Over the past three weeks, the Maitland Crematorium recorded its highest number of cremations since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, reaching up to 250 cremations per week, the City of Cape Town said in a statement on Tuesday.
“This has been consistently high since the beginning of the second wave and the facility will remain operating at maximum capacity for approximately three more weeks,” the City said.
According to the City, the Maitland Crematorium is experiencing an “exceptionally high” demand for cremations as a result of the second wave.
The crematorium is operating at full capacity, but due to the volume, it may experience delays in having ashes available for collection.
“The demand for cremations is almost three times more than before the pandemic. Although burials still remain high, this is on a downward trend, with 500 the past week.
“While this is good news, the bad news is that people use it as an opportunity to relax health protocols and forgo wearing masks and regular hand washing.
“The possibility of further waves is real and we cannot allow ourselves to be caught off guard,” said the City’s mayoral committee member for community services and health Zahid Badroodien.
The City adds that it has considered and implemented options to further increase capacity at the crematorium, which includes extended operating hours, installing additional temporary storage capacity, and seeking authorisation from the Provincial Air Emissions Authority to operate the older cremators at the facility.
The City anticipates that, with the additional capacity available for use from this week onwards, more cremations will be processed daily to ease the backlog and alleviate pressure on the system.
It further notes that the high demand is still exceeding the capacity of the facility and the crematorium will be unable to meet the normal 72-hour turnaround time, which is the normal standard for cremations.
“We recorded 49 funerals at Maitland on Saturday and I want to encourage families to consider alternative days as this will ease congestion.
“Adhere to the protocols, so we can ensure the safety of all our loved ones,” Badroodien concluded.