Families of the deceased can now receive a certificate for cremation two days after they identified the body, after authorities deploy more manpower to handle the wave of Covid-19 deaths, Director of Health Ronald Lam Man-kin said on Monday.
With over 7,000 deaths recorded in fewer than three months, Hong Kong’s fifth wave of Covid
-19 has placed undue stress on the city’s public healthcare system and mortuaries.
Lam said on Monday that the capacity of public mortuaries must be increased as soon as possible to keep up with the thousands of deaths recorded.
To maximize operational capacity, a total of 70 colleagues from the Department of Health have been deployed to help collect the bodies.
Working hours at the Kowloon Public Mortuary have also been extended to keep up with the backlog. Families will be able to conduct the identification procedure on Saturdays and Sunday morning, They will receive a cremation notice two working days after the procedure.
Lam also said that Hong Kong’s public mortuary capacity has increased.
“The storage capacity of public mortuaries has increased from 1,350 to 4,600 with the construction of new storage facilities at Fu Shan Mortuary, which has relieved pressure on A&E departments,” he said.
He also said that there are signs that the fifth wave is beginning to stabilize: “The death count is decreasing, so A&E departments are no longer overcrowded.“
Meanwhile, Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene Irene Young Bick-kwan said that the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department has also made arrangements to cater to families of the deceased.
The number of corpse disposal teams has increased from 10 to 25, and cremators have been operating around the clock since February, with two more to be installed in April.
Lam also said that an emotional support hotline allowing direct communication with clinical psychologists will be set up.