The Sri Lankan government on Thursday granted permission to bury the bodies of the people who died of COVID-19, local media reported.
To date, more than 450 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in Sri Lanka; a significant number have come from the minority Muslim community.
All of the deceased were cremated in line with amended health guidelines for COVID-19 patients, which were issued last March.
Despite the international pleas and recommendations, the Sri Lankan government continued the cremation of people who succumbed to COVID-19 for several months.
Last month, several United Nations human rights expert called on the Sri Lankan government end its policy of compulsorily cremating victims of COVID-19.
In a joint appeal, Special Rapporteurs Ahmed Shaheed, Fernand de Varennes, Clement Nyaletsossi Voule and Tlaleng Mofokeng, said that the practice ran contrary to the beliefs of Muslims and other minorities.
According to Colombo Page, the Minister of Health, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, on Thursday issued the Extraordinary Gazette Notification amending the regulations of the Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance to allow “cremation or burial of the corpse”.
The burial of the corpse of COVID-19 victims is allowed only at places specified by the health authorities and under their supervision.
“In the case of burial, the corpse of such person shall be buried in accordance with the directions issued by the Director-General of Health Services at a cemetery or place approved by the proper authority under the supervision of such authority,” the gazette notification included.