Dr. Rajitha's opinion on Covid-19 outbreak


Scientific and Medical opinion on disposal of dead bodies of Covid 19 victims by

Dr. Rajitha Senaratne MP - Former Minister of Health, Nutrition & Indigenous Medicine

1. Infection prevention and control for the safe management of a dead body in the

context of Covid 19


People who have died from Covid 19 can be buried or cremated.

WHO -Interim guidance – 24/03/2020

2. Practical consideration and recommendation for religious leaders and faith based

communities in the context of Covid 19

Safe burial practices

Faith leaders can help grieving families to ensure that their departed loved ones

receive respectful, appropriate funerals and burial rites, even in the midst of the

Covid 19 pandemic.

1. When acceptable or appropriate according to respective faith traditions,

embalming, burial and cremation should be allowed for the remains of persons

who have died of Covid 19.

2. Religious leaders and local religious communities can work with families to

integrate appropriate religious and cultural practices with burial and funeral steps

that reduce the chances of infection.

3. If the family of the diseased wishes to view the body after it’s removal from the

medical facility where the family member has died, they may be allowed to do so,

In accordance with local physical distancing restriction, with no touching or

kissing of the body and through handwashing before and after viewing.

Validity of these guidance

WHO continues to monitor the situation closely for any changes that may affect

this interim guidance. Should any factors change, WHO will issue a further

update. Otherwise, this interim guidance document will expire 2 years after the

date of publication,

WHO Interim Guidance 07/04/2020

3. Social stigma associated with Covid 19 a guide to preventing and addressing social


The current Covid19 outbreak has provoked social stigma and discriminatory

behaviors against people of certain ethnic backgrounds as well as anyone

perceived to have been in contact with the virus.

What is the impact

Stigma can undermine social cohesion and prompt possible social isolation of

groups, which might contribute to a situation where the virus is more not less,

likely to spread. This can result in more severe health problems and difficulties

controlling a disease outbreak.

Stigma can:

Drive people to hide the illness to avoid discrimination.

Prevent people from seeking healthcare immediately.

Discourage them from adopting healthy behaviors.


DONT – attach locations or ethnicity to the disease.

DONT – talk about people “Transmitting Covid 19” “Infecting others” or

“spreading the virus” as it implies intentional transmission and assign blame.

Using criminalizing or dehumanizing terminology creates the impression that

those with the disease have somehow done something wrong or are less human

than the rest of us, feeding stigma, undermining empathy and potentially fueling

under reluctance to seek treatment or attend screening, testing and quarantine.

Make sure you portray different ethnic groups

All materials should show diverse communities being impacted and working

together to prevent the spread of Covid 19. Ensure that typeface, symptoms and

formats are neutral and don’t suggest any particular group.

Ethical Journalism

Journalistic reporting which overly focuses on individual behavior and patients

responsibility for having and “spreading Covid 19” can increase stigma of people

who may have the disease.

UNICEF & WHO – 24/02/2020

4. Statement on Covid 19 : Ethical considerations from a global perspective

On both national and international levels, health and social policies should be

based on solid scientific evidence, taking into account the uncertainties that exist

during pandemic, especially when caused by a novel pathogen, and should be

guided by global ethical considerations.

Political decisions should be based on sound scientific knowledge.

The IBC and COMEST stress that policies which are not based on sound scientific

knowledge and practices are unethical as they work against the effort to build a

common response to the pandemic.

Statement of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee (IBC) and the

UNESCO World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and

Technology (COMEST)

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