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SARS coronavirus-2: safe handling of bodies of deceased persons with suspected or confirmed Covid-19

In light of developments in terms of knowledge, the epidemic and the number of deaths, the French High Council for Public Health (Haut Conseil de la santé publique, HCSP) is replacing its 18 February 2020 statement and amending its recommendations on the safe handling of deceased patients with Covid-19, especially the non-justified viewing of the body for mourners immediately and the presentation of the body to the family.

The HCSP highlights that management requires strict compliance with the hygiene measures and social distancing measures against SARS-CoV-2 as well as the various cultural and social practices that exist for caring for the deceased.

The HCSP is issuing general recommendations on the precautions to be used, and the necessary protective equipment for this handling; it also clarifies the conditions enabling loved ones to see the face of the deceased person and a funeral rite to potentially be performed in a hospital room, funeral room or mortuary.

It then describes the steps and precautions that should be taken by the various professionals involved in managing dead bodies, depending on the location where the death occurred, whether in healthcare facilities, nursing homes or at home.

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