Hong Kong runs low on coffins as omicron exacts deadly toll

While the COVID-19 pandemic has ebbed in many other parts of the world, the recent surge in Hong Kong has been brutal. The country's death toll has gone from 259 to 4,600 in a month as coffin supplies have run low.


World News

March 18, 2022 - 4:19 PM

Empty coffins (center) are delivered to a funeral services shop and funeral parlours in the Kowloon district of Hong Kong on March 17, 2022. - A funeral industry representative on March 16 told local media the soaring death toll due to COVID-19 had seen a crunch in the city's coffins supply, with only 300 remaining and expected to be gone by the weekend. (Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

SINGAPORE — The repurposed AsiaWorld Expo center in Hong Kong echoes with the moans of elderly COVID-19 patients. Kept in 8-square-foot cubicles, many go weeks without fresh air, sunlight or a bath. Some take their last breaths under the harsh glow of the convention hall lights. On a good day, an ambulance will arrive in an hour to carry their bodies away.

“It’s a nightmare,” said Lily, a 22-year-old nurse at the isolation facility. “Sometimes we call for an ambulance because a patient needs to go to a hospital and we’re told it will take one to two days to arrive. It’s really shocking.”

The nurse, exhausted by having to care for more than 150 patients with one other co-worker, declined to give her last name because staffers were ordered not to speak to the press about the conditions at the site, which have come to exemplify the runaway COVID-19 crisis in Hong Kong.

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