Facing death alone: Funeral homes preparing to live-stream services

Funerals are being conducted virtually or downsized and mourners asked not to embrace as the industry gears up for a potential spike in deaths due to COVID-19.

Funeral directors are preparing for a worse case scenario as they push for national guidelines on how to best handle the pandemic.

As of Tuesday 2pm, there were more than 400 cases of COVID-19 in Australia and five deaths. The numbers are expected to rise.

Andrew Mallet who works at Ern Jenson Funerals with Andrew Pinder.Credit:Justin McManus

Mr Pinder, who runs Ern Jensen Funerals in Preston, said they were also seeking national guidelines on best practice for services.

He directed an Orthodox priest on Tuesday to tell mourners not to kiss each other, or religious icons.

In Spain, more than 60 cases of COVID-19 were traced back to one funeral service.

Mr Pinder said Victoria’s state morgue, cemeteries and crematoriums were well-equipped to handle an increase in deaths.

However, Ms Scott said she was frustrated the industry was still awaiting the guidelines and she worried whether her business would be provided with enough protective equipment and body storage space.

"Will they make sure and guarantee that we have the personal protective equipment that we need, because we don't want to get to the stage where some people who are deceased are left in their homes for days because they just can't be collected," she said.

"The thought of having to get to that point is really frightening."

The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, which runs the state's morgue, did not respond by deadline.

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