Funeral Homes Guidance

Infection Prevention and Control

Handling a decedent who died of COVID-19

The suspected or confirmed status of the deceased person should be communicated to all those who will be handling the body. Decedents with COVID-19 can be buried or cremated.

Transferring a deceased body

  • Follow Standard Precautions
  • Include additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) if potential for body fluid exposure
  • Disinfect the exterior of the bag prior to transport
  • Wear disposable nitrile gloves when handling the body bag.
  • When accessing the body from the body bag, oral and nasal cavities should be covered or packed to ensure no further evacuation of lung contents. A non-medical face mask or cotton can be placed over the nasal and oral cavities to prevent any potential escape of virus from the lungs.

Preparation/ Embalming

  • Can be conducted.
  • During embalming follow Standard Precautions according to routine infection prevention and control procedures for preparing a body with a communicable disease.
  • Include additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) if potential for body fluid exposure
  • Actions that involve the generation of aerosols or splashing of liquids should be avoided unless essential.
  • Wear appropriate respiratory protection if any procedures will generate aerosols or if required for chemical exposure.
  • Removing fluid from the deceased during the embalming process may create additional splash related risk. Every effort must be made to reduce splashing resulting from either washing the deceased or cavity aspiration.
  • Aerosol generating procedures should be avoided at all times during the embalming process. An N95 respirator, facial/eye protection, and disposable impermeable gowns should be worn if an aerosol generating procedure occurs.
  • Wear heavy duty gloves over nitrile gloves if risk for cuts, punctures or other injuries that may break the skin.
  • Cleaning should be conducted in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, apAfter cleaning and removal of PPE, perform hand hygiene with soap and water or using at least 60% alcohol based hand rub. If hands are visibly soiled always use soap and water first.plication method and contact time, etc.).

PPE: Disposable impermeable gown, face shield or goggles, gloves and facemask

Decedent with COVID-19: Family Contact

  • Transmission occurs primarily from person-to-person through respiratory droplets (e.g. coughing, sneezing). Transmission may also occur via contact with contaminated services.
  • People should consider not touching the body of someone who has died of COVID-19.
  • Older people and those with underlying medical conditions need to practice extra caution when in the presence of someone who has passed away due to COVID-19.
  • There may be less chance of the virus spreading with hand touching or hugging after the body has been prepared.
  • Kissing, washing and shrouding should be avoided.
  • Always perform hand hygiene after touching a COVID-19 decedent.

~Please note that any guidance shared is subject to change.


Public Health Agency of Canada. Interim guidance: Death care services and handling of dead bodies during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. April 13th 2020. [Cited: April 14th 2020]

Published date: 
August 21, 2023