On January 25, the Wuhan government banned all funerals in the city, amid sweeping lockdown measures to contain the outbreak, according to a notice by the municipal civil affairs bureau seen by CNN.

Cemeteries were ordered to close, too.

With most Wuhan residents unable to leave their homes, transport shut and funerals off, the remains of thousands of people who died both from coronavirus and other causes were stored at funeral homes. Families were told to await government advice on when they could be collected.

Many would not get to see the body of their loved ones before cremation. To curb the spread of the virus, the authorities decreed that all bodies of confirmed and suspected coronavirus patients must be taken directly from hospitals to funeral homes for cremation, according to a notice issued by the National Health Commission.