The Scientific Council on Public Health Emergencies (CSUSP), on the request of the Minister of Public Health on 12 May 2020, met its 14 members in session on 22 May and issued its 6th notice on the management of the bodies of patients who died from Covid-19.
The document, signed by the President of the CSUSP, Pr Koulla-Shiro Sinata, mainly recommends that Covid-19 bodies be buried within a period not exceeding 48 hours after death. The body should be placed “in an airtight, closed and galvanized coffin, with or without built-in glass allowing the family to see the face of the deceased.”
The document recommends that families, “beforehand and duly informed of the cause of death, be allowed to see the body, without physical contact, before any placing in the coffin and to attend the burial in limited numbers, following standard precautions.”
The CSUSP disapproves of the transfer of the dead body outside the city where the death occurred. As a result, it states that burial should be “in the city where the death occurred, in the family home if it is located there, or at a public cemetery if it is not.” The handling and burial of the body is the responsibility of trained and protected technical personnel.
CSUSP says that families and relatives have a poor understanding of how the remains are buried. They consider the burials to be botched and humiliating concerning the various traditions they have.
The decree of 14 March 1974 regulating burial, exhumation, and body transfer operations merely states that “the body of a person who has died of contagious disease must be placed in a hermetically sealed, galvanized and welded coffin.”
The World Health Organization (WHO), in its guidelines of 24 March 2020, notes that, as far as the available data on Covid-19 disease are concerned, as with any pandemic influenza, only the lungs are contagious and there is no evidence of contamination due to exposure to the body.
However, WHO suggests that early disposal of the body of a person who has died from Covid-19 should be avoided and the movement and handling of the body should be limited as much as possible.
During the cabinet council, chaired on May 28 by Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute, the government promised to be a little more flexible in managing the bodies of those who died from Covid-19.