July 27, 2014

Body of Ebola victim cremated in Lagos

Body of Ebola victim cremated in Lagos

By Sola Ogundipe

The body of the first victim of Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria,   who died in Lagos on Friday, has been cremated.

Details of the cremation were not available at press time but Sunday Vanguard gathered that the event was witnessed by officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Health and the  Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, led by its Project Director, Professor Abdulsalam Nasidi, among others.

The decision to cremate the body of the victim, it was further gathered,   may not be unconnected with the deadly nature of the Ebola Virus which is known to be easily transmissible from human to human during handling of corpses of victims.

The World Health Organisation recommends that in communities where there is an outbreak of Ebola, appropriate containment measures including burial of the dead should be properly handled.

While stating that people who die from Ebola should be promptly and safely buried, WHO notes that cremation,  which is the application of high temperature to reduce bodies to basic chemical components (ashes), is ideal for safe disposal of bodies of persons who die during outbreaks of highly infectious diseases such as Ebola Virus in order to minimise further transmission.

In 2013 the Lagos State Government introduced its Voluntary Cremation Law under which  a person may signify interest to be cremated at death or a deceased’s family members who must attain the age of 18 years, can decide to have the corpse cremated.

Under the law  the state government can also cremate unclaimed corpses in its mortuaries after a period of time and the ashes disposed  after a 14-day notice with  approval of the Commissioner for Health.