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Union Health Ministry relaxes guidelines on handing over bodies of suspected COVID cases to families

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The families need not wait for laboratory confirmation but the mortal remains should be treated as per the government guidelines

The Union Health Ministry has relaxed the guidelines on handing over the bodies of suspected COVID-19 cases to relatives for the cremation to ensure that they do not have to wait for laboratory confirmation of the infection.

The ministry wrote to the Delhi government, saying the bodies of suspected COVID-19 cases should be handed over to their relatives without waiting for laboratory confirmation but the mortal remains should be treated as per the government guidelines.

The letter, signed by Directorate General of Health Services Dr Rajiv Garg and addressed to Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Dev, was posted on the Twitter handle of the health ministry’s website after Union Home Minister Amit Shah held two high-level meetings on management of the worrying COVID-19 situation in Delhi.

“In a letter issued by #DGHS to #Delhi Govt, guidelines on handing over of #dead bodies of suspect #COVID19 cases to relatives for #cremation have been relaxed to ensure that families do not need to wait until the result of the lab report,” Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan tweeted.

“Please refer to the issue raised regarding deaths of suspect COVID-19 patients and bodies not being handed over to the relatives pending confirmation of test report by hospitals. I would like to clarify that the dead bodies of such suspected COVID-19 cases should be handed over to their relatives immediately and laboratory confirmation of COVID should not be awaited,” Garg said in the letter.

These bodies can as a matter of abundant precaution be disposed of as per the guidelines on dead body management issued by the health ministry.

If such cases test positive eventually then the requisite action for contact, tracking should be carried out subsequently, the letter stated.

Vardhan also posted an official order according to which three teams have been constituted by the Centre to inspect Delhi hospitals to guide them on clinical management of COVID-19 cases.

“Pursuant to consultations between the central government and the Delhi government it is felt that a rapid assessment should be made of the existing capacity, patient care amenities, and associated aspects of COVID- Care facilities in the Delhi government in order to inform efficient and timely decision making,” the order stated.

Teams of domain knowledge experts comprising doctors from AIIMS, Delhi, DGHS, Union Health Ministry and the Delhi government assisted by officers from the municipal councils have been constituted.

The teams will inspect the major dedicated COVID facilities under the Delhi government and suggest specific measures for the betterment of facilities and patient care services.

The doctors from All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Directorate General of Health Services are empowered to co-opt other doctors from their institutes or organisation to assist them in their endeavour, the order said.

The number of COVID-19 cases has rapidly approached the 39,000-mark in Delhi.

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