As COVID-19 deaths continue to rise throughout the country the availability of burial plots for victims in some public cemeteries in Central Trinidad is becoming very scarce.
In fact, at least one cemetery is almost filled to capacity.
During a visit to the St Mary’s Public Cemetery, off St Mary’s Junction in Carapichaima on Friday two COVID-19 funerals took place back to back of each other. However, Guardian Media was told by an official that these could be the last two burials for COVID victims in that cemetery as it had reached full capacity.
The St Mary’s Public Cemetery is just one of 19 cemeteries within the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation chosen to have designated areas for COVID burials. There are 32 cemeteries within the corporation.
That section, according to a document acquired from the Corporation, disclosed the designated area to be on the northeastern side of the Cemetery where 40 plots were allocated. In total, in the 19 COVID designated areas in the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo region, there were over 2,271 burial plots.
But, according to an employee at the Corporation, it has reached its capacity with just about 14 or 15 burials in that designated area at the St Mary’s Public Cemetery.
“This simply means that no more COVID funerals can take place here at St Mary’s because it does not have any more space and that is what the Corporation was told today (Friday),” the Corporation employee, who did not want to be identified for fear of victimisation, told Guardian Media.
Asked how the graves are identified and their depth, the employee explained that if no burial took place in a plot the gravediggers would dig the first grave at nine feet, “only after eight to ten years then a second body can be buried on that same plot but now at six feet. If it’s a COVID victim for burial the gave would have to be deeper.”
“So far I have not heard of any complaints or concerns of the COVID designated burial plots around St Mary’s and Bank Village (surrounding villages to the cemetery) but we are in keeping with strict guidelines from the corporation,” the employee added.
Chairman of the regional corporation, Henry Awong said so far his corporation is not worried about COVID burial sites running out. “So far I have not gotten any report with regards to space running out as a matter of fact each one of our cemeteries, most, we have designated an area for COVID burials. So far that is still operating it have not reached that point where we would have to be concerned.
“We checked through all our cemeteries when it now started and we designated areas for COVID burials in those that have the capacity to. So it have some cemeteries that we do not do COVID burials in because it was very limited at that time,” Awong added.