The decision by the Siaya county emergency response committee to rope in politicians to stop attending funerals as a way of curbing community spread of the Covid-19 seems to be bearing fruit as former prime minister, Raila Odinga and other politicians skipped the burial of his uncle in Alego / Usonga.
Local residents who had thronged Magwar village in South East Alego location in anticipation that the former prime minister would attend the burial of his maternal uncle, Peter Odima, left a dejected lot when they learnt that neither Raila, his brother Dr Oburu Odinga nor former Gem MP, Jakoyo Midiwo would attend the funeral in conformity with the Covid-19 protocols.
Instead, the former premier was represented by Siaya deputy governor, Dr James Okumbe who called on the Siaya residents to take seriously the ministry of health protocols on Covid 19, adding that the virus was taking a toll on the locals.
Dr. Okumbe said that of late, the county government and the emergency response committee has been working round the clock to figure out the best way to contain the rising numbers of those testing positive of the deadly virus.
“Yesterday, 74 people tested positive as 22 people are recorded to have lost their lives in the last two months due to the virus in Siaya County,” said the deputy governor.
He said that the scourge was taking a toll on Siaya and urged the local residents to take the government protocols seriously.
“Our positivity rate now is 32% while nationally it is 10%. As a county, we fluctuate between positions three to 10 in terms of the top counties with high infection rates. I urge our people to be cautious,” said the deputy governor.
On Friday, Siaya county emergency response committee declared funerals out of bounds for politicians and other leaders as a measure of containing the spread of Covid 19 in the county.
The decision, Siaya County Commissioner Mohammed Barre said, has been necessitated by the fact that funeral gatherings are the single foremost challenge in the enforcement of the ministry of health protocols.
The county commissioner lamented that the presence of politicians has seen many people converge in funeral sites hence putting lives of locals and visitors at risk.
“We are pleading with our leaders that much as we love you and you also love us, we do not wish to see you visit funerals. We do not want you there,” said Barre.
Barre told local leaders to stop taking advantage of the bereaved families’ financial situations as an excuse to visit their home in the name of assisting them, adding that with the current technology, the assistance can be sent electronically.
“Yes, our people want assistance but there are many ways of assisting. You can send money through the phone or send somebody and visit the family quietly later,” said the county commissioner.
The late Peter Odima, suspected to have died of Coronavirus, was buried in a ceremony that was restricted to close family members and a few local leaders, among them immediate former police spokesman, Charles Owino and university don Dr. Kut Ochogo.
Security was tight in the village as the police locked out the villagers and other busy bodies who could not be identified by the family.
By Philip Onyango