COVID-19 can spread from dead bodies, research suggests

Emerging research suggests the virus that causes COVID-19 can persist in the bodies of deceased patients, potentially posing an infection risk for healthcare workers, The New York Times reported Dec. 15.

Researchers at Chiba University in Japan found significant amounts of infectious virus in the bodies of deceased COVID-19 patients, some up to 13 days after death. A separate study from the research team found hamsters that died within a few days of contracting COVID-19 could transmit the virus to others in the same cage. The studies have not been peer reviewed, though outside experts told the Times they had strong methodologies and compelling results.

"In some countries, people who have died of COVID-19 are being left unattended or taken back to their homes," study author Hisako Saitoh, a researcher at Chiba University, told the Times. "Therefore, I think that it is a knowledge that the general public should be aware of." 

Risk of infection is greatest when a patient dies soon after infection, as virus levels in the body are highest at this point, study authors said. Still, the risk of contracting COVID-19 from a live person is still far higher than from a corpse, they added.

Read the full article here.


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