Hong Kong funeral directors worry about delays amid lockdown fears

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Dead Bodies

dpa/GNA – An association of Hong Kong funeral directors warned on Thursday that more “ambush-style” lockdowns – the government’s latest approach to coronavirus testing – would result in a backlog of bodies awaiting burial, local media reported.

Sixty funeral parlours in Hung Hom, an area in Kowloon earmarked to undergo more virus testing in the coming days, would be rendered unable to do their work because workers would not be able to enter locked-down areas to operate the parlours, Ng Yiu-tong, president of the Funeral Business Association told Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK).

The affected funeral homes manage more than half of the city’s deceased per day. There are around 47,400 deaths per year in the city and cremation or burial can take from weeks to months due to local bureaucracy.

“If you miss a scheduled time, neither money nor time can compensate the family’s sorrow. How do you give them another schedule? It is very difficult,” Ng told RTHK.

With government-allocated plots few and hard to come by, funeral homes are tasked with housing tens of thousands of burial urns for families waiting, sometime for years, to find a final resting place for their loved ones.

Ng called on the government to exercise discretion to allow those working in the industry to enter sealed-off areas.

“The government will continually review the compulsory testing arrangement of … specified areas taking into account the epidemic development, including whether new ‘specified areas’ will be delineated,” a spokesman said in a statement.

As of Thursday, Hong Kong had recorded 10,332 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 176 deaths.

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