COVID-19: Families Calling on Red Cross to Bury the Dead

EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA: The Gambia Red Cross Society said it is now receiving calls from members of the community to conduct burial services for their loved ones who may have died of coronavirus-unrelated ailments.

The Red Cross has been the sole voluntary institution responsible for conducting burial rites of coronavirus-related deaths since the outbreak of the virus in the country.

Thirty-two people have died from the virus so far, nine of whom were recorded on Tuesday, Gambia’s ministry of health said in a daily update.

One hundred and eleven new cases have been reported as of August 11 with a total national case confirmation of 1346, according to the ministry of health which works with the Red Cross to bury corpses of coronavirus victims.

“Initially, we only conduct burial activities of corpses whose names have been given to us by the ministry of health, but our mandate has changed as we also receive calls from members of the community seeking help to bury their love ones,” Buba Darbo, Head of Disaster Management, Gambia Red Cross Society, said in an interview on Monday.

The ministry of health sends a daily list of Covid-19-related deaths to the Red Cross for burial. But as members of the community became aware of such a task, and with rising community transmissions, family members are becoming increasingly reluctant to bury their loved ones – some of whom are dying of causes unrelated to the virus.

This is because they are not sure whether or not their loved ones died of the respiratory illness which was first reported in The Gambia in March – three months after the outbreak from China’s city of Wuhan.

Through what it called the Safe and Dignified Burial process (SDB), the Gambia Red Cross Society has so far buried 56 bodies, some of whom died of causes unrelated to Covid-19, according to Darbo.

As of Tuesday, more than 19 million people contracted the coronavirus worldwide, from which more than half a million people have died in 215 countries, areas or territories, according to the World Health Organisation.

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