Families to Take Centre Stage in COVID-19 Burials

Family members will be allowed to participate in burial rites with Ministry of Health officials present only to observe.

Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi during the COVID-19 press briefing at Afya House on Tuesday, September 22 advised family members to exclude vulnerable persons in contact-prone graveside rites in reviewed COVID-19 burial protocols.

“Families will now take the centre stage at burial ceremonies. Members will be allowed to conduct safe burail rites according to their norms, cultural and religious beliefs.

Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi during a past COVID-19 press briefing. /TWITTER

“Members without increased risk of COVID-19 outcomes shall safely conduct the last rites and are recommended to use PPEs,” she stated.

She advised for all safety protocols to be observed with those with underlying conditions not recommended to participate in activites such as pallbearing.

The new protocols by the Ministry of Health will also see the abolition of PPE-clad health officials that have been a common sight in COVID-19 burials in the country.

All persons who have been confirmed or suspected to have died of COVID-19 have been interred, not by family members as is tradition, but by officials from the government who are always dressed in white Personal Protective Equipment.

This, many have said, has left many traumatised with family members reduced to spectators and not allowed anywhere near the grave when their loved ones are being buried.

WHO, in their new guidelines released on Monday, September 7 disclosed that those who prepare the body or come into contact with it, are advised to wear gloves and wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water when finished.

This means that families can now be involved in the burial process and there is no need of PPEs as has been the norm.

β€œThose tasked with placing the body in the grave, on the funeral pyre, etc. should wear gloves and perform hand hygiene once the burial is complete,” read the WHO statement at the time.

The protocols come after the country recorded 139 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, with the total caseload now at 37,218.

CAS Mwangangi announced that 1,774 samples had been tested over the period. Of the positive cases, 125 are Kenyans and 14 are foreigners.

112 are male and 22 are female while the youngest case is a 4-year-old child and the oldest is aged 82.

198 patients were discharged, 46 from home-based care and 152 from hospitals around the country bringing the total number of recoveries to 24,147.

Regrettably, nine patients succumbed to the disease bringing the total number of deaths to 659.

Ministry of Health officials clad in Personal Protective Equipment during a past COVID-19 burial. /DAILY NATION
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