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Health officials dressed in hazmat suits while handling the coffin bearing remains of a patient who succumbed to COVID-19 in May. The health ministry said health officials will no longer be dressed in full personal protective gear while conducting burial ceremonies of COVID-19 victims/FILE

Corona Virus

Time limitation on funerals reviewed to 2 hours, graveside rites restricted to 50

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 29 – Funeral services can now last for a maximum of two hours, up from an hour under reviewed burial protocols sanctioned by the Interfaith Council.

Interfaith Council Chairperson Archbishop Anthony Muheria who issued further guidelines on Tuesday, a day after the government doubled the number of mourners allowed in funerals to 200, said a maximum of 50 persons will be allowed to participate in graveside rites.

The Nyeri Archbishop while acknowledging that funerals “present the biggest danger in the gather of prayer” called for strict compliance of the measure underscoring that the COVID-19 threat was still real.

“We love our dear ones who have passed away but we do not want the funeral to be a cause for other funerals we can avoid,” he said.

Muheria was also categorical that food should not be served during the funerals at all costs.

He also pleaded with political leaders to allow funerals be funerals and not turn them into political gatherings or public spectacle platforms which they use to advance their agenda.

“We must recover the meaning of funeral as a prayer gathering. Funerals must return to be funerals,” the Archbishop appealed.

The Archbishop was particularly concerned that political leaders had thrown caution to the wind and by extension endangering the lives of their supporters.

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“We ask you in this COVID-19 time to please postpone your public gatherings that put our people at risk because they gather without masks and without social distancing. We need you to example of compliance beyond wearing masks,” he said.

His sentiments come in the wake of heightened activities during burial services across the country where politicians hijack the programme to advance their 2022 campaign narrative.

Restrictions of the number of people allowed in funerals were imposed to curtail the spread of COVID-19 after the government imposed a ban on gatherings in March.

The health ministry however relaxed burial protocols in recent weeks, scaling down the deployment of PPE-clad health officials who had sparked a public debate on the justification of hurried burials with families forced to watch from a distance.

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