Standard operational procedure on burials released

Two circulars have been issued by the Health Ministry with regard to COVID-19 remains, with one circular on autopsy practice and disposal of a corpse infected with COVID-19 and the other on the standard operational procedure (SOP) in transportation and burial of deaths infected with COVID-19.

The circular on burials states the Director or the head of the healthcare institution must make arrangements to include Iranatheevu as the place of burial in the death declaration form by coordinating with the nominee of the Director General of Health Services (DGHS).

The Director or head of the healthcare institution must also inform relatives of the date and time of dispatch and advise them to provide a coffin as soon as possible.

The bodies will be transported to Iranatheevu from two points in the country. One is the Colombo Institute of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology or the office of the Judicial Medical Officer in Colombo and the other is the Welikanda Base Hospital.

According to the circular, the vehicle transporting the corpse to Nachchikuda Pier will leave at 5:30 a.m. daily and two relatives will be permitted at the burial.

The circular details other regulations with regard to transportation of the corpse, while instructions on the method of disposal are outlined in the circular on autopsy practice and disposal of a corpse infected with COVID-19.

With regard to the circulars, DGHS Dr. Asela Gunawardena said the State will bear the cost for the transportation of bodies.

“We mention in the circular that approval was given for a committee consisting of public sector officials to select burial land in relevant regions and send them to me. It is through this that we chose Iranatheevu as the most suitable land,” he said, adding that the island was chosen for a temporary period of time.