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DUPS FULL AS COVID-19 DEATHS SURGE

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MANZINI – As the COVID-19 statistics surge, Dups Funeral Home and Crematorium is struggling to cope with the collection of corpses from clinics and homesteads.

Chief Operations Officer (COO) at United Holdings (UH) Ltd, Mzingaye Ndlovu, said the spurt in the positive cases had a heavy impact on the company’s operations as it was now full.

United Holdings (UH) Limited is an Associate of Dups Holdings Ltd.

Ndlovu said the funeral parlour’s storage capacity was slightly over 100 bodies; however, due to the increase in the number of people succumbing to COVID-19-related illnesses daily, they had stretched their resources and could no longer afford to meet the demand.

He said this was a global pandemic and no country had planned for it. Ndlovu said: “We can no longer collect corpses from homesteads and clinics as the rate in which deaths are occurring is too high.”

Overwhelmed 

He said the company was overwhelmed just like public health facilities. Ndlovu said they were already engaging with relevant stakeholders in government on how best to deal with the situation as the high number of deaths was resulting in the company having to dig deep into its coffers as well.

“Availing human resource for funerals of people who died due to COVID-19-related illnesses has become a public service.”

Ndlovu said this was because government was not providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to them.

 This, he said, meant that they had to dig deep into their coffers and procure the disposable suits.

He acknowledged that government availed disposable gloves; however, Ndlovu said they were minimal as within a day, the funeral parlour’s personnel used over 700 pairs.

“In light of this, we are assisting government where we can, but the cost is too high.”

Despite the precautionary measures the personnel of Dups Funeral Home take when engaging in their duties, Ndlovu said a substantive number of their staff members had contracted the virus while rendering their services. 

This, he said, had compromised their turnaround time in terms of dealing with the demand of the facility.  “We buy PPE for our personnel to make sure that they are not exposed while rendering their services.”

Worth noting is that the challenges reported by Dups Funeral Home came against the backdrop of 227 deaths as of Saturday, January 3, 2021. 

This is a 105 increment from the 122 deaths that were recorded from March 13, 2020 until the end of November last year. 

Surge 

Also, this publication last Thursday reported that the Ministry of Health was under strain following the surge in COVID-19 infections. Principal Secretary (PS) Dr Simon Zwane said the country was currently under strain for beds and oxygen at the medical facilities treating people who had tested positive for the coronavirus.

He said there was a strain for space for beds to accommodate severely critical and critical patients. Dr Zwane said:“There is currently no space for these beds at the Lubombo Referral Hospital and at the Luke Commission at Sidvokodvo.” 

Furthermore, he said the ministry’s facilities were consuming about 700 cylinders of 10.2 kilogrammes of oxygen per day; which was a first for the country.

The PS said two companies came forth to assist government when the pandemic started as they doubled their production and started supplying them day and night as a response for the need of oxygen; however, this was not sufficient. According to the guidelines for treating COVID-19, oxygen is recommended for adults with the virus and acute hypoxemic respiratory failure despite conventional oxygen therapy, the panel recommended high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) oxygen over non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (NIPPV) (BI).

Dr Zwane further said there was a strain on human resource as some responders on the ground had tested positive for COVID -19. He said while the first responders were recovering, the human resource dealing with the surge came under pressure as they were already stretched. Given these challenges, Dr Zwane said: “We can’t say we are ready for the virus, but we are doing the best we can to respond to it.” He said currently, the ministry was seeking authority from relevant authorities in government to recruit 70 personnel to fill vacant positions. Recently, the ministry had said there was a need for 700 employees to deal with its human resource shortfall.

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