Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health/Social Development
The Ministry of Health and Social Development has instituted COVID-19 Burial Protocols to support families who have the difficult task of burying loved ones who died from the disease. The protocols were designed to allow families to safely grieve while honouring their loved ones and at the same time keeping all residents of the Territory safe.
According to the guidelines for burials in the context of COVID-19 issued by the ministry and the Health Emergency Operations Centre, only immediate family members (mother, father, siblings, children, spouse) are allowed to view the deceased. There will be no public viewing at any church, sanctuary or funeral chapel. Viewings for immediate family will only take place at the funeral home and family members will not be allowed to make physical contact with the deceased.
After viewing, the body of the deceased would be taken directly to the grave site for immediate burial. Any service in memory of the deceased can be held after, while bearing in mind the Public Health (COVID-19 Control and Suppression Measures) Order 2021, which limits all gatherings to one person per sixty-four square feet and shall not exceed 25 persons at any given time.
The Ministry of Health has also advised that organisers of the funeral are to ensure that all safety measures are met, and that personal protective equipment, namely face masks are always worn by attendees. They are also encouraged to record the names and contact details of all in attendance so that this information can be used for contact tracing if necessary.
The guidelines for burials in the context of COVID-19 was created in consultation with key stakeholders including the Coroner’s Office, Civil Registry, the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, the Department of Disaster Management and the Health Emergency Operations Centre – Unified Command Centre.
The team at the Ministry of Health and Social Development expresses sincere condolences to the families who have lost loved because of COVID-19.
The public is encouraged to stay healthy and remain safe as we continue to live with COVID-19! Remember, we will get through this together.
The Government of the Virgin Islands is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of the people of the Virgin Islands.