…Guyana gets 56th COVID-19 death
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has recorded the country’s 56th COVID -19 fatality. The latest death is an 83 -year-old woman from Region 4 (Demerara-Mahaica) who died while receiving care at a medical facility. The test sample was collected from the deceased at the time of admission and tested positive for COVID-19 subsequently.
Officials of the Ministry have contacted all relatives and persons to facilitate contact tracing and rapid assistance to everyone who may have been exposed to the now-dead person.
The Ministry is also appealing to the general public to respect the confidentiality of the deceased and her family and to allow them to mourn their loss in peace.
Meanwhile, the Ministry noted that ever since Guyana recorded its first death in March, it has been developing and providing guidance in accordance with the Public Health Ordnance (1934) and other authorities on the control measure needed to strengthen systems to effectively manage the pandemic.
These guidelines developed based on the WHO interim recommendations include protocols for the management of human remains resulting from the outbreak. The protocol forms part of the core document approved for implementation by all health services providers.
According to the Ministry of health, the objective of these guidelines are to provide guidance on assessing the risk during the mortuary care process and provide adequate directions to the family; respecting the cultural context of the local community in Guyana; provide guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) to the operators and family with instruction on its correct and appropriate use; and coordinate and manage each situation on a case-by-case basis, balancing the rights of the family with the risks of exposure to infection and eliminating any additional risk.
As part of the Health Ministry’s measures for addressing COVID-19 the document outlined measures that mortuaries and funeral homes are required to follow regarding how to pack and transfer of the body from the isolation room/ward/other settings to a mortuary, crematorium or burial site.
The main areas listed here are complementary to all existing procedures regarding handling human remains safely. These include ensuring that mortuary staff and the burial team apply standard precautions at all times by performing hygiene measures incuding handwashing with soap and water; hand sanitization with 60% or more alcohol-based solution; appropriate use of PPE (gown, gloves, mask and facial protection) and environmental cleaning if there is a risk of spill/splashes from the patient’s body fluids and/or secretions.
Additionally, the Ministry noted that body bags are not necessary for packing the body which must be transferred and removed as soon as possible to the mortuary area, using a special designated vehicle as is required under the Public Health Ordinance (1934) of Guyana.
The Ministry noted too that if the family of the patient wishes to view the body after its removal from the isolation room or related area, they may be allowed to do so with the following standard precautions and hand hygiene at all times.
“Attendants need to give the family clear instructions not to make direct contact with the body (touch or kiss),” the document outlined.
In terms of disposing of the remains, the Ministry said that embalming is not recommended as a control measure unless otherwise specified.
“Disposal of human remains with an underlying cause of death due to COVID-19 can be buried or cremated safely in accordance with national guidelines and the following additional advice is provided to ensure community safety,” the document added.
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