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In Siaya, the body of 59-year-old James Oyugi who succumbed to COVID-19 was buried at night, with his body covered in a body bag and tossed in a shallow grave/FILE

Capital Health

Siaya night burial: Govt says culture not practical in COVID-19 cases

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 13- The Government says it is addressing concerns raised following the late-night burial of a man who succumbed to COVID-19 in Siaya, but has warned that cultural practices may not be practical.

The burial of a man in Siaya sparked outrage after public health officials were seen tossing his body into a shallow grave as family members wailed.

The officials handling the man’s remains covered in a white body bag were dressed in white protective clothes, complete with gloves and face masks.

“I want our people to be mentally prepared and to accept that COVID-19 victims’ bodies shall be disposed in a manner that protects the living from infections and in accordance with the Ministry of Health burial protocols,” said Mutahi Kagwe, the Cabinet Secretary for Health who assured that the government was addressing the Siaya concerns with the county government.

The burial on Sunday night has been a trending subject on social media, with the Law Society of Kenya condemning it as ‘undignified.’

Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga said he had formed a committee to investigate the matter.

Many who condemned how the burial was conducted said it is likely to fuel stigma for COVID-19.

A video and photos circulated Sunday night showed the pick up arriving at the family home and parked next to a shallow grave where the body was tossed as family members wailed.

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The body was covered in a white body bag without a coffin and was transported home in a pick-up truck with two public health officials who were dressed in white protective clothes.

A circular issued by the Ministry of Health says victims of the disease must be interred within 24 hours of death.

“I wan to say, in an honest term as I can and be brutally honest that our cultural practices on how we dispose off the bodies of our loved ones may not be practical in an extreme situation,” he said.

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.

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