The government has banned food catering services at funerals as part of a raft of new restrictions to combat the spread of Covid-19.
Speaking at a recent a virtual stakeholder engagement meeting on Covid-19 organised by the Women Institute In Leadership Development (WILD), Bulawayo City Council (BCC) Divisional Environment Health Officer, Patrick Ncube said the local authority has received a new circular from the government instructing the local authority to monitor all funerals to ensure that all Covid-19 regulations are adhered to.
He said they have observed a number of cultural activities happening at funerals but due to Covid-19 they have to stop.
“We also advise that practices such as catering at funerals wakes, those should stop for the time being until we are out of this Covid-19 cause the moment we start catering then thus when we also have the high risk of transmission of Covid at funerals.
“The cultural practices of washing of hands at funerals, we know that the practice has been that after we have buried our loved ones when we go back home before we enter the home, we first of all wash our hands either it can be plain water or in other cultures its water mixed with some herbs, that practice we have advised that it should stop cause thus where transmission could take place,” said Ncube.
Ncube added that they have also advised funeral parlors that the deceased bodies are no longer allowed to lie in state overnight at home even if it’s not a covid-19 related death.
“When we look at burials there was the issue of body viewing which has always been part of the burial rights but because of Covid-19 body viewing is no longer done and where we have a Covid-19 death, disinfection is also done to ensure that the area is rendered safe.
“The other issue is we used to have the body lying in state at home, that is at times relatives would ask for the body to lie over night at home, that one has since stopped and we have advice funeral parlors to advise relatives that bodies can no longer go home whether it is Covid-19 body or someone who has died without Covid-19 , we say we can’t have the body at home because the moment you have a body at home you encourage gatherings at home, thus when we have covid-19 being spread as we know that funerals has been cited as super spreaders of Covid-19,” he said.
He also noted residents that backfilling of graves is done by the local authority.
“Backfilling of graves is done by City Council at no additional cost, the grave fees that one pays covers the cost even for backfilling that is done by council staff, I have heard people asking whether there is need for them to pay extra fees for the backfilling services, there is no extra fee, what you pay at the revenue Hall covers even the backfilling fees,” said Ncube.