No wakes for Filipino migrants workers who died of coronavirus in Saudi Arabia


The bodies of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who died of COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia should be buried immediately without the observance of a wake once they arrive home, contrary to Filipino custom, according to the Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH).

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire made the pronouncement on Thursday while assuring that it is safe to bring home the OFWs corpses.

“As soon as [the body]arrives in the country, the casket cannot be opened. That’s part of the sanitation law. Second, it should be buried immediately, [the family]cannot hold a wake,” she said.

“The families, of course, may fetch the bodies of their loved ones but they should immediately have them buried, no wakes,” Vergeire stressed.

According to the health official, “based on our protocol, if you die from an infectious disease, immediately after death you should be sealed off, using two body bags. The casket should also be double sealed,” she said.

Vergeire also cited the laws on sanitation and on notifiable diseases that require the cremation or burial of infected bodies within 12 hours of death.

The government initially planned to have the bodies of the OFWs buried in Saudi Arabia but the families appealed to the government to bring them home.

“This is a special circumstance because cremation is not allowed in Saudi Arabia,” Vergeire said. (Source: