Post-mortems on Human Remains in Open Corridors

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Jul 29 2020
Editorial Post-mortems on Human Remains in Open Corridors

The number of COVID-19 cases is declining and the country’s situation is gradually stabilising. Sri Lankans have started breathing a sigh of relief. Even though the risk of spread of COVID-19 is still there and we still cannot tell for sure that we are completely safe, Sri Lankans remain hopeful that soon this will be over and everyone can go back to their normal lives. 

COVID-19 has turned into a global pandemic, and nations are struggling to deal with it. In this day and age, no risk is too small. So far, hard work and sacrifices done by health authorities as well as others striving to rid the country of the COVID-19 pandemic have borne fruit. However, in order to maintain the stability we have achieved, there is a lot more to do.

It is in this context it was reported that officials of the District General Hospital in Negombo have been forced to carry out post-mortems on human remains in open corridors as the Hospital’s mortuary is nearly non-functional due to the unavailability of many equipment needed to carry out post-mortems properly. 

What’s more alarming is the fact that owing to this situation, the hospital’s mortuary is not in a condition to carry out high risk post-mortems on those who may have died of infectious diseases such as COVID-19. Responsible hospital authorities have reportedly been forced to refer such dead bodies to the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH). Not only does this pose a threat as far as the spread of COVID-19 is concerned, but also compels relatives of the deceased to spend more money and time for this process.

According to reports, the mortuary in question also has a number of other shortcomings such as lack of proper lighting and freezing facilities, which have compelled hospital officials to use a freezer container to hold dead bodies. Although hospital authorities have said that the construction of a new facility is underway, we cannot neglect the fact that dead bodies being exposed to the normal environment poses a risk to the health of those coming to the hospital for other needs. 

A hospital’s mortuary is one of the places that requires utmost attention, as that is where dead bodies are kept and post-mortems are carried out. When it comes to people who died of infectious diseases, needless to say, the situation is more serious. Moreover, it was reported that a large number of wooden boxes that were used for the transportation of human remains of those who had died overseas have been left unattended outside the mortuary and exposed to the environment, which violates the COVID-19 health guidelines.

The hospital is a District General Hospital that treats a large number of people on a daily basis. Even though the above-mentioned situation, i.e. performing risky post-mortems due to the unavailability of proper facilities, may not have caused any health related issues so far, authorities should take steps to rectify the existing shortcomings before it can cause bigger issues. 

Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 situation is gradually stabilising, and health authorities have issued a number of mandatory health guidelines that need to be adhered to, in order to completely rid the country and people of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this context, all establishments tasked with dealing with people who have or may have contracted the virus, especially hospitals, are expected to set an example to all those engaged in various other endeavours aimed at controlling the COVID-19 situation.

 This could be as simple as maintaining a place’s cleanliness or upgrading its facilities as necessary. Sri Lanka has so far proved that we are capable of successfully curbing the spread of COVID-19 with the facilities we have. However, if we fail to maintain that, we might find ourselves in a more difficult situation.

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Jul 29 2020

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