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Corpses piled up in crematorium at German virus hotspot



Meissen, Germany (AP)-The coffins are stacked on three levels in the gloomy memorial hall of the Meissen Crematorium, stacked in the empty office, and stored in the corridor. Many containers are sealed with plastic packaging, while others are labeled as “risk of infection”, “emergency” or simply “COVID”.

In this corner of eastern Germany, coronavirus deaths have surged, boosting the business of crematorium manager Joerg Schaldach and his employees, but no one celebrates.

Shardach said: “At the moment, the situation is a bit nervous for us.”

; Another contractor’s truck stopped outside.

At this time of the year, when the flu season causes serious harm to the elderly, crematoriums usually have 70 to 100 coffins.

Schaldach said: “More people die in winter than in summer, which is normal.” “This has always been the case.”

Now he has 300 corpses waiting to be cremated. Every day dozens of corpses are transported to a modernist building on a hill overlooking Meissen, an ancient town known for its exquisite porcelain. It is famous for its impressive Gothic castle.

On Monday, Meissen County once again ranked top in Germany’s COVID-19 rankings, with an infection rate three times the national average. The state of Saxony in which Meissen is located includes six of the ten worst-hit counties in Germany.

Schaldach said that the crematorium is doing its best to meet the demand, burning two furnaces every 45 minutes and processing 60 cremations a day.

He said: “The ashes are still in the right.”

However, although staff usually do their best to ensure that the deceased appears to be the last farewell to relatives, the infection rules now mean that the coffins of COVID victims must always be kept closed, which makes the whole process even more important for those involved. difficult.

Schaldach said: “This is our business. We have seen death many times.” “The problem we see is that grieving relatives need our help. At present, people need more comforting words because they have already treated the deceased’s relatives Give it to the ambulance, and then they will never see them again.”

Some people associate the high infection rate in Saxony with broader anti-government sentiment in the state, where more than a quarter of the people voted for an alternative to the far-right German party in the last national election. Members of Congress opposed the requirement to wear masks, restrict gatherings and close shops. Some even deny that there is a pandemic.

Other commentators pointed out that the state has a large number of elderly people and relies on nursing home workers in the neighboring Czech Republic, which has an even higher COVID-19 infection rate.

Officials in Meissen, including the county chief, the local medical association, and the parliamentarian representing the region, and colleagues of Prime Minister Angela Merkel, declined to be interviewed about the matter.

The governor of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer, admitted in a recent daily interview with Freie Presse that he underestimated the impact of the pandemic on the state and that he has been People who keep the school open are paying too much attention.

A video shows Krechmer talking to anti-blockade demonstrators outside his home on Sunday, and at the end he walks away because a man is wearing a mask that looks like the war flag of the German Empire, which is favored by extreme right-wing extremists .

Schaldach, the manager of the crematorium, says that most people in Saxony accept these regulations. But he has also read comments about social media brand reports that said that the accumulation of dead bodies in his crematorium was fake news.

Those who believe in conspiracy theories are of no avail. We do not want to argue with them. He told the Associated Press. “They have faith, we have our knowledge. “

There are no people along the streets of Meissen, no ordinary tourists, or even the hustle and bustle of locals.

Franziska Schlieter runs a gourmet shop in the historic city center, which is one of the few shops allowed to operate during the ban. Her shop has been run by five generations of her family and is now maintained by a bunch of regular customers buying lottery cards and gift baskets.

Schlitt said: “In the Bible, God makes people suffer the plague when they do not act.” Schlitt said that he thought it was a mistake to relax the blockade during Christmas. “Sometimes I have to think about this.”

On the cobblestone square, Matthias Huth drove a lonely dining truck outside the restaurant he closed. He defended those who questioned the government’s restrictions on COVID-19, but he said that suspicion should not be a reason for denial.

“The conversation started to change.” Huth brought a plate of chopped blood sausage, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes, which the locals called “dead granny.” “Everyone wants it to end.”

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Kerstin Sopke contributed to the report.

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Learn about AP’s pandemic report at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine And https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak


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