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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

Corona Virus

MoH to review COVID-19 protocols on handling of dead bodies

NAIROBI, Kenya September 9 – The Director of Public Health Francis Kuria Monday said the Ministry of Health will this week launch new protocols on management of dead bodies, a matter that has elicited varied reactions since the outbreak of coronavirus, citing new findings showing transmissions of the virus from dead bodies as unlikely. 

During the daily briefing on the status of the pandemic, Kuria said the revised protocols will guide the conduct of burials that uphold the dignity of the deceased and will minimize excessive supervision by health ministry officials.

“Once the patient has passed on , he is no longer as infective and so long as you don’t come into contact with fluids, infectivity will not be that high. We are actually finalising revised protocol that will guide the conduct of burials,” he said.

“The measures will therefore be more towards avoiding contact with the  fluids, we will be using those guidelines in guiding packaging of the body and how we handle the body thereafter,” Kuria added.

He exuded confidence that the new protocols will also eliminate stigma by minimizing the high presence of health officials donned in protective gear who are mostly involved in the burial ceremonies. 

“We hope it will address the concerns of stigma that has affected Kenyans, we see others requesting to be excused of the men who come in white, we hope the protocols will address some of those issues and you will not see the men in white again,” the Health Director added.

The pronouncement came amid increased outcry over the conduct of burials having been characterized in the past by the indecent dumping of bodies sealed into body bags into shallow graves in the dead of the night.

“We may release the bodies to relatives  to go and bury as long as they follow the protocols.  We will want to monitor this. We may want to supervise the burials but at a lower scale with minimal stigma,” he added.

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