The Sri Lanka Health Ministry has failed to come to a decision whether to allow burials for COVID-19 infected dead, as two expert committees held opposing positions and were unable to reach agreement, at a face-to-face meeting on Thursday.
Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi who chaired the meeting has indicated that she would make the decision shortly, the Sri Lankan Sunday Times says.
The two committees are the ‘Technical Committee on the Disposal of COVID-19 Infected Bodies’ — chaired by Consultant Judicial Medical Officer and Forensic Pathologist, Dr. Channa Perera — and the ‘Expert Panel’ chaired by Prof. Jennifer Perera, Senior Professor in Microbiology and former Dean of the Colombo Medical Faculty, appointed on December 24.
The Technical Committee – comprising forensic specialists, epidemiologists, microbiologists including virologists and a hydro-geologist – holds the view that cremation, under strict guidelines, is the safe option to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Expert Panel – comprising virologists, microbiologists and immunologists – holds the view that both cremation and burial should be permitted under strict guidelines. An earlier draft of this panel’s recommendations has gone viral on social media.
Meanwhile, the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka (CCPSL) and the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) have said that based on currently available scientific information, burial could be permitted in Sri Lanka under strict guidelines recommended by the Health Ministry.
The CCPSL has reiterated that there is “no solid evidence” indicating that burial of dead bodies would increase the spread of the disease.
(Visit the CCPSL and SLMA statements