No escaping crowded HK even in death

Local | Jane Cheung 31 Jan 2019

Hongkongers may have to stay in an overcrowded environment even after they die, as a local hospital has put up a notice warning that two corpses may share the same compartment in its morgue.

The notice at Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital said two corpses of the same sex may be squeezed into one compartment if the morgue runs beyond capacity.

"Patients need to queue for a long time at public hospitals before they die," wrote netizen Alan Law, who posted the notice on a Facebook group. "Even the dead now can't even get their last respect."

Law said the notice was located near the registration counters at the Tai Po hospital.

"We're literally queuing and living in an overcrowded environment from when we're alive to after we die," he wrote.

The notice said the use of the mortuary is currently extremely high, and in the event that the number of bodies exceeds the storage capacity, the hospital will temporarily store two bodies in one compartment. As a temporary relief measure, the bodies may also be transferred to mortuaries in other hospitals. The notice also called for families of the deceased to collect the bodies as soon as possible to avoid potential overcrowding.

The post sparked heated discussion, and questions were raised whether the arrangement would be disrespectful to the dead.

The peak season for morgues falls in the winter every year, especially just prior to the Lunar New Year as Chinese people usually don't hold funerals during the festive period. People also avoid going to funeral homes during the holiday as they believe it may bring bad luck.

A staff member at the morgue said in order to respect the dead, the bodies won't be piled up. Instead, they'll be placed on two separate plates next to each other, facing opposite directions.

Another notice posted outside Fu Shan Mortuary in Tai Wai said special arrangements have been made around the Lunar New Year holiday.

In addition to the three public mortuaries - Kwai Chung, Fu Shan and Victoria - the Department of Health has activated its backup facilities at the Kowloon Public Mortuary since January 15, it said. A Hospital Authority spokesman said currently, morgues at public hospitals are 70 percent occupied and the arrangement of storing two bodies in one compartment will only be adopted when the mortuaries run beyond their capacities.

It said the notice at the Tai Po hospital was a regular reminder for families to retrieve the bodies of their relatives.

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