Home » Trending » Home Ministry says bodies of Indian nationals who died abroad due to Covid19 can be brought back to their home

Home Ministry says bodies of Indian nationals who died abroad due to Covid19 can be brought back to their home

Amongst several reports and videos surfacing of mourning families unable to say their last words to their dear departed members or friends who died of the novel COVID-19 virus, the recent announcement by the Home Ministry on 25 April brought some relief to those whose family members may have died in foreign countries.

“Bodies to be returned to India”

The Home Ministry stated in the announcement that the bodies of Indian nationals and OCI cardholders, who died abroad thanks to COVID-19, are often brought back. However, this had to be done with strict adherence to relevant guidelines. The announcement further added that the airport authorities have to follow the proper protocols given by the relevant government agencies to ensure this procedure is safely followed without any damages or accidents.

“Not Recommended”

The Home Ministry further clarified in their official communication that, “immigration functions in respect of the arrival of dead bodies and mortal remains of the Indian nationals/ OCI cardholders are permitted subject to strict adherence to the guidelines/ instructions issued by various ministries and departments related to the management of COVID-19 and submission of no objection, approval and concurrence from the Ministries of Health and External Affairs in this regard.”

It also added that the Standard Operating Procedures or SOPs that have been previously
issued by the health ministry in the matter of deceased individuals be strictly followed.
According to the SOP, the human remains mean the body and therefore the exhumed body of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients. It says the importation of the human remains of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case into India isn’t recommended.

“Procedure for such transportation”

The Home Ministry stated that if the human remains of the suspected or confirmed case of a COVID-19 patient were to arrive at an Indian airport despite the recommendation against such an import, the respective Airport Health Officer (APO) will follow the strict procedures mentioned and will verify the death certificate which mentions the cause of death and thus stating whether the deceased was infected or suspected to be infected with the virus as per the Indian Aircraft (Public Health) Rules 1954.

The respective authorities, Indian embassies, High Commissions, or Consulates are to also provide a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) which will be verified by the APHO. In addition to the NOC, an Embalming Certificate has to be issued to ensure proper safety protocols are being followed. On the examination of packaging or human remains, it said the concerned airline shall ensure that the external packing of the coffin is undamaged. If there are any obvious signs of damage to the coffin, the handlers shall use full PPE, cover the coffin in plastic sheets to avoid any contact with the body or body fluids before hand-over of the human remains to the concerned authority for final burial or incineration.

The airline official handling the deceased remains are required to follow the strict guidelines for donning and doffing Personal Protective Equipment and follow other protective measures for COVID-19 like hand-washing with soap and water, etc. to ensure that they remain protected during the procedure of transportation to prevent being infected due to exposure. The coffins of the deceased are to be buried or incinerated according to the norms for such activities for “humans with high-risk pathogens” as per the Ministry of Home Affairs. These officials, as well as the driver, will be further monitored for the 28 days. In all such cases, the APHO must direct the concerned airline to carry out the disinfection of the aircraft as per the norm. Also, the staff handling the cargo are to be quarantined for 28 days.

The MHA stated that the remaining ashes after the cremation procedures have been completed do not carry the virus and therefore are not a threat to the deceased relatives who would handle the remains. These relatives are to be cleared following the provisions under the Indian (Public Health) Rules 1954.

Scroll to Top