Scientists in Thailand have reported the first case of COVID-19 transmitted from an infected dead body. The patient who contracted the virus in this way has passed on.
A letter published in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine on Saturday [11 April] described it as “the first report on COVID-19 infection and death among medical personnel in a Forensic Medicine unit.”
According to the authors of the letter, the infected person was a forensic practitioner in Bangkok. The COVID-19 related death was linked to contact with a dead body, as the worker could not have had contact with a living COVID-19 patient.
It is not yet clear how long the virus is able to survive in the body of somebody who has passed on.
“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,” they said in the letter.
“Anyone coming into contact with a COVID19 positive body, alive or dead, should be using personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent exposure,” health policy expert Summer Johnson McGee of the University of New Haven told BuzzFeed News.
“Autopsies and subsequent investigations present real risks for coroners to acquire COVID-19,” she said.