New Covid death protocol up demand for cremation

BECAUSE of the current health crisis and current funeral protocol, especially on the disposal of dead bodies of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients and probable and suspected patients, some families in Metro Cebu have had no choice but to have the bodies of their dead loved ones cremated or buried immediately.

Sharon Cabaluna, manager of St. Peter’s Funeral Homes on Imus St. in Cebu City, told SunStar Cebu they get more than 10 inquiries for cremation every day.

However, their crematorium can only handle four bodies daily since it takes three to four hours to cremate a body.

Those who could not avail themselves of crematory services for their loved ones can opt for “immediate burial.” Cabaluna said this is when the body is buried within 24 hours of death.

She said the doctor decides whether to cremate the body, immediately bury it or to embalm it.

Oliver Gallardo, operational manager of the Rolling Hills Funeral Homes on A.S. Fortuna St. in Mandaue City, said because of the backlog, some bodies cannot be cremated until three or four days after.

He said they too can only cremate four bodies daily since they only have one crematory machine.

Cabaluna and Gallardo said bodies that are not cremated immediately are frozen. But since mortuary freezers are in private hospitals, the family of the deceased have to fork out additional money for the procedure.

Gallardo said Rolling Hills has tied up with the Mandaue City Government so that bodies of dead indigent Covid-19 patients are cremated free of charge.

So far, though, he said they’ve only cremated bodies of two Covid-19 patients. The others were patients under investigation, he said.

Meanwhile, Mandaue City Councilor Nerissa Soon-Ruiz said she is aware of the difficulties faced by families who lost a loved one to the disease. That’s why she has proposed three resolutions.

Ruiz has requested Mayor Jonas Cortes to provide a new public cemetery as the existing public cemetery can no longer accommodate burials.

Aside from this, the resolution also requested a purchase of crematorium and a moratorium freezer where the dead bodies can be stored while waiting to be cremated.

Ruiz said she wants to meet with the head of the committee on social services to discuss further her requests.

She said her resolutions have garnered the support of the council majority. (KFD)