DOH to come out with guidelines on handling corpses of Ebola victims

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Friday, August 29, 2014

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT ZONE -- The Department of Health (DOH) is already finalizing the guidelines that will be used in handling the corpses of would-be victims of the Ebola virus disease (EVD).

Speaking here at the Health Issues 102 Media Seminar, DOH Spokesperson Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy said they are already set to come out with the guidelines as part of the country's preparation for the possible entry of the dreaded disease currently wreaking havoc in West Africa.

"The guidelines are already set to be completed. We want to come out with it since the dead remains to have the capability to spread the disease, through its secretion," said Lee Suy.

"We want everything prepared already before anything comes up," he further said.

The health official said they are looking to pattern the guidelines with that of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Among the possible provisions of the guidelines, said Lee Suy, are requirements of a trained body handler; prohibitions on holding wakes prior to burial; and the push for the use of cremation instead of the traditional burial; among others.

"We want to limit the chances of exposure (to the Ebola victim's cadaver) as much as possible," said Lee Suy.

Based on the WHO guidelines, corpses must be wrapped in sealed leak proof material such as body bags and must not be embalmed but buried or cremated promptly in a sealed casket.

The WHO added that local burial customs must be adhered to as closely as possible provided they do not conflict with good public health practices, such as the avoidance of direct physical contact with corpses or body fluids.

Burial sites, said the WHO, must be identified early on, so as to obtain permission from the local authorities, while properly informing the local communities on the amendments made in burial practices.

Lee Suy said the country remains to be Ebola-free despite the continuous escalation of the EVD outbreak in West Africa.

Nevertheless, Lee Suy assured that the DOH will prepare ceaselessly in order to limit the opportunities for the virus’ entry.

"We are not saying it can never happen. The threat is still there. But we will make sure that all bases will be covered and limit the possibility of its entry to the country,” said Lee Suy.

WHO data showed that 1,552 people have already died from Ebola out of the 3,069 cases reported so far from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Nigeria. (HDT/Sunnex)

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