Zimbabwe government has declared that bodies of people who died outside the country will be treated as if they have the Covid-19 contagion and will be subjected to stringent vetting before being allowed into the country for burial.
Only those who died from accidents or other body injuries may be exempted.
With immediate effect, only one person will drive a hearse ferrying a body into the country.
Relatives may accompany the body up to the border where they will be quarantined for 21 days while the remains proceed for burial.
The drastic decision was announced by the Zimbabwe Consulate in South Africa.
South Africa, home to thousands of Zimbabweans, is one of the countries that have been seriously hit by the deadly virus in the continent as more than 3 500 have been infected.
In Zimbabwe 29 cases have been recorded so far including four deaths and two recoveries.
Zimbabweans who die in South Africa are mainly accompanied by friends and relatives home for burial.
In a statement on Tuesday, Zimbabwe’s Consul-General to South Africa Ms Melody Chaurura said the country, through the Ministry of Health and Child Care, had taken decisive measures to protect citizens from being exposed to Covid-19.
“All bodies being repatriated to Zimbabwe for burial will be treated as contagious except in cases where the cause of death is road accident, murder or other body injuries. Consequently, all such mortal remains will require clearance by the Ministry of Health and Child Care in Zimbabwe using the usual clearance channels,” she said.
“Relatives accompanying the remains will be subjected to 21 days mandatory quarantine at the designated points before proceeding to the funeral. (The same applies in cases where the body is transiting through Zimbabwe.) Only the driver of the hearse is allowed to proceed to the final place of burial in Zimbabwe and is required to return to South Africa immediately after burial,” said Ms Chaurura.
Ms Chaurura directed all funeral parlours to comply with the latest measures.
Under normal circumstances at least 60 bodies are brought into the country through Beitbridge Border Post weekly for burial.