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How are COVID-19 Burials Different from Ebola burials

How are COVID-19 Burials Different from Ebola burials
Updated Sept. 10, 2020

COVID-19

Ebola

Is the body infectious?

COVID-19

Based on what we know now, it is believed there is little risk of getting COVID-19 from a dead body. The virus is thought to spread mainly:

  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or
  • When respiratory droplets from an infected person land in the mouth or nose of people who are nearby or possibly inhaled into the lungs

Ebola

Yes. The body is extremely infectious. People who touch the body or come in contact with blood and body fluids (urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who died from Ebola are at higher risk of getting infected.

Is a team required for the burial?

COVID-19

A team is not required. However, an individual can request support from trained religious leaders and government staff.

Ebola

Yes. A team is required to conduct safe and dignified burials. The body is highly infectious, and the use of a trained burial team prevents the spread of the disease among family and in the community.

Can the family prepare the body for the burial?

COVID-19

Yes. The family can prepare the body. The family would need gloves, a gown, water and soap or diluted chlorine solution. For washing the body – waterproof gown, mask or N-95 respirator, and goggles or face shield are recommended to protect from splashing of any body fluids.

Ebola

No. The trained burial team is required to pick up and prepare the body of a person who died of Ebola.

How do you handle the belongings of the deceased?

COVID-19

Personal belongings of the dead person can be washed with soap and water OR disinfectant and then air dried in direct sunlight. Gloves should be used to handle the belongings.

Ebola

Personal belongings of the dead person should be disinfected if appropriate, burned, or buried.

Can the family select the burial site?

COVID-19

Yes. The family can select and transport the body to the final resting place. No special transport is required.

Ebola

No. The trained burial team is required to pick up and transport the body to the burial site. A designated transport vehicle is used for the body.

Can the family have a viewing of the body?

COVID-19

Yes. Family members can view the body but must stand at least 1 meter away from other persons viewing the body. They should not touch the body without taking precautions.

Ebola

No. Once the trained burial team picks up the body, the next time the family can see the body is at the burial site, watching from a safe distance as the burial team completes their work.

What PPE and hand hygiene is needed for handling of the body?

COVID-19

Gloves, gown, water and soap or diluted chlorine solution.

For autopsy or washing the body – Waterproof gown, mask or N-95 respirator, and goggles or face shield are recommended to protect from splashing of any body fluids.

The reuse of protective equipment* if properly disinfected may be necessary given the shortage of supplies.

Ebola

Full PPE should be worn by burial team members (rubber boots, gown, apron, mask, goggles or face shield, a hood, latex or nitrile inner gloves, and thick rubber outer gloves). Reusable PPE should be properly disinfected after use and all disposable PPE should be burned.