The repatriation of Zimbabweans for burial in the country will continue under strict and safe health protocols to avoid contamination and the risk of new Covid-19 infections, a senior Government official said today.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care’s director of Environmental Health, Mr Victor Nyamande said all necessary precautions were being taken to save more lives.
He said although the movement of bodies for burial internally had been reviewed, those Zimbabweans who die outside the country will be repatriated but subjected to a rigorous process.
As from Sunday midnight, people who die from Covid19 will be buried in towns or areas in which they would have died and there will be no body-viewing.
The police have since been ordered to block any movement of corpses.
Government announced the measures last night as 978 new cases and 24 deaths were recorded countrywide.
“We are taking all the necessary precautions to make sure we avoid having more infections.
“Those who will die in foreign countries will be allowed burial in the country, but we are going to effect strict monitoring and supervisory technics,” said Mr Nyamande.
He said the processing of the repatriation documents will, besides passing through the various embassies, be subject to approval by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
Mr Nyamande said it was important for those processing documentation including the funeral parlours to cooperate with authorities so that Zimbabweans are afforded the decent burials they deserve.
“Under the new order, all bodies (from Covid19) will now be buried in the town/city where the death would have taken place.
“Those who seek to transport the bodies for burial elsewhere will have to undergo a tight screening process from authorities,” he said.
The officials said all bodies will be taken straight from the funeral parlours and hospital mortuaries to the place of burial.
Mr Nyamande said the same scenario will apply to those bodies coming in from other countries.
“There will be no body-viewing or taking of bodies home. From the airport or land border, the remains will be taken straight to the gravesite as indicated.
“The burials will be supervised by health officials to ensure that we protect the communities from Covid-19 infections and we can only succeed with everyone’s cooperation,” said the official.
Zimbabwean and South African health authorities came up with stringent measures recently to curtail the spread of the contagious disease.
On average 60 bodies of Zimbabweans are repatriated from South Africa through Beitbridge weekly.
To process documents at the country’s embassies, people require the Ministry of Health and Child Care clearance for repatriating remains of Zimbabweans, a birth certificate or national Identification documents of the deceased.
This applies mostly to those travelling by road and where the remains are flown, a passport is mandatory and a copy of the informant’s particulars and a burial order.
On average it costs an average of R15000 to transport a body from South Africa to Zimbabwe by road.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe last week warned those defying the order restricting people to 30 per funeral.
“The ministry has also noted with concern, that despite funerals being allowed a maximum of 30 people, this limit is being disregarded by many.
“Citizens are urged to observe this regulation. Any violation of this requirement will meet the full wrath of the law,” said Minister Kazembe.