Cremation assistance sought for kin of deceased COVID-19 patients
MANILA, Philippines — Are private crematoriums making a killing out of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) health crisis?
Reports reaching the office of Senator Nancy Binay showed that some private crematoriums are asking a sum of P100,000 for the cremation of the remains of COVID-positive patients, or several thousands more expensive compared during ordinary times.
In a statement released on Monday, Binay appealed to the government to also address the problems being faced by families of patients who succumbed to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including shouldering part of the costly cremation expenses.
“It may sound morbid, pero kailangan din i-address ng IATF (Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) yung mga hinaharap na problema ng mga pamilyang namatayan dahil sa COVID-19,” Binay said.
(It may sound morbid, but the IATF needs to address the problems being faced by families of those who died of COVID-19).
A check with a mid-level funeral company showed that a cremation service could range from P60,000 while public crematoriums only ask as low as P16,000 and lower at P12,800 for senior citizens even during this COVID-19 crisis.
However, according to Thess Naguit, a pre-need counselor, private crematoriums that she serviced ask for a low of P70,000 for deceased COVID-19 patients because this entailed a more detailed preparation such as procurement of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for attendants and disinfectants, as well as for the vehicle that would be used to ferry the dead.
Because of this, Binay said government “should immediately address the lack of clear protocol in handling COVID-related fatalities, including cadaver management, storage, cremation and assistance to families.”
Existing protocols of the Department of Health provides that a person who died from an infectious disease such as COVID-19 should be immediately cremated.
She also said that families of those who died from COVID-19 are having a hard time securing death certificates because some local government units and barangay officials do not know what the protocols are if a patient dies inside his or her home, and how to properly handle the bodies which can no longer be accommodated in mortuary freezers and crematoriums.
“Sa ngayon pa lang, sana iresolba na natin ito. Ano ang pwede nating magawang ayuda sa mga pamilya? Paano kung walang-wala? Paano ang pambayad sa punerarya para sa cremation? Sino ang mag-aasikaso ng mga requirement? Paano na kung wala na gustong tumanggap na crematorium?” Binay asked.
(We should resolve this as early as now. What assistance can be given these families? What if they really have nothing? How can they pay for the cremation? Who will handle the requirements? What if no crematorium would accept the remains?)
“Sa nangyayari sa buong mundo ngayon, it’s never a good time to die. Malungkot at wala kang karamay. Di ka makapagpaalam man lang sa iyong mga mahal sa buhay. Wala kang last rites, or proper burial. Kaya nakakagalit yung meron kang mababalitaang mga nananamantala para pagkakitaan ang pamilyang namatayan,” she added.
(With what’s happening across the world, it’s never a good time to die. It’s sad to have no one by your side. You can’t even say goodbye to you loved ones. You have no last rites or proper burial. That’s why I’m angered that some are taking advantage of the situation).
Binay noted that as of this year, there are only 60 crematoriums operating nationwide.
Of the number, she said 90 percent are privately-owned, and only 25 are located in Metro Manila.
Only six are publicly-owned and are mostly operated by the local government, only 5 of which are operational and can only accommodate three to five cadavers a day, according to Binay.
To date, 152 patients have so far died among the 3,246 COVID-19 cases in the country.
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