COVID-19 burial at Awudome does not pose any health risk

The burial of persons who die of infectious diseases including COVID-19 at Awudome Cemetery in Accra does not pose any public health risk to inhabitants nearby, Mr Benson Owusu, a public health specialist has said.

Mr Owusu, who is also a lecturer at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Central University said once environmental health officers in charge of the internment strictly follow World Health Organisation (WHO) protocol, there should not be any cause for alarm.

“Whether the [Infectious disease burial site] is outside of the main town or not, the most important thing is to adhere to standard protocol”, he said in an interview with The Ghanaian Times yesterday.

The interview was on the back of concerns that part of the Awudome Cemetery, which is located between Kwame Nkrumah Circle and Kaneshie, shared boundaries with some companies was being used as an infectious disease burial site.

The cemetery was designated about five years ago for the burial of persons who died of cholera and tuberculosis after the previous cemetery at mile 11 was encroached on by developers.

But according to Mr. Owusu, the deceased persons could be buried at the outskirt of the town but could still create a public health concern if they were not properly laid to rest.

“But if the site is within the town in a confined area with adherence to protocols we are good to go”, he said.

Some of the WHO protocols, he said, included the classification of the bodies based on the severity of infection, the use of special disinfection, and specification of the distance between the burial site and residents.

Mr. Owusu said the fears of inhabitant could have been prevented if city authorities had educated on such issues and thus called on the government to initiate steps to create awareness and allay fears.

According to the public health specialist, the citizenry should rather be concerned about how they handled the bodies of relatives who died at home because it would be an avenue to spread the virus if the person had it.

He also called on the COVID-19 case management team to ensure that all persons who died of the virus were buried in the same manner irrespective of their reputation in society.

The Head of the Public Health Directorate of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) Mrs. Florence Kuukyi in an interview with the Ghanaian Times last week said the infectious disease site was 300 meters away from residents and would not cause any health problem.

As of that time, she said, about 30 persons had been buried with more families registering their deceased relatives for burial. As of yesterday, the country had recorded 122 deaths out of 20,085 cases.

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