The WHO in an Interim Guidance issued on 24th March 2020 allows for burial as an option for COVID19 related deaths. However Sri Lankan authorities decided to fore-go WHO guidelines permitting burial, compelling authorities to cremate the bodies.
Two of the early coronavirus-related deaths in Sri Lanka have been those of Muslims who were forcibly cremated on the instructions of the authorities and against the wishes of the deceased’s families. The hurried cremation of the COVID-19 first Muslim victim was given wide publicity in local media, causing fear and shock-waves among the Muslim community but also fear and anguish among others.
For Sri Lanka’s Muslim community, who make up ten per cent of the population, burials are considered to be a required part of final rites in accordance with Islamic traditions.