JUST IN: Health experts raise concern over Abba Kyari’s burial


As Abba Kyari, the deceased chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari is to be buried today, health professionals have expressed worry over the burial rites.

POLITICS NIGERIA earlier reported how Mr Kyari, from Borno State, died of COVID-19, the deadly respiratory contracted by millions globally, on Friday midnight. Recall that he was first tested positive for the virus on March 23 and moved to a private medical facility in Lagos for treatment afterwards.

He was admitted to a private hospital in Ikoyi until his death. Sequel to the demise of its aide, the presidency has commenced burial plans in earnest in line with Islamic provisions.

Meanwhile, health professionals have opined that the corpse should be disposed in line with the guidelines for the disposal of people who died of an infectious disease. The President of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Adeniji Abdulrafiu, who spoke with POLITICS NIGERIA on Saturday, stated that the government should make necessary arrangements to prevent a health hazard.

“The government has policy on everything–both the case definition, treatment and how to determine who is free or is not free. The government has every apparatus if anybody dies anywhere. The most important thing that is very critical is that the corpse does not constitute any health hazard to any person. The responsibility is that of the government.”

“They must do what it is necessary to ensure that Nigerian citizens are safe,” He restated. Also, an epidemiologist from the United States of America, David Lilienfeld, advised that the federal government should ensure that the burial is done to minimize exposure of others to the pandemic.

“There’s data I think it was from Italy that bodies remain infectious after death. The Jewish community there was concerned enough that they said if the authorities required cremation, then cremation was OK,” He cited.
Cremation is the process of burning a corpse to ashes.

“Basically, whichever route minimizes exposure is the one to be followed. This is about preserving life and minimizing sequelae,” He wrote in response to an enquiry sent by our correspondent.

According to the guidelines for the Management of Deceased Individuals Harbouring Infectious Disease, prepared by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), infectious diseases in the living are potentially a
greater hazard than such diseases in the dead.

“The adoption of Standard Precautions, the use of appropriate protective clothing and the observance of Health and Safety regulations, are the most important elements in the prevention of infection in both the living and the dead.”

It was stated that an infectious death which takes place in a healthcare setting, like Kyari’s, should be disposed following some procedures which include that: he must be placed in a body bag prior to transportation to the mortuary; hygienic preparation includes washing of the face and hands, closing the mouth and eyes, tidying the hair and in some cases shaving the face; the funeral director should remove any implanted medical devices, eg pacemakers or defibrillators and many others.

Meanwhile, the presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu had announced that Mr Kyari’s remains had arrived in Abuja from Lagos. He will be received by friends and cabinet colleagues at the airport in Abuja from where he will later be taken to a cemetery in the nation’s capital for burial, Mr Shehu said.

The burial will not be made open in compliance with the existing social distancing directive aimed at curbing the spread of the deadly virus. All efforts to get the reaction of Emeka Oguanuo, the Spokesperson of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) proved abortive as he failed to respond to POLITICS NIGERIA’s enquiries.

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