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Bodies to be cremated in case of rise in deaths during partial lockdown of Nairobi

Residents of Nairobi have been warned to brace themselves for cremation in case of a rise in mortality by Covid-19 or otherwise during the 21-day cessation of movement in and out of the capital city.

This comes after President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday stopped any movement in and out of Nairobi, and three coastal counties; either by rail, road and air to contain the spread of Covid-19 to other areas not worse affected.

CEMETERIES

In light of the directive, the government said that if one died in Nairobi within the days of containment, the body will have to be buried within the capital city.

Nairobi County Health Services Executive Hitan Majevdia has now warned that in case of increase in mass mortality due to Covid-19 during the period of restrictions of movements, the only option will be cremation as cemeteries owned by the county government are already full with no space for more bodies.

He said City Hall has no alternative prepared public burial land with the only fully county-owned cemetery in Lang’ata already full explaining that the county government is yet to acquire an alternative burial place even though Lang’ata cemetery was declared full more than 20 years ago.

Mr Majevdia added that Kariokor Cemetry, which is partly owned by City Hall, is also full. He observed that there are other cemeteries in the capital not owned by the county government but by private entities such as religious organsiations with the county having no say on how they are managed.

CREMATORIUMS

“There is no other place. Langáta Cemetery has been full over the years and if the coronavirus leads to huge death toll then the only option will be cremation. But we do not want to reach that point,” said Mr Majevdia.

“There are some places in Lang’ata Cemetery with old graves where we recycle and allow to be reused but this might only be less than 100. And with the warning by Mr Mutahi Kagwe on Tuesday that we should be ready for a storm if the storm comes then cremation will be the only option,” he added.

In light of this, he said that the county government has already prepared the Langáta Crematorium for any eventuality.

He added that there are other crematoriums in Thika and Machakos which can also be used by people from Nairobi in addition to two other privately owned crematoriums in Nairobi.

Mr Majevdia said that City Hall has been advising the public to either bury their loved ones upcountry or use private burial sites owned by religious organizations but with the directive on movements in and out of Nairobi more challenges might abound.