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Crematoriums in China face difficulties as COVID spreads | Coronavirus pandemic news


Crematoriums in cities across China are struggling to cope with a growing number of bodies amid the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. expanding COVID-19 outbreakaccording to media reports, as authorities scrambled to install hospital beds and build fever screening clinics.

Crematoriums in the cities of Beijing, Chongqing and Guangzhou told AFP news agency on Tuesday they were much busier than usual, with one of the facilities reportedly running out of space for bodies. .

But the news agency said it could not determine whether the increase in deaths was related to COVID-19 as staff declined to answer questions.

Despite the strain on crematoriums, the National Health Commission reported five COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, followed by two on Monday, all in the capital. Beijing and were the first deaths reported in weeks.

In total, China has only reported 5,242 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic broke out in the central Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019 – a very low number by global standards. bridge.

But there is growing doubt that the statistics are reflecting the true consequences of a disease that tore through Chinese cities after the administration began this month. lift the country’s strict “no COVID” regime about lockdown and testing later widespread protests against the curb.

Since the lifting of restrictions, some hospitals have become overwhelmed, pharmacies have run out of drugs, and many people have had to self-lock, putting a strain on delivery services.

Some health experts estimate that 60% of the people of China – or 10% of the world’s population – could be infected in the coming months and more than two million people could die.

In Beijing, a city of 21 million people, security guards were seen patrolling the entrance of a designated COVID-19 crematorium, where more than a dozen vehicles were waiting to enter.

AFP said the delay in entering the crematorium was evident, as a driver at the front of the queue told the news agency he had been waiting several hours.

In Chongqing – a city of 30 million people where authorities this week urged people with “mild” COVID-19 symptoms to return to work – a crematorium told AFP it had run out of space to keep bodies.

“The number of bodies recovered in recent days is many times higher than in the past,” said one employee, who asked not to be named. They added: “We are very busy, there is no cold storage for the bodies.

But staffers declined to say whether the deaths were related to COVID-19, telling AFP to ask “the leaders in charge”.

In the southern megacity of Guangzhou, a crematorium in the Zengcheng district said it cremated more than 30 bodies a day.

“We have agencies assigned to us from other counties. There is no other option,” said one employee.

Another crematorium in the city said it was also “extremely busy”.

“Three or four times busier than in previous years, we cremated more than 40 bodies a day while before there were only a dozen or so bodies,” an employee said.

“The whole of Guangzhou is like this. We’ve been receiving calls repeatedly,” they added, noting that “it’s hard to say” whether the increase in the death toll is related to COVID-19.

In downtown Bao Dinh, an employee of a crematorium told AFP: “Of course, we’re busy, what workplace isn’t busy right now?”

Meanwhile, the Communist Party-owned Global Times tabloid said cities across the country were stepping up efforts to expand intensive care units and boost stockpiles of medical supplies.

In Guangzhou, authorities are increasing the number of ICU beds or Intensive Care Units from 455 to 1,385 in preparation for the predicted peak in early January, a local health official told the news site. this.

It also cites observers as saying that even with ICU construction underway, the lack of adequately trained medical staff for the facilities remains a major challenge.

In addition to installing new beds, cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Wenzhou said they have also added hundreds of fever clinics, some of which have converted sports facilities.

Viruses are also economic blow to Chinais expected to grow below 3% this year, the worst performance in nearly half a century.

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