Dec 19, 2022
Funeral Homes Struggle to Keep Up in COVID-Hit Beijing Transcript
Funeral homes across Beijing scrambled to keep up with calls for funeral and cremation services as workers and drivers testing positive for COVID-19 called in sick. Read the transcript here.
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Queues of hearses bearing the dead, lined the driveway to a designated COVID-19 crematorium in Beijing on Saturday. Workers at the city’s dozen funeral homes were busier than normal. After China reversed tight pandemic restrictions earlier this month. The spread of the omicron variant has hit a range of services in recent days, funeral homes and crematoriums are no exception, they’re struggling to keep up with demand as more staff and drivers testing positive for Coronavirus call in sick. On Saturday afternoon, a [inaudible 00:00:35] journalist saw some 30 stationary hearses leading to the COVID designated crematorium, one truck carried a body wrapped in a blanket in the back. At least one body was seen at the mortuary as numerous chimneys billowed smoke from the ongoing cremations. The parking security operator and the owner of an urn shop at the funeral home building told Reuters the number of deaths was above average in this period and higher than before most pandemic curves were lifted.
Reuters could not immediately establish if the deaths and increased demand for cremation were due to COVID-19. China is yet to officially report any COVID death since December 7th when the country abruptly abolished much of its Zero COVID policy. That move came after unprecedented public protests against the protocol. A US-based research institute said this week that over a million people in China could die of COVID in 2023. A sharp surge in deaths would test authorities efforts to move China away from endless testing, lockdowns and heavy travel restrictions, and realign with a world that’s largely reopened to live with the disease. Since lifting restrictions earlier this month, China has told its population of 1.4 billion to stay home if they have mild symptoms, as cities across the country brace for their first waves of infections. The lack of officially reported COVID deaths for the past 10 days has stirred debates on social media over data disclosure, fueled also by a lack of statistics over hospitalizations and the number of seriously ill.