The Mangaung Metro Municipality (MMM) has put strict guidelines in place to ensure the safety of all parties involved in handling the remains of a person who has died as a result of Covid-19.
These parties include, funeral parlour workers, family members, municipal health services and health workers. MMM is working closely with the Free State Department of Health to educate funeral undertakers on these guidelines.
According to a statement by Qondile Khedama, municipal spokesperson, the human remains of Covid-19 deaths are considered contagious and should be kept only in designated health facilities’ mortuaries. These remains will be moved from a health facility like a hospital or an isolation centre to the designated health facility mortuary by a forensic pathology vehicle. The place from which the remains were collected will be decontaminated as arranged by Municipal Health Services.
Khedama says as part of the process, an environmental health practitioner will meet with the bereaved family to explain the process. “The environmental health practitioner will explain to the family that the remains shall under no circumstances go to the family home; whether for viewing or for aesthetic and hygiene preparations, or for cultural and religious reasons. If a viewing should take place, it must be done by two family representatives at the designated health facility mortuary and the representatives must adhere to all safety measures to ensure their safety and well-being,” says Khedama.
According to his statement the funeral service will continue without the presence of the remains. Instead, the vehicle transporting the remains will drive past the home or place where the service is taking place to join the cortege to the cemetery or crematorium. Pall bearing duties will be performed by a maximum of eight people, who should all be dressed in personal protective equipment to handle the coffin.
The Metro also places emphasis on the following regulations that all bereaved families need to remember:
- There should be not more than 50 people in attendance at a funeral and no night vigils should be conducted
- No ritual communal handwashing is allowed
- Water and soap should be made available for handwashing
• Where possible, families should also use hand sanitisers that are 60% alcohol-based. –