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Coronavirus: Dead could be buried immediately with memorial service at later date

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Memorial services for the dead could be postponed if the coronavirus crisis worsens.

Memorial services for the dead could be postponed if the coronavirus crisis worsens.

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Memorial services for the dead could be postponed if the coronavirus crisis worsens.

The association which represents UK funeral directors has warned burials of those that die of coronavirus could take place immediately with memorial services at a later date if the crisis worsens.

It comes after the Irish Association of Funeral Directors (IAFD) advised that any person who dies of coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland should be immediately cremated or buried without a funeral service.

The UK National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD), which has represents and advises funeral directors in the UK, said it was not advocating such extreme measures at this stage but was "planning for different scenarios" if the virus takes hold in the UK.

The coronavirus can remain active in victims for days after their death.

Six people have died of the disease in the UK. There have been none in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland.

Deborah Smith from the NAFD said that the latest advice was to continue as normal, but said the organisation was "liasing with the government" and following its advice.

She said that if the crisis worsened measures under consideration included live streaming of funerals over the internet and situations were somebody may be buried immediately, with a memorial service taking place at a later date after the virus outbreak had subsided.

"At the moment our advice to funeral directors is to operate as normal while taking extra precautions," Mrs Smith said.

"We are constantly liaising with the government on the next step and will update the advice if need be.

"Our top priority remains helping families deal with the loss of their loved one and their grief. We want to enable them to say goodbye to the deceased in a meaningful way."

The IAFD recommended any coronavirus victim who dies should be promptly laid to rest and their funeral service postponed to a later date.

It also recommended that transport for families of the deceased, such as limousines and saloons, should not be provided and that funeral instructions should only be given to undertakers over the phone.

It is said that relatives of the deceased "should not be permitted to attend the funeral director's offices or funeral homes".

The deceased "should always be removed from the place of death in a body bag which is not reopened" and "removal vehicles should be hygienically cleaned after the removal of remains and all gloves and other disposable equipment should be disposed of safely," it said.

"The deceased should be removed to a designated area within the funeral directors' facilities (or those of an outsourced provider) - eg, an isolated cold room" and "the deceased should not be embalmed" but should instead "be placed in the selected coffin and the coffin closed".

Public gatherings "such as a church services, gatherings at funeral homes, residences, crematorium chapels, etc, should not take place," it said.

Belfast Telegraph