The Hospital Authority’s Central Committee on Infectious Diseases & Emergency Response today discussed two recent incidents involving the handling of patients’ bodies confirmed with COVID-19 after death.
The authority noted that accident and emergency department healthcare staff usually need to start resuscitation for critical patients immediately upon their arrival, before a comprehensive consultation and risk assessment can be conducted, hence, healthcare staff should perform resuscitations in a full set of personal protective equipment and appropriate resuscitation rooms.
The committee also agreed that if a patient succumbs despite resuscitation, healthcare staff need to determine the need to test the deceased for COVID-19 based on risk assessment, so as to assist the Centre for Health Protection to conduct epidemiological follow-up action, including tracing the source of infection and arranging close contacts for quarantine.
Healthcare staff will notify the Food & Environmental Hygiene Department of the test results so that the relevant staff can go to the hospital to pick up the body for transfer to a public mortuary in accordance with the protective standard specified by the Precautions for Handling & Disposal of Dead Bodies.
If the test results cannot be available within a short time, the hospital and the department will handle the body as being classified as “category 2”, as a precautionary arrangement.
When handling the body, staff must wear appropriate protective equipment, including gloves, water-resistant gowns and surgical masks. Goggles or face shields are needed for eye protection if there may be splashes, the authority added.