The Centre on Wednesday directed all states and Union Territories to hand over bodies of suspected coronavirus patients to their relatives without waiting for laboratory confirmation of the infection, PTI reported. However, it added that the mortal remains should be disposed of as per the guidelines issued by the government.

“I would like to clarify that the dead bodies of such suspected Covid cases should be handed over to their relatives immediately and laboratory confirmation of Covid-19 should not be awaited,” a letter written by Dr Rajiv Garg of the Director General of Health Services said. “If such death cases test positive eventually, then the requisite action for contact listing, tracking etc should be carried out subsequently. Further necessary action may be taken as per the clarification given above.”

The health ministry said the bodies of suspected cases should be disposed as per the guidelines available on their website. It mandates handlers in Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, to take the body for final rites.

India’s coronavirus infections surpassed 6 lakh after 19,148 cases were reported on Thursday morning. The country now has 6,04,641 cases and 17,834 deaths. As many as 3,59,859 people have recovered.

Follow today’s updates on the pandemic here.