The government has issued guidelines limiting wakes and burials in Luzon for families until April 12 as it barred the public from holding mass gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has now infected 1,546 and killed 78 in the country.
Here are government guidelines on wakes and burials under the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon:
1. For deaths unrelated to COVID-19, the Philippine National Police said only the immediate family of the deceased and ministers or officiants are allowed to attend wakes.
2. For deaths due to COVID-19, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said bodies must be placed in cadaver bags which are wrapped, sealed and sprayed with sodium hydrochloride. The remains should be cremated within 12 hours.
3. For Muslim deaths due to COVID-19, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the body should be placed in an air-tight sealed bag and buried in the nearest Muslim cemetery within 12 hours, in accordance to Muslim rites.
24/7 hotlines launched
The University of the Philippines Manila Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) on Monday launched a dedicated 24/7 hotline number, 155200 powered by PLDT Inc., for its COVID-19 Bayanihan Operations Center
Through the hotline service, UP PGH aims to provide assistance to the public and manage the influx of patients to its COVID health care center, by enabling those who are ill to call and consult with
professionals regarding the symptoms they are experiencing, without having to check in at the hospital.
The hotline, which will operate 24 hours daily, is also a channel through which the hospital can accept donations such as those for personal protective equipment and other badly needed supplies.
DepEd, CHED rules
Meanwhile, the Department of Education issueds OM-OSEC-2020-004 to guide Regional Directors for action on requests by local government units (LGUs) to use DepEd schools and engage DepEd personnel in activities related to COVID-19.
The memorandum, consistent with OM-OSEC-2020-002 issued on March 26, 2020, delegates to the Regional Directors the responsibility to approve or deny requests by LGUs to use DepEd schools for activities related to the COVID-19 outbreak, based on evaluation by the Schools Division Superintendent in consultation with the school heads.
DepEd teaching and nonteaching personnel may participate in these activities, in a voluntary and personal capacity, under the supervision of the LGU and consistent with the alternative work-from-home and skeletal work force arrangements as provided by Malacañang.
At the same time, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has issued guidelines to LGUs that plan to use the facilities of state universities and colleges (SUCs) as quarantine centers as the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the country.
The Interagency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has earlier adopted a policy that all LGUs who plan to use the facilities of SUCs as quarantine centers must enter into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the CHED to ensure consistency and accountability in the operation of these facilities.
The CHED has organized a Public Health Experts Group led by University of the Philippines Manila College of Public Health Dean Jun Belizario to provide technical assistance to both LGUs and SUCs in establishing and running quarantine centers. Darwin Amojelar
In related developments, the CHED Regional Offices will assist the Public Health Experts Group, SUC and the LGU in the establishment of quarantine centers or CIUs in the facilities. They will also monitor compliance with the MOA and will report the same to the IATF.
Discussions on the establishment of quarantine centers will be done by teleconferencing between CHED, LGUs, and SUCs with the technical assistance of the public health experts.