Kampot Crematoriums Not Ready for Covid-19 Corpses, Two Burned Outside

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PPE-clad workers are seen lifting a plastic-wrapped corpse into a rusty metal box lined with firewood, in a photo widely shared on social media. (Kampot Provincial Administration)

Kampot province, seeing a recent surge in Covid-19 cases, burned two bodies at the foot of a mountain this week because its facilities aren’t yet ready to cremate the coronavirus dead, its provincial governor said.

Provincial governor Cheav Tay on Wednesday denied any impropriety in the disposal of the two corpses. Authorities and a medical team took the two Covid-infected bodies to be burned at the foot of a local mountain because the province still didn’t have a designated crematorium ready, though it was working to prepare one, he said.

The team had followed health precautions as well as Buddhist ceremonial procedures in cremating the bodies, Tay said.

A photo of the bodies’ disposal was shared widely on social media, showing protective-suit clad workers lifting a plastic-wrapped corpse into a rusty metal box lined with firewood. Many suggested it was an improper cremation.

“They picked only one part. Actually, they followed health measures, but they did not publish the whole [story]. They might have an intention to attack, an intention that is not consistent. We have done right. They said it is not right,” Tay said.

Yun Phally, provincial coordinator for human rights group Adhoc, called on the relevant authorities to get a crematorium ready for Covid-19 corpses that is far away from where people live.

“People fear Covid-19 patients,” Phally said, also asking that authorities make sure Covid-19 crematoriums do not pollute the environment.

In early March, in the wake of the “February 20” outbreak’s emergence, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered Phnom Penh and provincial authorities to prepare crematoriums in anticipation of Covid-19 corpses.

Among the preparations made around the country, the government allocated 2 hectares of land in Takeo province and 10 hectares in Kampong Speu to build new crematorium facilities.

As of Thursday, health authorities have reported 300 deaths in the country due to Covid-19, alongside 36,666 total cases, or a death rate of around 0.8 percent.

The Kampot provincial administration announced 49 Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, 58 on Tuesday and 59 on Monday.

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