The Department of Health (DOH) does not yet see the need for a mass burial of patients who died from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-2019).
“Hindi pa po pinag-uusapan sa ngayon ang mass burial dahil hindi pa po ito kailangan. Sa halip, naghahanda po ang ibang ahensya ng iba pang pasilidad tulad ng mobile freezers upang tulungan ang ating mga ospital sakaling lumagpas sa kanilang kapasidad (The are no talks about mass burial at the moment because there is no need for it. Instead, other agencies are preparing other facilities like mobile freezers to help hospitals in case they go beyond their capacity), DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual presser on Sunday.
Apart from cremation, Vergeire explained said burial of Covid-19 positive patients is allowed if they will be properly sealed in two body bags before they are placed in a coffin.
“At present our hospitals have the capacity to store cadavers in their morgues while family members prepare the burial or cremation. The DILG is in charge of the management of the dead. The DILG will assign a focal person who will coordinate concerns on cremation or management of cadavers,” she said.
To prevent the disease from spreading, Vergeire said the bodies of deceased Covid-19 patients are transferred from the hospital to the mortuary the soonest possible time following the guidelines on the management of the cadavers.
“Kasama ang paglalagay ng mga labi sa airtight and leak-proof cadaver bags na maayos isasara gamit ang tapes, bandage strips, pagde-decontminate ng mga pinaglalagakan ng bags…at guidelines kung kailan dapat i-cremate ang labi at ilibing ayon sa relihiyon ng pasiyente (Including the placement of the bodies in air-tight and leak-proof bags which are sealed properly with the use of tapes, bandage strips, decontamination of the bags and guidelines on the cremation and burial according to patient’s religion),” she added.
Meanwhile, Vergeire reported that DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III visited East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC) for an investigation, following reports about cadavers piling up in its morgue.
“Nagkaroon po ng video conference call ang ating kalihim at ang lahat ng chief of hospitals sa Metro Manila para pag-usapan ang bagay na ito, seryosong akusasyon po ito at kailangan siguraduhing ng pamahalaan na walang omission of information na magaganap (The Secretary had a video call with all the hospital chiefs in Metro Manila to talk about this, [because] this is a serious accusation and the government must ensure that no omission of information will happen),” she said.
Vergeire added that the EAMC already reported that it has secured a mobile freezer for the storage of unclaimed bodies of patients with or without Covid-19 and that the Quezon City Council was tasked to manage any unclaimed bodies and to shoulder the cost of cremation if funding from next of kin is unavailable. (PNA)