Philippines: Hospitals must cremate Covid-19 victims in 12 hours, death toll now at 297

Catholic church altar boys walk down the aisle through the empty Holy Rosary parish church with photos of parishioners taped on church pews, as part of social distancing measures amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, at the start of a procession for Easter Sunday mass in Angeles City, Pampanga province on Sunday (April 12). - AFP

MANILA: The Philippine government on Sunday (April 12) told hospitals and local government units to make sure that bodies of patients who died of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) are cremated within 12 hours, after a hospital admitted that bodies were piling up in its small morgue.

An inter-agency task force on the fight against Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, imposed the 12-hour rule for cremation as part of the protocol for handling deceased patients amid the outbreak.

"We must stick to the 12-hour rule when it comes to cremation,” government official Karlo Nograles said.

The East Avenue Medical Center, one of the major hospitals handling Covid-19 patients in Manila, disclosed that its morgue did not have sufficient equipment, such as freezers, to store additional bodies.

"Our morgue is built for only five patients,” Dennis Ordona, a doctor and spokesman for the hospital, told CNN Philippines. "The highest number we’ve recorded so far was 20, which have not yet been picked up.”

The Philippines confirmed on Sunday 220 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total number in the country to 4,648.

The Department of Health (DOH) also reported 50 more Covid-19 deaths, bringing the death toll to 297. The deaths include previously unreported cases and backlogs, the DOH said.

The DOH further said that 40 new patients have recovered, bringing the total of recoveries to 197.

The Department of Labour and Employment said that over 1 million workers have been affected by the extended lockdown imposed by the government since March 15 to curb the spread of the virus. The lockdown runs until April 30.

Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello those who worked in the formal sector were either affected by temporary closures or flexible work arrangements.

Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the government is to mobilise 1.17 trillion pesos-worth (US$23.19bil) of fiscal and monetary measures to date to help defeat the viral disease and provide relief to the poor and other sectors reeling from this pandemic's economic hit. - dpa/Asian News Network
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