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Coronavirus: Egypt health ministry to oversee burial of pandemic victims after protest

Government-run ambulance services will now take over of the burial process of Covid-19 victims after hearses started refusing to carry bodies
A family takes a walk while wearing face masks in the upscale neighbourhood of Zamalek in Cairo on 12 April (Reuters)

Egypt's health minister has tasked state-run ambulances with transporting the bodies of those who died of coronavirus to burial places after multiple incidents of locals and funeral hearses refusing to carry the dead and carry out burials. 

Hala Zayed's decision comes after residents of the Nile Delta village of Shubra al-Bahou refused to bury a deceased doctor out of fear that the funeral might lead to the spread of the infection, staging a protest outside the cemetery to reject the burial. 

The protesters said they feared the virus could spread if the 64-year-old woman was interred there. 

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Police dispersed the protest with tear gas and arrested dozens. 

According to health ministry spokesman Khaled Mogahed, Zayed instructed the Egyptian Ambulance Organisation on Sunday to be in charge of carrying the bodies of those who died from Covid-19 in order to prevent a repeat of Saturday’s incident. 

The minister has also instructed the Preventive Medicine Department to supervise the burial process.

Mogahed said that bodies of those who died of Covid-19 were not contagious “if all preventive measures are applied”.

The coronavirus pandemic has so far killed 159 people in Egypt and infected at least 2,065 people, according to an official tally released on Sunday.

Despite widespread concern over the risk posed by the bodies of those who died from the virus, the US government’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated there is "no known risk associated with being in the same room at a funeral or visitation service with the body of someone who died of Covid-19".

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