Deaths, bereavements and funerals

Identifying a death outside of a healthcare setting

If you are a member of the public or a family member and you come into contact with a deceased person who had coronavirus symptoms, try not to come into direct contact with them. Move to at least 2 metres away or into another room. Please call your GP (if your GP is not available you will be connected to out of hours) or 111 for further advice.

If the death was unexpected and you have not already been in contact with the healthcare system regarding the patient’s condition prior to the death, please call 999 and explain the situation.

Bereavement support

We understand that losing a loved one can feel overwhelming, especially if the death was untimely and unexpected.

The government has published a bereavement support leaflet to help those who have lost a loved one. The leaflet shares information to help bereaved families, friends or next of kin make important decisions during this national emergency, sets out what to expect next, and signposts the extra help and support that is available.  

There are a number of organisations that can support you and your family during this distressing time, including:

Funeral guidance

Public Health England has issued guidance for those managing or organising funerals during the pandemic, which aims to ensure that bereaved people are treated with sensitivity, dignity and respect, while protecting individuals, communities and those in the funeral industry from the risk of infection.

Those organising a funeral should restrict the number of mourners who attend so that a safe distance of at least 2 metres (3 steps) can be maintained. Only the following should attend: members of the person’s household, close family members and, if the deceased has neither household nor family members in attendance, a modest number of friends can attend. 

Mourners mustn't mix closer than 2 metres apart and should follow the advice on social distancing when travelling to and from the funeral gathering. Mourners should avoid any direct face-to-face or physical contact, for example, hugging each other unless they are part of the same household.

Before and after each service, those organising the funeral should clean and disinfect the area in which the service has taken place, as well as any frequently touched objects and surfaces. 

Mourners who have symptoms of Coronavirus or are part of a household with possible Coronavirus infection should not attend any gatherings and stay at home. In many situations the household members of the deceased person will be the next of kin; they may be having to self-isolate in line with household guidance. Mourners who are symptomatic should not attend in any circumstance. People who are extremely clinically vulnerable (shielded) can attend with measures put in place to reduce their risk.

See the government funeral guidance for full details.

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