By SIMON MUNTEMBA
GOVERNMENT directive to bury all Covid deaths within 24 hours cannot be effected because funeral parlours and burial grounds have been overwhelmed as bodies continue to pile up.
Last week, Lusaka Province Permanent Secretary, Elias Kamanga directed that all Covid bodies should be buried within 24 hours.
However, a Daily Nation survey of burial grounds and funeral undertakers show that the directive cannot be effected because cemeteries have a backlog of burials forcing families to prolong funerals for up to a week.
Private funeral parlours in Lusaka are also overwhelmed by the sharp increase in demand for their services, as the country records more Covid-19 related deaths.
A spot check at selected funeral homes in Lusaka has revealed that they are struggling to offer services amid the spiralling death rateA spot check at selected funeral homes in Lusaka has revealed that they are struggling to offer services amid the spiralling death rate.
Bereaved families consumed by grief and seeking to arrange funeral services are either turned away or made to wait for more days before putting to rest their beloved ones.
One bereaved family member, Stephen Mwale said his family paid for funeral services at Ideal Funeral Home on Monday but they were told to wait for five days before they could put to rest their relative.
“My grandfather died on Sunday at UTH and because of the Covid-19 restrictions, we wanted to put him to rest on Tuesday or Wednesday but we were told that we can only be attended to on Friday because all the days are fully booked,” Mr Mwale said.
Asked why the family could not seek some services from other funeral houses, Mr Mwale responded, “It is the same thing. We tried other funeral parlours and they are all telling us to join a waiting list.”
And a funeral parlour worker who did not want to be named said for the past one month, it has been holding more than five funerals per day due to people passing away from the virus.
“With so many people dying every day, it’s not just hospitals that are overwhelmed, funeral homes and mortuaries are also impacted. Our refrigerator is extremely full. For the past one month, we are dealing with not less than five bodies per day,” the source said.