Commotion erupted at Jabu graveyard in Phangwa Village in Nkhotakota on Wednesday, as angry villagers attacked health personnel who came to bury the body of a woman who had died of COVID-19 in the district.
At around 4 pm, the health personnel from the district hospital arrived at the graveyard for the burial. More than 70 villagers flocked to the scene in disbelief that the deceased died of COVID-19.
Women were seen shouting at the health officials accusing them of faking the death report that the woman died of COVID-19, saying the deceased had been going around hospitals with other complications for three years.
On Saturday last week, she was admitted to St. Anne’s Hospital with same those complications, they claimed.
Soon after the burial, health officials boarded their vehicles and sped off for their dear lives as angry community members started pelting stones at the ambulance and another vehicle that the health officials used.
In a telephone interview, Director of Health and Social Services, Wezzie Mumba confirmed that Nkhotakota District has registered its first COVID-19 death of a woman.
She said the deceased was a Nkhotakota resident who was tested positive at St. Annes Hospital on Tuesday, but could not comment on what happened at the graveyard during the burial, saying she was not part of the team that went to the village.
District Environmental Health Officer (DEHO), Chandiwira Jere, who was part of the burial team said: “Some women started chanting songs and some threw stones at our vehicle as we started off.
“If I heard them properly, they were thinking that the health personnel lied to them that the deceased died of COVOD-19,” he said.
The district hospital Public Relations Officer, Macdonald Chembedzi, said no health official was hurt during the fracas, but the windscreen of the ambulance was heavily smashed.
A cousin to the deceased, Precious Rabson who tried to calm the situation, said the community members were against the procedure of the hospital personnel to have the body buried without traditional arrangements and faking COVID-19 results.
Nkhotakota has so far registered 35 COVID-19 cases with nine recoveries and one death.