Hong Kong storing bodies in shipping containers amid Omicron

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Hong Kong storing bodies in shipping containers amid Omicron

The bodies of coronavirus victims in Hong Kong are being stored in refrigerated shipping containers as a deadly Omicron surge pushes morgues past capacity, harrowing photos show.

Photos obtained Wednesday by AFP show workers in full personal protective equipment putting corpses into a refrigerated container at a mortuary in Hong Kong, where more than 4,600 deaths and nearly 1 million infections have been tallied in the past three months.

The rising death toll has pushed local morgues to the brink and exhausted Hong Kong’s supply of coffins. Just 300 remain and those are expected to be depleted by this weekend, AFP reported.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Wednesday two more shipments of coffins were expected to arrive from mainland China by sea.

Authorities have been trying to help families retrieve bodies of loved ones without having a death certificate issued by a physician, Lam said.

Workers carry a body.
Workers in protective equipment putting corpses into a refrigerated container at a mortuary in Hong Kong.
Bertha Wang/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“We will try to find a way for the family to take the body back so that they can arrange the funeral soon,” Lam said at a press conference. “The crematoriums … have also been working day and night at full capacity.”

The workers in full PPE gear moved bodies covered in black tarps from a truck into rows of shipping containers outside Fu Shan Public Mortuary, photos show.

Researchers in Hong Kong estimate the virus has likely already infected half of its 7.4 million people. Many Chinese citizens have expressed outrage while claiming the rampant spread is due in part to Hong Kong’s poor pandemic response, AFP reported.

Workers unload bodies.
Hong Kong has recorded 4,600 deaths and nearly 1 million infections in the past three months.
Louise Delmotte/Getty Images
Workers carrying bodies into containers.
The rising death toll has pushed local morgues to the brink and exhausted Hong Kong’s supply of coffins.
Louise Delmotte/Getty Images

Government-managed beaches will be closed starting Thursday after photos emerged of maskless Hong Kong residents taking in some rays.

“As we see a surge of people going to beaches, we have taken appropriate measures in order … to reduce the public’s movements to ensure safety,” Lam told reporters.

The new protocol adds to Hong Kong’s pandemic restrictions, including bans on gatherings of more than two. There’s also been talk of a lockdown — like recent ones in mainland China — to test the entire population, but Lam said Wednesday the virus appears have peaked on March 3 before starting a downward trend that leveled off Friday.

“This is an unprecedented situation,” Lam said Wednesday.

Hong Kong’s overburdened health system has spread uncertainty throughout the sprawling city, where most of the death toll has been unvaccinated elderly residents.

“It’s a helpless situation,” single mother Wong Wing-tsang told the Associated Press after spending days trying to get her 10-year-old daughter, who tested positive, to see a doctor. “We can only count on ourselves.”

Another Hong Kong woman said she’s been confused by the mixed messages from government officials on mass testing and a possible lockdown.

Workers move a body.
Hong Kong has banned gatherings of more than two to combat the surge of COVID-19 cases.
Dale De La Rey/AFP via Getty Images
Workers carry bodies.
Most of Hong Kong’s death toll has been unvaccinated elderly residents.
Bertha Wang/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“Honestly, I think government policies keep changing all the time and it’s hard for residents to follow,” Alison Hui told the Associated Press. “We don’t know if an announcement is real or not. It really makes us feel very worried.”

With Post wires

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