Office of Buddhism urges temples to cremate their Covid dead
The National Office of Buddhism (NOB) has ordered temples across the country to ensure that those who die from Covid-19 disease are afforded a proper cremation service.
"NOB has coordinated with temples. We want to make sure that Covid-19 victims receive their last rites," Narong Song-arom, the director of the NOB told media.
Thai media reported the family of a non-Covid-19 victim was asked by their local community not to bring the body home for cremation because the dead person came from a virus hot-spot.
The report concerned a woman who committed suicide in Chon Buri where she worked. Her family took the body back home to Loei for cremation.
When the transport vehicle arrived in Nakhon Ratchasima, the family was asked not to hold the cremation in the community.
The community was concerned about Covid-19 transmission because the woman worked in Chon Buri, one of the red zone provinces. The body was returned to Chon Buri for cremation.
"They were concerned that we would bring the virus to the community because we collected the body from a red zone province.
"We had a medical certificate stating that the cause of death was suffocation," said a family member.
Mr Narong insisted Covid-19 victims and those from high-risk areas will get proper funeral services, albeit under social distancing rules.
The temples where large crowds usually visit to make merit are also told to enforce social distancing measures and disinfect the grounds to curb transmission of the virus, he added.
Phra Kru Palat Sitiwat, abbot of Wat Phai Lom, has called on temples with incinerators to provide cremations for Covid-19 victims, saying there is no risk of contamination if the body is handled properly.
According to the abbot, a body is sealed in a leak-proof plastic bag and the coffin is disinfected before it is put into the incinerator.
"The temple staff will sanitise the transport vehicle and the coffin before moving the coffin to the incinerator.
"The crematorium is disinfected before prayers. The process takes about 20 minutes," he said.
Wat Phai Lom has cremated five Covid-19 victims, some of whom were sent there from elsewhere, he said.