A forensic expert who died from the coronavirus in Thailand is believed to be the first reported person to capture COVID-19 from a dead body, according to a document on Tuesday, Apr. 14.

(Photo : REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha)
A volunteer wearing a protective gear sprays disinfectant while sanitizing at Wat Dibaya Varivihara due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Bangkok, Thailand, April 2, 2020.

A letter published in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine on Mar. 20 described how a forensic practitioner and a nurse assistant were working in Bangkok at that time.

Won Sriwijitalai of Bangkok's RVT Medical Center and Viroj Wiwanitkit of DY Patil University wrote most cases in Thailand at that time were imported. Local community spread, according to the letter, was limited.

The letter delivered that the two medical specialists could "have in touch with biological samples and corpses."

With almost two million novel coronavirus cases reported global as of Monday, Thailand has reported only 2,613 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.

Details of the forensic practitioner and nurse assistant were not disclosed. The recent death was only the second case reported among medical personnel in Thailand as of Mar. 20, the authors added.

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Morgue workers expressed concern over makeshift centers in handling excessive COVID-19 cases

Morgue workers worldwide raised issues as unexpectedly established centers had been built to handle excessive deaths.

Health policy expert Summer Johnson McGee of the University of New Haven said coroners are asked to examine the cause of death for patients not tested for COVID-19.

As efforts increase for temporary mass burials and makeshift morgues, Corthals said employees handling with people's remains need to be included in priorities for protective equipment.

"Anyone coming into contact with a COVID19 positive body, alive or dead, should be using personal protective equipment to prevent exposure," McGee told BuzzFeed News.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the safety and well-being of everyone who tends to bodies should be the first priority.

"Before attending to a body, people should ensure that the necessary hand hygiene and personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are available," the health agency added.

Little is known about the link between such transmission

The study added there isn't always any information at the number of infected corpses. Very little is also known approximately how long the new coronavirus can live on in dead bodies or whether corpses may be contagious to individuals who manage them.

"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 authors said.

On Mar. 25, the top of Thailand's Department of Medical Services said the bodies of coronavirus victims were not contagious amid reports of temples refusing to accommodate funeral services. 

WHO previously said that "there may be no proof of folks having exposed from exposing our bodies of people who died from COVID-19."

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However, WHO said if a person died during the infectious length of COVID-19, lungs and other organs might also still have the live virus.

The news on possible infections from dead bodies comes as relatives of the deceased were asked not to the touch or go near their loved ones, NPR reported.

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