The observance of elaborate burials is increasing the burden of coronavirus (COVID-19) in rural communities in Enugu State, Ikechukwu Oke, Chairman, Igboeze South Traditional Rulers Council, has said.
The traditional ruler made the observation when the Labour/Civil Society Situation Room on COVID-19 paid an advocacy visit to the council on Thursday.
Mr Oke, therefore, urged the Enugu State Government to come up with a burial legislation that would outlaw the keeping of corpses in the morgues.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the state government had, at the onset of the COVID-19, suspended public gatherings including burials, in order to contain the spread of the virus.
Following a reappraisal of the situation, the government recently lifted the ban on burials and limited such to immediate family members of the deceased.
However, the monarch said that the situation had not helped the matters as the COVID-19 safety protocols were hardly observed during burials.
The royal father said that keeping corpses in the mortuaries increased the chances of a large number of people attending such burials.
“In the interim, the government should place a ban on keeping corpses in the mortuaries.
“Anybody who dies should be buried immediately to curtail the number of people who troop to rural communities from urban centres,’’ he said.
The monarch said the state government needed to act in order to contain mysterious deaths in the state.
Earlier, leader of the delegation, Simon Onah, said the group was in the area to sensitise the people of the council on the need to take the COVID-19 outbreak seriously.
Mr Onah, who is the Vice-Chairman, National Association of Nurses and Midwives, Enugu State chapter, remarked that it was sad that the pandemic was on the increase since the ease of the lockdown in the state.
He blamed the situation on the flouting of safety protocols recommended by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and government regulations.
He said that it was gratifying that two additional test machines were being installed at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu, to increase the daily number of COVID-19 tests.
He said the only machine currently in use in the hospital had the capacity to conduct 10 tests daily “but each of the new ones, being installed, can carry out 200 tests daily’’.
Mr Onah appealed to the people to improve on their personal hygiene, wear face masks and use hand sanitisers.
Also, the representative of the Civil Society Organisation (CSO), Onyinyechukwu Mammah, charged leaders of women associations in attendance to disseminate the information to their peers in the villages.
The Secretary to the Council, Nnamani Vitus, commended the group for embarking on the advocacy.
Mr Vitus said that the council had made a series of efforts to contain the spread of the virus in the area.
He added that the council had also assisted many indigent residents of the area to cushion the effect of the pandemic.
NAN reports that participants in the sensitisation campaign included, traditional rulers, president generals of town unions, religious leaders, leaders of market associations and transport unions.