Gov’t seeks to expand capacity as worries grow over the storage of bodies

At least one refrigerated shipping container has been placed at the old Holberton Hospital to store bodies. The measure was employed as funeral homes have been facing capacity issues, noting on the weekend that they could not accommodate more bodies. (Photo contributed)
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By Kadeem Joseph

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With the country’s two funeral homes reportedly feeling the pressure from increased Covid-19 related deaths, the government has taken additional measures to expand the capacity to store bodies.

The issue of space at the two facilities was raised by the Medical Director of the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre – Dr Albert Duncan.

“I think it was Friday or Saturday, the funeral homes just were at capacity. They couldn’t take any more bodies and that raised some alarms for us,” he told state media in a recent interview.

“The government quickly sprung into action and tried to get a refrigerated container….”

The doctor explained that the unit has not had to be used just yet since spaces became available.

He, however, explained that the biggest problem that the funeral homes are facing with space is the number of bodies that still require autopsies for criminal cases, some of which he said have been there for longer than three months.

“The pathology department has stepped up on that and we have done at least eight autopsies in the last two [to] three days, so we are going to see some movement there and we should be able to not have a problem with spacing in the funeral homes,” he added.

Observer reached out to the management at both the Barnes and Straffies funeral homes but was unable to obtain a comment up to press time.

Dr Duncan also indicated that there has been an increase in the number of Covid-19 patients who are arriving at the hospital suffering severe symptoms of the virus.

This is coupled with the fact that a number of them have underlying conditions.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health reported that 52 people, who tested positive for Covid-19, are now hospitalised. In the breakdown, 10 are said to be in severe condition, 24 are said to be mild and 18 are moderate.

On Monday, hospital authorities reported that 15 people – 10 males and five females – died between September 19 and 27, due to Covid-related complications. The youngest was a 27-year-old man, while the oldest was another male, aged 88.

The latest fatalities bring the Covid-related death toll for September to almost 30.

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