Lagos — Lagos admitted on Saturday its mortuaries are full and it will arrange a mass burial for bodies not evacuated in the next two weeks.
The congestion is related to restrictions on movement in the wake of coronavirus pandemic that's prevented residents from burying dead loved ones.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has called on residents who have loved ones in the mortuaries to schedule funerals, insisting funerals are among activities exempt from lockdown restrictions.
"One of the outcomes of this lockdown is that many families and households have had to postpone funeral plans for loved ones who have passed away before or during this period," he said at a briefing on Saturday.
"As you might know, many Christian denominations do not carry out funerals during the Lenten Season. Funerals are typically kept on hold during this period, and scheduled for the period immediately following the end of Lent.
"Unfortunately, this year, the COVID-19 lockdown coincided with the end of Lent, which caused many families and households to further suspend or put off funeral plans. The mortuaries in Lagos are not full because of COVID-19 deaths, the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in Lagos as at today is 20; the only reason the mortuaries are full at this time is because funerals are not being held, and have not been held for most of the last two months.
"I am now constrained to make this appeal to all Lagosians who have the corpses of loved ones in the mortuaries, to please go ahead and schedule these funerals. Let me make it clear that funerals are on the list of activities exempted from the lockdown restrictions. You can hold or attend funeral ceremonies in Lagos State as long as you comply with the requirements that we have outlined.
"The total number of persons at the funeral, including officiating religious leaders, must not exceed 20; physical distancing must be maintained at the funeral ceremony; all attendees, mourners must use masks and ensure they wash their hands after the ceremony and there must be no receptions or parties to accompany these funerals. Be rest assured that as long as these directives are fully complied with, funerals will be allowed and encouraged to take place," he noted.
Meanwhile residents have been mandated to wear face masks in public places.
Violation will attract penalties, the governor said.
Sanwo-Olu said that the State has seen a 76% increase in number of confirmed cases within 4 days, an average of 70 cases daily.
"These numbers demonstrate that we are now firmly in the community transmission phase of this pandemic in Lagos and that our strategy of ramping up testing especially within local communities is working. Also, that this is not the time for us to relax or to slow down in the efforts we are making to break the chain of transmission."
He however made known that in spite of the rising number of confirmed cases, the number of discharged cases has continued to rise in the State.
"On Friday, we discharged another batch of 10 patients who have been treated and have now tested negative for the virus. We have now discharged a total of 115 cases in Lagos since the outbreak of the pandemic. We expect that the numbers of discharged patients will continue to rise and bring hope and optimism to all of us, not only in Lagos but across the country as well," he said.