Local authorities in Vietnam are investigating the transport of 46 corpses, including 41 bodies of coronavirus patients, in a truck from Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong Delta city of Ben Tre for cremation, as the act violated epidemic prevention rules.
Health authorities of Ben Tre Province on Monday said they have requested agencies concerned in Ben Tre City, the provincial capital, to investigate and handle the case in accordance with applicable regulations.
The removal of bodies of coronavirus patients from an epidemic area without notifying health authorities is a violation of the Ministry of Health’s epidemic prevention and control regulations, said Ngo Van Tan, director of the provincial health department.
The use of non-specialized vehicles to transport bodies is also a violation of body handling rules, said Tan.
On Sunday, Le Phuc Hau, a 28-year-old man of Vinh Long Province, drove a truck carrying 28 corpses on two trips from Ho Chi Minh City to the Phuc Lac Vien Crematorium in Ben Tre City’s Phu Hung Commune, without a prior agreement with the facility.
The dead bodies were collected from different addresses in Ho Chi Minh City, which is about 88 kilometers from Ben Tre.
On Monday, Hau transported 18 more bodies from Ho Chi Minh City to a crematorium for cremation before the facility reported it to local police.
By then, the crematorium had cremated 18 out of the 46 bodies so authorities let it continue the cremation of the remaining corpses.
This happened while social distancing measures are in effect in many southeastern and western localities, the official added.
The truck used in the transport is among 'green lane' vehicles that have been granted a QR code that enables them to pass through COVID-19 checkpoints while they are carrying essential commodities, transport workers, or perform other allowed duties.
However, Hau has violated regulations applied to such vehicles, police of Ben Tre City said.
Meanwhile, the Ho Chi Minh City Command, which has been tasked by the city’s administration to handle the corpses and ashes of people who died of the novel coronavirus, on Tuesday said it would clarify the case and penalize law violators.
The command has set up seven city-level teams and directed the military commands of Thu Duc City and other districts to establish local groups of 140 members in total to receive and handle the corpses of coronavirus patients.
The agency has also deployed forces to ensure security and order at the Binh Hung Hoa Cremation Center in Binh Tan District, and organized the reception, transport and handover of the remains of people who died of COVID-19 to their families in line with local customs and traditions.
Since the pandemic hit Vietnam in early 2020, Ho Chi Minh City has documented 152,376 COVID-19 patients, including 4,912 deaths, the Ministry of Health reported on Monday evening.
The city has recently become the largest epicenter of COVID-19 in the country, with thousands of infections per day, most dominated by the highly contagious Delta variant.
Nationwide, 283,696 COVID-19 patients have been recorded, including 106,977 recoveries and 6,141 deaths, according to the ministry’s data.