Grenada’s Covid-19 death toll is way over 70, according to a source in the Funeral Home business.
Speaking confidentially to THE NEW TODAY, the source said that figures were released last night from three Funeral Agencies at a high-level meeting involving Health Minister Nickolas Steele, Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Shawn Charles, Government Officials and Social Partners including several church leaders.
She said that La Qua Funeral home informed the meeting that it had 42 bodies in the controversial refrigerated container brought into use for Covid-19 bodies, Bailey’s Funeral home has another 23 to 25 bodies and Wayne’s Funeral Service a total of two.
La Qua, which is known to be embalming regular dead, did not specify whether the 42 in the container were only bodies due to the virus.
“I would think that it is only Covid bodies that are in the container – the rest of them should be embalmed,” said the source.
The official disclosed that these figures which amount to close to 70 do not include those persons who have already been buried or cremated since the island witnessed a sharp increase in its death toll from a wave of the virus believed to be the delta variant within the past month.
The Dashboard from the Ministry of Health puts the official figure at 46 in its latest bulletin released late Thursday night.
Speculation is rife that the Ministry of Health is only tabulating figures of Covid-19 victims at the St. George’s General Hospital and the Princess Alice Hospital at Mirabeau in St. Andrew.
THE NEW TODAY could not independently confirm reports that one funeral home in the city had dealt with 54 Covid-19 victims including those that have already been disposed of in recent days.
There are reports about a decision taken at the high-level meeting last night to ease the pile up of Covid-19 bodies at funeral homes and to give the go-ahead to Funeral homes to dispose of the bodies within a 72-hour period from the time of Certification from the Ministry of Health.
The current laws provides for disposal of bodies from infectious diseases within 12 hours.
However, it was reportedly agreed at the meeting that on the grounds of compassion to be shown to the family members of deceased persons who fell to the deadly virus, that a longer period than 12 hours should be given for them to grieve.
According to the source, it was agreed that because “we are compassionate people, we have ethics, we have scruples, the Funeral Directors and Clergy and the ministry have discussed (and came to the conclusion) that we should do it in 72 hours.”
“It (the decision) was ratified by everybody – all stakeholders. It is not written in stone yet, it was discussed last night – this is what we hope will come out of the meeting by Wednesday,” she said.
The source also explained the process used by the Funeral Homes to identify Covid-19 victims at private homes and not those handed over to Funeral Homes from government institutions.
She said that the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) will have an officer present who will assist in identifying whether the person was a victim of the virus.
“…The police will tell us if they have cold and thing – they will do a swab and a rapid test and sometimes the rapid test comes out saying positive.
“I am wondering if that information (is) going back to the Ministry (of Health) at all – I don’t know because their numbers don’t add up at all”.
“We went for a dead yesterday and the family told us the person had Covid, so they probably was tested and sent home and died – so the government needs to fix their statistics where that is concerned.”
The Acting CMO, Dr. Charles has described the current Covid-19 situation in Grenada as a “National Disaster” and predicted that within the next two weeks the number of persons who could be infected with the deadly virus could be half the population of 110, 000 in the country.