Guidelines are being continuously reviewed by the government authorities who overview them. So this advice could change.
Current science says: Funeral directors and mortuary personnel are unlikely to contract COVID-19 from the bodies of those who have been infected with the virus.
Good Grief! has spoken to ministers of religion, funeral directors and cemetery personnel today. There has been rapid movement yesterday and today to ‘complete’ ceremonies before the prohibition that prevent funerals of more than 10 people which started today in Australia.
One cemetery spokeswoman pointed out that the 10 people present at a funeral will include officiating staff, which is usually a representative of the cemetery, the funeral celebrant and a funeral director.
This means your family attending may be reduced to seven.
We will report more on funeral ceremonies, including creative initiatives we can take to keep honouring the dead.
In the meantime, here is an excerpt from the NSW Health Department’s “Covid-19 – Handling of bodies by funeral directors” notification.
“Interim guidance is based on what is currently known about COVID-19. The infection is spread through contact with contaminated droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or from contact with contaminated hands, surfaces or objects. Funeral directors and mortuary personnel are unlikely to contract COVID-19 from deceased persons infected with the virus,” it says.
“However the following precautionary strategies should be used to minimise public health risks and to prevent spread of disease:
- maintain routine infection control procedures when handling or transporting bodies confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19
- wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at all times
- use leak-proof body bags to store and transport the body and label the bag “COVID-19 – Handle with care”
- embalming of a body confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19 is permitted
- family viewing of the deceased may occur, however family members should avoid any contact with the body.”
Strict guidelines have always been in place for funeral parlours, to ensure people are not infected by those who died from infectious diseases. So this guideline is an extension of that.
In NSW, guidelines about this aspect of funerals come under the authority of the Minister for Health. In addition, administration of the guidelines also comes under the auspices of the Ministry for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women. Each state has similar regulations.
To see the NSW Government’s directive on Covid-19, go to: