Burial guidelines changed for all COVID-19-related deaths



PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten  –   As of August 17, no specific guidelines exist for  burial, cremation, funeral service or handling of bodies prior to and during the funeral services of a COVID-19 related deceased person.

The Ministry of Public Health VSA retracted its instructions regarding the disposal of persons deceased due to COVID-19.

The change is based on updated guidelines of the National Institute for Public Health and Environment RIVM, the National Coordination of Infectious Disease Control.

Instructions about COVID-19 related burials etc. were published in the National Gazette on April 17, 2020, because COVID-19 posed a danger of the spread of that infectious disease and because of this, it was deemed necessary to limit the spread of the infectious disease in the interest of protecting public health.

Guidelines regarding the funeral services of such individuals were established. These instructions followed the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) and built on the structure provided by the burial ordinance and the cremation ordinance.

That had included adequate infection prevention and control measures taken when handling the individual prior to and during the funeral services; burial no earlier than 12 and no later than 36 hours after the death; or cremation as referred to in Article 1 of the cremation ordinance. All burials were to take place underground. Embalming was not permitted.

The casket holding the body had to be closed and sealed during transportation and during all funeral services. The number of persons permitted to attend the funeral services of the individual was restricted to one per cent of the chapel’s seating capacity.