Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
Across the globe, many more funerals are being held this year than normal.
It’s difficult to know what’s happening out there. Much of our coronavirus data is of dubious quality. Different jurisdictions count cases and deaths differently. Even countries with superior health care systems are reporting miscounts, delays, and odd glitches.
Nevertheless, some conclusions are possible. The UK’s Financial Times has compared the number of deaths that particular nations and cities have experienced so far this year to the average number of deaths in recent years.
Its verdict: Iceland, Israel, and Norway appear to have no excess deaths. COVID-19 fatalities are exceptionally low in each of those countries – amounting to only 830 between them so far. These deaths seem to have been counterbalanced by fewer deaths from other causes. During lockdowns, fewer people drown or die in automobile accidents, for example.
But in most of the countries examined, funerals have definitely increased. In Austria (+8%), Denmark (+6%), and Germany (+5%) the increase has been in the single digits.
In the US, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, deaths appear to be up by 25%. That’s a noticeable change. If you have sufficient space, staff, and medicine to treat 100 sick people, but 125 are lined up outside your door it’s going to be one horrendous day.
In some European countries, the increase has been more significant:
The thing about this pandemic is that it isn’t evenly distributed. Many locales have been spared. But if you have the misfortune to reside in an especially hard-hit nation or city, matters have turned nightmarish:
Santiago, Chile +102%
Madrid, Spain +157%
New York City +208%
Lima, Peru +289%