Zimbabwe: Desperate Measures for Desperate Times.

20 January 2021

"Will it ever end, why, why God?"

Those are the questions ringing in the minds of many people globally as they try to come to terms with the Covid -19 pandemic that is continuing to ravage the lives of the people daily.

Since its outbreak, the way people live has changed with a blink of an eye as a new order became the new normal.

Wearing of masks, regular sanitation of hands and practicing of social distance became the new normal for everyone.

Vaccines are starting to trickle in some countries, but the numbers continue to sky rocket as never before.

Millions of people globally have lost their lives to the Covid -19 pandemic since it started.

Different measures are being implemented by different governments to curtail the spread as numbers are spiking every day and Zimbabwe is no exception.

On January 10, the Ministry of Health and Child Care informed the public of immediate restrictions imposed on the movement of dead as bodies for burial in the country.

Government also clarified movement of corpses saying bodies can be buried outside the city or town of death, and repatriation of Zimbabweans for burial will continue, but under strict health protocols.

The new protocols include no body viewing, no carrying of the body home, using sealed coffins where everyone keeps a distance of 4 metres from the coffin, regardless of cause of death.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health and Child Care said the movement of bodies was still allowed as long as the prescribed health guidelines were observed.

Even where the death was due to Covid-19, the corpse could be transported in a sealed coffin.

"For those who want to transport the body for burial outside the city or town of death, they should ensure that the body is hermetically sealed in a triple coffin before collection of body from funeral parlour or hospital mortuary," said the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

"The police will only clear body movements for burial straight from a funeral parlour or hospital mortuary to the burial site. No body viewing will be allowed. Bodies will not be taken home. The public is urged to keep a distance of 4 metres as the body is lowered into the grave by either city health or funeral parlour officials."

Other protocols include disinfection of the grave site before and after burial, while gatherings at funerals have been reduced to strictly 30 people.

The move by the government has brought different sentiments from the general populace.

Miranda Mandivenga of Kambuzuma applauded government.

"What the government did is a noble. This will reduce the spread of the Covid-19 to other people. For example, if the deceased dies of Covid-19, there are high chances of the mourners contracting it during the movement of the body from one place to another. If we follow the order religiously, the sky rocketing deaths and positive cases will reduce very soon," she said.

According to Mandivenga, the problem is that many people are very complacent and reluctant to follow the Covid -19 regulations.

Such people do not mask up properly, neither practice social distancing or sanitise their hands regularly.

"The restrictions are the best way to reduce the spread of Covid-19. The pandemic is there and its real, but some people are doubting Thomases. They want to believe that the pandemic is there when one of their close relatives dies of it or tests positive," added Mandivenga.

She added that society is living in dangerous times as a result of the pandemic so desperate measures such as these are needed for desperate times.

Mike Nyandoro of Mbare highlighted that the measure is meant to curb the spread of the disease as the infection numbers and deaths are spiking every day in Zimbabwe and globally.

"One cannot deny that before they die, most people especially the elders choose where they want to buried. People have to accept that for now, the will of the dead will not be honoured as a result of the pandemic," he said.

Nyandoro added that while a dead person deserves last respect, the problem is that society is living in difficult times.

"We cannot satisfy the will of the dead by compromising the health of the living. It is better for the living to be healthy and free from the pandemic than to come into contact with someone who has died as a result of Covid-19. The problem is that during a funeral some people grieve recklessly. Some insist on body viewing which is a health hazard. People are not following the regulations, especially the stipulated numbers of people allowed to attend a funeral," highlighted Nyandoro.

Others argue that the restriction of the movement of the dead bodies from one place of the country to another place is not a good move as it somehow violates some of the traditional rites of the Zimbabwe.

"As a result of this kind of interment, a deceased is not given a proper burial and send off. Relatives are not able to perform their traditional rites as the body is taken straight for burial from the hospital mortuary or the funeral parlour," said Lloyd Chinyama from Kuwadzana.

Chinyama added that this affects the mourners, too, as they will not have time to give their last respects as body viewing is now a thing of the past.

"Last respect is very important but in this scenario, people cannot do this. It is like burying someone whom you do not know, or an outcast for the society," said Chinyama.

Tendai Maziofa from Dzivarasekwa highlighted that the move is not good as it violates traditional burial practices.

"The Zimbabwean burial practices are very sentimental about the issue of graves. Graves are regarded as important and sacred. Some people refuse to vacate land and homesteads as a result of the graves of their ancestors there. What happens when the pandemic is over, and a person from Mashonaland East has been buried in Matabeleland South? How are the relatives going to perform the traditional rites when the grave is not in their area?" quizzed Maziofa.

More From: The Herald

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.