Workers at a German crematorium are resorting to stacking coffins one on top of the other as the country battles a new surge in coronavirus deaths during an intense second wave of the pandemic.
The city of Meissen crematorium, in the eastern state of Saxony, started feeling the impact in November, when coronavirus-related deaths began increasing at an unexpected rate, according to crematorium manager Joerg Schaldach.
“We have a lot of coronavirus cases right now which is obviously highly unusual,” Schaldach said.
“We have twice as many deaths as before. People of course also die of other causes such as heart failure and circulatory failure, but those who die from coronavirus are extra and those are a 100 percent increase. In fact, the death rate has doubled.”
The crematorium has a dozen workers, who typically work a two-shift system from Monday to Friday. Now, the employees are forced to put in more time, Schaldach said.
“We are working around the clock, Monday to Sunday,” he said. “This way we are able to handle the dead and cremate them as soon as possible.”
People are no longer allowed to visit their loved ones at the hospital, “and you can’t hold their hand anymore as they die,” Schaldach said.
“All you get is a call: ‘deceased,” he added. “A farewell at the coffin is not possible. All you get is an urn. That’s the problem the next of kin are faced with, they have to deal with their grief. It’s a very, very difficult process for people to send off a loved one and get the person back in an urn.”
In total, Germany has seen more than 2 million coronavirus cases and 45,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
But Saxony didn’t take the brunt of the first wave, according to City Council member Ute Czeschka.
“I think we hardly had a first wave in Saxony,” Czeschka said.
“There were hardly any coronavirus cases from last March up until the summer and people got used to it. That’s how we started into the fall and winter season. People didn’t experience it firsthand and they were relaxed accordingly. Ultimately, we were overwhelmed by this wave.”
With Post wires
German crematorium struggles to keep up with surge in COVID-19 deaths The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ New York Post.