[LISTEN] AVBOB confident that the funeral industry will cope with Covid-19 deaths

[LISTEN] AVBOB confident that the funeral industry will cope with Covid-19 deaths

AVBOB Funeral Parlour says the funeral industry has sufficient capacity to handle the exponential increase in Covid-19 related deaths.

Funeral generic

This comes as the country is experiencing a spike in Covid-19 cases and an increase in Covid-19 related deaths.

AVBOB General Manager for Funeral Services, Pieter van der Westhuizen, says the country is experiencing fewer deaths than the highs of the mid-2000s - when the HIV epidemic was at its peak.

“Based on the latest available census figures for deaths recorded, South Africa last year had about 3 300 fewer deaths each week than it had 15 years ago. Deaths caused by Covid-19 are still a long way off from this; in fact, the country has only now surpassed a total figure of 4 000 deaths since the pandemic hit the country," says van der Westhuizen.

He says the challenge will be when the additional deaths happen over a short period.

South Africa is expected to experience its peak in cases and related deaths until the middle of September.

However, Van der Westhuizen says AVBOB is closely tracking developments on a day-to-day basis to stay ahead of the curve and have

learnt much from what happened in the Western Cape where indications are that the spread of the pandemic is starting to level off.

“AVBOB, which by the end of June handled close to 25% of all deaths caused by Covid-19, initially converted seven shipping containers that were placed strategically in the Western and Eastern Cape. A further four containers were recently commissioned for conversion of which three will be shipped to Gauteng to offer further capacity.”

According to Van der Westhuize, each container takes 10 days from ordering, to converting it, to finally delivering it to where it is needed. Each container can hold 30 bodies.

Van der Westhuizen says they have been complying with the regulations given on funerals, but adds that it has been a challenge acquiring the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

"Getting personal protective equipment have been too expensive to obtain and not easily available and the three days turnaround time for burial has been a challenge for us as we have to get death certificates and do everything in a short time, which was also difficult for our customers," says van der Westhuizen.


Record increase in Covid-19 related deaths

The latest daily report by Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, shows that 216 people have died as a result of the virus, bringing the total number of deaths to 4 669. Gauteng has reported 86 deaths, while there were 46 new deaths in the Western Cape.

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