Infection Prevention and Control Guidance Funeral Homes

Handling a decedent who died of COVID-19

1. Transferring a body to a bag

  • 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.

2. Embalming

  • Can be conducted
  • During embalming follow Standard Precautions
  • Include additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) if potential for body fluid exposure
  • Wear appropriate respiratory protection if any procedures will generate aerosols or if required for chemical exposure.
  • 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, application method and contact time, etc.).
  • After 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.

PPE: Disposable gown, face shield or goggles and facemask

Decedents with COVID-19 can be buried or cremated.

Decedent with COVID-19: Family Contact

  • 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.

References:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 and Funerals [Online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. March 12, 2020. [Cited: March 16, 2020]

Social Distancing

Social distancing measures are approaches taken to minimize close contact with others in the community and include: quarantine and self-isolation at the individual level as well as other community based approaches (e.g. avoiding crowding, workplace measures and closures, public/mass gathering cancellations).

It is important to recognize this important ritual in our community and among our family and friends. However, to help prevent the spread of illness the following Orders are set forth by the Chief Public Health Office:

  1. Limit the number of family members making visitation/funeral/memorial arrangements to no more than 5 persons;
  2. Restrict visiting hours to immediate family members and limit to no more than 5 persons (and continue to practice social distancing and hygiene safety);
  3. Delay or postpone in-person funeral and/or memorial services to avoid mass gatherings and ensure social distancing;
  4. Refrain from in-person signing of the guest book and taking memorials/donations. Instead, use online mechanisms for people to offer condolences and give memorials/donations;
  5. Cancel and abstain from hosting all public receptions;
  6. Staff in Long-term Care facilities and Nursing Homes should refrain from creating receiving lines to honour the decedent; and
  7. In all circumstance, increase interpersonal and social distancing (ideally separation of 2-meters or 6 feet, not shaking hands, hugging, etc.)

Government of Canada - Interim guidance

Published date: 
May 3, 2020
Health and Wellness

General Inquiries

Department of Health and Wellness
4th Floor North, Shaw Building
105 Rochford Street
Charlottetown, PE   C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-6414
Fax: 902-368-4121

DeptHW@gov.pe.ca