Covid-19 Corpse Preservation, Forensic: 'There's Risk of Transmission'

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Petir Garda Bhwana

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  • Workers carrying empty coffins to be distributed at the Petamburan TPU, Central Jakarta, Tuesday, July 6 2021. In addition to free coffins, the Jakarta City Parks and Forest Service also provides vehicles to transport Covid-19 bodies. ANTARA PHOTOS/M Risyal Hidayat

    Workers carrying empty coffins to be distributed at the Petamburan TPU, Central Jakarta, Tuesday, July 6 2021. In addition to free coffins, the Jakarta City Parks and Forest Service also provides vehicles to transport Covid-19 bodies. ANTARA PHOTOS/M Risyal Hidayat

    TEMPO.CO, Bandung - The Indonesian Forensic Doctors Association had discussions regarding people’s requests of postponing funerals by preserving the bodies of Covid-19 patients. According to Yoni Syukriani from the Department of Forensic Medicine and Medicolegal, Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Padjadjaran (Unpad), the postponement of the funeral was related to religious ceremonies.

    Yoni said there are several options for preserving the corpse, such as storing it in a special refrigerator. "The problem is that every time the staff opens the lid of the refrigerator, they face a risk," he said at an online Covid-19 educational series held by the Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Padjajaran with the topic of curing and burying the bodies of Covid-19 patients on Wednesday, July 21, 2021.

    The risk of transmission, according to him, can be met with a special protocol for officers who put the bodies of Covid-19 patients into special refrigerators. However, he added, due to the expensive price, the availability of the special refrigerators should be taken into consideration.

    Another method of preserving corpses is usually by embalming techniques. For the bodies of Covid-19 patients, this method can be done with minimal risk by forensic specialists using supporting facilities. The room in the hospital must have negative air pressure and use a HEPA filter.

    "But if embalming is done at funeral homes, those capabilities and facilities are not certain," said Yoni. During this pandemic, according to him, embalming corpses is not recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health.

    According to Deni Kurniadi Sunjaya from the Division of Public Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Unpad, it is necessary to have the right social approach related to preserving the bodies of Covid-19 patients, for example by involving religious leaders and community leaders regarding the abnormal pandemic situation. "The risk is higher so it is universally unethical because it harms a lot of people," he said.

    The latest protocols from the Minister of Health include prohibiting the injection of preservatives and embalming corpses. The regulation is contained in the decision number HK.01.07/MENKES/4834/2021 regarding the Protocol for the Management and Burial of the Covid-19 Body.

    Read also: Covid-19 Made People More Religious, Study Finds

    ANWAR SISWANDI | MAUDEY K. SETYAKUSUMA