Health ministry clears air on Covid-19 burials

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By Tamary Chikiwa

CITIZENS will be allowed to transport the corpses of their relatives who will have succumbed to Covid-19 provided they adhere to strict health guidelines provided by the government.
This comes as the police had earlier issued a declaration banning inter-city transportation of bodies as the country reels from new Covid-19 infections and deaths. It also comes as the daily number of deaths from the novel virus has remained in the double digits, with Zimbabwe recording 24 fatalities on Sunday, taking the cumulative death toll to 507.

The Health ministry yesterday clarified the procedures that families should follow if they intend to transport the remains of their loved ones from the place of death to a different town for burial. “For those who want to transport the body for burial outside the city or town of death, they should ensure that the body is hermetically sealed in a triple coffin before collecting it from a funeral parlour or hospital mortuary,” the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

A hermetic seal is an airtight lid which, for practical purposes, does not allow any micro-bodies to enter or exit the containment as found in tinned meals and electrical components.

Most high-end caskets are often made to be hermetically sealed and constructed with steel, copper or bronze so that when closed and fastened, the coffin is airtight. Without meeting these new requirements from the Health ministry, relatives would not be allowed to transport the bodies of their loved ones that have succumbed to Covid 19 to a different city or town.

“The police will only clear body movements for burial straight from a funeral parlour or hospital mortuary to the burial site. No body viewing will be allowed. “Bodies will not be taken home.

“The public is urged to keep a distance of four metres as the body is lowered into the grave by either city health or funeral parlour officials. “The grave site will be disinfected before and after the burial. Gatherings at funerals have been reduced to strictly 30 people,” the Health ministry said in the statement.

The health authorities said law enforcement agents would be on the lookout for would-be violators of these regulations. “Police commanders in all provinces have been advised to ensure that the government’s directive is complied with.”

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