By Egufe Yafugborhi
RIVERS State coronavirus interventions and impact monitoring group, COVID-19 Situation Room, have expressed worry as mortuaries are overfilled with corpses whose burials are hindered by delay in securing new State Government funeral approval.
The Situation Room, a coalition of Civil Society Organisations and Media Stakeholders, raised the concern in their latest periodic monitoring update released in Port Harcourt Wednesday as relatives of dead persons to allege hard times in security the Rivers State Government new burial approval recently gazetted as part containment measure against Coronavirus.
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Under the established guidelines, relatives wishing to bury a loved one in Rivers soil or opting to move it outside the state must seek Governor Nyesom Wike’s approval by application through the State Commissioner for Health with key requirements to be met and defaulters liable to N10 million fine.
The Situation Room monitoring update signed by the group’s Chairman, Stevyn Obodoekwe and five others faulted, “The policy which insists anybody wanting to organise a burial or other ceremonies must first get approval from the governor.
The governor won’t have a chance for such approvals with his busy schedules of office.
“Government should rather workout guidelines on how burial and sundry ceremonies should be conducted in line with NCDC rules instead of stressing bereaved families with deceased delaying in mortuaries while applying for clearance before burial. The Government should publish and publicize all guidelines on newspapers, social media, news bulletins and on leaflets on the streets”
The Situation Room, however, commended Rivers government on some COVID-19 containment efforts including establishment of isolation/treatment centres, training of health personnel, provision of free buses, awareness campaigns and decontamination of public places among other interventions.
Among perceived failures, the group condemned sabotage of Rivers shut borders, rights abuses by security operatives and the continued closure of markets while calling on the State Government to grant tax or levies waivers for commercial transporters, show commitment to aggressive testing and for citizens to display compliance to the basic containment protocols.