China's crematoriums struggle as Covid cases soar

China's crematoriums struggle as Covid cases soar
China's crematoriums struggle as Covid cases soar

Crematoriums across China said they were straining to deal with an influx of bodies, as the country battles a wave of Covid cases that authorities have admitted is impossible to track.

Hospitals are struggling and pharmacy shelves have been stripped bare in the wake of the Chinese government's sudden decision last month to lift nearly three years of lockdowns, quarantines and mass testing.

In Chongqing -- a city of 30 million where authorities this week urged people with "mild" Covid symptoms to go to work -- one crematorium said  they had run out of space to keep bodies.

In the southern megapolis of Guangzhou, one crematorium in Zengcheng district said  they were cremating over 30 bodies a day. 

Another crematorium in the city said they were "extremely busy" as well.

"It's three or four times busier than in previous years, we are cremating over 40 bodies per day when before it was only a dozen or so," a staffer said.

In the capital Beijing, local authorities reported just five deaths from Covid-19  -- up from two the previous day.

Outside the city's Dongjiao Crematorium, reporters saw more than a dozen vehicles waiting to enter, most of them hearses or funerary coaches displaying sombre-coloured ribbons and bouquets of flowers.

Delays in entering the crematorium were obvious, with a driver towards the front of the queue telling he had already waited several hours.

It was not immediately clear whether an increase in Covid deaths was causing the backlog, and crematorium staff declined to answer questions.