Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency(ANA)
Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency(ANA)

Five things funeral directors can do to help grieving families respect Covid-19 protocols during funerals

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Jul 27, 2021

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DURBAN - FAMILIES who are grieving the loss of a loved one during Covid-19 are overwhelmed by the difficulty in deciding how to safely grieve and honour their loved ones. To help these families have a dignified funeral, while respecting the Covid-19 protocols, funeral directors are geared to enforce the protocols to prevent the spread of Covid-19 during funerals.

Co-founder and CEO of Abaveleli Funeral Directors, Unathi Saul, said many bereaved families have fear and anxiety about burying their loved ones during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"From the time that funeral arrangements are made to the final procession, all Covid-19 protocols need to be observed. Funeral directors can assist families in this regard, because the more people interact, the closer in distance the interaction is, and the longer the interaction lasts, the higher the risk of spreading Covid-19," he said.

In South Africa alone, the Department of Health has recorded more than 2 000 000 positive Covid-19 cases. The higher the level of community transmission in an area, the higher the risk of spreading Covid-19. This shows the importance of lowering the risk of spreading Covid-19 by following the set regulations.

Saul said people who are at the highest risk of contracting Covid-19 are those attending large services and gatherings that are held indoors, and where it is difficult to maintain social distance. Another point of concern is when funeral attendees travel from outside the local area.

Here are five things funeral directors can do to help grieving families respect Covid-19 protocols during funerals

A limited number of attendees: The regulations allow for only 50 people to attend the funeral. This is so that physical distancing is possible, and to contain any possible spread of the virus. Also, reduce the number of people engaged in activities, such as singing, as these behaviours can increase the number of respiratory viruses in the air.

Wear a mask: Ensure that all persons wear a cloth mask or a medical or surgical mask. Have additional masks in case attendees arrive without masks.

Practice social distance: Maintain at least 1.8 metres between attendees, facility or lay staff and clergy or officiants, especially when small, in-person services are held.

Sanitise regularly: Practice increased hand hygiene and regularly clean high-touch surfaces and objects to help lower the risk of spreading Covid-19.

Avoid physical contact: Avoid hugging or touching persons at the funeral service. Consider a venue that has windows and doors you can keep open so that fresh air can circulate, and make provision for soap and sanitisers.

“In some cases, many people have contracted Covid-19 after attending a funeral. To help prevent the spread of Covid-19, communities need to take these protocols seriously,” Saul concluded.


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