Facility being constructed to store bodies of COVID victims in Trinidad

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CNC3: Construction of a storage facility for bodies of COVID-19 victims is expected to begin soon in a warehouse in central Trinidad, according to Association of Funeral Professionals of Trinidad and Tobago president Keith Belgrove.

Belgrove said the facility is part of a partnership between the association and the Ministry of Health but did not provide further details about its exact location or expected completion date.

“We, understanding the demand as the Association of Professionals, have approached the ministry, whereby, we will establish a system of supporting the Ministry of Health and its regional health authorities in the efficient and proper storage of human remains on a temporary basis – mainly of those who died from COVID-19,” Belgrove said.

“Once that facility is active and available, we will be able to better structure how funeral services handle persons who die of COVID and we will be supporting the country in a meaningful way in the pandemic.”

As of yesterday, 2,009 people had died from COVID-19 in the country.

Over the last few weeks, there have been double-digit deaths almost on a daily basis. Over the weekend, the country saw a record 28 people dying in one day from the disease.

There has been concern that morgues and funeral homes could be full because of the high number of COVID deaths in addition to other cases.

During yesterday’s COVID-19 press briefing, however, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh denied that the country’s morgues were overwhelmed.

“Our morgues, at this time, are not overfull or overflowing. I got some reports—which I am crunching now—but the issue is more people are dying,” the Minister said.

He did confirm a partnership between the ministry and association.

But despite the pending construction of the facility, Belgrove believes the funeral industry is currently in a position to handle the increased load brought about by the sharp increase in COVID deaths.

However, he did acknowledge the funeral industry was impacted.

“Anytime you have a sudden increase in deaths, it will impact the industry from a point of capacity—refrigeration capacity and human resource capacity, finance capacity,” he said.

Minister Deyalsingh added yesterday that there are contingency plans in place with the association to react to the increase in COVID-related deaths. He did not give further details about those plans.

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