Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, said the burial of all persons who die from COVID-19 related cases are supervised by trained Environmental Health officers under a strict protocol to prevent infections.
Under the protocol, families are not allowed to take away their relatives away; however, they are assisted by the officers in cleaning and preparing them for burial.
“Even if the body is going to be laid in state, nobody touches it,” he explained. “There are trained environmental officers who assist these families, along the way from conveying the body, laying in state – probably in a coffin that is half covered – so that people could file-past and not touch the dead person before burial”.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye was responding to a question by a journalist at the Ministry of Information’s COVID-19 update briefing, on Tuesday, in Accra.
In the morgues, he said, the bodies were also separated from the others who did not die from a contagion.
Responding to a question on autopsies, Dr Badu Sarkodie, Director of Public Health, GHS, said to ensure safety, all pathologists performing autopsies on COVID-19 related bodies, were advised to were Personal Protective Clothing and exercise extra caution in handling specific organs, especially the parts known to have the highest concentration of the virus.
These include the respiratory system and the gastric terminal system since, he said, explaining that it was quite risky to do autopsy on such bodies. He explained that since the virus was new, it was not very clear to scientists how long it could live within the internal organs and whether there were any latent phases of the infections in the internal organs or not.
Consequently, health professionals were very careful in how they handled the bodies.