HomeNewsCOVID-19 tests delay collection of bodies

COVID-19 tests delay collection of bodies

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BY PHYLLIS MBANJE

RELATIVES of deceased persons at public hospitals are waiting for longer to collect their loved ones as authorities battle to negotiate bottlenecks in COVID-19 testing.

It is now mandatory to test bodies for COVID-19 and because of backlogs at testing laboratories, bodies are being held up in the mortuaries and only released after the results have been released.

One family told NewsDay of the horrific experience they endured as they tried to get the body of a deceased relative certified.

“Doctors are even certifying the dead from the car. I have an uncle who died recently and we moved from one hospital to another trying to get him certified,” a family member said.

Recently, an audit at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals revealed that there were delays in collection of bodies and relatives at times had to wait longer for the COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results.

A doctor at the institution said the issue was on coronavirus tests on bodies, whose results are delaying the process.

“Relatives then complain because of the delay in getting the bodies released,” the doctor said.

Commenting on certifying from the car, the source said that had nothing to do with coronavirus or the mortuary being full.

“These days, doctors are seeing patients first from a tent outside casualty, where they are screened whether to go to green or red zone. So, patients who can’t sit on benches in the tent can be seen in their cars. So, if a patient in the car is already dead, nothing can be done except certifying the death,” he said.

Speaking on the matter, Sally Mugabe Central Hospital clinical director Christopher Pasi said it was public knowledge that the turnaround time for COVID-19 PCR results took longer, thus creating a bottleneck for decision-making for live and deceased
persons.

“There is a possibility to bury under environmental health department guidelines without the result if antemortem symptoms were highly suggestive of a respiratory illness. However, most families would rather wait for the results. This is because of the African socio-cultural beliefs around death,” he said.

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