Guidelines on how the corpses of Coronavirus (COVID-19) victims could be safely transported between states or across international boundaries has been released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) .
Nigeria currently has a total of 314 deaths.
According to the guidelines, when a patient dies of Covid-19, considerations for final disposition of remains may include burial at the location of death or repatriation of the remains to another state or country at the request of the next of kin.
“Repatriating human remains is a complicated process, often involving the cooperation and coordination of various stakeholders on several levels to ensure the process is conducted efficiently and in compliance with relevant international and national regulations.”
On how the remains of persons who have died of COVID-19 can be prepared for transportation NCDC said
the remains should be prepared and put in a sealed coffin.
“it can be transported locally within the country in either a standard hearse (or any other vehicle used in transporting human remains) or by air as cargo.”
The centre added that there was no special personal protective equipment (PPE) required for handling the coffin except a pair of gloves that should be properly disposed of after use followed by hand washing with soap and water.
For air transport during international repatriation, NCDC directed that embalmment should be reserved for those human remains that the destination country mandates, adding it should only be carried out by trained and experienced personnel
“A highlight of recommendations on how to safely embalm the
remains of a COVID-19 patient:
• Embalming should be done in a well-ventilated area
• Properly put on all required PPE (Gloves (nitrile gloves preferred), apron, long sleeved gown, eye protection (Goggles or face shield) and FFP3 mask or N95 respirator)
• Minimize infected material being aerosolized
• Carefully disinfect nasal/oral cavities and pack them with a mortuary-grade disinfectant. Purging during embalming from the nasal/oral cavity could result in the aerosolization of infected material
• Carry out the embalming using a higher than normal arterial fluid index and a higher than normal arterial solution concentration
• Use a slow rate of flow. A high rate of flow can cause distention of internal organs that may lead to purge and the aerosolization of infected material
• Seal the body in a leak-proof body bag or similar hermetically sealed inner containment
• The exterior of the inner containment needs to be disinfected
• The sealed and disinfected containment is then placed into a second hermetically sealed inner containment
• The exterior of this inner containment is then disinfected and sealed in a coffin
• After sealing, the exterior of the coffin is disinfected
• Clean and disinfect all surfaces
• Properly remove all PPE (and dispose of the waste appropriately)
• Immediately wash hands with soap and running water
• A certificate detailing the date, time and manner of disinfection must be issued by the
undertaker or funeral director and submitted to the freight forwarder/aircraft operator
Preparation of non-embalmed human remains for air transport (this should be done in a mortuary or a funeral home with trained
• Staff preparing the body should wear appropriate PPE (long sleeved gown, gloves, face mask, face shield of goggles) and prepare the body using standard precautions.
• Ensure that body fluids leaking from cadaver orifices are contained and/or rendered non- infectious using the following methods:
• Sprinkle the cadaver with special absorbent (highly absorbent compound with disinfecting, antiseptic and deodorizing properties that can absorb over 10 times the initial volume. It can also be used to spread evenly over the bottom of a coffin) for binding and disinfection of leaking body fluids of the corpse
• Seal the body in a leak-proof body bag.