This came after the government yesterday (Apr 22) reported seven more COVID-19 deaths, its highest daily toll since the pandemic surfaced early last year.
“NOB has coordinated with temples. We want to make sure that COVID-19 victims receive their last rites,” Narong Song-arom, the director of the NOB told media.
Thai media reported the family of a non-COVID-19 victim was asked by their local community not to bring the body home for cremation because the dead person came from a virus hot-spot.
The report concerned a woman who committed suicide in Chon Buri where she worked. Her family took the body back home to Loei for cremation.
When the transport vehicle arrived in Nakhon Ratchasima, the family was asked not to hold the cremation in the community.
The community was concerned about COVID-19 transmission because the woman worked in Chon Buri, one of the red zone provinces. The body was returned to Chon Buri for cremation.
“They were concerned that we would bring the virus to the community because we collected the body from a red zone province.
“We had a medical certificate stating that the cause of death was suffocation,” said a family member.
Mr Narong insisted COVID-19 victims and those from high-risk areas will get proper funeral services, albeit under social distancing rules.
The temples where large crowds usually visit to make merit are also told to enforce social distancing measures and disinfect the grounds to curb transmission of the virus, he added.
Phra Kru Palat Sitiwat, abbot of Wat Phai Lom, has called on temples with incinerators to provide cremations for COVID-19 victims, saying there is no risk of contamination if the body is handled properly.
According to the abbot, a body is sealed in a leak-proof plastic bag and the coffin is disinfected before it is put into the incinerator.
“The temple staff will sanitise the transport vehicle and the coffin before moving the coffin to the incinerator.
“The crematorium is disinfected before prayers. The process takes about 20 minutes,” he said.
Wat Phai Lom has cremated five COVID-19 victims, some of whom were sent there from elsewhere, he said.
Highest death toll yet
Meanwhile, the government confirmed yesterday its highest daily death toll of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started last year.
This month’s death toll amid the third COVID spike has reached 23, equivalent to 0.12% of cases, said Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration, (CCSA).
By last night there had been 1,470 new infections recorded over the previous 24 hours and an overall total of 117 deaths out of 48,113 total infections.
All the new cases were local infections, of which 1,370 were confirmed at hospitals and 100 via mass testing.
Dr Taweesilp said it was a worrying trend. “We remain concerned about the COVID-19 situation in the country because the daily increase is exceeding 1,000 cases,” he said.
All seven fatalities were local people, who had caught the disease since the start of last month and died since Tuesday.
Six of them were aged 45-86 and all had chronic pre-existing ailments, including heart disease and hypertension.
The youngest fatality was a 24-year-old female vendor from Phatthalung, who had struggled with an obesity problem.
On April 7, the woman attended an entertainment venue and came into contact with an infected visitor.
On April 16, she had a fever, sore throat and cough.
She tested positive the following day, with lung inflammation and shortness of breath and died on April 20.
Sparse details have also been released about the health issues of the other fatalities.
They were a 68-year-old Thai female childminder from Saraburi who had allergies;
A Thai man, 83, with hypertension and high cholesterol, in Bangkok;
A bedridden Thai woman, 80, with diabetes, in Nakhon Pathom;
A Thai driver aged 45 with hypertension and high cholesterol, in Bangkok;
A Thai male state enterprise worker, 59, with diabetes, who lived in Bangkok;
and an 86-year-old Thai man with heart disease, also from Bangkok.
The capital logged 446 new cases yesterday, up from 350 on Tuesday and 365 on Wednesday - there were 118 new cases in Nonthaburi, 99 in Chiang Mai, 97 in Chon Buri and 42 in Songkhla.
Of the 48,113 total cases, 29,848 (62%) had recovered, including 477 who had been discharged over the past 24 hours, while 18,148 were still in hospitals.
Dr Taweesilp admitted the huge number of hospitalisations was placing a heavy burden on medical and health personnel.
Global COVID-19 cases rose by 880,977 yesterday to 144.43 million.
The worldwide death toll went up by 14,088 to 3.07 million. New cases in India soared by 315,802 to 15.92 million. The United States had the most cases at 32.60 million, up 65,057.