Wednesday, 22 April 2020

ALL REPATRIATED BODIES TO BE TREATED AS CORONAVIRUS POSITIVE : GOVT


GOVERNMENT has decreed that bodies of people who died outside the country will be treated as if they have the Covid-19 contagion and will be subjected to stringent vetting before being allowed into the country for burial.

Only those who died from accidents or other body injuries may be exempted.With immediate effect, only one person will drive a hearse ferrying a body into the country.

Relatives may accompany the body up to the border where they will be quarantined for 21 days while the remains proceed for burial.  The drastic decision was announced by the Zimbabwe Consulate in South Africa.

South Africa, home to thousands of Zimbabweans, is one of the countries that have been seriously hit by the deadly virus in the continent as more than 3 500 have been infected.

In Zimbabwe 29 cases have been recorded so far including four deaths and two recoveries.

Zimbabweans who die in South Africa are mainly accompanied by friends and relatives home for burial. 

Both Zimbabwe and South Africa are on lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

In a statement on Tuesday, Zimbabwe’s Consul-General to South Africa Ms Melody Chaurura said the country, through the Ministry of Health and Child Care, had taken decisive measures to protect citizens from being exposed to Covid-19.

“All bodies being repatriated to Zimbabwe for burial will be treated as contagious except in cases where the cause of death is road accident, murder or other body injuries. Consequently, all such mortal remains will require clearance by the Ministry of Health and Child Care in Zimbabwe using the usual clearance channels,” she said.

“Relatives accompanying the remains will be subjected to 21 days mandatory quarantine at the designated points before proceeding to the funeral. (The same applies in cases where the body is transiting through Zimbabwe.) Only the driver of the hearse is allowed to proceed to the final place of burial in Zimbabwe and is required to return to South Africa immediately after burial,” said Ms Chaurura.

Ms Chaurura directed all funeral parlours to comply with the latest measures.

The chairman of the Inner-City Funeral Directors Association- South Africa (IFDA-SA), Mr Nkosi Kwanike Nare said funeral parlours have received communication from the consulate. 

“This is a relief to the Death Care Industry and we are thankful to the authorities for considering our proposal. We understand that there have been some information dissemination challenges with the Port of Entry Staff and we have been assured that it’s being taken care of,” said Mr Nare.

He said parlours had to approach authorities after encountering a number of challenges with border authorities over the ever-changing repatriation regulations.

In some cases, he said the parlours had to return with bodies to South Africa after failing to meet requirements.

Mr Nare said they had been told to leave the bodies with Zimbabwean parlours for onward transportation but they failed to agree on sharing costs.

“It costs an average of R15 000 to transport a body from South Africa to Zimbabwe and our counterparts were now charging R12 000 from Beitbridge to inland Zimbabwe. This model proved to be difficult for our members and most bereaved families,” he said.

Under normal circumstances at least 60 bodies are brought into the country through Beitbridge Border Post weekly for burial. Chronicle

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