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Funerals Amid Coronavirus: How People Bid Final Farewell to Those Who Died From COVID-19 in Greece

© REUTERS / COSTAS BALTASA woman wears a protective face mask as she walks next to a church in Athens, Greece, March 17, 2020.
A woman wears a protective face mask as she walks next to a church in Athens, Greece, March 17, 2020. - Sputnik International
The first fatality in Greece from the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, was registered on 12 March, while over 400 people have been infected.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all stages of human life, including the funeral as strict measures to control the spread of the infection are applied to both those who died from the coronavirus and those who died for other reasons.

The coronavirus has resulted in a quarantine regime at all funerals in Greece, which, in the midst of the pandemic, are held privately, without a memorial meal, or keeping the deceased at home and other rituals as is often the case.

Funeral homes throughout the country have received instructions from the authorities regarding the procedure to be followed at the funeral of a person who dies from COVID-19.

Fanis Baboulas, the owner of funeral homes in several cities, including Thessaloniki, said that the body of a coronavirus victim must first be wrapped in a bag, and only then placed in a coffin.

"If a person dies from the coronavirus infection, their body is first wrapped in a bag, and then placed in a closed coffin, which is not be opened. The funeral and burial should take place in the cemetery with no more than five close relatives present," Mr Baboulas pointed out.

However, funerals of people who died for other reasons are also held under rather strict conditions, since the precautions to fight against the infection spread don’t allow crowds in houses, cemeteries and churches.

"Only the closest relatives can enter the church, from five to 10 people; all the rest should be on the street. There’re no memorial meals or farewells to the deceased," he said.

According to Mr Baboulas, funerals are no longer held as they were before the coronavirus. Over the past two days, his funeral home has organized two funerals, which were held with only very close relatives present.

"Two funerals took place yesterday and the day before yesterday. There were 9 people present at one funeral, and there were 14 relatives present at the other. The body of the deceased is not allowed to be in the house even for a short time. Everything is prohibited. The only thing that can be done is holding a ceremony (funeral service) in the church with a very small number of people present," Mr Baboulas added.

The funeral homeowner noted that the cost of funerals has fallen as no one organizes memorial meals.

As of 19 March, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Greece stood at 464, with six deaths.

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