Association of Funeral Professionals of TT president Keith Belgrove says his members are expected to meet Ministry of Health officials this week to finalise a guideline for funeral homes to treat with the covid19 pandemic.
Belgrove told Newsday the chapel at his and other funeral homes remain open but would only allow ten people at any one time. Those attending must also ensure they use the sanitising stations available.
But Belgrove said while funeral homes can control what happens at their chapels, they have no such control at cemeteries or cremation sites.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said there is no evidence that corpses pose a risk of epidemic diseases, and most agents do not survive long in the human body after death. However, funeral operators have been urged to exercise universal precautions when handling blood and body fluids.
Guidelines have also been given with respect to cemeteries and burials advising that graveyards should be at least 30 metres from groundwater sources used for drinking, that grave floors must be at least 1.5 m above the water table, and that surface water from graveyards must not enter inhabited areas.
With the spread of the virus not slowing down, government has taken drastic measures to protect citizens including limiting the number of people congregating in public places, including at churches.
In situations where the numbers exceed what is specified, Belgrove said, “We have instructed our staff that they must at all time practise social distancing. We have a responsibility to ourselves, our staff, our clients and our community, so we will remind and encourage them to observe the protocols.
“But largely, people are cooperating. We don’t anticipate that we would have any serious problems.”
He said he thinks the government’s daily updates and appeal for people to make the best decisions about their own welfare and that of the country have helped people to corporate.
Asked if the police had to intervene at any overpopulated funerals in Point Fortin, mayor Kennedy Richards Jr said, “Point Fortin people are a disciplined people. All of the churches have suspended services and have switched to a more online function. But in terms of funerals and congregating at the cemeteries, this is something we would be monitoring.”
Belgrove said, “As a country I think we are doing fine. We have had no covid19 deaths and I hope it remains this way.”
But he said the association has prepared a guideline for all funeral homes based on local and international best practice, guidelines which are awaiting the endorsement of the Health Ministry.