NEA Confirms Covid-19 Funerals Can Still Go On But Precautionary Measures Must Be Taken

Unfortunately, the day we hoped would never come has arrived.

Yesterday (21 March), two patients in Singapore died from complications due to the Covid-19 virus.

The first patient is a 75-year-old female Singaporean who had a history of heart disease and hypertension (high blood pressure).

The second is a 64-year-old male Indonesian who had already been hospitalized in Indonesia for pneumonia, and had a history of heart disease.

You may think that all preventive measures end there, but even the funerals of these victims have to be handled with caution.

NEA Confirms Covid-19 Funerals Can Still Go On But Precautionary Measures Must Be Taken

After the two deaths, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said that wakes for Covid-19 victims will be allowed as long as there is no contact with the body.

Image: Hoetink

However, these wakes should be short because there will potentially be a large number of visitors during the wake, which increases the risk of spread.

NEA said that it had issued a circular on 7 Feb to the relevant funeral services companies listing measures on handling bodies with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 infections.

These precautionary measures cover everything from the handling of the deceased body, the actual wake, and the final disposition.


Unlike regular funerals, the bodies of those with Covid-19 should not be sprayed, washed or embalmed, said NEA.

These bodies will be double-bagged by the hospital staff, and religious rites may be performed by healthcare workers in the isolation ward before the body is placed in a body bag.

Also, only funeral services companies whose staff have undergone the basic infection control course conducted by the National Centre for Infectious Diseases will be allowed to collect, casket, and transport the bodies for cremation or burial.

And when these workers, such as funeral directors and undertakers, are handling the body, they have to wear protective gear like surgical gloves, goggles, gowns, a hair cap, and masks.

Yes, the government is taking no risks in this process.

Precautions at Wakes

Funeral directors were also told to implement additional precautionary measures, from screening temperatures to registering visitors.

You’ve probably started social distancing, right? Well, you’ll even have to do it during wakes.

Image: Harmony Funeral Care

Wakes should be limited to below 250 people at any one time, and there needs to be a physical spacing of at least 1m between attendees, NEA said.

To do this, organisers may have to increase the distance between the tables, reduce the number of seats per table, and space out attendees during prayers.

NEA also discourages buffets, and encourages operators to consider alternative arrangements such as distributing individual bento sets.

Though if you’re going to a funeral for the food, you probably shouldn’t go at all.

The agency added that cremation is highly recommended, but burials are allowed if there are strong religious reasons.

Reached Out

Member of Parliament for Bishan Toa-Payoh Chong Kee Hiong told CNA that his grassroots leaders have reached out to the Singaporean victim’s family and left their contact details with them.

They will do their best to assist the family during their time of need, he said.

We offer our condolences to both families and hope that they’ll be able to pull through this tough period.