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Manchester, St. Elizabeth officials say residents still breaching COVID protocols for burials

Iceval Brown, Councillor for the Grove Town Division in Manchester; Joel Myers of the Manchester Health Department; Everton Fisher, Councillor for the Balaclava Division in St. Elizabeth and Everald Lewis, Chief Public Health Inspector for St. Elizabeth
 
Two municipal corporations are reporting that residents are still breaching COVID-19 protocols during burials.
 
Councillors of the Manchester and St. Elizabeth Municipal Corporations say there is little or no physical distancing and the wearing of masks is limited.
 
Under the new regulations, funeral services have been prohibited islandwide.
 
Burials are permitted with 15 persons in attendance, comprising 10 mourners as well as the officiating clergy, funeral officials, and the persons preparing the grave site.
 
However, Iceval Brown, Councillor for the Grove Town Division in Manchester, at Thursday's monthly meeting of the municipal corporation, recounted the behaviour of attendees at a home burial on Sunday. 
 
"I think it is better for them to do church burials because what I observe is that they say 15 persons around the grave and when I look is about probably 100 people bundling up. I tried to talk to them 'til I'm hoarse, they wouldn't listen to me. Some came without mask and they scatter all over the place," she recalled. She said church burials would be better since there is usually stricter adherence to the physical distance and mask wearing protocols. 
 
Ms Brown said young people in particular have not been adhering to the protocols.
 
Joel Myers of the Manchester Health Department issued a strong warning to people attending burials. 
 
"Now look, with all respect for the dead and all good intent towards family - I know that people are really hurting and they want to do a send off (but) we could be sending off ourselves as well. So we stick with the strict protocols that the Ministry of Health is saying for burials. It's not a compromise. We shouldn't be keeping a thrill party or a sendoff party at the graveside," he urged.      
 
 
St. Elizabeth 
 
In the meantime, Everton Fisher, Councillor for the Balaclava Division in St. Elizabeth, in calling for closer monitoring of burials in the parish, said grave digging has now become a festive activity where COVID-19 protocols are not observed.
 
Speaking Thursday during the monthly meeting of the St. Elizabeth Municipal Corporation, Mr. Fisher suggested that the police and health department request a weekly listing of all burials so they can be monitored. 
 
"I still believe there are still too many persons coming in for the funerals from abroad that is causing much of the spread. I think the police will have to monitor those people coming in," he asserted. 
 
However, Everald Lewis, Chief Public Health Inspector for St. Elizabeth, noted that with Jamaica in a new phase of response to the pandemic, it is accepted that persons will continue to come in, but "we have always had dialogue with the police force as it relates to that." 
 
 


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