Some Chinese cities have COVID-19 rules not just for the living but also the dead.
The government-backed Shenzhen Funeral Home said it requires a nucleic acid test result for people who have died in areas under virus-protection measures before it proceeds with the last rites, according to a screenshot from the city’s online service platform. A COVID-19 test result helps the funeral parlor to follow necessary protocols in case a person who died of other causes was found to be infected.
The requirement has been in place since early this year, domestic media reported Wednesday. Test results of family members are accepted when such results for the deceased cannot be produced.
A member of staff at the funeral home’s hotline told Sixth Tone that such a requirement is mandatory only when there are local outbreaks. Currently, only family members involved in on-site funeral procedures should produce a negative COVID-19 test result taken within the past 48 hours.
An operator at Shenzhen’s city service hotline said they were unable to locate official documents and policies requiring a nucleic acid test of the deceased.
Shenzhen has reported sporadic local COVID-19 flare-ups this year, with the city locked down for a week in mid-March.
As part of the central government’s “normalized” testing plan, Shenzhen has made negative results from the past 72 hours mandatory to access public transport and crowded spaces since early April. Such requirements sometimes resulted in tragedies for those in urgent need of medical treatment during the lockdown in other cities.
Online, while some users said the funeral parlor’s requirement was reasonable in curbing potential transmission chains, others found it ethically and emotionally unacceptable. Many criticized it for showing little respect to the dead.
“I’m not sure if I would have to wear a mask for the rest of my life … and show my health code when I’m about to be cremated,” one user wrote on microblogging platform Weibo.
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: An exterior view of the assembly hall at the Shenzhen Funeral Home, Guangdong province, 2007. VCG)