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Beijing: Deceased SARS victims cremated on site

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[Beijing, April 27, 2003] The Health and Civil Affairs Ministries have issued an urgent decree that all diseased SARS patients must be cremated where they lie dead in a timely manner and that they cannot be transferred or buried. This decree also demands that funerals or other forms of farewell ceremonies are not permitted to be held for such SARS victims.

These two ministries also made special rules for victims from minority groups and overseas visitors: After their bodies are cremated, their ashes may be moved in accordance with the wishes of their families.

Because there are limited cremation facilities in China, most of such cremation work will take place close by the isolation wards. For example, Beijing Childrens Hospital has been now ordered to be closed to the public. Yet 40% of its hospital staff are reportedly SARS-infected and are forced to stay inside the hospital. A few of them have managed to call outside in the hope that their stories could be told overseas, claiming that the entire hospital has been turned into a “cemetery” where several hundred medical staff are facing a chilling fate ahead.

Local reporters claim that SARS first appeared in Beijing and Guangdong last fall, and the situation has grown out of hand only due to the government’s cover-up.

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