CoW redesigns cemeteries to accommodate more COVID-19 burials

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The City of Windhoek (CoW) is redesigning its cemeteries’ space allocation to accommodate the high demand for COVID-19 burials.

CoW communication manager Harold Akwenye explained to Nampa on Tuesday that though there is enough space in the cemeteries, the daily high demand forced the City to strategise and redesign the burial sites to accommodate the increasing number of burials due to COVID-19.

He said currently, secondary internal roads and burial plots are being constructed inside the cemeteries as burials are occurring in big numbers daily, demanding new burial space.

According to Akwenye, at least 133 COVID-19 related burials have taken place in the last 14 days, of which 105 were COVID-19 related deaths.

He added that CoW currently receives approximately 20 burial requests daily and out of these, around 17 are COVID-19 related deaths. The waiting list for cremation currently stands at 149, of which 67 are COVID-19 related.

“There is still enough burial space in our cemeteries as some secondary internal roads inside the cemeteries are being redesigned to open up more space for allocating additional burial plots,” Akwenye stated.

Windhoek has been among the districts that continue to record high COVID-19 infection rates and deaths, recording at least 114 deaths between 05 July and 11 July. While some families are opting to travel and bury loved ones in their places of origin, an overwhelming number of families are opting to bury their deceased in Windhoek, placing the City under pressure to avail space to residents and accommodate those burials within 10 days as recommended by the World Health Organisation.

CoW recently issued a statement pleading for patience from the public as they continue to dig through hard stone to provide burial sites. It said it is dealing with an unusually high demand for burial sites as the country struggles with high death rates due to COVID-19, adding that previously, cemeteries were mainly busy over the weekends. The situation has however changed as different families use the cemeteries to bury their loved ones on the same day.

A Windhoek resident who buried a loved one over the weekend described the situation as abnormal.

“To have over six families burying loved ones at the same time in one cemetery was almost unheard of, but that happed last Sunday. There were at least 60 people from different families who stood outside the fence watching from a distance as six caskets were lowered into the ground at the same time. As we left the cemeteries, other families were coming in to also bury. I have never seen anything like it,” he said.

As of Sunday, COVID-19 had killed 2 019 people in Namibia.

Source: Namibia Press Agency