MMDA deals with COVID-19 dead issues in NCR, sets fixed rate for cremation
PASIG CITY, April 21 (PIA) — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Monday said it has identified issues, concerns, and solutions to factors hampering the effective management of COVID-19 fatalities in the National Capital Region.
“We identified the issues and potential risks concerning the management of the COVID-19 casualties and tried to come up with solutions for each one. I am grateful for the cooperation and coordination of everyone involved, from my fellow public servants to the members of the private sector. Us working as one shows our utmost goal to heal as one,” MMDA Chairperson Danny Delapuz Lim said.
This, after two online conference meetings last week with funeral and crematory services, along with representatives from the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and other concerned agencies, the group formulated several guidelines and procedures to address the delays in handling the remains of patients who died from coronavirus.
The MMDA started its efforts in the management of COVID-19 fatalities by coordinating with local government units (LGU), hospitals, and funeral and crematory services.
This is the agency’s initial task as the designated chairperson of the Regional Task Force in the National Capital Region, pursuant to Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Resolution No. 23, series of 2020 effective on Wednesday, April 15, 2020.
PHP25,000 fixed rate
Essential among the measures put forth by MMDA is the fixed rate of PHP25,000 for a point-to-point service (from pick-up to cremation) for COVID-19-related deaths of indigents. The amount has been approved by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and was agreed to be implemented by the largest-run crematorium companies in Metro Manila. Funeral companies with no crematoriums would have the option to partner with a crematory facility of their choice.
It was also proposed that DSWD or the corresponding LGU of the indigent would provide funeral assistance of the same amount, PHP25,000. A Memorandum of Agreement between DWSD, LGUs, and crematoriums regarding the aforementioned matters, including validation of indigency, is set to be signed before implementation can take effect.
Given IATF-EID’s order to hospitals and LGUs to make sure that bodies of patients who died of the virus are cremated within 12 hours to avoid further infection.
Funeral and crematory owners agreed to prioritize the cremation of those who died from COVID-19, ensuring the proper handling of the remains at the shortest possible time. These companies assured to be in close coordination with the government through an official communication platform established by MMDA. It was also recommended that all crematoriums, whether public or private, would be required to accept bodies of deaths due to the disease irrespective of residence.
Freezer vans as temporary morgues; fast-track death certificates
In the event that COVID-19-related deaths continue to rise, refrigerated vans can be used as temporary morgues. Ideal locations for these reefers were among the points of discussion at the meeting. Major crematory owners offered to provide staging areas for the queueing of cadavers provided that other major crematoriums comply and that the power and fuel expenses shall be shouldered by the government.
Provision of PPEs, cadaver bags, and urns
For the protection of the attending mortuary staff from possible infection, the government will ensure the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) sets and cadaver bags for the handling of the bodies infected by the disease, through the respective hospitals. DTI-NCR pledged to link the concerned agencies with suppliers. DTI-NCR likewise committed to facilitate the entry of burial materials from other provinces to NCR, addressing the shortage of urns.
The Regional Task Force for COVID-19 for Metro Manila assures that they will continue to fulfill their responsibility on the health and safety of Filipinos.
As of Monday afternoon, the Department of Health confirms that the Philippines now has 6,459 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 428 deaths and 613 recoveries. (PIA NCR)