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Opening of Coffins Containing Bodies Of COVID-19 Victims Worries Nakaseke, Luwero Officials

Luwero and Nakasongola District COVID-19 taskforces have ordered the arrest of mourners opening coffins containing bodies of COVID-19 victims. At least 44 people have succumbed to COVID-19 in Luwero and Nakasongola districts. About 888 people have contracted COVID-19 in both districts.

The Taskforces say that although the infections are declining, the districts may register a fresh surge of COVID-19 infections because of mourners defying the Standard Operating Procedures and opening coffins containing the bodies of COVID-19 victims.

At least four cases of mourners opening coffins of the COVID-19 victims have been reported in both districts. The latest incident took place at Buruuli Quarter zone in Nakasongola town on Thursday where mourners armed with machetes opened a coffin and cut body bag containing the body of Florence Naddamba who succumbed to COVID-19 at Nakasongola Health Center IV.

Harriet Batukema, the Nakasongola town female council explains that the mourners wanted to view the body before burying it with some insisting that the deceased did not succumb to COVID-19.

“The Mourners claimed that the government was lying to them just to inflate figures of the dead but Naddamba succumbed to hypertension. But as a leader, I know that she died of COVID-19 and was in isolation at Nakasongola health center IV,” Batukema said.

Following the incident, Dan Muganga, the Chairperson of Nakasongola District COVID-19 Task Force has ordered Police to arrest those who cut the body bag. According to Muganga, it is risky to open coffins containing bodies of COVID-19 victims, adding that they cannot look on as mourners engage in acts that are likely to spread the virus.

“We are taking steps to fight the act and we are tasking Police to arrest the people who engage in such reckless acts,” Muganga said. In Luwero, mourners at Kikerege village in Luwero Sub County also grabbed a coffin containing the body of businessman, Francis Kimbowa from the funeral service providers and unwrapped the body bag for viewing.

Sam Sserunjogi, one of the mourners, says that their decision is meant to ensure that they do not bury empty coffins. Sserunjogi says that it is also among their cultures that mourners take the last look at the deceased and pay their respect.

Innocent Nkonwa, the Luwero District Health Officer explains that there was no need to open the body bags containing the bodies of COVID-19 victims. He says that before they wrap the bodies, the deceased’s relatives are invited to view the body.

He says that if mourners do not stop the practice, many of them are likely to contract the virus. Nkonwa also says that they have also met a section of Muslim leaders and agreed with them not to temper with the bodies for ritual cleansing once medical workers wrap them.

Rose Birungi, the Luwero Resident District Commissioner and District Police Commander, Patrick Maikula have also cautioned mourners against unwrapping the bodies of COVID-19 victims. Birungi says that they have directed village task forces to work with local police to ensure compliance with the Standard Operating Procedures for burying COVID-19 victims.

According to section 9 of Public Health (Control of COVID 19) rules 2021, the bodies of all persons who die from COVID – 19 shall be disposed of in conformity with the directions of a medical officer. A Person who breaches the rules faces imprisonment for a period not exceeding two months.

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