Avbob, a 102–year-old funeral home, has roped in 11 mobile mortuaries in preparation for the unknown – ahead of the Covid-19 peak.
“We are the largest funeral home in South Africa. We are more than 100 years old and, with experience, we have dealt with many pandemics,” Gauteng’s area manager for Funeral Services Vusi Dladla told News24 on Wednesday.
“For now, there is no sign of panic. What we are currently doing is back up – we are preparing ourselves for the worst. There is no panic at this point in time,” he added.
The funeral home has distributed mobile mortuaries in Gauteng, Limpopo, Western Cape and the Eastern Cape, while two are still in the manufacturing process.
The mobile mortuary can take up to 30 bodies and the law requires that a Covid-19 funeral be conducted within three days, according to the funeral home.
“There is dignity in these mortuaries; it is a storage in our premises to preserve the body, in terms of the washing and dressing, that process is done in the private space. The dignity is there,” Dladla added.
This comes as the country has breached 5 000 Covid-19 related deaths nationally.
As of Wednesday, 23 July, the country had 394 948 cases and 5 940 deaths.
According to Avbob, 5 000 is not a large figure. The funeral home has seen higher mortality rates in other pandemics experienced in the country in the past.
“In 2005, when we had the HIV/Aids pandemic, there was a significant spike in the number of deaths at the time and we were able to manage the production that came through 2020.
“We are at a point of [not knowing] what is going to happen, but we are preparing for what possibly may come,” he explained.
Avbob’s spokesperson Marius du Plessis added that, currently, the supply outweighs the demand – but “it would be foolish not to prepare for the expected spike”.
“We have decided that we need to be prepared for a spike in certain areas, for that reason we created these mobile mortuaries, a shipping container that has been converted into a mortuary and can be transported via road.
“It would be foolish not to be prepared for the expected spike, but right now the supply outweighs the demand,” he said.