Limpopo Health MEC, Dr Phophi Ramathuba has warned that funerals were the number one reason for the uncontrollable rising numbers of Covid-19 infections in the province. The province has recently been experiencing a sharp spike in new infections, from nearly 400 two weeks ago to more than 2 500 as of Sunday since the deadly Delta variant was detected last week.
Ramathuba added that funerals were definitely super-spreaders because people attended in large numbers and did not comply with regulations.
“Funerals are super-spreaders because there is no control. You can’t avoid people comforting each other when they are crying and so that’s how it’s spread. We also hang around after the funerals for ’after tears’. This might sound a little insensitive, but I keep saying no one will die if you have not attended their funeral, but someone might die if you attend a funeral, because that’s where the spreading of this disease takes place,” she said.
According to Ramathuba, funerals are rife in the province because the families of people who died in Gauteng wanted them buried at home, which was mostly in Limpopo.
“Most of the people who work in Gauteng don’t necessarily come from that province. Most are just there for work. Their homes are in the other provinces like Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the North West. This province is already in the third wave and we knew that the third wave was close to us because it was already in Gauteng,” said Ramathuba.
She was referring to the exodus of people leaving Gauteng to visit their homes in Limpopo at weekends.
“If you look at the N1 north every Friday, you will see traffic of cars going home to visit, and vice versa on Sunday … and the reasons vary from attending a funeral or just visiting home,” Ramathuba said.
She urged people to refrain from catering at funerals, saying this was another reason for the virus spreading rapidly.
“When people are catered for at funerals, they take off their masks so they can eat. They then forget and converse, and that’s where they infect each other,” she said.
Makhado, which is in between Polokwane and Thohoyandou in the Vhembe District, has recently been identified as a Covid-19 hot spot in the province, with villages hosting funerals on a daily basis. The Waterberg District and Thulamela Municipality in the Vhembe District have already reached the peak of the second wave, with the provincial capital drawing closer to the peak every day.
Ramathuba warned against the Delta variant.
“It is dangerous and highly transmutable because it catches even the young people … and if you want something to spread fast and go viral, give it to young people. They will spread it quickly,” she said.