitarian issues, the PIL stated.

In the last hearing, the court had expanded the scope of the PIL and directed the State government and the BMC to file their replies on the disposal and management of bodies of patients.

In his affidavit, Dr. Pramod Ingale, Dean (Academics), said Sion hospital ordered an inquiry and set up a three-member committee to look into the matter. The panel found that delays in removing bodies occurred as often relatives were not available, or traceable, or got delayed in reaching the hospital due to transport problems during lockdown.

The 22-page affidavit said, “There was consistent shortage of sweepers due to last minute absentiism, refusal to work in COVID-19 areas due to fear, age associated co-morbidities. As per the guidelines, the bodies were to be handed over to the relatives from causalty/ward. All precautionary measures as per ICMR guidelines are being followed by hospitals right from declaring the death of the patient, use of proper PPE kits for body packing in body bags, applying of 1% hypochlorite solution, transporting body from the ward to morgue, from morgue to the crematorium. The concerned staff are also given training on handling of the COVID-19 dead bodies in the beginning of the epidemic in the city of Mumbai.”

State’s affidavit

Dr. Sadhana Tayad, Director Of Health Services, Mumbai, in her 93-page affidavit, also reiterated that the ICMR guidelines and the “COVID19: Guidelines on Dead Body Management” issued by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare on March 15, are being followed strictly.

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2020 3:32:22 PM |

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