ET Bureau Last Updated: May 20, 2020, 11.44 PM IST

New Delhi: The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is set to study how long coronavirus can remain in the body and whether dead bodies of Covid-19 patients transmit infection, as it plans to conduct the first ever autopsy soon on the body of a person who died of coronavirus.

“We are coordinating for medical research autopsy. The clinical findings of the case along with various laboratory reports and imaginings will have to be studied before we conduct a autopsy,” said Dr Sudhir Gupta, head of department of forensic medicine and toxicology, AIIMS.

The findings are crucial as the paranoia that surrounds handling the body is disturbing and will clear the air, said Gupta. “There are restrictions for the relatives to abide. The dead body is given in a plastic bag.

Once we know the behaviour of Covid-19 infection in the body, we will be able to put to rest many such questions,” he said.

So far, the limited studies conducted around the world on patients who died due to Covid-19 indicate that the disease damages organs such as heart, liver, kidney, brain and blood vessels.

India has decided that invasive technique should not be adopted for forensic autopsy in Covid-19 death cases as mortuary staff are exposed to potentially dangerous health risks due to organ fluids and secretions even after taking the highest precautions, say the new Standard Guidelines for Medicolegal autopsy in Covid-19 deaths in India by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

The guidelines suggest that a dedicated core research group be created comprising specialists from pathology, microbiology, biomedical research, anatomy, forensic medicine and other interested clinical departments to assess resources, feasibility, infrastructure, identifying research objectives, establishing biosafety laboratories and determining ethical aspect.

According to the guidelines, an informed consent and other ethical aspects such as confidentiality and religious sentiments should be addressed as per the specific objectives and methodology of the study while conducting the autopsy.

“The research study would be conducted after the proper ethical clearance from respective institute and as per the established research guidelines of ICMR and other health authorities,” say the guidelines. The guidelines recommend that autopsy dissection procedure be strictly limited to what is necessary for the research work concerned.