State to End Dramatic Burial of Covid-19 Victims

Public health staff in PPEs pictured at a burial in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County
  • Head of Public Health Dr. Francis Kuria on Monday, September 7, announced that the Ministry would review the protocols surrounding the burial of COVID-19 victims.

    Speaking during a press briefing, the health official revealed the new moves comes after a research conducted by the Ministry of Health (MoH) confirmed that dead bodies are not capable of transmitting the virus.

    “Government will review burial protocols to avoid further stigmatization of those who have lost loved ones,” Dr Kuria stated.

    He further explained that the new protocols would allow kin to give their departed a dignified send off.

    Public health staff in PPEs pictured at a burial in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), except in cases of hemorrhagic fevers (such as Ebola, Marburg) and cholera, dead bodies are generally not infectious. 

    Only the lungs of patients with pandemic influenza, if handled improperly during an autopsy, can be infectious to the medical personnel working on them. Otherwise, cadavers do not transmit disease.

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    Kenyans have witnessed shocking and traumatic burials since the onset of the pandemic on March 13.

    On August 20, the daughter of the former Changamwe MP the late Ramadhan Kajembe was buried under strict COVID-19 guidelines a day after she succumbed to the virus.

    Health officials clad in Hazmat suits conducted the burial.

    On June 15,  government gave in to public pressure and outlawed night burials of people who die of COVID-19.

    This came after several incidents in Western Kenya, where victims have been buried at night amid protests from family members and locals.

    At the time, Health Director General Patrick Amoth said that he would send a new circular to all 47 counties alerting them to the abolishment of hurried night burials.

    In April, a horrific video of the burial of a COVID-19 victim in Siaya County went viral.

    The video showed the victim’s body being buried while covered in a white body bag without a coffin.

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    Reports further revealed that the body had been ferried in a pick-up truck with two public health officials dressed in white protective clothes. They were captured on video tossing the body into a shallow grave as family members wailed in grief.

    Notably, the government has come under sharp criticism for violating the dignity of the dead, with Kenyans pointing out that the WHO study that confirmed that dead bodies could not transmit the virus came out on March 24.

    Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe.
    Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe.

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