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Due to the covid-19 pandemic, Social Security is in the process of installing more morgues by purchasing containers with a refrigeration system.
- Social Security courtesy photo -

Published Monday, September 14, 2020

Guideline to buried covid-19
patient dead

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Social Security announced that families have 36 hours from time of death to remove the body of a patient that died infected with covid-19.

The morgues are open 24 hours a day in some hospitals. And clinics are open between 8 to 16 hours, so it is more feasible for relatives to request the delivery of the body.

At the time of death, morgue workers inform the families about the deceased making a request to remove the body as soon as possible, the Social Security said.

Families are held responsible for the required immediate removal of the body, which helps  maintain free space in the morgues, said Ruy Vargas, a pathologist at the San Vicente de Paul Hospital in Heredia.

According to Social Security, the process of treating a deceased patient from covid-19 takes place at the site of death, which includes thorough cleaning, disinfection and preparation to minimize the risk of virus infection. The dead patient’s face is left uncovered for recognition.

The body is protected with two bags, an internal transparent one and an external dark one. Then, the body is transferred to the morgue.

The duty of claiming the body can only be done by one relative or one authorized person. They have a maximum of 15 minutes to do so. During this period, they must keep at least one meter distance, without touching the body or the coffin, and must wear a mask.

Once the body is released to the family, it must be buried within a maximum time of 24 hours. Specialists recommend that the body be promptly transferred from to the cemetery or crematorium from the moment it is removed from the morgue.

In case the relatives want to do a religious act, the specialists recommend that it be short without the body present and following all the preventative measures. They recommend that only people who belong to the same family bubble can participate. 

Due to the covid-19 pandemic, Social Security is in the process of installing more morgues by purchasing containers with a refrigeration system.

Currently, the public health system has space to keep 134 bodies in the morgues. Installing four more containers will increase the capacity to hold 211 bodies.

Currently the first four containers were installed in the Covid Hospital, with space for 25 bodies. A second container was installed in the San Juan de Dios Hospital with a capacity for 24 bodies. The third was installed in the Guápiles Hospital for the temporary storage of 28 bodies.

According to Social Security, 98% of the total deaths from covid-19 have been treated in public hospitals or clinics.

As of Saturday, the Ministry of Health reported the following on the statistics of the virus in the country:

1,485 new covid-19 cases, bringing the total to 33,936 active cases. The ages of patients infected range from a three-month-old baby to a 100-year-old person.

11,474 foreign-born people have been infected with a total of 55,454 cases since March, approximately 20% of the total cases.

• 564 patients are being treated in public hospitals, where 225 patients are in ICU’s in delicate health conditions (ages range from 24 to a 96-year-old person). And 339 patients are in recovery rooms. The majority of the rest of the infected patients are quarantined in their homes.

• 20,928 coronavirus patients have fully recovered, which is a 37.7% recovery rate of the total cases since March.

• 111,235 people have been ruled out.

• 181,763 medical covid-19 tests have been made.

590 deaths of people infected with covid-19, approximately 1.1% death rate of the total cases since March. Of these 224 were women and 366 men. The ages range from 19 to a 100-year-old person.

As of Aug. 31, authorities confirmed the death of 31 foreign-born patients. The youngest and most recent victim was a 19-year-old immigrant who lived in Guanacaste Province. Before then, on July 30, the ministry announced they would not provide updated information on foreign-born people who died from covid-19 in the country, which at the time authorities reported 30 had died from the virus since March.

Readers can see the updated number of total patients in each district at the National Distance Education University on its Covid-19 Map.

As of Sunday night, the pandemic has killed 922,441 patients worldwide, according to recent statistics reported by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

Are the morgues at capacity in your country due to deaths from covid-19? 
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