Colombo, January 4 (Daily Mirror) – Some members from the first and second appointed expert committees, set up to study and recommend if COVID-19 victims could be buried, had clashed during a meeting held on Dec.31, with contradicting views, with some members saying burials could cause harm while all 11 members of the second committee saying burials could be permitted, the Daily Mirror learns.
Health Minister, Pavithra Wanniarachchi had decided to appoint a second expert committee consisting of 11 members which include virologists, microbiologists and immunologists on Dec. 24 following intervention by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who urged for an immediate solution over the matter.
The Daily Mirror learns that all 11 members of the second committee had been questioned separately by a panel which included Ministers Pavithra Wanniarachchi and Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle, epidemiologists and Health Ministry officials and all 11 members had informed them that there was enough scientific evidence to show that burials would cause no harm as the COVID-19 was a respiratory illness and not a waterborne disease and bodies should be disposed within 24 hours, placed within a double-layered body bag prior to being placed in a coffin.
The members had also informed the panel that scientific evidence of COVID-19 had changed over the months, and as experts studied this disease more, it showed that dead bodies could not pollute the soil and water.
Some members were of the view that apart from the World Health Organisation, the International Centre for Disease Control and Prevention had also gone on to recommend that burials could be permitted.
Scientists and experts have been studying the SARS-COV 1 which broke out in some countries in 2003 and have accumulated data from that virus.“now it is 17 years since that virus and it was more dangerous than COVID-19 as the mortality rate was around 10 to 15 percent. But there has been no single case of harm caused by burying these victims. So there is more than enough scientific evidence out there to make this concrete decision to allow burials,” an official familiar with the case said. (Jamila Husain)