By: PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
An Akwa Ibom based medical practitioner, Dr. Ita Udosen has advised the State Taskforce on COVID-19 to relax the lockdown order on burials in the state in order to avoid what he described as “Epidemic in Pandemic”.
Dr. Ita Udosen who is the Medical Director of Alma Clinic & Surgery in Uyo, and a Public Commentator on Health Matters stated this in press statement made available to the Journalists in the state.
He noted that before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of persons have died from natural causes which many of them would have been buried within the period but were not due to the lockdown order that retrained burials among other ceremonies and gatherings in the state.
Following the lockdown order, Dr. Udosen observed that most mortuaries in the state lacked space to take in more human bodies for preservation and storage.
Also with the interstate borders closure, the challenge of no supply of Formaldehyde (Formalin Solution) used by local morticians for dry embalmment of human remains to Akwa Ibom, whereas they depend on supply of this chemical from outside the state constitute threat to another epidemic if the lockdown on burials is not relaxed immediately in the state.
The Medical Expert pointed out that with the increase numbers of dead bodies from natural causes, mortuaries in the state are congested while some may begin to decompose, called for immediate attention to arrest the another epidemic amidst COVID-19 pandemic.
“In this piece I want to draw the attention of the State Taskforce on Covid-19 to seriously consider the relaxing the lockdown order on burials in the state. A lot of individuals died from natural causes before and during this pandemic period. From available statistic, most of the mortuaries in the state are filled to capacities and some do not have spaces any more to take in more human bodies for preservation and storage.
“It is important to note here that about 95% of the mortuaries in the state use dry embalmment method to preserve human remains. Health facilities in both public and private sectors do not have up to three refrigerated mortuaries as at today. The dry embalmment of human remains uses Formaldehyde (Formalin Solution) which is not produced anywhere within the state. Every mortician in the state depends on supply from outside the state. With the interstate borders completely closed, this solution is not easily available in the state for use by our local morticians. Thus human remains preservation and safe storage is facing a very serious challenge.
“This challenge coupled with mounting numbers of dead bodies from natural causes, the mortuaries across the state are fast overwhelmed and some of the bodies may start decomposing, setting a stage for epidemic of some sort in this pandemic period, Dr Udosen stated.
To this end, he called on the State COVID-19 Taskforce to bury any Covid-19 human remains immediately according to the NCDC guidelines or protocol.
Similarly, he asked for relaxation of the burial lockdown order on none Covid-19 corpses in a guided manner, stressing, “Every weekend (Friday and Saturday) one local government per Senatorial District (i.e three local governments areas in the state per weekend) should be selected in turns and allowed to carry out burials under strict compliance with compulsory face mask use, social and physical distancing protocols. Such burials should be monitored by local government Covid-19 Enforcement Committees to be set up by the respective local government areas.
“If this protocol is adopted and implemented, mortuaries in the state will be decongested and the possibility of a new Epidemic emanating from these mortuaries as result of decomposed human remains occasioned by lack of preservative solutions and other constrains will be nipped at the bud.
“It would be dangerous if we continue to stop burials in the state”, he added.