Zimbabwe: Govt Bans Movement of Dead Bodies, Body Viewing

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11 January 2021

Government has banned the transportation of bodies for burial purposes from one city to another as part of its desperate measures to contain a rampaging Covid-19 pandemic.

This comes after the country recorded 978 fresh cases and 24 deaths Saturday.

Since the first case was recorded March last year, 507 people have died from a cumulative 21 477 cases of the virus.

In a statement, Zimbabwe Republic Police national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the directive is with immediate effect.

"The Zimbabwe Republic Police advises the public that the Ministry of Health and Child Care has informed the police of immediate restrictions imposed on the movement of dead bodies for burial in the country.

"According to health officials, a body will now be buried in town/city where the death would have taken place. This is being done in order to curtail the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic," he said.

In this regard the police will only clear body movements for burial straight from a funeral palour/hospital mortuary to the burial site and no body viewing will be allowed.

Among the new measures, bodies will not be taken home and during burial, mourners are implored to keep a distance as bodies of loved ones are lowered into graves by either city health or funeral parlour officials.

Added the police spokesperson, "The gravesite will be disinfected before burial. Police commanders have been advised to ensure that the government's directives is complied with. The public is informed of this important message."

However, no pledge was made by government to offer any land or alternative free of charge grave sites, a development which is likely to set mourners and authorities on a "warpath".

A decent grave in the country costs between US$150 and US$500 with rates now likely to go up as demand increases.

However, Information Ministry's permanent secretary, Nick Mangwana urged citizens to accept the "unusual measure".

"Government respects the cultural and customary preferences expressed by the deceased and/or their families in burial matters.

"However, we are in unusual days, where we are fighting for our very lives. To curtail the spread of Covid-19, people now need to be buried in towns of their deaths," he said.

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