The government through the Health Ministry has seemingly backed the controversial and hurried night burial of a Kenyan man who succumbed to coronavirus in Siaya county on Saturday.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe together with his Education counterpart George Magoha defended the move, seeing nothing wrong in how the deceased was buried.
Kagwe and Prof Magoha were speaking during the daily press briefing to update the country on the pandemic in Nairobi on Monday following a wide public backlash.
He, therefore, asked Kenyans to be mentally prepared to accept steps being taken by the government and health workers to handle bodies of COVID-19 victims. added the CS.
“I want to say in an honest a term as I can and be brutally honest, that our cultural practices on how we dispose the bodies of our loved ones may not be practical in an extreme situation. I, therefore, want our people to be mentally prepared and accept that COVID-19 victims’ bodies shall be disposed of in a manner that protects the living from infections and in accordance with Ministry of Health burial protocols” – Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on Siaya man’s night burial
His remarks were supported by Prof Magoha, who coincidentally hails from Siaya county, who said the drastic move was taken to protect the lives of locals.
“Being a Luo from Siaya, our goal is to ensure that the disease is controlled, there’s a tendency for people to lean more towards culture. What was done was in the interest of all parties involved,” said the Education CS.
The two cabinet secretaries spoke against a backdrop of a public outcry over the burial of Kenya Ports Authority employee James Oyugi in the dead of the night.
In a video widely circulated on social media, the deceased’s body is seen wrapped in a body bag, being pushed into a shallow grave by two health officials.
Dear State House Kenya
Dear Siaya County
Breaking news for you both: even the dead have human rights! Must we also teach you how to dignify the dead? This video shows a KPA worker being buried without dignity in Siaya. Stop this bullshit. Get your shit together. @StateHouseKenya pic.twitter.com/O0OJRFzhzI
— Dr. Njenga Karugia J., PhD (@johnnjenga) April 12, 2020
The two health officials, who were in full protection gear, are believed to be from the Siaya county, even as local government officials led by governor Cornel Rasanga remain mum on the matter.