A 56-year-old United Nations employee, who contracted Ebola in Liberia and was treated at the St. Georg hospital in Leipzig, died on Monday night.
The following night, his body was cremated.
The Sudanese citizen was a Muslim. Islam forbids cremation. But soon after the patient’s death, officials had made it clear that a burial would be impossible.
“No other alternative can be justified”, Matthias Hasberg, spokesperson for the city of Leipzig, told a German news agency.
In emergencies, he said, safety comes first. And the dead body was still infectious.
In Germany, there is no federal law regulating what can be done with the body of a patient who has died of an infectious disease.
Each federal state has its own burials laws.
“Not every single case has been regulated by these laws,” Rüdiger Schöneich of the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says. “But the law gives the ministries the right to adopt corresponding regulations.”
According to the law for the federal state of Sachsen – of which Leipzig is a part – the ministries may take ” any measures necessary.” They can also forbid certain religious burial ceremonies…
Burial practises have already helped spread the disease in Africa. I think they might be wising up though—I found an opinion online saying cremation was OK to stop disease.