CHENGETAI MURIMWA IN BULAWAYO
The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has decreed that bodies of the deceased will not stay overnight in the family’s home before burial as it battles a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.
The rites are believed to be increasing the spread of the virus.
The ban on such rites was in line government’s directive, Patrick Ncube, an official with BCC’s health services department told a virtual meeting last week.
He said the local authority has made several adjustments on how people in Zimbabwe’s second largest city should conduct funerals to minimise the spread of the highly contagious respiratory disease.
“We have made adjustments to how people should conduct funerals. It is no longer permissible for families to have the body of their deceased relative to lie in state at home and we have advised funeral parlours that the body should no longer go home whether it is any other death or Covid-19-related death.
“This is because funerals have been cited as super spreaders of Covid-19,” Ncube said.
Ncube said there are cultural activities such as body-viewing which are no longer permissible due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In addition, backfilling of graves, which was often done by family members, is now done by BCC workers at the graveyards and there is no additional cost to that,” he said.
“Catering at funeral wakes should stop for the time being until the Covid-19 era passes.
This presents potential risks of transmitting the virus.”Ncube said they will now be monitoring funerals and wakes so that not more than 30 people gather at the same time.
Speaking at the same meeting, Sithengisiwe Siziba, a health promotion officer at BCC, said at least 53 % of the Covid-19 cases in Bulawayo have afflicted women while men accounted for the balance.
Siziba, however, said more deaths were recorded from men because of “poor treatment seeking behaviour”.
“This is because men’s health seeking behaviour is low even when we look at the number of cases that go to health institutions for any other illnesses. Men often seek treatment a bit later,” Siziba said.
Zimbabwe is under an extended lockdown to February 15 to curb Covid-19 new cases and deaths.
The ministry of Health and Child Care last month imposed lockdown measures to stem Covid-19 deaths which have seen the national recovery rate falling to below 60% from 80%.
Some of the measures include restrictions on gathering such as funerals to 30, the banning of churches, bars and beer halls.
Government also banned non-essential businesses and the informal sector, decreeing that businesses should operate between 8am and 3pm.
A 6pm to 6am curfew was decreed.
The measures have seen a decline in new cases and deaths while the national recovery rate was 83.2% on Monday.