Delta variant threat prompts look into city’s capacity to manage potential casualties

13 August 2021 – The threat of the Delta variant has prompted the city government to evaluate the city’s capacity to manage potential casualties of the more virulent variant of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Mayor Benjamin Magalong earlier tasked concerned departments to make an inventory of the capacity of the crematoriums as well as available spaces at the city cemetery as part of the contingency measures for the new variant.

The mayor said it is a proactive move following reports on some countries battling the Delta variant experiencing difficulties in managing their casualties and on a local city having a hard time coping with the arriving cadavers of COVID-19 fatalities.   

In the Management Committee meeting on Aug. 11, Acting City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Antonette Anaban reported that the two crematoriums operating in the city can undertake up to six cremation processes per day.

The mayor said the city fast-tracked the permit application of another company to augment the city’s capacity to 18 processes per day.

As to the city cemetery, City Environment and Parks Management Officer Rhenan Diwas said the city has a shortage of tomb spaces.

He presented short, medium and long-term plans to the mayor including the continuation of the reclamation of vacant lots and tombs as a short-term solution.

He said a previous inventory showed only 12 available tombs but these are easily used up.

Another short-term solution would be to limit incoming burials to paupers while those with financial capability will be encouraged to avail of private cemeteries or crematoriums.

Medium-term plans would be to set up a city crematorium for future burials for paupers and build a crypt bone structure for remains beyond five years to give way to new burials while for the long-term, a city team will review the sustainable public cemetery master plan for updating and finding of ways and means for implementation. – Aileen P. Refuerzo