Burials peak up in Accra

Burial at most cemeteries in the nation’s capital are beginning to peak-up following the Ghanaian Times publication in the April 25 issue which reported of an eminent mass-burial to decongest the mortuaries due to the increasing numbers of unclaimed corpses.

The situation was said to have been compounded by the lockdown imposed by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo about four weeks ago, in the wake of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

A follow-up to the mortuary and some selected cemeteries in Accra showed that the situation has changed dramatically as more families continue to go for their loved ones for burial, following the lifting of the lockdown two weeks ago.

From as low as three burials a day during the lockdown period, the Awudome and Osu cemeteries now receive an average of 35 corpses a week for burial and it is anticipated that the figure could go up in the coming weeks.

This is besides the fact that the ban on large public social gatherings, including funeral and burial ceremonies is still in force.

Speaking to the Ghanaian Times in Accra over the weekend, the Sexton of the Awudome Cemetery, Mr Prince Otoo said the Awudome Cemetery which was also the city’s largest place of interment had bounced back to life.

He said the lockdown actually slowed down activities at the cemetery, adding that “The hitherto hustling and bustling which was a regular feature at the cemetery especially during the weekends prior to the outbreak of the pandemic were missing.”

However, following the lifting of the lockdown, there seem to be some level of activities beginning to show up again.

Mr Otoo said the refreshing aspect of this was the fact that majority of the people who turned up at the cemetery to bury their loved ones complied with the protocols of social distancing and washing of hands with soap under running water.

“The people are adhering to the social gathering guidelines and in most cases we have less than twenty-five people follow the coffin to the cemetery for burial. Only a few people have failed to follow that protocol especially, our Muslim brothers who always throng to the cemetery to bury their loved ones,” he emphasised.

At the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital Mortuary, the characteristic hustling and bustling which were witnessed on Fridays were missing.

Nonetheless, families could be seen with their coffins, ready to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones for burial.

Mr George Dankyi, the manager of Korle-Bu Mortuary said that, he was encouraged by the response of the families to the call for them to resort to private burials.

He said “Yesterday alone 60 bodies were retrieved from the mortuary and this is encouraging because just two weeks ago, families were reluctant to bury their dead.”

On his part, the chairman of the Coffin Makers Association, Mr Solomon Adjiri Aflah Quarcoo said the outbreak of the pandemic had affected their business.

He explained that initially they were of the view that the restrictions would compel people to rush for coffins to bury their deceased relatives; however, it turned out differently.

Mr Quarcoo said only few mustered courage to call them to come for their coffins to bury their dead, adding “That we pray that should the President consider another lockdown in the future, coffin makers should be considered as one of the essential workers so families can bury their dead ones and help decongest the morgues.”

By Lawrence Markwei

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