THERE have been big changes with funeral proceedings, especially if people die of the coronavirus.

Thabani Mkhize (34) said the strict measures were difficult. “The department should lighten up. It’s not easy to hold a short ceremony and then bury our families.”

Another resident said they’ve been told coffins must be covered with plastic, but haven’t seen this at funerals of well-known people and were confused.

A third resident said when ANC spokesman Ricardo Mthembu died of Covid-19, his coffin wasn’t covered with plastic. “That left a lot of us shocked. Those in top positions don’t comply with the regulations.”

Mthembu family spokesman Khanyisani Shandu said:

“The body was wrapped with plastic and put into five bags. There’s no way that the virus was going to go through that. Only the body gets wrapped into plastic, not the coffin.”

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the health department released guidelines calling for the body of a person who died of Covid-19 to be cremated, otherwise it must be repatriated in line with human remains management regulations.

Handling of the body must be strictly monitored and placed in a leak-proof triple body bag, both first two bags being transparent and sealed, the third non-transparent and unsealed and then in a non-transparent coffin.

The body must be transported in compliance with human remains management regulations.

The remains are seen as contagious and should be kept only in designated health facilities’ mortuaries and

be transferred from one designated facility to another designated facility, a cemetery or crematorium.

Under no circumstances will the remains be directly handled or embalmed, but may be viewed by opening the third bag.

Remains should not be kept at households, but at designated health facility mortuary premises and directly transported straight to the place of burial or cremation.

The body should be buried in a grave deep enough to prevent access by rodents and carnivores.

Funeral Industry Reformed Association chairman Johan Rousseau said there was no law on how a coffin of a person who died of Covid-19 should be covered.

“It just needs to be covered.”

He said they were working on a solution to allow the dead to be properly sealed.