According to social media posts, China appears to be seeing an increase in the number of Covid-19 deaths across a large swath of the country that are not being reported in government figures, according to the report. social media posts, fueling speculation that officials are covering up the full impact of their sudden departure from Covid Zero. .
People from Hebei in the north to Guangdong in the south have flocked to China’s Twitter-style Weibo platform to post longer-than-usual queues at funeral homes and crematoriums handling numbers. body is increasing. Reports indicate that the wave of deaths, so far concentrated in the capital Beijing – which has officially had seven deaths in recent days despite an explosion of infections – is underway. quietly spread through less prominent areas of the country.
A man who said he worked at a crematorium in Hebei wrote in a Weibo post, which was later deleted, that his facility was performing up to 22 cremations a day since around 4 to 5 hours before December. Screenshots of the original post, which could not be verified by Bloomberg News, continued to circulate on Chinese social media. The poster did not respond to a request for comment.
A screenshot allegedly showing the growing number of obituaries published by a university in memory of recently deceased employees has also been widely shared. One Weibo poster in Guangdong said the crematorium he went to was staffed with overtime to deal with a series of deaths among the elderly, while a man in Henan said the funeral home he went to Our attendance was so overcrowded that bodies were laid in the hallways.
In Chongqing, which has not officially announced a death from Covid since late November, a woman said her grandfather died at the weekend and she had to wait a long time to receive a death certificate. How China can have so few deaths – less than 20 since the first tentative steps towards easing Covid controls at the end of November – and why they are concentrated in the North Sutras have also become frequently asked questions on social media platforms.
Skepticism has a solid foundation. The low official death toll goes against what has been seen around the world, and even in places like Shanghai and Hong Kong, where the emergence of omicrons has caused a surge in infections, followed quickly by a wave of deaths.
Smoke rises from the crematorium at Dongjiao Funeral Home, which is said to be designated to handle Covid deaths, in Beijing, on Dec.
But it is particularly remarkable that China has spent very little time putting in place mitigation measures in preparation for the elimination of Covid Zero this month: the population, especially the elderly, is unvaccinated. full and officials have recently announced they will be adding more hospital beds.
The actual death toll may also have been masked by a change in the way Covid deaths are determined. Caixin reports that China has been shrinking guidelines, issuing new guidelines this month noting that some Covid-positive patients may have died from underlying illnesses and that medical facilities have 24 hours to confirm. determine the cause of a person’s death. Previously, anyone who died when positive for Covid was considered a Covid death.
Mortality is just one data point that evokes doubt, with the country also abandoning efforts to count all infections after scrapping routine PCR testing for its population.
It is in China’s interest to downplay the seriousness of the situation. Its vast propaganda machine has moved from extolling President Xi Jinping’s leading Covid Zero approach and condemning other countries for moving to live with the virus, to downplaying its risks and comparing Covid with cold.
China has remained tight-lipped throughout the pandemic, from the first days in Wuhan to sporadic updates on vaccination progress and tightly controlled press conferences. That makes social media snapshots an important way to gauge the reality of the country’s worst-ever Covid outbreak.
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