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5 Jan, 2021 13:32

‘Nowhere to retreat from here’: Packed crematoriums struggle to burn bodies of Covid-19 victims in Czech Republic & Slovakia

‘Nowhere to retreat from here’: Packed crematoriums struggle to burn bodies of Covid-19 victims in Czech Republic & Slovakia

Officials in the Czech Republic and Slovakia are sounding the alarm, as crematoriums struggle with the influx of bodies of Covid-19 victims.

“The pandemic is affecting the Ostrava crematorium in such a way that they are unable to cremate all of the dead there,” regional governor Ivo Vondrak said, adding that he will ask the government for “coordination and redistribution [of the bodies] in the area.”

Vondrak told iDNES.cz news website that the crematorium in the eastern Czech city has already been using additional cooling equipment. However, it does not have the sheer capacity to handle the demand.

Ostrava Mayor Tomas Macura said the crematorium is the largest in the country – and the only one in the region.

They are working in three shifts to cremate in three furnaces. It’s still not enough, and bodies are waiting there for cremation. Out of sensitivity, we didn’t want to publicize it for some time, but we can’t hold off any longer. Otherwise, people will not realize the seriousness of the situation.

“There is nowhere to go, nowhere retreat from here,” the mayor said.

According to iDNES.cz, 80 bodies were sent for cremation on New Year’s Eve, and that figure has been even higher on other days. The usual number of bodies designated for cremation is “roughly half” of that, the news outlet said.

A similar crisis has been unfolding in the Czech Republic’s eastern neighbor Slovakia, where a crematorium in the city of Nitra is also becoming overwhelmed. Just like in Ostrava, bodies are being brought there from all over the region.

Local media said that the main hospital and morgues in Nitra are getting overwhelmed.

“We are still having two to four funerals a day, and another five to six bodies are arriving. We don’t have time to bury them,” a worker at a funeral home told TV channel Markiza.

Reports said city officials set up a refrigerator unit near the cemetery, and were ready to store the bodies in the winter sports stadium if additional space is required.

“The numbers are very bad for the whole of December. The Nitra district is always in the ‘red zone’. We are the worst,” the city’s mayor, Marek Hattas, said.

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Like their fellow EU nations, the Czech Republic and Slovakia began their vaccination campaigns in late December.

The Czech Health Ministry recorded 12,860 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, bringing the country’s total to 759,635. According to the government data, 12,257 people have died there from the virus since the start of the pandemic.

Slovakia’s Public Health Authority said on Monday that the number of cases there has grown by 7,223 to 110,279. The country’s overall death toll from Covid-19 is 2,603.

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