Kenya: Health ministry relaxes covid-19 burial protocols

The Ministry of Health has relaxed burial procedures of coronavirus bodies in line with reviewed World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

Public health officials handling the bodies will no longer be required to wear full white hazmat suits as has been the case in the last six months.

Family members will be allowed to handle the bodies and conduct final rites in accordance with their culture.

This marks an end to months of distress and shame to families of the deceased. The guidelines issued in March when the first case was reported in Kenya were painful and against the funeral rites of most communities.

New evidence suggests that Covid-19 bodies may not be as infectious as initially thought, said Health Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi.

“As new information becomes available, the ministry continuously improves strategies in fighting this infectious disease. Families and communities will play a greater role in the burial of loved ones who succumb to Covid-19,” Dr Mwangangi said.

In the early stages of the pandemic, public health officials, dressed in full personal protective equipment, would cautiously take over the burial ceremony as family members and relatives of the dead watched from a distance.

“The families will take the centre stage in the ceremonies, with health officials only guiding the process. They will also allow safe burial rites dictated by religion or culture of the deceased person,” Dr Mwangangi said.

Kenyans were, however, advised not to misinterpret the revised guidelines to mean coronavirus is no longer a public health risk.

Head of Public Health at the ministry Francis Kuria said, State officials will not leave bodies to family members entirely but would continue supervising the burials from a distance.

Liberty Pazvakawambwa

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