Coffins being shipped in bulk as deaths rise


Tribune Chief Reporter


THERE is “exponential” demand for more caskets due to a higher intake of remains at funeral homes amid increased deaths from COVID-19.

According to Funeral Directors Association President Kirsch Ferguson yesterday, while larger funeral homes now mark their intake at around 30 to 40 bodies a week, smaller companies say they are taking in roughly five to seven — double what the demand was months ago.

This has meant that in recent weeks funeral homes have had to order bulk shipments of caskets, he said.

The industry is also grappling with casket shortages and rising costs, which are also being transferred onto families.

 Caskets are primarily sourced from the United States, which also has a high number of COVID-19 deaths. Funeral directors are oftentimes unable to fulfill orders as homes in the US have taken first priority over exports.

 Mr Ferguson spoke candidly yesterday of the challenges facing local funeral homes, giving a sobering view of how the virus has led to more and more deaths in the country.

 “At this present time,” he said, “I would say we are requiring almost double the number of caskets because (of) the death rate as you see right now, and then most Bahamian families, they do consider cremation but it’s not a primary option for Bahamian families.

 “While cremation is still being done, they are still having funeral services followed by cremation, so the need of a casket is still in high demand and that increase has been exponentially increased over the past few months.”

 He also said: “We’ve been consistently seeing up to five to seven bodies come in per week in most mortuaries. Obviously, the larger firms are doing 30 to 40 bodies per week coming in and then also there is still a backlog at the morgue so that number changes from week to week in terms of bodies being released and deaths occurring at wards and in homes.”

 This has translated to funeral homes having to make extra provisions for the storage of remains.

 Mr Ferguson also said the industry is grappling with a supply chain issue.

 “Unfortunately, what we’re seeing now and globally is a shortage of caskets being exported from the US based on the death rate there and we’re so heavily dependent on them.

 “So funeral homes are making every effort to bring in bulk shipments at this time when we are allowed to because as it is right now, we are unable to fulfill our orders based on the US market being the first priority for manufacturers.

 “We’re impacted to the extent of us having to delay funeral dates and times based on the availability of caskets being imported in The Bahamas, that is (a) primary factor.

 “Second to that there is a cost involved where the shipping rates have gone up so in a lot of instances you see families are being mandated to pay a bit more just to accommodate the shipping in and of itself. But we do our best to keep our base prices as low as possible but circumstances right now with shipping globally is a major concern for all of us,” Mr Ferguson said.

 Last week, former Health Minister Dr Duane Sands said that people are “dying in droves” due to the COVID-19 crisis.

 He said Bahamians need to prepare to accept that deaths will continue to increase or welcome a dramatic change in policy and behaviour.

 Despite this, Mr Ferguson said funeral homes want restrictions on funerals eased.

 “We were agitating for that from day one primarily because we were never consulted in terms of the protocols being undertaken for funerals themselves and then while we see families are now not necessarily postponing funerals for a length of time the agitation for more persons to participate in the final rites has increased.

 “Families don’t abide by the protocols, but we can’t police what is being asked from the government for us to do.

 “We can’t police it, so whoever attends, attends and it is what it is,” he said.

 In July, churches in New Providence and Grand Bahama were limited to a one-hour worship service daily with a maximum capacity of 33 percent.

 It was also stated in July that funeral services would not be allowed, but graveside services are permitted with a maximum of 30 people, excluding the officiant and funeral workers. No funeral repasts are permitted.

 More than 600 people have died from COVID-19 according to health officials.


sheeprunner12 10 months ago

Minnis said that pandemic was over for the vaccinated. Brave pretending that Covid is gone since he won election. We're in big trouble.


ThisIsOurs 10 months ago

The first thing Brave did was visit the hospital, then he had a meeting with Dr Dahl Reghis, then Dr Darville visited the Sandilands facility. Those were the first acts he carried out as PM sending a very clear signsl of his priorities. I guess its clear to me tell because I dont have a horse in the race, actually I do, its called "Bahamas". They did the very opposite of pretending that COVID was no longer an issue. Are we Minnisizing the comments now? Just wishing things true because its been said?


bahamianson 10 months ago

Just to be fare/fair, I clearly remember Minnis doing the same thing. Actually, I thought Brave was copying Minnis with that move.


ThisIsOurs 10 months ago

how is that possible? The first thing I remember Dr Minnis doing was trying to raise MP salaries


sheeprunner12 10 months ago

So, a token visit will minimize Covid deaths, hey?


ThisIsOurs 10 months ago

I responded to your statement that Brave was pretending COVID didnt exist. I suppose now that youve shifted the foundation from pretending it doesn't exist to "COVID deaths", its an acknowledgment at least that he's not pretending it doesn't exist. #progress

From what I hear, teams are being dispatched to family islands with increased cases and free testing is being offered .

I suspect that the biggest thing he could do now is a national reeducation program. Because the behave yurself plan under Minnis and Renward was ridiculous. I kept telling a colleague that I didnt think these deaths had anything to do with behaving. People was partying from November straight through March and cases were dropping, deaths flattened to zero. That colleague still talking about hard head Bahamians

We need to stop with what we see driving around in our cars and start looking sensibly at relationships in the data.


GodSpeed 10 months ago

Sound like casket making could be a good business opportunity.


mckenziecpa 10 months ago

Good opportunity for a business person


tribanon 10 months ago

Last week, former Health Minister Dr Duane Sands said that people are “dying in droves” due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Long before COVID-19 came along our people have been dying in droves from so many things, not least of which is the very harsh quality of life now suffered by too many of us. Combine this simple fact with the failed and most dysfunctional public health system that successive corrupt governments have bestowed on us, and you have the perfect recipe for Bahamians having on average a much shorter life span today than they did yesterday.

For a long time now, wannabe politician doctors like Sands, Minnis, Darville, etc. have been a big part of our public health system's many problems and they will never be part of the solution.


whogothere 10 months ago

We seem to be forgetting that missed diagnostics due to Minnis travel restrictions are bringing a lot of our elderly into hospitals in a bad condition then they would otherwise be...the end result is excess death and not necessarily because of covid and as we know those with comorbidity suffer when it comes to COVID... Scotland, Germany and England are seeing record excess deaths (but not all of covid) in spite being heavily vaccinated. This the price of Government and Medical panic policies...we will feel it here too...


TigerB 10 months ago

What happened to the PLP Covid Task force? They was betten than the other medical technicians at the PMH.. wonder why they just drop them after elections... hummm.


John 10 months ago

So if this extra demand for caskets just came about, why has the Tribune and The Guardian been publishing additional pages of obituaries since at least the early part of the year? Minnis abandoned the safety protocols and other treatment measures in favor of his vaccine agenda. There has been more deaths since the vaccinations began in this country, yes or no? And don’t try to argue that the Delta wave was more deadly than the other two waves because worldwide less people died in the third wave than in the two previous waves. The fact is Minnis dem treated the vaccines as a cure rather than a suppressant. A tool in that could be used more efficiently with the other safety measures and protocols that were already in place and other treatment measures for infected patients.


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