Recently the images of dead bodies floating in the river Ganges have surfaced causing wide distress and fear. More than 70 bodies have been discovered with the possibility of unearthing several more.
Naturally, this has triggered mass hysteria with a resounding question in hand. Can coronavirus spread through deceased patients and in turn through water?
Can COVID spread through dead bodies?
While scientists dismiss the claim of dead bodies posing any threat for transmission of the virus, authorities continue to abide by body disposal protocols. Health agencies in India prescribe utmost care in the handling of the bodies of people succumbing to Covid-19. The guidelines issued by the Union Health Ministry & All India Institute of Medical Science suggest that there is a possibility of transmission of the COVID virus through dead bodies.
This takes us to our next grave question.
Can COVID spread through water?
According to health experts and agencies, the SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, spreads principally through respiratory droplets produced by an infected person during cough, sneeze, speech or breathing. Some of the droplets are very small, called aerosols, and they can be airborne over a distance greater than two metres.
This also suggests that coronavirus stays protected in the water released by an infected person. Evidence of virus has been found in the faecal matter of infected person. However, it is not certain if infected faecal matter can affect a healthy person.
Though some studies have found SARS-CoV-2 in river and wastewaters with unproven transmissibility, the air in close contact remains the only proven route for COVID transmission.
While the possibility of transmission of COVID-19 through river water is unlikely, theoretically the concern proves somewhat unresolved. There is not enough research to suggest that aquatic life can’t transmit the virus from one species to another.
Written by Ankita Mohanty