Bodies piling up in people’s homes for days awaiting cremation across China

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Beijing, Dec 28 (IANS) Bodies are piling up in people’s homes awaiting cremation across China, as funeral homes recruit more staff to transport the dead amid a nationwide outbreak of Covid-19 since the loosening of pandemic restrictions, according to a media report.

Mortuaries and funeral homes in Beijing have been overwhelmed in recent days with weeks-long backlog of bodies awaiting cremation, RFA reported.

There was anecdotal evidence on Tuesday that a similar bottleneck is occurring across the country, the report said.

“The most terrifying thing is how many dead bodies are being left at their homes for a day, two days, three days, even six or seven days,” a Shanghai-based business owner surnamed Fang said.

She said her friend’s cousin died at home.

“He was already dead by the time the ambulance came, so they had to leave him there. You have to line up at the crematoriums to get your number [to book a slot], and there are a lot of people in queues there at 4.30 a.m.,” Fang said.

“I called the crematorium the next day and they said I wouldn’t even be able to get a number for two days; that it had been suspended. A lot of dead bodies are being left in their homes for four, five, even seven days,” she said, RFA reported.

China’s National Health Commission has announced that it will no longer be publishing daily Covid-19 infection figures, as the virus rips through the population with the abandonment of rolling lockdowns, mass tracking of citizens and compulsory testing.

A leaked ministerial document dated December 20 — which analysts said was likely the result of computer modeling in the absence of widespread testing — said around 250 million people may now be infected with Covid-19 following the lifting of control measures, RFA reported.

Nobody in Beijing is currently allowed to transport the remains of their dead relatives to funeral homes, but must wait for them to be picked up by funeral home staff.

Reports are emerging that funeral homes are looking to dampen public panic over the current wave of deaths, and dissociate it in people’s minds from Covid-19, RFA reported.

A photograph from a funeral parlor uploaded on social media showed a notice at reception calling on family members of the deceased to “promise that the deceased did not die due to pneumonia from Covid-19”.

“I take full responsibility for any concealment of information,” the families are expected to pledge, according to the notice.

A number of high-profile celebrities have died in recent days, with their deaths attributed to causes other than Covid-19, including 27-year-old actor and motorcyclist Wang Yibo, RFA reported.

Keyword searches for Wang Yibo had hit 370 million views on the social platform Sina Weibo after his death was reported in the early hours of December 25, with media reports attributing it to “encephalitis”.

–IANS

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