Can Coronavirus Spread From Dead Body? First Possible Case In Thailand

A forensic medicine professional who died from the coronavirus in Thailand is likely the first fatal case of the novel coronavirus being transmitted from a dead patient. With nearly 1.9 million COVID-19 cases reported worldwide as of Monday, Thailand has reported only 2,579 cases.

“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.”

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. The letter added that the two medical professionals could "have contact with biological samples and corpses."

Details on the age or name of the forensic practitioner and nurse assistant were not included. The World Health Organization (WHO) previously stated that "there is no evidence of persons having become infected from exposure to the bodies of persons who died from COVID-19."

However, the WHO added that if a person died during the infectious period of COVID-19, lungs and other organs may still contain live virus.

"The safety and well-being of everyone who tends to bodies should be the first priority," the organization said. "Before attending to a body, people should ensure that the necessary hand hygiene and personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are available."

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