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Funerals could be delayed as Covid-19 strains Western Cape pathologists

The Covid-19 pandemic has put Western Cape forensic pathology services under pressure. File photo.
The Covid-19 pandemic has put Western Cape forensic pathology services under pressure. File photo.
Image: Alon Skuy

Funerals could be delayed in the Western Cape as the provincial forensic pathology services (FPS) reel under the pressure of Covid-19.

This was revealed on Thursday by Ryan Clayton, acting director of pathology services in the province.

“FPS is currently experiencing high caseload admissions which is further impacted by a high staff Covid-19 infection rate. The Western Cape government health department requests that families remain patient should there be any case delays,” he said.

Clayton said FPS officials were going above and beyond the call of duty to alleviate the pressure on facilities in the Cape Town metropole caused by a high volume of cases. 

“We recognise that the time of bereavement is a stressful and difficult period. For this reason, we are doing everything we can to speed up but also streamline the process.”

Clayton explained the process followed during high-pressure periods. “Cases will be allocated, and autopsies performed in chronological order on identified cases first,” he said.

He urged bereaved families to ensure they provide the original identification document or driver’s licence of the deceased as well as their own.

“If your own documentation or that of the deceased is lost or stolen, please go to your SAPS investigating officer, who must accompany you to the facility to confirm the identification of both yourself and the deceased.

“In cases of sudden or unexpected death, all medical documentation/information regarding the deceased should be provided.

“If the deceased is under the age of 18, the 'road to health' chart (clinic card) of the child/infant should be supplied.

“As soon as the situation alleviates, we will revert to our long-standing practice of accommodating requests for whatever reason for prioritisation.”


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