Buddhism officials call on temples to cremate those who die while infected with Covid-19

With Thailand’s Covid-related death toll on the rise, Thai Buddhism officials calling on temples to cremate the bodies of those who died and were infected with the coronavirus. Many Thais believe that cremation helps the spirit move on.

Director of the National Office of Buddhism, Narong Song-arom, says the office has coordinated with temples across Thailand to make sure those who die while infected with Covid-19 have a proper cremation service, which is important in Thai culture.

“We want to make sure that Covid-19 victims receive their last rites.”

A monk at Wat Phai Lom, where the bodies of 5 Covid patients were cremated, says that if the bodies are handled properly, there is no risk of infection or contamination. The abbot, Phra Kru Palat Sitiwat, says the body should be sealed in plastic and placed in a coffin. The coffin, along with the transport vehicle, should both be cleaned and disinfected before the coffin is taken to the incinerator. The crematorium is also disinfected before the prayer ceremony which takes around 20 minutes.

Narong adds that the funeral services can go on, even in high risk areas, as long as attendees abide by disease control measures like social distancing and disinfecting the area to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The abbot says some of the Covid victims were sent to Wat Phai Lom from other communities. He’s now calling on other temples to cremate the bodies of those who died while infected with Covid-19.

A recent report in Thai media says a community in the Isaan province Loei refused to cremate the body of a woman who was not infected with Covid-19, but died in a virus hotspot in Chon Buri. The woman’s family says the community was concerned about Covid-19 transmission because Chon Buri is a “red zone” province and her body was sent back to the coastal province for cremation.

“They were concerned that we would bring the virus to the community because we collected the body from a red zone province… We had a medical certificate stating that the cause of death was suffocation.”

The US Center for Disease Control says there is little risk of contracting Covid-19 from a dead body. The virus is known to typically spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes or talks, and then the droplets land on a person nearby or are breathed in.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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