Victims of COVID-19 are dying in isolation, most are all alone, banned from visit from family or friends. The risk of contagion is too high that the Department of Health (DoH) has issued strict guidelines on how to handle infected bodies, either through immediate cremation or sealed coffin and buried within 12 hours after passing.
Funeral services are not allowed.
On Friday, Rizal 2nd District Rep. Fidel Nograles has reiterated the need for the DoH and local government units to coordinate closely to ensure the deceased are taken care of properly as the death toll from COVID-19 now at 45 and an expectation that the number would still rise,
“The urgency to cooperate and closely coordinate to give dignity to those who have fallen to the virus cannot be too stressed,” the neophyte lawmaker said.
DoH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Monday said that the department would issue guidelines for funeral parlors and crematoriums within the week, amid reports that some had refused to handle the bodies of deceased patients.
The Inter Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease, meanwhile, had tasked LGUs with formulating guidelines on the proper handling and disposal of the remains of confirmed cases and persons under investigation.
LGUS are tasked with designating funeral service facilities to handle the remains of COVID-19 cases and providing possible financial assistance to cover the logistics, fuel, salary and other costs incurred in the process.
“Perhaps it would be better and more efficient if the DOH came up with guidelines that could be implemented across the board, rather than leave the task solely to our LGUs,” Nograles said. This could eliminate confusion and conflicting guidelines, he added.
He also said that authorities should take steps to address the refusal of funeral parlors and other similar establishments to handle confirmed cases and PUIs.
“Besides the punitive aspect,we should also address the fears of funeral workers to contract the virus. They are frontliners, too, and confront the same insecurities as the rest of us, we should not focus our mindset on punishing them,” said the solon.
“A clear guideline will set us straignt and we should also consider providing sufficient support to this funeral services, like personal protective equipment or PPE to ensure they have sufficient capability to perform their duties,” Nograles added.