Across China, those who can afford it are getting their elderly relatives out of the major cities to protect them from succumbing to the wave of COVID-19 that is currently battering the country.

“The COVID situation is really bad right now,” 24-year-old Shuwen Lu said over a WeChat connection from her home in Beijing.

Lu, who is also currently fighting a COVID infection, told how her grandparents were helped out of Beijing to a small village where the family has a house.

“Had they stayed in the city, they might soon have joined the countless elderly people that are dying right now,” Lu said.

Since authorities began lifting China’s strict COVID restrictions in early December, numerous reports have emerged of people falling sick with the virus

hospitals overwhelmed with patients, and the country’s crematoriums struggling to keep up with an influx of bodies arriving at their doors.

The elderly are especially vulnerable to infection from COVID-19 and, according to reports, in China, two-thirds of those aged 80 years and older have been vaccinated