The remains of COVID-19 fatalities can now be buried in cemeteries provided proper measures are in place, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Saturday.
In an interview on Dobol B sa News TV, Vergeire said the sanitation code requires that those who have died from any infectious disease must be cremated within 12 hours.
However, the limited number of crematoriums—which can process up to eight bodies a day—means this requirement cannot be met.
In view of this, burials will be allowed she said, with certain conditions.
The bag in which the bodies are contained must be double-sealed and the casket too must be sealed. Once buried the remains may not be exhumed.
Sales of rapid tests not allowed
Correcting its own earlier statement, the Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday said the selling of rapid antibody test kits in drug stores, even those approved by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is still prohibited as the tests cannot be self-administered.
Health Undersecretary Vergeire corrected herself after she said at the Laging Handa public briefing earlier in the day that FDA-approved rapid test kits can now be sold to the public through drug stores.
"I stand corrected. Rapid antibody tests CANNOT be bought in the pharmacies as it cannot be self-administered. Only facilities with the guidance of a doctor can provide the tests," she said.
Napolcom lockdown extended
The lockdown at the Department of the Interior and Local Government-National Police Commission (DILG-Napolcom) Center in Quezon City has been extended for another week.
In a statement on Sunday, the NAPOLCOM said an employee of its central office tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday.
“Therefore, the NAPOLCOM Office, located at EDSA corner Quezon Avenue, West Triangle, Quezon City will be closed to the public for another week from July 13 to July 17,” it said.
The extension of lockdown aims to minimize physical interaction and conduct a contact-tracing activity, the Napolcom said.
Swab test urged for the stranded
Iligan City Rep. Frederick Siao wants locally stranded individuals to go through a swab test for COVID-19 before they could be allowed to go back to their home provinces.
Interviewed over Dobol B sa News TV, Siao said “the government must foot the bill. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is expensive. As far as I know, it ranges from P3,000 to P8,000 each, while the PCR test invented by the University of the Philippines scientists could cost from P2,700 to P3,000. However, that is not yet made available.”
He said many local governments were still ill-equipped to deal with COVID-19 cases in their areas, saying the stranded individual must be tested negative for COVID-19 before they could travel back.
He said the PCR test is more accurate than the rapid test.
San Lazaro addresses overwork charge
The management of the San Lazaro Hospital (SLH) in Manila on Sunday answered the allegations of a group alleging the nurses at the hospital are overworked and underpaid with a lack of protection from COVID-19.
“We acknowledged with utmost importance the dedication of our nursing staff all through the years of facing several outbreaks and epidemics,” a statement from the hospital read.
The hospital said it is normal to feel physical, emotional and mental exhaustion during a pandemic that has been going on for almost six months. To address this, it said, management agreed on the work schedule arrangement proposed and recommended by supervisors and staff of the nursing division that allows for fewer days of work in a week and more rest days.
It also said psychosocial and debriefing sessions are regularly conducted by its psychiatrist to address the mental and emotional concerns of the staff.
The hospital also said there was no shortage of PPEs and N95 masks, which are always closely monitored.
READ: EMB-3 sets contingency for COVID waste, mass burial site
READ: Government posts rules for wakes, burials