Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram on Friday confirmed that the two patients who have so far died from COVID-19 will not be afforded ceremonies at homes or churches where the body is present and this will be the protocol going forward.
“The guidelines speak broadly to allowing for cremation and burial. However, in terms of cremation we are looking at a crematorium only. In terms of a burial, we are going to the gravesite only so there is no home visits, there is no church visits, there is no visits other than the funeral agency to the grave and the funeral agency to the crematorium,” Parasram said at a press conference at the Ministry of Health updating the country on COVID-19 statistics.
Parasram said they had also started consultation with various religious groups about this guideline so as to limit any contact with deceased patients to reduce any further spread of the virus.
He also assured that proper contact tracing has so far been done for all 66 positive COVID-19 cases. However, he admitted that there may be hidden contacts —people who may have picked up the virus from a patient that they wouldn’t be able to identify to authorities.
“There are people along the way for instance and let me use an example, somebody has symptoms and they go into a supermarket. They come into contact with a trolley, they have symptoms, they coughing and sneezing. The particles go onto the trolley handle and somebody else comes right after them, we don’t know who that person is and uses the same trolley. Maybe a few minutes later. That’s what we call hidden contacts in terms of tracing,” Parasram said.
This possibility underlined the need for the wider public to stay at home as much possible, he said.
“We should behave as if the person before us who used the trolley was actually contaminated and when we start to use that premise we will actually do social distancing, do hand washing, do sanitisation. Don’t touch your face,” he said.
“So the hidden contacts in an epidemiological sense are our greatest risk of spread. However, if people are ill or people are showing signs of any sort and they stay home, the hidden contacts are reduced significantly, they shouldn’t be any hidden contacts.
“Primary, secondary and tertiary contacts that are known to us are well self-isolated and well followed.”