MANILA - The Chinese tourist who tested positive for the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has yet to be cremated 3 days since he died from complications brought by the virus, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Tuesday.
The Chinese man was from Wuhan, China where the virus originated.
"We have been in coordination with the Chinese Embassy and the guidance was for the body to be cremated," Duque told senators, when asked about the remains of the first coronavirus-related death outside China.
A Chinese-Filipino business group initially agreed to shoulder the cremation, but "backed out," the health chief said.
"They initially said they would cremate and put the ash in whatever crematorium they have. Unfortunately, they backed out."
When asked about the group's reason for backing out, Duque said: "They have their own mindset. That is the problem with them."
"Sabi ko nga, 'Pambihira naman, your fellow Chinese, dapat ipakita ninyo na susuportahan ninyo... It is this time when they should express more sense of patriotism for their fellow Chinese national," he said.
The DOH is in contact with a funeral parlor that has agreed to cremate the patient's body, but Duque said he has yet to check if that has pushed through.
Cadavers carrying the novel coronavirus are "no longer infectious," the secretary said, citing literature and advice from health experts.
"Naka-sealed bodybag ito so kahit na may agam-agam, measures ensure that the coronavirus will not be able to get out," he said.
The new strain of the coronavirus has killed around 400 people, nearly all in China, and infected almost 20,000 others worldwide.
The Philippines banned flights to and from China earlier this week and had been monitoring 150 individuals who may be carriers of the virus.