Guidelines for Circular on burial of COVID victims drafted
February 27, 2021 07:15 pm
Guidelines for the Circular permitting burial of bodies of COVID-19 victims has been drafted, says Director-General of Health Services Dr. Asela Gunawardena.
He added that locations for the burial of COVID victims will be identified within 3 – 4 days.
Drafting of guidelines was completed after the committee of experts appointed to examine methods for disposal of COVID victims met earlier today (February 27).
Speaking in this regard, Dr. Gunawardena said the Circular will be issued after finding the suitable locations and seeking the approval of task force on COVID-19 prevention.
For now, the bodies of COVID victims will be kept in cold storage until the proper procedure for burial is introduced, he said further. However, the bodies of the deceased will be cremated if the next of kin wishes to.
Extraordinary Gazette notification allowing the burial of COVID victims was published on Thursday night (February 25).
It amended the regulations made by the Minister of Health under Sections 2 and 3 of the Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance (Chapter 222).
The gazette stated that regulations published in Gazette No.7481 of August 28, 1925 is further amended by the substitution of the words, “Cremation of Corpse” with the words “Cremation or burial of the corpse”.
“In the case of burial, the corpse of such person shall be buried in accordance with the directions issued by the Director General of Health Services at a cemetery or place approved by the proper authority under the supervision of such authority,” it read further.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa recently informed parliament that permission will be granted for the burial of COVID-19 victims.
In response to a question raised by MP S.M. Marikkar during the parliamentary session on February 10, PM Rajapaksa had noted that permission will be given to bury the victims of novel coronavirus.
Several months after the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic last year, the Sri Lankan government amended a law to make cremation compulsory for those who fall victim to the novel coronavirus with the intention of preventing any potential threat.
The Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance (Chapter 222) was accordingly amended by an extraordinary gazette notification issued by Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi.
The decision sparked debate locally and internationally, as concerns were raised stressing that it is against the dictates of Muslim community’s faith.
Several world leaders and international organisations had also called on the Sri Lankan government to allow burial of COVID-19 victims and to end forced cremation of victims.