About 10km from Sg Buloh Hospital, the treatment facility for patients with severe Covid-19, a Muslim cemetery in Kg Merbau Sempak is rapidly filling up with the bodies of victims of the disease.
It is where 51-year-old gravedigger Mohd Rahim Talib carries out the unenviable task of burying the dead.
Yet unlike municipal grave-diggers, who were vaccinated against the virus in the first phase of the national immunisation campaign, Rahim, a gravedigger for 35 years, said he is still waiting for shots.
“Although I have recently received an appointment date for vaccination, there are many village gravediggers like me, the last handlers of Covid-19 victims, who are still waiting to be inoculated,” he said.
Fellow gravedigger Mat Nor Saibani Bunari, 54, is still waiting for his appointment.
Mat Nor said he was afraid to handle the Covid-19 bodies at first, but has grown accustomed to it after having to deal with it daily.
Rahim said the gravediggers live in fear of infection, not only for themselves but their families at home.
This is despite the Health Ministry’s guidance on how they can protect themselves from the coronavirus. Rahim said officials are present at Covid-19 burials to ensure health protocols, such as the correct employment of personal protective equipment, are followed.
Still, he said the risk of infection remains as long as one is unvaccinated.
Rahim hopes the government will speed up vaccination, especially for village gravediggers. - June 10, 2021.