Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila
Updated: April 12, 2020 03:00 AM GMT
Catholic faithful in Manila observe a livestreamed Mass on Palm Sunday. The Philippine government has imposed an enhanced community quarantine to curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo: Maria Tan/AFP)
A leading hospital in Philippine capital Manila is struggling to store unclaimed bodies of patients amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Journalist Arnold Clavio on April 11 posted on social media that bodies have been “piling up” in the hallway of a “certain hospital in Metro Manila.”
Clavio did not disclose his source or the name of the hospital but posted reports saying there were “not enough body bags” and bodies were being “left along the hallways,” exposing health workers to a high risk of being infected by Covid-19.
News also circulated online that the hospital had received orders from the health department to stop counting and reporting coronavirus-related deaths.
East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City, one of the country’s major hospitals, released a statement on April 11 denying that it had insufficient body bags.
“We have cadaver bags available. At least 30 cadaver bags are available. And another 100 are coming in next week,” said spokesman Dennis Ordona.
The hospital denied that it had received an order from the health department to stop counting and reporting Covid-related deaths. The health department also issued a statement denying it had made any such order to any health facility.
However, Ordona admitted that the number of bodies was starting to pile up because families were not claiming the bodies of their loved ones.
“In the past few days starting this week, the cadavers are piling up. There were 15 to 20 cadavers which have not yet been picked up. Honestly, there are bodies that have started to smell because the capacity of the morgue is only up to five bodies,” he said.
Ordona added that there was no confirmation if the dead patients had tested positive for Covid-19 because the results had yet to be released.
He said the hospital was looking for mobile freezers where they could store corpses to avoid a stench and the exposure of health workers to the virus.
Meanwhile, millions of Filipino Catholics took part in various livestreamed Easter liturgies and Masses in parishes and Catholic universities.
Father Jett Villarin, president of Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University, said in his homily that he imagined what life would be after the Covid-19 quarantine.
“It will not be the same. We can rebuild our institutions and systems to be more responsive and agile. We need this especially for our health and our social welfare and educational systems. We can rebuild from the ruins. We can rebuild with one another. Let us take courage,” said the priest.
As of April 11, the Philippines had recorded 4,428 Covid-19 cases with 247 deaths, according to government figures.