City Hall bars entry of cadavers from outside Cebu City

MEETING DEMAND. A worker at the Calamba cemetery in Cebu City builds additional burial vaults to address the need for more vaults as the number of deaths in the city rises. (Amper Campaña)

PORTS in Cebu City no longer allow the unloading of cadavers to be cremated in different funeral parlors in the city.

City Councilor Joel Garganera, Covid-19 Task Force on Seaport and Coastal Areas chairman, said the City Government released the advisory to the Cebu Port Authority, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police Maritime Group, Cebu City Police Office and shipping firms in June yet.

Garganera said the City Government does not want to overwhelm funeral parlors in the city, especially since it has the highest number of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the country and the number of deaths has been rising.

He also said the City Government does not want local residents to spend for cadavers to be placed in a freezer.

“We cannot let our constituents bear the burden of paying P1,000 plus per day for the cadaver to be placed in the freezer due to the long queuing lines of cadavers waiting to be cremated,” the advisory said.

Garganera said workers of funeral parlors, who are at risk of getting infected since some of the cadavers they are handling tested positive for Covid-19, also need to be protected.

The advisory supersedes any prior arrangements made with funeral parlors in the city.

In a virtual press conference on Monday, June 29, 2020, Department of Health (DOH) 7 spokesperson Mary Jean Loreche said a refrigerated van is due to arrive in the city.

Loreche assured that funeral parlors are not overwhelmed yet, adding that the refrigerated van will be on standby in case there is a need for it.

As of July 2, a total of 193 people had died of Covid-19 in Cebu City, up sharply from just 27 a month ago on June 1.

The Mandaue City Government announced that it too will purchase a refrigerated van worth P1.8 million to be used as a mortuary freezer.

The City Council recently approved the resolution of City Councilor Nerissa Soon-Ruiz requesting Mayor Jonas Cortes to purchase a mortuary freezer.

John Eddu Ibañez, Cortes’ executive secretary, told SunStar Cebu that the mortuary freezer van will be delivered in the next two weeks.

He said the mortuary freezer van still needs to be assembled as it needs a special compartment where cadavers will be placed.

The mortuary freezer van will be placed at the Mandaue City Hospital. It can accommodate up to 40 cadavers at a time.

The refrigerated van will accommodate only those fatalities who tested positive for Covid-19 in Mandaue City. Its use is free of charge.

Ibañez said the purpose of the purchase is to preserve the cadaver while waiting for cremation.

The City is well aware that funeral homes that offer cremation have a “first-come, first-served” policy and due to the high volume of recent deaths, funeral homes have a waiting list.

Some cadavers have to wait two to three days before these can be cremated.

Families who don’t opt for cremation have to bury dead loved ones immediately, but some cemeteries have limited spaces for new burials and it takes at least two days to dig and prepare a burial vault.

A cadaver only has 24 hours before it will start decomposing. So within that time the cadaver must be cremated or buried, as burial protocol prohibits autopsy or embalming due to the pandemic.

Having a mortuary freezer van can help decongest hospital morgues and the family can save on expenses for the stay at the morgues on top of hospital bills.

Ibañez also said the cremation of indigent Covid-19 victims is free. There were a total of 19 Covid-19 deaths in Mandaue as of July 1. (JJL, KFD)


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