China bans funerals for coronavirus victims

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Beijing: China on Sunday banned funerals, burials and farewell ceremonies for the victims of the novel coronavirus in an effort to control the outbreak as the death toll rose to 304 in the country.

The bodies should be cremated at designated funeral homes near their location, they cannot be transported between regions and cannot be preserved by burial or other means, said the trial guidelines issued by the National Health Commission, the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Public Security.

Funeral traditions such as farewell ceremonies are prohibited and bodies must be disinfected and placed by medical workers into a sealed bag, which thereafter cannot be opened, reports Efe news.

Funeral homes must also send personnel and special vehicles to deliver the bodies according to the designated route, the guidelines said.

Also on Sunday, the Philippines registered the first death outside of China – a 44-year-old Chinese man who had travelled from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Among the China cases confirmed, 444 people are in critical condition while 1,118 are in serious condition, but 85 people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the number of people who have recovered to 328. There remains a total of 19,544 suspected cases in the country.

Although more than 99 per cent of the cases are in China, the virus has spread to at least 23 countries and the World Health Organization has declared an international emergency in the face of the rapid spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the Chinese government has also reported a significant outbreak of H5N1 bird flu on a farm in Hunan province, bordering Hubei.

In the outbreak on a farm in Shuangqing district of Shaoyang citye, 4,500 chickens have died out of 7,850, according to a statement released on Saturday night by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

Local authorities have slaughtered 17,828 poultry after the outbreak, which at the moment has not infected people.

The H5N1 virus causes severe respiratory disease in birds and is contagious to humans, usually who have had prolonged contact with infected birds. According to the World Health Organization, it is possible, but difficult and unusual, to transmit from person to person.

Bird flu has a high mortality rate of 60 per cent, compared to that of SARS (another coronavirus, with 10 per cent) or the new coronavirus (so far, about 2 per cent).

(Agencies)