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Western Cape Muslim Undertakers Association prepares for Covid-19 third wave

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Concern has been raised that burial societies would cripple under the pressure of an expected third wave of Covid-19 in South Africa.

Co-chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, has warned that the severity of the predicted influx in Covid 19 cases depends on the public’s behaviour. According to Karriem, the country is now at a lower level of transmission, with scientists and the government desperately wanting to keep it that way.

It comes as the second wave of Covid 19 left many undertakers feeling the pressure of high janaaza volumes and limited resources.

Head of the Western Cape Muslim Undertakers Association, Ebrahim Solomon said preparing for a third wave is very difficult as there are no signs of what to expect, especially when the Covid 19 symptoms varies from wave to wave.

“I don’t know how anyone can prepare for the third wave, especially after the second wave was so much different from the first. When we were first introduced to the pandemic, symptoms were clear, people were hospitalised and we could clearly see who had the virus or not, but with the second wave it was the complete opposite. The one day the person was ok and all of a sudden you hear the news of the persons death,” Soloman stated.

When asked how undertakers can prepare for the possible third wave, Solomon said the only thing that can be prepared for is ensuring that they stock up as much as possible.

“The second wave was so severe; we ran out of Kaffan (shroud material), so the only thing we can do this time around is to make sure that we have enough. We had up to 40 Janaaza’s per day during the second wave which also means that we are slowly running out of burial space, which is a huge problem,” he added.

Several complaints have also been lodged against Ghusal ghaana’s (facilities) not adhering to Covid 19 protocols, however Ebrahim said not all facilities can be painted with the same brush.

“There are places that are following protocol. I have spoken to the Environmental Health Department and they agree that it is not the facility that needs to follow protocol, but also the undertakers who must tackle the lead,” he stressed.

Pertaining to the cost of the Janaaza’s, Solomon stressed that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) still needs to be utilized, which means Janaaza’s are a bit pricey.

“Up until today, I still use PPE simply because I have a family to return to and I will not endanger them in anyway. We don’t know how the virus spreads, so we all do what we have to do to protect ourselves,” he concluded.

Solomon concluded that the burial space in Maitland, which was provided by the City of Cape Town, has eased the pressure as many burial sites are filled to capacity.

Written by: Loushe Jordaan Gilbert

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