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Covid-19 Guidelines Update

As we are now in another wave of the CoronaVirus pandemic, we are generating an update to our Covid-19 funeral related precautions.

As of the 7th of October 2021, there have been 1,651,226 total cases of Covid-19, of which 1,581,546 have recovered. However, this means there have been a total of 28,141 deaths associated with the Covid-19 pandemic in Canada. In Alberta, there have been 2,814 deaths which is 10% of the total deaths in Canada. These statistics are provided by the government of Canada. The risk to Canadians is still considered high.

How has this affected us in the funeral service industry? As discussed in a previous article about Covid-19, handling of the deceased is still governed by an article by the World Health Organisation from March 24th 2020 titled ‘Infection Prevention and Control for the safe management of a dead body in the context of COVID-19’. 

In this publication there are guidelines for the funeral home and for burial.

Funeral Home Safety Guidelines:

  • Funeral homes preparing the deceased are required to wear appropriate PPE.
  • Families wishing to view the body can do so “using standard precautions at all times including hand hygiene”.
  • Families should not touch or kiss the body as is tradition for many people.
  • Embalming is not recommended to avoid excessive manipulation of the body.
  • Adults >60 years old and immunosuppressed persons should not directly interact with the body (in any scenario).

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Guidelines for burial of those who died from Covid-19 include:

  • Requirements for adhering to the national or local handling of the deceased. For Alberta, the guidelines are described in the Province of Alberta Public Health Act Bodies of Deceased Persons Regulation.
  • Family and friends may view the body but without making contact. Following the viewing, they should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Those tasked with handling the body, such as while placing it in the grave, should wear gloves and wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after removing the gloves once the burial is complete.   

General precautions for loved ones of the deceased:

  • As stated above, viewing of the body is allowed, however, there should be no contact with the body.
  • Children, adults >60 years and immunosuppressed persons should not directly interact with the body during any stage of the body preparations, funeral or burial.
  • Belongings of the deceased do not need to be burned but should be handled with gloves until cleaned with a suitable Covid-19 effective cleaning solution. Clothing and other fabrics should be machine washed at 60-90 degrees Celsius with laundry detergent. Fabrics that cannot be machine washed should be soaked in hot water with soap and stirred. The fabrics should then be soaked in 0.05% chlorine for approximately 30 minutes. These guidelines are provided by the World Health Organisation.

For more information about Covid-19 related help, see our articles on Covid-19 Virtual Funerals and grieving at a distance. For any other questions, contact us at Zentner Funeral Home

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