Kenya Relaxes Burial Restrictions Of COVID-19 Victims

Kenya’s health ministry have relaxed the restrictions on burials of people who died from coronavirus (COVID-19), allowing families to play active roles in the final rites.

For the last six months, public health wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) has buried those who have succumbed to the coronavirus. But health officials now say that bodies of Covid-19 victims do not transmit the virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and Africa CDC have not stated whether a corpse can transmit Covid-19, but have updated burial protocols to allow families to give their loved a decent send-off.

Under Kenya’s revised measures, health officials will only be present in burials to guide the process and ensure safety.

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“They will also allow any safe burial rites as may be dictated by the religion and or culture of the deceased person,” Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi told journalists on Tuesday.

The government admitted last month that previous burial restrictions were extreme.

The move brings the country’s burial practices in line with World Health Organization guidelines.

The WHO has said that the likelihood of transmission of COVID-19 when handling the remains of someone who had the virus is low, but has encouraged the use of PPE when handling bodies if there is a risk of splashes from the body fluids or secretions.

WHO guidelines issued earlier this month state: “Those tasked with placing the body in the grave, on the funeral pyre, et cetera, should wear gloves and wash their hands with soap and water after removal of the gloves once the burial is complete.” They do not call for family members and friends to be excluded from the burial process but encourage the observance of local protocols on the number of people that can attend the ceremony.

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“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,” Nation reported health secretary Dr. Mercy Mwangangi said.

As of Tuesday, Kenya had 659 COVID-19 deaths, according to figures released by the ministry of health. The country has had 37, 218 confirmed cases of the virus, and 24, 147 people have recovered from COVID-19

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