(CMR) A 69-year-old Caymanian woman from Savannah has passed away after being sick with COVID-19 early this morning. This appears to be the first local death where the deceased had no other known serious illnesses at the time. She was unvaccinated.
CMR sources indicated that she had been ill and got progressively worse and started experiencing breathing issues Wednesday morning. An ambulance was said to be summoned for her but she passed away en route to the hospital.
Physicians are warning people not to delay receiving medical intervention if they have any acute respiratory issues.
As COVID-related deaths increase in the Cayman Islands the question of how to handle the deceased has been raised as a point of concern in the community. Several persons have reached out to CMR inquiring about mandated burial procedures for undertakers. Funeral directors and workers have to consider the risk of dealing with the deceased themselves.
Local funeral homes are recommending disposing of COVID-19 bodies immediately to reduce the possibility of contamination. Bodden Funeral Home offers families the option of cremation or burial. It is not recommended that families touch or handle bodies over concerns of further transmission of the virus.
Immediate burial is not mandated by law in the Cayman Islands but it is considered best practice to offer immediate burial to avoid the biohazard component of handling a deceased COVID-19 body. Some countries have implemented compulsory cremation and bodies can only be transported in a hermetically sealed container.
The UK has issued guidelines indicating that those handling bodies of the deceased should be aware that there is likely to be a continuing risk of infection from body fluids and tissues where COVID-19 infection is suspected or confirmed. Although the risk of infectious transmission is lower than for living patients, action should be taken to mitigate that risk. Standard infection control precautions (SICPs) and transmission-based precautions (TBPs) should be used to ensure safe ways of working when handling the deceased, these include additional precautions for aerosol-generating procedures (AGPs).