RESIDENTS near the Tagakpan Public Cemetery in Tugbok District, Davao City have expressed concern that they might get Covid-19 from the burial site being prepared by the City for Covid-19 fatalities.
Lance, not his real name, told SunStar Davao in an online interview that they are worried of a possible surge in Covid-19 cases in their barangay.
He said he is worried about his family's safety. They are living only several blocks away from the cemetery.
"Basin pwede pa mabalhin ning mass grave sa ubang lugar, kanang wala untay duol nga residential area. Mao ra amo hangyo," Lance said.
(We are requesting if maybe the city government can place the mass grave elsewhere, to an area away from the residential area. That is all we are asking.)
SunStar Davao also talked to some residents in the area, but they requested not to be named nor recorded.
A female resident, who lives beside the Tagakpan cemetery, admitted that they are worried of possibly being exposed to or the area being contaminated by the virus once the city starts burying patients who succumbed to Covid-19.
She also said this might affect her sari-sari store business.
Davao City Covid-19 Task Force spokesperson Dr. Michelle Schlosser said in a radio interview on Wednesday, September 15, that they understand the sentiment of the residents.
Schlosser, however, said the City Government has already prepared health and safety guidelines once the mass grave at the city-run cemetery will be operational.
"Dili mana i-allow sa City Government of Davao, dili pud na siya i-allow sa DOH [Department of Health], sa City Health [Office], labi na sa atong Covid[-19] Task Force headed by our mayor, to contaminate the area,” the Task Force official said in an interview on 87.5 FM Davao City Disaster Radio.
(It will not be allowed by the City Government of Davao, DOH and the City Health Office, especially by our Covid-19 Task Force headed by our mayor, to contaminate the area Covid[-19] Task Force headed by our mayor, to contaminate the area.
While the City readies the burial site, Schlosser said the City Government is currently focusing on preventing the rise of Covid-19-related deaths.
"Nagapadayon gyud og pangita'g paraan ang Covid[-19] Task Force, ang atong good mayor, to prevent that. Although naa tay ubay-ubay nga cases, wala pa man ta niabot sa point nga wala na ta'y i-accommodate sa atong pagpalubong sa atong mga patay nga Covid patients," she said.
(The Covid-19 Task Force, headed by our good mayor, is doing ways to prevent it. While we have many cases, we haven’t reached the point that we can no longer accommodate the burying Covid-19 patients who died.)
The City Government prepared the burial site at the Tagakpan Cemetery in case the number of deaths will continue to rise due to the ongoing surge caused by the more infectious variants of the Covid-19.
The City also prepared the grave site in case the city’s crematorium will be overwhelmed with the number of fatalities.
Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said a total of 160 spaces are being readied within the public cemetery. The mayor said each space can accommodate a total of six cadavers.
“Our mass graves are ready. The operation center of our response cluster is already aware of the readiness of our mass graves,” Duterte-Carpio said in a recent radio interview.
She said not all Covid-19 cadavers would be buried at mass graves, provided that family members could arrange for the cremation of the remains on their own.
She underscored that the mass grave is ready and the City Government has already coordinated with the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) and other hospitals, informing them that it is now accepting deceased Covid-19 positive cases.
"Ang mass grave [Tagakpan], wala pa po ta'y nalubong didto," Duterte-Carpio said.
(As of now, we haven’t buried a single person in our mass grave in Tagakpan.)
Meanwhile, the mayor said the City has assisted the cremation of a total of 2,074 remains of individuals whose deaths were related to Covid-19.
The City Government-owned crematorium at Wireless Cemetery started operating in February 2021. It offers free crematorium services to the bereaved families whose relatives died from Covid-19. It also seeks to address the backlog in cremation services due to the rising cases.
Based on the Department of Health guidelines, hospitals are required to cremate the body of a Covid-19 patient within 12 hours after death.
Based on the status of deaths for the morbidity week from September 5 to September 11, the city logged a total of 59 deaths. Of the figure, 55 were unvaccinated while four were vaccinated. Of the four vaccinated deaths, two had Sinovac vaccine while the other two were inoculated with Pfizer.
She also said some of those who died had incomplete vaccination.
She renewed her call to Dabawenyos to get the required two doses of the vaccine to achieve maximum protection against the severe symptoms of the disease.
She likewise reminded the public to avoid vaccine preference and get themselves vaccinated when their schedule comes and should not wait to get infected before they avail of the vaccination rollout of the government.