Widespread pressure on funeral homes in China amid Covid outbreak

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New Delhi, Dec 31 (IANS) China said that it has been fully “transparent” about its Covid-19 reporting, amid criticism on social media over the governments reporting of the outbreak and widespread pressure on funeral homes, according to a media report.

Social media comments in China took issue with recent death figures, which admitted to just one death on December 26, as many people know family and friends who have died and are having trouble booking cremations, RFA reported.

“Ask your conscience – do you believe this?” one comment read, while another quipped: “Is this the department of disease control or the ministry of magic?”

Where local governments are publishing figures, they often make confusing reading, and bear little resemblance to what people are seeing with their own eyes on the ground.

The current wave of infections has prompted calls for the cancellation of the annual Spring Festival Gala, which airs on Lunar New Year as people reunite with their families. However, posts calling for this were rapidly removed by government censors, RFA reported.

Bodies were piling up in people’s homes awaiting cremation bookings across China in recent days, as funeral homes recruited more staff to transport the dead amid a nationwide outbreak of Covid-19 since the loosening of pandemic restrictions.

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

Local media in Guangzhou reported on huge crowds of people waiting to secure cremation bookings outside the city’s Yinheyuan funeral parlor, with many complaining that their loved one’s remains were still in their homes, and that they couldn’t make a booking on the phone.

Shanghai news site The Paper quoted the deputy emergency room chief of Shanghai’s Ruijin Hospital as saying that emergency room visits have doubled in the city due to the current wave of COVID-19 infections.

“We are seeing an emerging peak of serious cases amid the increase in Covid-19 infections,” it quoted Zhuang Xu as saying, adding that some ERs are seeing as many as 1,000 patients a day, twice their usual capacity.

“Emergency rooms are under great pressure, and there are acute staff shortages,” he said, adding that nearly half of the emergent patients are elderly people, half of whom have symptoms of pneumonia. Many are being admitted due to hypoxemia and difficulty breathing, the report quoted Zhuang as saying, RFA reported.

An official at the Yongnian district civil affairs bureau in the northern city of Handan confirmed in a report by Yu Media that funeral homes in the city are also currently under huge pressure.

(Sanjeev Sharma can be reached at [email protected])



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