First Covid-19 victim to be exhumed

• Angry Walvis community blocks burials

20 July 2020 | Health



Authorities and the community in Walvis Bay – after a weekend of heated exchange – yesterday resolved to have the body of the country's first Covid-19 victim exhumed while a new burial site for victims of the pandemic is being identified. This was after the community of Narraville on Friday stopped the burial of the second victim from taking place on a site adjacent to the popular residential area.

Namibia has so far recorded two deaths related to Covid-19, both from Walvis Bay, the country's epicentre of the virus.

Erongo governor Neville Andre and other leaders yesterday held marathon consultations with the irate community, which culminated in the drastic decision to exhume the body of the first victim.

This follows objections to the burial of the person in Narraville after a man had already been buried in land demarcated for a cemetery.

Community members from Narraville blocked government officials from carrying out the funeral on Friday evening.

Community members had asked why victims of Covid-19 were being buried in Narraville and reasoned that the bodies could be buried in the harbour town's existing cemeteries.

The community members also questioned why the bodies were being buried in an area in which children could play, with some saying that the first body was as close as 400 metres from their houses.

The community members also questioned the manner in which the first funeral was conducted.

Speaking to Namibian Sun yesterday, prior to the decision being made to find an alternative burial site, executive director in the ministry of health Ben Nangombe called for calm, saying that it was in the interest of public health for the person to be buried as soon as possible.

“It is important for the community to act in the interest of public health. What is being done is in the interest of public health,” Nangombe said.

“It is our appeal to the public to act in the interest of the country and public health,” he added.

According to Nangombe, it was a concern that the second Covid-19 victim had not been buried yet. The World Health Organisation recommends that Covid-19 victims be buried within 48 hours.

Demands to remove remains

Community members also demanded the removal of the remains of the first Covid-19 victim.

“We don't want that corpse here, finish, no negotiations. Take it out and take it somewhere else. How can you let that corpse lay here, take it out,” a Narraville resident told Andre.

“We don't want people to be buried there, it is not a cemetery. We do not want a cemetery here, we do not want sick people here, there is enough land for cemeteries.”

Another shouted: “That grave must be taken out, find a solution.”

Community members chanted “We don't want, we don't want,” after Andre had finished addressing them.

When asked to comment on the demands of the community, Nangombe said it would not be proper to exhume the remains of the first victim.

“We must be sensitive to the family of the deceased. I do not know if it will be responsible to remove the body of the deceased,” Nangombe said.