Cremation of Covid-19 victims to continue until expert committee submits final report

Cremation of Covid-19 victims to continue until expert committee submits final report

November 22, 2020   09:04 pm

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The committee of experts appointed to examine methods for disposal of Covid-19 victims has requested the authorities to continue with cremation until their final report is submitted.

Director-General of Health Services Dr Asela Gunawardena said the committee had conveyed this to the Secretary of Health Ministry.

A committee of experts was appointed by the Health Ministry after the Muslim community raised concerns over cremation of Covid-19 victims, stressing that it is against the dictates of their faith.

The topic was also brought to the attention of the Cabinet of Ministers on several occasions.

However, the Cabinet decided to refer the matter back to the experts’ committee to look into the possibility of burying Covid-19 victims in a remote, dry area.

Last week, UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Ms Hanaa Singer wrote to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, reiterating the concerns of the United Nations with the existing Health Ministry guidelines, which stipulate cremation as the only method for the disposal of bodies suspected of COVID-19 infection.

In her letter, Singer had noted that the common assumption that people who died of a communicable disease should be cremated to prevent spread is not supported by evidence.

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