Culture vs protocols raised in handling remains of suspected COVID patients
The city council has requested through Resolution 541, s. 2020 the Philippine Tourism Promotions Board (PTPB) to allot P1.8 million supplemental funds for the Ridge to Reef Corridor Plan for the gradual and safe reopening of the city to tourists from La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte.
The amount will be used for the purchase of antigen testing kits to be used for tourists before they are allowed to enter the city.
The antigen test, which requires minimal equipment for its setup, is able to generate results in around 15 to 30 minutes. It is helpful for a hassle-free entry of tourists, the city council said.
In Resolution 534, s. 2020, the council has urged molecular laboratories in Baguio to expedite release of results of the RT-PCR (real-time polymerase chain reaction) test of deceased patients in respect to the prevailing culture, funeral traditions, and burial customs in the region.
In the resolution, deceased patients from various hospitals in the locality who had been suspected of having Covid-19 were immediately buried or cremated even against the will of surviving family members only to learn later on that they are negative of the Covid-19 infection.
The resolution further stated that Baguio, which is a part of the Cordillera, has a diverse culture, and while supportive of the government in its efforts to curb the spread of the Covid-19, cultural practices and traditions like “damaan” or “adog” should not be neglected or abandoned even during this time of pandemic, as cultural practices and rituals for a deceased relative are highly regarded, necessary, and a show of respect to the departed, as well as an expression of grief for those left behind.
“The death of an immediate member of a family surely caused stress and dejection on the part of the relatives compounded by non-coordinating policies and agonizing guidelines which further swell the burden of the affected parties. The immediate burial or cremation aggravated by long waiting time before the release of the Covid-19 test result means that the significantly established rituals and indigenous cultural practices during wakes have been sacrificed and have not been observed which runs counter to culture,” added the resolution.
Acknowledging Department of Health’s Memorandum 2020-0158 which states the procedures for the burial and cremation of the remains of Covid-19 cases, the resolution calls for a balance imposition of health guidelines and sanitation procedures in treating deceased patients suspected of having the virus in accordance with the person’s religion and culturally-acceptable norms or the established cultural protocols in aid to the plight of the adversely affected families.
In Ordinance 135, s. 2020, P50M was reappropriated to cover the city government’s expenditures as a result of the pandemic.
The amount will be used for the salary differential for the upgrading of the entry level of Nurse I – P6.3M; cash incentives to nonagenarians – P1.5M; Covid-19 manpower requirement in isolation units at Teachers’ Camp, PFVR gym, Baguio Convention Center triage center, and Athletic Bowl – P3M; procurement of personal protective equipment, hygiene kits for patients, tables, chairs, materials for isolation facilities, and others – P19M; procurement of drugs and medicines – P5.5M; and other Covid-19 related expenses such as training of personnel, food, transportation and fuel, and other accommodation expenses of medical personnel and other local government unit personnel directly involved in the implementation of Covid-19 response – P14.6M.