Not few Nigerians were surprised that a large number of mourners attended the burial ceremony of the late Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari in Abuja. The Janazah prayers at the Defence House, Maitama, lasted three minutes even as the body of the Kyari killed by coronavirus remained in the ambulance.
However, the large crowd at the Gudu Cemetry failed to observe the physical and social distancing policy of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, on the control of coronavirus. The NCDC on Saturday reiterated the need to “refrain from attending mass gatherings to prevent the further spread of COVID-19” after observing that the crowd gathered at the burial of Kyari failed to observe the basic rules.
The crowd had drawn criticism from some Nigerians on social media who wondered why the social distancing rule wasn’t being strictly applied at the burial.
Meanwhile, in a message posted on its Twitter handle, NCDC said its policy has not changed.
“Even at this time, as we mourn loved ones lost to COVID-19, including the recently deceased, President’s Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, we need to refrain from attending mass gatherings to prevent the further spread of #COVID19 Let us #StaySafe & protect each other,” the NCDC message read.
The health agency also referenced its published guidance “on ensuring safe and dignified burial” while preventing the spread of the deadly virus.
The NCDC guidelines says mourners may observe the dead body of an infected person “without touching the body at a minimum distance of 2 metres” and “in the event a ceremony is held, the number of attendees should be limited.”
“The ceremony should be held in a well-ventilated structure, attendees should be advised on social distancing throughout the event, ensuring practice of hand and respiratory hygiene,” the NCDC guidelines added.
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