Kenya: Government to Bury Bodies of COVID-19 Victims If Not Picked Within 24 Hours

Residents of Nairobi walk past the Kenya National Archives National in Nairobi (file photo).

The government will dispose of bodies of coronavirus victims if their families fail to pick the remains within 24 hours, chief government pathologist Johansen Oduor has said.

Dr Oduor said families of the victims will be given 24 hours to pick and bury their loved ones, failure to which the government will inter them at the nearest cemetery.

INFECTIOUS

"To avoid a situation where we have so many bodies lying in the mortuary and these are bodies that are potentially infectious we came to that decision of having that directive that bodies be buried within 24 hours of death," Dr Odour said.

"This is part of the measures the government has put in place to ensure mortuaries are not congested with bodies that are potentially infectious," Dr Oduor further said.

"As a government, we are going to assist the family transport the body to the place of burial so the question of cost will not come in... Just in case nobody appears within 24 hours we are going to bury the body at the nearest cemetery to where the person died," he added.

To protect morticians from contracting the virus, Oduor said bodies of Covid-19 victims are not being embalmed. Instead, the remains are stacked in two body bags that are thoroughly disinfected to prevent any infections.

"Embalming is discouraged because this means when the body comes to the mortuary the mortician will start to manipulate it and in the process, there will be splashes that will potentially carry infection."

In his address to the nation on Monday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Nairobi accounted for 82 percent of the total infections while the Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa counties account for 14 percent hence the order.

BURIAL

"To contain and limit the spread of the disease to other parts of the country, the National Security Council has sanctioned and caused the issuance of the following additional measures, as follows: That there shall be a cessation of all movement by road, rail or air in and out," President Kenyatta announced.

Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Mercy Mwangangi said only close family members of such a person will attend their burial.

"We want to reiterate that persons who pass away due to coronavirus will have to be buried within 24 hours from the time of death. And the burials are restricted to less than 15 close family members," said Dr Mwangangi.

This comes as the first Kenyan to succumb to the dreaded Covid-19 disease was buried in Trans Nzoia County on Tuesday in a ceremony that lasted about 35 minutes at a low-key event that only his immediate family members attended.

Police received the body that had been transported from Nairobi at around 4am and took it to the home.

Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe announced Tuesday that the country's coronavirus cases had risen to 172, with 6 deaths, while 7 have since recovered.

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