Cedric “Burkie” Burke

Derek Achong

Relatives of Sea Lots businessman Cedric “Burkie” Burke have decided to forgo having an autopsy done on his body.

Guardian Media understands that they made the decision after utilising the Ministry of Health’s procedure for relatives to have a final viewing of their loved ones, who passed away after contracting the COVID-19 virus.

Guardian Media was told that the grieving relatives did not want to tarnish their memories of their beloved patriarch by seeking to have his body medically examined by a private pathologist.

They were, however, greatful that the ministry was willing to facilitate their request, sources said.

Sources said that attorneys Richard Clarke-Wills, Lemuel Murphy and Chelsea John, who are representing the family, would be considering the issue further to determine if any of legal action is warranted.

According to reports, Burke went to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital on September 9 and complained of feeling unwell.

The following day, he was transferred to transferred to the Arima Hospital, which is one of the facilities designed for treatment of COVID-19 patients.

He was then transferred to the Couva Medical and Multi-training Facility, where he spent a night before passing away the following afternoon.

In a pre-action protocol letter issued on Saturday, the family’s attorneys, claimed that their clients were not satisfied with the cause of death suggested by health officials.

They claimed that earlier that day he spoke to several persons including Clarke-Wills and claimed that he was administered a substance that made him feel “numb and uneasy”.

They requested that his medical records be disclosed and that his body be preserved in the event that they required an independent autopsy.

The following day, the ministry agreed to the request and began providing the documents, which were to be considered by the family’s independent medical expert before they decide on whether an autopsy is required or not.

Under the Health Ministry’s COVID-19 policies and guidelines autopsies are not performed on deceased patients, who undergo mandatory cremation.

The ministry’s policy also provides a method for relatives to have a final viewing but under strict conditions including no physical contact and three foot physical distancing.

Relatives are permitted to use electronic media to stream images to the bereaved for not more than a minute.