Report: Chinese Funeral Homes Report Surge of Dead Following Protests, End of Lockdowns


Radio Free Asia (RFA) on Thursday quoted Chinese funeral home employees who said their facilities are struggling to keep up with fatalities following the Communist Party allegedly ending “large-scale” lockdowns, a move it made after nationwide protests.

According to RFA’s sources, not only are alleged coronavirus deaths on the rise – a seemingly unusual development, given that Beijing has admitted to only a handful of fatalities during the entire pandemic, and the highly contagious omicron variants of Chinese coronavirus are less likely to be fatal than the original outbreak – but funeral homes are struggling with staff shortages from illness.

“Due to a number of positive tests among funeral home employees over the past couple of days, there is now a serious staff shortage. And due to the recent increase in death rates in Beijing, cremations are now being scheduled for 5-7 days’ time. There is a serious issue with the backlog of human remains,” an employee from a Beijing hospital wrote on social media on Wednesday.

“We are very busy right now, with a lot of cremations happening every day,” a staffer at the Babaoshan Crematorium in Beijing said when RFA called to inquire about the workload.

“It doesn’t matter how many furnaces there are; there is a lot of business and we are running them 24 hours, with cremations going on through the night,” the staffer said, saying it would take at least four days to schedule a cremation. 

The Baobashan Crematorium boasts 19 furnaces, according to municipal records, each of which should be able to handle over 30 cremations a day. RFA estimated Beijing has enough furnaces to cremate over 3,000 people a day without exceeding their capacity.

Other Chinese social media users reported even longer wait times at crematoriums around the city, and several facilities told RFA they were booked to capacity or sold out entirely.

The Chinese government has reported only 31,057 deaths to the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) during the entire pandemic, and only 73 fatalities during the past week. Among other clues that the true total could be much higher, RFA quoted Taiwanese reports about obituaries popping up at Chinese universities – major hubs for the latest wave of protests – and “a recent spike in deaths of elderly people in Beijing.”

China has been having trouble getting elderly residents to get vaccinated or seek booster shots, in part because they distrust the scandal-plagued Chinese pharmaceutical industry, worry about side effects for older people with pre-existing medical conditions, and tend to prefer traditional herbal remedies. Unlike most other countries, China’s early vaccination drives focused on young workers instead of vulnerable older people.


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