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Thursday, August 06, 2020

After HC prod, Karnataka guidelines on last rites focus on tradition, dignity

The July 27 court order followed instances of dumping of such bodies in pits in Ballari and families being forced to deviate from cultural practices for conducting last rites.

Written by Johnson T A | Bengaluru | Updated: July 31, 2020 8:44:59 am
“The dignity of the dead, their cultural and religious traditions should be respected and protected throughout. Hasty disposal of the dead body of a Covid -19 person should be strictly avoided,” state the guidelines issued by the health department. (File)

In the wake of the Karnataka High Court calling for protection of dignity of people who succumb to Covid-19 and for respecting customs and traditions of their families, the state health department Wednesday issued fresh guidelines for management of bodies of Covid-19 patients, with emphasis on protection of tradition and dignity of the dead.

The July 27 court order followed instances of dumping of such bodies in pits in Ballari and families being forced to deviate from cultural practices for conducting last rites.

“The dignity of the dead, their cultural and religious traditions should be respected and protected throughout. Hasty disposal of the dead body of a Covid -19 person should be strictly avoided,” state the guidelines issued by the health department.

A division bench of the high court headed by Chief Justice Abhay Sreenivas Oka had directed the state government to “come out with a protocol/ guidelines with emphasis on maintaining the dignity of a dead person”.

Under the new guidelines, the government has allowed close family members to catch a last glimpse of patients who succumb to Covid-19 before the bodies are packed for funerals.

Many doctors have been recommending use of body bags where faces are visible. “We have to be a little humane and allow body bags where people can see the faces, that is not happening at present,” said Dr Taha Mateen, a trustee of HBS Hospital in Bengaluru, which is associated with a voluntary group called Mercy Angels that is helping people carry out last rites of Covid-19 victims.

The guidelines say that family members can be allowed to view bodies at the hospital where they are kept after death by following safety protocols. “If family member/s of the patient wish to view the body at the time of removal from the isolation room or area they shall be allowed to do so by observing the standard precautions by a keeping a distancing of 1 metre/3 feet wearing face mask and hand hygiene,” they state.

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