Coronavirus: Spike in divorces as fighting couples forced into isolation - report

There's reportedly been a "unprecedented" spike in divorces in China as couples forced to stay in isolation realise they're not right for each other. 

State-run English-language newspaper the Global Times reports marriage registration offices in Xi'an have been booked out weeks in advance since they reopened on March 1.

They had been closed for a month in an attempt to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which emerged in late December. 

"We started receiving some telephone appointments on March 2, and more appointments came in the next future days [sic]," an official named only as Wang told the paper.

People suspected to have contracted the virus, but don't need hospital-level care, are urged to stay home in self-isolation. The guideline here in New Zealand is two weeks.

"As a result of the epidemic, many couples have been bound with each other at home for over a month, which evoked the underlying conflicts," Wang said said. 

Another official, named only as Han, said offices in their district were also booked out, with simmering disagreements coming to the fore during self-isolation - but suggested all some couples needed was a break from each other, not a divorce.

"We received some divorce appointments and they regretted it later," he told the Global Times.

Officials are unable to rush through too many divorce proceedings as the offices need to be disinfected after each couple's visit, the paper reported.

China's efforts to slow the spread of the virus have been largely successful, with the rate of new infections in the sprawling country slowing to a crawl in the past couple of weeks. 

While most of the 105,000 confirmed cases so far have been in China, the disease is now spreading much faster elsewhere in the world. At current infection rates, there will be more cases outside of China - where the virus originated - than inside within little more than a week.