Grenada is likely to consider immediate cremation of the bodies of people who succumb to COVID-19 infection.
During a recent meeting with stakeholders to discuss Grenada’s situation regarding the global pandemic, Deputy Prime Minister Gregory Bowen reportedly raised the issue of disposal of remains.
Grenada is already facing shrinking burial space, in many cemeteries around the island.
A source familiar with the ongoing discussions said that government would have to revamp a 19th century law on the immediate disposal of bodies to deal with any deaths from the dreaded COVID-19 disease.
He indicated that one stumbling block for government in a move to cremate bodies is the Muslim community which has already expressed opposition to the cremation of its members.
The established death rate for COVID-19 is 2 percent with a 20 percent infection rate which means that should the virus get a foothold in Grenada at least 20, 000 can become infected with about 2000 deaths.
A health official said if Grenada faces a situation where there are contagious remains or if the island is overwhelmed by mass deaths, “we may have to consider this (burning of bodies)”.
“We have to look at international norms – I hope it doesn’t come to that,” he added.
A source said government officials have already met with funeral directors to discuss COVID19 protocols for the disposal of remains.
“In times like these certain tough calls have to be made,” said the official, pointing to the situation in Italy where a decision has been taken that no one over 80 years old will be allowed treatment in ICU.
Grenada is currently awaiting word from the CARPHA laboratory in Trinidad on test samples taken from hotel workers who had been in direct contact with a British tourist who stayed on the island for a week while exhibiting virus symptoms.
Another ten tests which were done recently all came back negative, according to the Ministry of Health.