Letter to the Editor

Funerals: Epicentres for coronavirus spread

Dear editor,
I RECENTLY attended a funeral conscious and cautious that such an event was now classified as an ‘epicentre’ for the spread of COVID-19.
Other high risk events are gatherings such as church services and weddings. It so happened that the funeral I attended was also a church gathering.
At the church, it was clear that if one or two people in the crowd of over 300 were COVID-19-positive, then by the end of the day, it was possible that many more would have been infected.
Two nights before burial, mourners gathered in close proximity at the funeral house. They shook hands, some (especially women) hugged and shared meals from the same plates. All this was done without facemasks.
On the day of burial, social distancing was observed for those that sat on benches, but some of the family members huddled in front of the pews.
The basket for offerings was passed around the pews from one hand to the next. I did not see anyone sanitise the baskets.
During body viewing, the social distancing that was observed on the seats was rendered useless when mourners filed ‘bumper-to-bumper’ past the coffin.
Some mourners (especially women) flung themselves to the ground after viewing the body. They were helped up by ungloved and unmasked colleagues.
Virtually all the vehicles used for transporting the mourners to the cemetery were filled to capacity. Some of the vehicles, such as buses and open trucks, were overloaded. And yet, still, most of the passengers were not masked.
At the cemetery, the mourners sat or stood shoulder to shoulder as the final farewells were done. They placed flowers on the grave in groups, in total disregard of social-distancing guidlines.
The drive back to the funeral house was again in crowded vehicles.
This was just one of scores of funerals that take place across the country every day. How can we win the fight against COVID-19?

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