The photos of bodies floating in the Ganga river are disturbing. More than 70 our bodies have been recovered from the river in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Local reviews declare greater than 100 our bodies have been dumped into the river.
The discovery of our bodies has triggered panic over the spread of Covid-19 via Ganga river water. Can rivers spread Covid-19?
This query entails reply to 2 different essential questions: Does Covid-19 spread from a useless physique? Does Covid-19 spread via water?
Does Covid-19 spread from a useless physique?
There is lack of readability whether or not a useless physique is infectious for Covid-19. Many consultants dismiss the potential for a useless physique posing a Covid-19 threat. However, authorities proceed to have physique disposal protocol for Covid-19 instances.
Health companies in India prescribe utmost care in the dealing with of the our bodies of individuals succumbing to Covid-19. The pointers issued by the Union well being ministry and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) counsel there’s a risk of coronavirus an infection in dealing with useless our bodies.
They prescribe use of non-public protecting gear (PPE) together with masks and eyewear, hand sanitisation and in addition disinfecting of bag containing the useless physique.
In the UK, the steering for care of the deceased with suspected or confirmed coronavirus (Covid-19), up to date on April 22 this yr, present extra elaborate protocols for various group of handlers together with well being employees, municipal professionals and relations or family members.
It declares its goal as two-pronged to make sure that:
“The deceased are treated with sensitivity, dignity and respect” — which didn’t occur in the case of the deceased whose our bodies had been found floating in Ganga in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
“People who need to come into contact with the deceased or who work in services providing care for the deceased are protected from infection”.
In the US, nonetheless, the protocol is little completely different. It makes a distinction from extremely infectious Ebola in the instances of deaths occurring from Covid-19. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, “Based on what we know now, it is believed there is little risk of getting COVID-19 from a dead body.”
However, even the CDC has a warning: “Family members can view the body but must stand at least 1 meter away from other persons viewing the body. They should not touch the body without taking precautions.”
The CDC additionally advises using gloves, robe, water and cleaning soap or diluted chlorine resolution, masks, goggles or face cowl “to protect from splashing of any body fluids”.
This takes us to the second query.
Does Covid-19 spread via water?
According to well being consultants and companies, the SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, spreads principally via respiratory droplets produced by an contaminated individual throughout cough, sneeze, speech or respiration. Some of the droplets are very small, referred to as aerosols, and they are often airborne over a distance higher than two metres.
This signifies that coronavirus stays protected in the water launched by an contaminated individual. Some research have found proof of coronavirus in faecal matter of contaminated individuals. It just isn’t sure, nonetheless, whether or not contaminated faecal matter can infect a wholesome individual. But physique fluids could transmit coronavirus.
However, there isn’t any proof to counsel that operating water or perhaps a swimming pool may be the route of transmission for SARS-CoV-2. Air in shut contact stays the one confirmed route of Covid-19 transmission. Though, some research have found SARS-CoV-2 in river and waste waters however with unproven transmissibility.
In its mythbusters collection, the WHO says, “The Covid-19 virus does not transmit through water while swimming. However, the virus spreads between people when someone has close contact with an infected person.”
Now, allow us to return to the unique query, whether or not dumping of our bodies in river can spread Covid-19. The risk of Covid-19 transmission is unlikely or solely a theoretical risk in the absence of sufficient analysis about whether or not aquatic life can transmit coronavirus from one species to a different.
Yet, useless our bodies are thought-about contagious and have numerous micro organism and viruses that might solely improve air pollution ranges in Ganga in this case. There could possibly be different opposed impacts on well being for these coming in direct contact with floating useless our bodies.
However, the invention of useless our bodies in Ganga is a story of denial of dignity in loss of life and apathy of the system which even the useless ones voted to maintain in place.