Cremation of PH’s first coronavirus fatality delayed again, funeral parlors ‘spooked by fake news’

Misinformation on the little-understood and potentially deadly Wuhan virus is to blame for the deferred cremation of the Philippines’ first coronavirus fatality, the country’s health secretary alleged today.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told radio station DZMM that the 44-year-old Chinese national who died four days ago of the virus has yet to be cremated, and his body was still “sealed” inside a bag. Duque said the funeral parlor that was meant to cremate the foreigner’s remains has backed out, the second one to do so. He said the company was fearful that cremating the dead patient could “affect their image, [and] affect their business.”

The secretary said they have been struggling to find a funeral parlor to cremate the remains of the victim since Monday, after the Chinese embassy and the victim’s family agreed to have the victim cremated in the Philippines. He said today that the parlors had been spooked by false information about the disease that’s been circulating on social media.

“This is why I’m imploring on reporters, that you be a tool of evidence-based information… so that our fellow man will not take heed of fake news,” Duque said.

Read: Oops: Foreign man who collapsed in Manila street not Wuhan virus patient, just drunk

Duque added that, according to the World Health Organization, if someone dies of the virus, they can no longer infect anyone else.

“Especially now that days have passed… it’s been four days since,” he said.

He added that if no one steps up to cremate the victim, they just might bury his body in a public cemetery, but will need to seek the approval of his family.

Meanwhile, Duque added that the Health Department is planning to postpone for at least two days the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers from China, who were originally scheduled to arrive on Saturday. He said that the two-day deferral will give the department time to fully prepare Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, which will house them for the two-week mandatory quarantine period.

Duque said they are still coordinating with the Foreign Affairs Department about finalizing the deferral.

Yesterday, more than 500 Filipinos aboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess were among those quarantined at a dock in Yokohama, Japan, for two weeks. One Filipino crew member was among the 20 to test positive for the virus.


This article, Cremation of PH’s first coronavirus fatality delayed again, funeral parlors ‘spooked by fake news’, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!