Belmonte warns QC funeral homes, crematoriums refusing COVID-19 patients

Robie de Guzman   •   April 14, 2020   •   729

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Funeral homes and crematoriums based in Quezon City that reject cadavers of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) victims will be punished, Mayor Joy Belmonte warned.

Belmonte issued the warning following the passage of a city ordinance which establishes protocols for the management of the remains of those who died from COVID-19.

“Under this ordinance, funeral homes and crematoriums cannot reject remains of deceased COVID-19 patients due to fear of infection or other unjustifiable reasons,” Belmonte said in a statement.

The mayor said the ordinance also prohibits funeral homes and crematoriums from charging higher service fees compared to their prices prior to the declaration of the community quarantine on March 12, 2020.

“This is to protect grieving families of deceased COVID-19 victims from unscrupulous funeral parlors or crematoriums that may take advantage of the situation,” Belmonte said.

Funeral parlors and crematoriums that violate the Ordinance face a maximum fine of P5,000 per violation and subsequent revocation of their business permit, she added.

The ordinance also mandates local hospitals and health care facilities within Quezon City to observe the mandatory cremation of COVID-19 patients within 12 hours from the time of death so as to avoid the spread of the virus, among others.

The local government said it will shoulder the costs of the cremation if the deceased is an indigent resident of the city.

If the family abandons the cadaver of the deceased or failed to arrange for the cremation within 12 hours, the local government may take custody of the remains and have it cremated.

Anyone who violates the Ordinance will be meted out with P5,000 fine and imprisonment of not more than 6 months, depending on the Court’s discretion.

The approval of the ordinance follows the directive of the Department of Health for Quezon City government to manage the unclaimed bodies of COVID-19 patients at the East Avenue Medical Center.

13 contacts of Filipino with UK variant, positive for COVID-19

Marje Pelayo   •   January 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed on Wednesday (January 20) that eight of the co-passengers of the male case of UK variant of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) who arrived from Dubai also tested positive for COVID-19.

All eight, who are Filipino nationals, were immediately quarantined upon arrival and were transported to the isolation facilities right after the result of the RT-PCR tests were released.

Though the first RT-PCR tests were COVID-19 positive, their viral load was low and couldn’t be taken for genome sequencing.

The group has undergone swab testing to determine if they, also, are positive for the UK variant.

Aside from the eight individuals, five other close contacts of the UK variant positive patient have been tested positive for COVID-19.

These include two other passengers who were with them on the flight from Dubai, the patient’s mother and his partner, as well as the healthcare worker who assisted him.

Authorities, however, have not revealed any detail yet as to how the mother of the male patient contracted the disease.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte stressed that there was not a time the male patient went home in his residence in Quezon City since they arrived.

“Ang very close contacts niya ay mga household members nila kasama yung nanay at yung girlfriend niya,” explained Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“Iyong girlfriend niya initially tested negative pero nung nagre-swab tayo, she turned positive. And the mother, nung na-swab siya, ang resulta niya rin ay positive. So pinadala na rin for sequencing yung kanilang mga specimen,” she added.

All samples from the said five COVID-19 positive patients have been sent to the Philippine Genome Center for sequencing to also determine if they are positive for the UK variant.

Results are expected to be out on Thursday.

Meanwhile, six more persons from the 159 close contacts of the patient are still being located.

The DOH has asked the help of Contact Tracing Czar Mayor Benjamin Magalong to immediately locate them.

“153 of them ay na-contact na natin. Nagkaroon na tayo ng pakikipag-ugnayan with them. They are all now isolated. So we are now left with 6 but this morning may report sa akin meron na ring nahanap uli na additional two,” Vergeire.

“So apat nalang po ang natitira na hindi natin nahahanap,” she added.

The DOH is closely monitoring the results of the tests on the patient’s close contacts to prevent the spread of the UK variant in the Philippines.

The agency reminds the public to always be responsible and follow strict minimum health standards whatever variant of COVID-19 is prevailing in the country. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Kalibo Airport on lockdown until Jan. 21

Robie de Guzman   •   January 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines The Kalibo International Airport is currently under a three-day lockdown after several of its personnel tested positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The airport is on lockdown from January 19 to 21 to give way to disinfection after 11 employees were confirmed to have contracted the viral respiratory disease last week.

The lockdown includes offices outside the passenger terminal building but within the airport complex, particularly the Administrative Office of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, the Aerodome Rescue Fire Fighting station, and the Philippine Airlines ticketing office.

Airport operations will resume on Friday, January 22.

400K OFWs sent home during pandemic — DOLE

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 20, 2021

Manila, Philippines — Over 400,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been sent home since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

As of January 16, the Labor Department records a total of 410,211 repatriates who have undergone quarantine and were cleared of COVID-19.

“After their ordeal in their country of origin, our dear OFWs were all provided accommodation, food, transportation, and cash assistance by the government. Now, they are safely home with their families,” DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.

The latest figures from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration showed that 8,273 OFWs were transported to their respective provinces last week.

An estimate of 60,000 to 80,000 more OFWs are expected to be repatriated this year, according to reports from the various Philippine Overseas Labor Offices of DOLE. AAC

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