BULAWAYO – Mourners accompanying dead bodies from outside Zimbabwe will be subjected to a mandatory 21-day coronavirus quarantine and miss the funeral, the government has announced.
Only the hearse driver will be allowed to proceed for the burial which should take place within 24 hours, unless the dead person was the victim of violent crime, according to new government guidelines discouraging people from attending funerals.
The new procedures will also apply to bodies transiting through Zimbabwe, according to a statement issued by the Zimbabwe embassy in South Africa.
“As a way of protecting the country against exposure form the deadly coronavirus, all bodies repatriated to Zimbabwe for burial will be treated as contagious except in cases where the cause of death is a road accident, murder or other body injuries,” Zimbabwe’s consul general Melody Chaurura said.
The ministry of health, said Chaurura, had directed that only the hearse driver can proceed for the burial, and should return to their country of origin immediately after burial.
An average 100 bodies are repatriated to Zimbabwe from South Africa every week, according to officials, while others arrive from other neighbouring countries and through the airports.
Zimbabwe has already issued a directive to funeral parlours to treat all bodies as contagious except in cases where they died a violent death. Burials should be conducted within 24 hours, and no movement of mourners in buses is allowed.
Zimbabwe has imposed a 35-day lockdown in a bid to contain the spread of Covid-19, a lung illness caused by the coronavirus.
The ministry of health says four people have died from the highly contagious virus from 28 infections. – ZimLive