Risky undertaking for funeral service workers


  • Nation
  • Friday, 01 May 2020

IPOH: Undertakers do not come to mind when one mentions frontliners, but they face risks doing their jobs in the essential services category.

Ipoh Casket and Funeral Undertakers Sdn Bhd’s service manager M. Gunasagary, 45, said death could happen at any day, or any time.

In the cycle of life, there will be death everyday from a myriad of reasons, including old age, terminal illnesses and accidents.

“We have to be on standby at all times and head to the hospital the moment we get a call to handle funeral arrangements.

“There was once we went to a mortuary, where a Covid-19 patient had passed away, and my staff were present there.

“Despite ensuring all of us wear masks, gloves and use hand sanitisers, the fear is still there, as we are exposed to such viruses, especially at hospitals, mortuaries and crematoriums, ” she said.

Gunasagary added that each time a body inside a casket was sent to the crematorium or the funeral parlour, their van would be sanitised and the staff immediately sent home to shower.

She said that their showroom as well as their funeral parlour was sanitised once a week.

She added that all her 15 staff took turns to work, as part of the social distancing procedure.

In Kota Kinabalu, owner of 3M Popular Undertaker Services, Datuk Protasius J Mukiau, said being in the industry, it was their duty to make sure that the dead were taken care of properly before the burial.

“We know about this virus and the risks involved, especially when we have to handle Covid-19 cases, ” said the 76-year-old.

He said following the pandemic and the MCO, undertakers were required to take training courses to handle bodies, especially if they had to come into contact with Covid-19 victims during this period.

Protasius said from one of the four Covid-19 deaths in Sabah, they had handled the one in Tambunan.

“We were supplied with personal protection equipment and we had to send the body straight for burial without allowing the families to see the face or touch the body for the last time, ” he said,

His staff always made sure they followed all the necessary safety and hygiene procedures before entering their office, when at work and after work.

Protasius said the worry was always at the back of their minds, but they try their best to prevent themselves from contracting any work-related illness by sticking to standard operating procedures.

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