New Delhi: The Indian Council of Medical Research has issued guidelines in response to the questions and confusion among officials on what exactly needs to be done in terms of treating the COVID-19 deaths as a medico-legal case or not.
In a 32-page document “Standard Guidelines for Medico-Legal autopsy”, the ICMR on Sunday clarified, “The deaths in hospital and under medical care due to COVID-19 is a Non-MLC case and doesn’t require postmortem examination and the required certification of death is being done by treating doctors. The apex medical research body of the country said “some of the cases of suspected COVID-19 death which are brought dead to hospital are labelled by emergency doctors as MLC and body is sent to the mortuary and Police are informed which may need postmortem examination. Some of the cases are suicide, homicide or accident and maybe COVID-19 positive or suspected case of COVID-19. In such cases after the inquest procedure, if any crime is not suspected, police have the authority (as per section 174 CrPC) to waive off conduction of medico-legal autopsy, even though labelled as medico-legal case.”
The ICMR however said “This provision needs to be used prudently based on Police officer’s investigation findings and Forensic Doctor’s advice. Asymptomatic infected persons, patients in incubation period, unidentified dead bodiesand cases with negative result may not meet the diagnostic criteria for suspected cases, but should be treated as suspected COVID-19 death cases as false negative result is not uncommon.”
According to ICMR, in case of a large number of deaths, both incineration and burial are recommended methods for safe disposal of the bodies. However, the Government’s decision of incineration or burial may be taken in the best interest of public health at large. It said religious rituals which requires touching the bodies should be avoided like bathing, kissing and hugging etc. of the bodies.
The document added that “the body must be cremated in electric crematorium, wherever possible, so that the movement and handling of the body is minimized. The ash does not pose any risk and can be collected to perform the last rites. In case of burial the upper surface should be cemented and earmarked.”
It said that all the personnel associated with the care of the dead, from doctors to mortuary staff, to hearse van drivers and crematorium/burial ground staff should follow the precautions so that everyone can do their duty in good health. (IANS)