The undignified treatment accorded to those who succumb to Coronavirus is now over after the Ministry of Health Tuesday revised burial guidelines in a move that will allow full involvement of family members.
Announcing the guidelines that will come as a relief to grieving families during the daily briefing by the health ministry, Health CAS Dr Mercy Mwangangi said families will from now on, take the centre-stage in the burial ceremonies, with the Ministry of health officials, only being present to guide the process to ensure safety.
The ‘men in white’ who have previously conducted the hasty strict burials while the families, relatives and friends watch from a distance with limited participation will no longer be there.
However, the CAS says precautionary measures will be adhered to with family members performing final rites required to don PPEs.
She said the revised protocols have been recommended by WHO that has established minimal transmission of the virus by bodies.
“They will also allow any safe burial rites as may be dictated by the religion and or culture of the deceased person. Therefore, families will be required to identify healthy members of their family, who have no increased risk of COVID-19 outcomes, and able to safely use the recommended PPEs in the burial process” she said.
Religious and cultural rites have been allowed but traditional rituals that encourage interaction with bodies remain prohibited.
“During the burial process, the coffin must not be opened at any one time for viewing. Families and communities are encouraged, to practice other safe rites as they mourn their loved ones, in these unprecedented times, but at the same time maintaining the recommended physical and social distance” she advised.
Even with the relaxation of the rules, Dr Mwangangi warned against lowering the guard stating that the virus is still active.
“This, however, should not be misunderstood to mean that COVID-19 has ceased to be a public health risk. The disease is still firmly established in our communities and all relevant government safety protocols must be followed” she added.
COVID burials have in the past been conducted inappropriately amid protests, causing psychological trauma to families.
In April, a KPA employee was hurriedly buried in the dead of the night and his body unceremoniously thrown into a shallow grave sparking public outcry.
The country’s death toll from the virus stands at 659 after nine more patients lost the fight over the last 24 hours.