By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is set to allot P25,000 worth of funeral support to indigents who will die due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made the statement as the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases issued new guidelines on the handling and disposal of the remains of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
In a press briefing in Malacañang, Nograles announced that indigents who suffered from COVID-19, whether confirmed cases or persons under investigation (PUIs), will receive funeral support from the DSWD.
“The DSWD shall allocate amounts for a funeral support fund allotted to indigent confirmed COVID-19 cases and PUIs regardless whether they are undergoing home quarantine, or admitted in a public health facility,” he said Wednesday.
“DSWD shall allot P25,000 per deceased for this purpose,” he added.
Based on the Department of Health’s (DOH’s) online COVID-19 tracker, there were 35 deaths from the confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines as of Tuesday afternoon.
Handling of remains
In handling the remains of COVID-19 cases, Nograles said funeral workers must strictly observe general infection precautions to avoid the further spread of the disease.
He said local government units should designate funeral service facilities to handle the remains of COVID-19 cases and to provide possible financial assistance to cover the logistics, fuel, salary, and other expenses that will be incurred in the process.
According to Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, LGUs should designate funeral facilities that can cremate the remains within 12 hours from the time of death.
If the deceased is a Muslim, Año said the remains should be placed in an air-tight sealed bag and buried in the nearest Muslim cemetery within 12 hours while observing Muslim rites.
Nograles said LGUs and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) shall penalize funeral homes that refuse to provide logistics and transport of the remains.
The staff or employees of funeral service facilities have been granted exemptions by the IATF from the imposed enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
“The said individuals may freely move and travel to ensure that the remains of the deceased individuals will be given proper funeral services,” Nograles said.
“Funeral companies are directed to provide transportation and/or housing accommodations for funeral service staff,” he added.