There was uproar weekend in Enerhen town in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State over plans to bury a man who allegedly died of COVID-19.
The deceased was receiving treatment at the Delta State University Teaching Hospital (DELSUTH), Oghara, isolation/treatment centre. The deceased (name withheld), hailed from Ikorodu in Lagos State, reportedly died two days ago at the Oghara treatment centre where he had been receiving treatment. The deceased COVID-19 patient, a retired NNPC staff, was alleged to have instructed his family to bury him at his residence located at Ekpiwhre Drive in Enerhen community upon death.
But shortly after the news of his death went round town, angry community youths converged, insisting that the deceased must not be buried in the community. The community youths held the notion that it was against their traditions for a stranger to be buried in the community let alone a COVID-19 patient.
A community youth, who simply identified himself as Obaro, said the people of the community have vowed not to allow the burial to take place. The deceased is believed to be in his 60s and was married to an Urhobo woman and had been living in the area for years. Sources added that the family of the deceased had also reportedly secured the permission of the Catholic Church in the area for the interment.
It was, however, not clear if officials of the state government and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have released the corpse of the deceased to the family for burial. It was gathered that the family had reportedly dug the grave where the COVID-19 patient would be buried. They also pointed out that the development was also against the NCDC guidelines for the burial of coronavirus victims. The youths are threatening to take laws into their hands if nothing is urgently done by the state government about development.
“The man died two days ago at the isolation/treatment centre in Oghara. He is a former NNPC staff that is married to an Urhobo woman. The community has been boiling since morning when we got the information that the man who died of COVID-19 is to be buried in the community,” one of the community youths said.
“In the first place, it’s against our traditions for strangers to be buried in the community. Secondly, this is a man that was reported to have died of COVID-19. We won’t allow this to happen here. He should be taken to Ikorodu in Lagos State where he hails from.
“The excuse they are going is that, the man before now told the family that when he dies, he should be buried here. We are calling on the state government not to release the corpse for them to bury here. He should be taken home or a cemetery for burial.”
Efforts to speak with the commissioner for health, Dr. Mordi Ononye proved abortive as calls and text message sent to him were not picked nor replied as of the time of filing this report. Similar efforts to speak with Uvwie Council chairman, Ramson Onoyake, were also not successful as his telephone lines were said to be switched off.
Repeated efforts to speak with the family of the deceased were also not successful at the time of filing this report.