By Hanah Tabios
The health department said Friday that the bodies of the 29-year-old Chinese patient under investigation (PUI) for novel coronavirus (nCoV) who died of pneumonia and the 44-year-old Chinese national who tested positive for nCoV have already been disposed of following difficulties finding crematoriums willing to handle the remains.
“I cannot give you the details right now, but the two bodies have been disposed properly already. Wala na sila dito sa San Lazaro [Hospital],” Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Eric Domingo said in Friday’s press briefing.
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Domingo, however, refused to confirm whether or not the bodies were buried in a cemetery for privacy reasons, as well as “for the dignity of the deceased.”
“As long as the bodies are handled properly and [there is] correct depth, then, there is no problem,” he added in response to a question about public health risk.
According to the World Health Organization’s Disease Control in Humanitarian Emergencies, there is no evidence that corpses pose a risk of epidemic disease especially after a natural disaster.
“Most agents do not survive long in the human body after death. Human remains only pose a substantial risk to health in a few special cases, such as deaths from cholera or haemorrhagic fevers,” they said.
But Hong Kong’s Center for Health Protection cited in a manual that cremation is advisable for the corpses of patients who died of nCoV acute respiratory disease.
Embalming or the act of injecting preservatives into the dead body is not also allowed, though this is a common practice to slow down the process of decay.
The country’s health chief Francisco Duque III said Thursday that the cremation of the remains of the 44-year-old Chinese male, the companion of the first confirmed case of nCoV in the country, was delayed anew, because funeral parlors had backed out from cremating the body amid worries that it might affect their business.