Postmortems of 11 patients who died in Japan after contracting COVID-19 in 2021 found that an infectious viral load remained in the nasopharynx and lungs of over half, with one having been dead for 13 days, a health ministry study showed Monday.

The health ministry eased restrictions on handling coronavirus-infected corpses in a revision to funeral guidelines in January, but Hisako Saito, an associate professor of legal medicine at Chiba University and principal researcher of the study team, stressed the importance of educating and equipping personnel to "handle bodies on the assumption they are infectious."

The revision stated that infected corpses no longer needed to be handled differently provided anti-infection measures such as wiping the body and stuffing the nose are taken.