Europe's largest Muslim cemetery warns all funeral attendees may be barred as coronavirus deaths increase

Europe's largest Muslim cemetery warns all funeral attendees may be barred as coronavirus deaths increase
2 min read
02 April, 2020
The Gardens of Peace cemetery in London has said that amid a backlog of burials, it has had to impose stricter rules and consider burying multiple bodies in single plots.
Muslim funeral rites have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic [Getty/ Archive]
Britain and Europe's largest Muslim cemetery has warned that coronavirus infections among staff are threatening operations at the burial site, which has stepped up efforts to deal with new deaths caused by the pandemic.

The Gardens of Peace cemetery, located in east London, issued a statement on Wednesday warning that greater precautions need to be taken to ensure that the burial ground can continue running. 
"A number of our cemetery staff have become ill. We absolutely must control staff infection to continue to provide a burial service to the community," a post on the burial site's official Facebook page read on Wednesday.

"The alternative will be to close the cemetery, which is unacceptable," the statement continued, adding that funerals will be limited to five attendees only.

The statement reiterated government guidance on self isolation for those displaying symptoms of the Covid-19 illness, as well as warning that failure to adhere to instructions could result in funerals being barred from proceeding.

Located on the outskirts of Britain's capital, the cemetery has faced increased pressure as the novel coronavirus continues to claim lives in the UK.

As of Thursday evening, Britain's death toll from illnesses related to the virus stood at 2,961, with over 33,000 confirmed infections.

Among those who have succumbed to the virus in the UK are six National Health service workers, five of whom were Muslim doctors who had migrated to the country.

Read also: 13-year-old British Muslim boy who 'died alone' becomes youngest UK Covid-19 victim

Amid fears that the UK's death toll from the virus will dramatically increase, the Gardens of Peace burial ground warned that stricter measures may need to be taken in the future, including barring all attendees from funerals.

"We already have a backlog of burials and as we all know, the number of deaths is expected to increase," the statement said.

"We therefore expect circumstances to be such that we may have to consider the drastic step of not allowing anyone to enter the cemetery for the burial of their loved ones and we may also have to undertake multiple burials in a grave."

The new measures implemented by the burial site reflect a broader trend around the world of Muslim religious authorities having to adapt traditional funeral rites to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

In some places, traditional religious rites like washing and shrouding the bodies of the deceased have been suspended by clerics in order to decrease the chances of the virus being transmitted.

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