A surge in deaths from COVID-19 risks putting an extra burden on the health system to handle bodies properly. This risk can be diminished through adequate preparation and planning so that the dignity of the deceased and surviving family is respected.
This includes properly identifying and documenting the dead and following safety protocols. Moreover, health staff and burial workers are doing essential work in the fight against COVID-19. They are working in a stressful environment, and they must be able to carry out their work safely.
In the last week of July 2020, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provided about 1,000 body bags and some 5,000 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves, overalls, glasses, and masks, to health authorities in Somalia to help manage the dead in a safe and dignified way.
The ICRC has extensive experience supporting the safe management of the dead during infectious disease outbreaks, including offering technical advice and support to health authorities. To stop the spread of COVID-19, the ICRC is also reaching out to communities with key preventative messages on how people can keep themselves safe from the virus.