File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Warning over rise in Saturday burials in Cape Town

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Aug 12, 2020

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Cape Town – Even though the Western Cape is believed to have passed its Covid-19 peak and the number of deaths have plateaued, the City of Cape Town has expressed concern that Saturday burials have increased.

According to mayoral committee member for health Zahid Badroodien, recent data shows that Saturday burials account for just more than 35 percent of all burials, with Friday and Thursday being the busiest alternate days.

Covid-19 has claimed the lives of 3 454 Western Cape residents thus far, but the number of infections and deaths are declining daily – with 7 416 active cases in the province and 87 998 recoveries as of 1pm on Tuesday – Badroodien would prefer weekday burials to be considered as an option where possible.

’’We suspect that, as more people return to work, more funerals are being scheduled for Saturdays to accommodate mourners' availability.

’’This means increased footfall at cemeteries within the space of a few hours, which increases traffic congestion, but more importantly, the risk of exposure to Covid-19 as we have more people moving around in the area in close proximity.

’’The City therefore appeals to families to please consider weekday burials where possible, to help advance public safety.

’’We also appeal to funeral-goers to please familiarise themselves with the current regulations around the limitation on the number of attendees, as well as the time spent at the graveside.’’

In terms of the current national regulations pertaining to burials, a maximum of 50 persons are allowed at the graveside; a maximum of 30 minutes is allowed for the burial; mourners are expected to maintain appropriate social distancing and wear masks at all times; and graveside visits are also not allowed in terms of the regulations.

’’As indicated before, we cannot afford to let our guard down. The slowing caseload in the Western Cape is very good news, but we have to be cognisant of a potential second wave of infections, as has been experienced elsewhere in the world.

’’So the regulations will remain in effect for the foreseeable future, and we need everyone to abide by them, for their own safety but also the safety of others,'’ said Badroodien.

The City also noted the recent directive issued by the national government, requiring that all sudden deaths or deaths occurring in the home must have specimens taken for Covid-19 before a death certificate is issued.

’’While we understand that the directive is meant to ensure more accurate record-keeping of the country’s Covid-19 statistics, the practicalities could be cause for concern, particularly in instances where the deceased has to be buried in accordance with Islamic rites.

’’The City is awaiting the finalisation of protocols to give effect to the directive, and we hope that these would give due consideration to cultural and religious beliefs,’’ said Badroodien.

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