Onyedi Gabriel, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Coronavirus interventions and impact monitoring group, Covid-19 Situation Room, has decried the littering of mortuaries with corpses, following new guidelines on burials instituted by the state government to check the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Situation Room, a coalition of Civil Society Organisations and media stakeholders, in their periodic monitoring update released in Port Harcourt, said deceased’s families could not claim their corpses because they were unable to secure burial approvals from the state government.
The new guideline prescribed N10million fine for any burial without the approval of the state government through the state Ministry of Health.
The Situation Room update signed by the group’s Chairman, Stevyn Obodoekwe, and five others faulted the new guideline.
He said, “The policy, which insists anybody wanting to organise burial or other ceremonies must first get approval from the governor. The governor won’t have chance for such approvals with his busy schedules of office.
“Government should rather work out guidelines on how burial and sundry ceremonies should be conducted in line with NCDC rules, instead of stressing bereaved families with deceased delaying in mortuaries while applying for clearance before burial. The government should publish and publicise all guidelines in newspapers, social media, news bulletins and on leaflets on the streets.”
The Situation Room, however, commended the government on some Covid-19 containment efforts, including establishment of isolation/treatment centres, training of health personnel, provision of free buses, awareness campaigns and decontamination of public places, among other interventions.
The group also condemned sabotage of Rivers borders, rights abuses by security operatives and continued closure of markets.
It called on the government to grant tax or levies waivers for commercial transporters and to show commitment to aggressive testing for COVID-19 in the state.