Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State on Thursday lifted the ban on funerals with stringent COVID-19 protocols as a measure to decongest mortuaries in the state.
Diri had in an Executive Order aimed at containing the spread of the Coronavirus, outlawed social activities like marriages, burials and social gatherings.
Diri, who announced the approval on Thursday during a meeting of the Bayelsa State COVID-19 Task Force, which he chaired, directed mortuaries to get an undertaking from residents to comply with the COVID-19 protocols.
According to the governor, such burials must be conducted without attracting crowds and devoid of receptions, adding that those who insist on conducting burials the usual way should wait till the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
He said: “The approval is subject to obtaining of guarantees and undertaking from families willing to bury relatives to ensure strict compliance with protocols for COVID-19 prevention, avoiding crowd and observing social distancing.
“Anyone who insists on conducting burials with overnight and daylight parties with ‘Owoigiri Dances’ should wait until the Coronavirus leaves us.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the approval was sequel to requests by public medical institutions in the state to the government to avert a crisis situation.
Dr. Alawode Kehinde, a Consultant Pathologist, Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, had in an interview with NAN, appealed to the Bayelsa State Government to lift the restriction on burials as the mortuary was filled to capacity.
Kehinde said the hospital had written to Diri to relax the restriction on burials to allow people to evacuate their corpses.
According to him, if the request is granted, such burials will be done under strict compliance to social distancing and other COVID-19 prevention protocols.
He said the morgue could no longer admit new corpses in the past week as it reached its full capacity following the executive order restraining burials to check the spread of the Coronavirus in the state.
He also said when heavy rains set in, it would be extremely difficult for burials given the swampy topography of the state.
Kehinde, however, allayed the fears of mass burial of corpses in the FMC Morgue, adding that the hospital was aware of the present circumstances faced by the people as a result of COVID-19.
He said for those who were supposed to have evacuated corpses but were unable to, due to the restraining order, might get a concessionary discount on payable fee.