55-year-old Hubert Pipersburgh is the first victim of COVID-19 in Belize. He passed away on Sunday, April 5 at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. Love News understands that his body has been cremated and that the family is having a hard time doing a private memorial since they are under quarantine. While the other seven patients confirmed with COVID-19 are not displaying severe symptoms and are not seemingly near-fatal, the Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero did indicate earlier today on Ask the Expert Show that Belize would have to have the discussion on how to handle the bodies of those who die from the virus.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “This is very important and we have realized that we are going to have to have a discussion specific on how we handle cadavers. I know that’s not a topic we would want to address but I think in all fairness, in all honesty if our curve which is we’re now starting to have a curve if those numbers start to go up, if we are not able to contain it, and again that’s a joint venture with the community, people can be expected if the numbers start to go up and depending on the population that’s affected that people will die. There’s specific recommendations in terms of what should be done with the cadaver of a patient who has died of COVID-19. We are not considering doing an autopsy on anybody who has a diagnosis of COVID-19 I need to say that off the bat almost immediately. We are also not considering that a body should be kept in the morgue for I mean not even an overnight stay- as long as we have a cadaver we have to find a means of getting it to the family following the proper processes and we’ll probably have someone from Public Health come and explain all that that means for the family. There’s two things that I think we need to be aware of and we need to be very very clear on that, understand that somebody who is critically ill has a COVID-19 situation is not going to be allowed any visitation; even the two patients both in Corozal and Karl Heusner visitors are not allowed so you’re not necessarily going to be seeing your family members. I know in the case of the patient number seven he does calls via his phone because he’s not intubated but I mean once you’re intubated there’s not much communication or connection that you’re going to be able to have with your sick family member and we need to be able to say that. Sometimes if you have been exposed because of your family members you understand that you will also be under either self isolation if you are also diagnosed positive or under quarantine so I know that that’s a difficult message to be able to give to you but you are also not going to be able to perhaps see your family member if they die. Why? Because you yourself are under quarantine and self isolation so we need to be able to say that and we’ll have somebody come and explain how it is that we anticipate to handle the cadaver of a COVID-19 patient, I mean that’s our reality.”
Pipersburgh was the Economic Advisor for the Belize City Mayor at the time of his passing.