Scientists confirm first case of COVID-19 transmitted from dead body

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In Thailand, first case of the novel coronavirus transmitted from a dead patient to a medical examiner has been reported.

According to a report by Buzzfeed experts say that it adds to safety concerns for morgue and funeral home workers amid the global pandemic.

“This is the first report on COVID-19 infection and death among medical personnel in a Forensic Medicine unit,” said a Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine study released on Sunday.

“The disinfection procedure used in operation rooms might be applied in pathology/forensic units too,” wrote the authors, Won Sriwijitalai of the RVT Medical Center in Bangkok and Viroj Wiwanitkit of China’s Hainan Medical University. “At present, there is no data on the exact number of COVID-19 contaminated corpses since it is not a routine practice to examine for COVID-19 in dead bodies in Thailand.”

With nearly 1.9 million novel coronavirus cases reported worldwide as of Monday, Thailand has reported only 2,579 cases, although it was one of the earliest countries to report infections outside of China. The death of the forensic team member was only the second case reported among medical personnel in Thailand as of March 20, the authors added.

“Not just the medical examiners, but morgue technicians and the people in funeral homes need to take extra care,” said Angelique Corthals, a professor of pathology at CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “It is a real concern.”

“Anyone coming into contact with a COVID19 positive body, alive or dead, should be using personal protective equipment to prevent exposure,” health policy expert Summer Johnson McGee of the University of New

Very little is known about how long the new coronavirus can survive in dead bodies or whether corpses can be contagious to people who handle them.

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