Overcrowding at funerals has continued to pose a challenge to efforts aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19 in Chipangali district.
And members of the District Epidemic Preparedness Committee have expressed concern with the practice that has continued despite the rising numbers of Covid-19 positive cases in the country.
Reformed Church in Zambia (RCZ) Reverend, Joseph Soko noted that the church was finding it difficult to tell people not to attend funerals in large numbers because of the tradition which was attached to those rites in the area.
Rev. Soko said there was so much tradition attached to funerals especially in rural areas, making it difficult to encourage people to gather in smaller numbers in order to protect themselves from contracting coronavirus.
Rev. Soko was speaking during the Covid-19 weekly update meeting held at Kasenga primary school in Chipangali district yesterday.
He observed that people did not even follow health guidelines of masking up, frequent washing of hands and observing social distancing.
“I wonder what can be done for one to lessen that. People have attached a lot of tradition to funerals and when you advise, you are told that you cannot prevent them from mourning their loved ones,” Rev Soko said.
And chairperson of the committee Peter Msimuko said according to health guidelines, only 50 people are supposed to attend a funeral but at village setup that is not being followed.
Mr. Msimuko, who is also Chipangali District Commissioner, has meanwhile appealed to churches to reduce preaching time at funeral services to allow people to disperse in good time.
“I am appealing to the church mother bodies to help share the message of reducing on preaching time so that people can go back to their homes in good time. This time around, funerals should not be avenues for showing how good you can preach where you spend a lot of time but should be brief so that you allow people to disperse,” he said.
He also challenged traditional leaders to help control the number of mourners at funerals if the district was to fight Covid-19 with consented effort.
Meanwhile, Chipangali Council Secretary John Mwanza said there was need for more sensitisation about Covid-19 in villages to make people understand and reduce the days of mourning.
Mr. Mwanza said some families mourn for more than five days as they waited for their relatives who could still be traveling long distances.
He observed that this puts those that are at the funeral house at risk of contracting coronavirus because of many people frequenting the place.