NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 13 – Members of the Muslim community will bury coronavirus victims using white biodegradable bags following an agreement reached with the government in compliance with safety measures.
According to the National Muslim COVID-19 response team, the bodies of those infected will neither be cleansed or shrouded to prevent the risk of infection.
Prof. Muhammad Karama, the Chairman of the National Muslim COVID-19 response team said burials will only be done by volunteers who have been trained and equipped with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to handle such cases.
“The bodies of Muslims will be covered in white sheets and placed in biodegradable sealed body bags before being transferred to the burial area. The dead will not be subjected to the traditional procedures of cleaning, shrouding and prayers,” he said, adding that prayers will only be done at the graveside or in absentia of the body.
Kenya’s COVID-19 cases rose to 208 after 11 new confirmation, with 8 deaths so far. Globally, there are more than 1.8 million people infected.
The burial of a man who succumbed to COVID-19 in Siaya on Sunday night has sparked outrage, with many accusing public health officials of denying the deceased a dignified send-off.
But Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has warned that traditions may have to be ditched in handling bodies of people who have succumbed to the virus, to protect the living.
Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga has set up a committee to investigate the controversial burial even as reports indicated that the family was set to seek exhumation orders in court Tuesday.
On March 24, the World Health Organization issued interim guidance on disposal of bodies which recommended that burial personnel use PPE, keeping the handling and movement of the body to a minimum, relatives not touch or kiss the body and maintaining social distancing during burials.
Kagwe said the Ministry of Health has also developed and circulated proper protocols to be followed countrywide on safe disposal of bodies.