Mkhululi Ncube, Chronicle Reporter
BULAWAYO residents are no longer observing a council resolution limiting the number of people attending burials at local cemeteries to 30 resulting in crowds being turned away from the graveyards.
Council says in recent weeks mourners have been disregarding rules with some using buses filled to capacity to go to the cemeteries. Many of the mourners are being made to wait outside the cemeteries as council has security details who monitor the numbers at the facilities.
In March, Bulawayo City Council (BCC) came up with a raft of measures that included limiting the number of people at burials to 30 and reducing vending stalls to curb the spread Covid-19.
The city has of late been recording an increase in daily Covid-19 cases with fears that this may lead to a second wave of the virus which is usually more deadly.
As of Monday, the city had recorded 1 615 cases out of the 8 276 recorded nationally.
BCC Divisional Environmental Health officer, Mr Patrick Ncube told Chronicle in an interview that they had resorted to turning away some mourners for not respecting the rules.
“We are witnessing high volumes of people attending funerals with no social distancing. This results in high infection rates because of contact between people. As a council we have a resolution that says only 30 people are allowed at the cemeteries. Residents need to abide by that,” he said.
Mr Ncube said backfilling of graves is still being done by council workers as a measure to control crowds at cemeteries.
He urged pastors who oversee burials not to prolong graveside services.
“The reason why we took it upon ourselves as council to backfill the graves was to reduce numbers. We also call upon our pastors to stick to time as some of them take long and you find many burials taking place at the same time but council allocates different times. Our officers are having to turn back people at the cemeteries once they exceed that number,” he said.
Mr Ncube said it should be the responsibility of the mourning family to decide the 30 people who go to the burial as their officers just count the first 30 people and turn away the rest. He also urged the public to avoid night vigils during funerals as they are also a potential breeding ground for the virus.
“It’s a living human being who can move the virus from one place to another. At funerals people come from all over and that puts mourners at risk. Gathering overnight prolongs the contact between people and the transmission of the virus. Let us suspend some of our traditions for the sake of our health. It is a new normal that changes a lot of things that we are used to,” he said.
Mr Ncube said the number of new cases recorded in recent days call for greater vigilance in the city.
“In the past few days, we have had a rise in Covid-19 cases. At one time we thought the situation was under control but right now we are suddenly seeing a rise.
“It calls for us to take all the precautions we were advised to take from the beginning, things like social distancing, restricting movements, wearing of face masks and washing of hands, among others,” said Mr Ncube.
He said it was a myth that Covid-19 virus does not spread when it is hot.
“It has been proven even in these hot months that cases are still being recorded which means people are still at high risk. The increase in these local transmissions is testimony enough of that,” he said.
Mr Ncube said huge gatherings always result in a surge in Covid-19 cases.
He also bemoaned various parties being held around the city saying they can prove costly.
He said even though the Government has allowed church gatherings with limited numbers, some churches are exceeding the numbers.
Many countries in Europe are going into second lockdowns as they are recording alarming numbers of Covid-19 cases.
Africa’s worst affected country, South Africa has in the past few days been recording high numbers of new cases as members of the public have relaxed in terms of observing health guidelines. — @themkhst