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Forensic Magazine April 14, 2020: Thailand Reports First Case of COVID-19 Spreading to Forensic Examiner From Deceased

Writing in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicinea pathologist from Thailand and one from China say they have observed the first fatal case of COVID-19 transferring from a deceased patient to a medical examiner.

Given that the virus is “novel,” not much was known as it began spreading from China across the globe. Researchers rushed to study the underlying mechanisms of the disease, including its transmission methods, symptoms and treatment options. However, transmission modes post-mortem were not readily examined, leaving forensic pathologists and medical examiners with more questions than answers.

While it has not been conclusively proven that COVID-19 can spread from a deceased body, the authors report their observations of a forensic practitioner in Bangkok contracting the disease during post-mortem examination. At the time of death nearly a month ago, on March 20, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Thailand was 272, a comparatively low number. Due to this, as well as minimal community spreading and infection, the authors, Won Sriwijitalai and Viroj Wiwanitkit, say it unlikely the forensic practitioner contracted the disease outside of work. more

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