DOH: Body of novel coronavirus case 'disposed of properly'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 7) — The body of the 44-year-old Chinese man who died of acute respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus has been "disposed of properly," a health official said, without disclosing more details.

Health Undersecreatry Eric Domingo in a press briefing on Friday said also handled the same way was the body of another Chinese national, a 29-year-old man with HIV who was earlier put under watch for possible coronavirus infection. He died of other causes on January 29 and tested negative for the new coronavirus or 2019-nCoV.

"I can't give you the details but the two bodies have been disposed [of] properly already. Wala na sila dito sa (They are no longer here in) San Lazaro, of course all following safety procedure," Domingo said.

He said the Department of Health refuses to divulge details "for privacy reasons and for the dignity of the deceased."

He, however, assured that the bodies, even if not cremated, do not pose a risk to public health since the "disposal" process was handled properly.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque earlier said that the remains of the coronavirus patient may just be buried in a public cemetery, since no crematorium wanted to accept them. He did not identify the cemetery.

The patient died on February 1, but his body stayed at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila for six days after his death, as crematoriums contacted by the DOH kept backing out.

READ: First novel coronavirus death outside China reported in Philippines

When asked how many crematoriums had refused, Domingo said he does not know of any business who did not reject the patient's body.

"Frankly I think they are afraid that it might affect business na pag nalaman ng public na nagcremate sila ng nCoV patient natatakot sila na baka hindi na rin sila puntahan ng publiko at hindi tangkilikin ang kanilang mga serbisyo," Domingo said.

[Translation: Frankly I think they are afraid that it might affect business if the public knows they cremated an nCoV patient. They're afraid that the public would no longer come to them for their services.]

Another person under watch dies

People with a history of travel from Wuhan, a Chinese city where the virus originated, and those who had contact with infected people are considered "patients under investigation" especially if they show influenza-like symptoms such as fever, cough, and cold.

There are now 215 PUIs in the country as of Friday noon, the DOH said, adding that one of them died Thursday due to pneumonia, not 2019-nCoV.

Of the 215 PUIs, 184 are admitted and isolated in hospitals, 17 have been discharged "under strict monitoring," while nine have refused admission.

The DOH is appealing to these nine people to submit themselves to quarantine. It said they have been identified and told to stay away from the public.

The new coronavirus has killed more than 630 people, mostly in China, the world's most populous country. It has also infected more than 31,400 people across 28 countries and territories, according to Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering that tracks coronavirus cases across the world. Two fatalities were reported outside China's mainland – one each in the Philippines and Hong Kong.