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Covid-19: in China, crematoriums under pressure in the midst of an epidemic wave


Since the lifting of health restrictions, the number of cases in the country has exploded, and its magnitude would even be “impossible” to assess according to

The epidemic seems out of control.

Crematoriums across China are struggling as an unprecedented wave of Covid-19 hits the elderly, three years after the first cases in Wuhan.

Generalized and almost compulsory screening tests, monitoring of movements and confinements have punctuated the daily life of the Chinese since 2020 in the name of a so-called “zero Covid” policy which has made it possible to protect the people most at risk, generally little vaccinated.

The government unexpectedly ended most of these measures in early December against a backdrop of growing exasperation among the population and a considerable impact on the economy.

The number of “impossible” cases to determine

Now the number of cases is exploding.

The extent of the epidemic is "impossible" to determine, by the admission of the authorities, screening tests are no longer mandatory and the data fragmentary.

Experts fear that China is ill-prepared for the wave of infections linked to this reopening, while millions of elderly and vulnerable people are not or little vaccinated.

Hospitals are overwhelmed, while pharmacies are running out of flu drugs as the country learns to live with the virus.

In Chongqing, a provincial municipality with more than 30 million inhabitants in the southwest of the country, a crematorium has run out of room to store bodies.

Their number in recent days is "much greater than before," said an employee who did not wish to give his name for security reasons.

“We are all very busy, there is no more room for the bodies in the cold rooms”, specified the interlocutor who was not able to say whether or not the deaths are linked to Covid.

Figures still underestimated

At the other end of the country, on the outskirts of Beijing, the same situation prevails.

"Of course we're busy, what place isn't right now?"

pretends to wonder a crematorium in Baoding.

The Chinese capital and its 22 million inhabitants are particularly affected by the Covid, which has spread at lightning speed in recent days.

Authorities reported five more deaths in the city on Tuesday, following two the day before.

Figures that are largely underestimated according to experts.

Beijing municipal health officials on Tuesday defended a “scientific” method of counting.

“Older people have other underlying illnesses,” one of the officials, Wang Guiqiang, told reporters.

“Only a small number of them die directly from respiratory failure caused by Covid”, the criterion used by Beijing to determine a death linked to Covid-19.

In front of the crematoriums, queues

Outside the Dongjiao Crematorium in Beijing on Tuesday, more than a dozen vehicles waiting to enter, mostly hearses or funeral cars sporting dark-colored ribbons and bouquets of flowers.

The link with Covid-19 could not be formally established.

The facility declined to comment on the cause of death.

Read alsoAre contaminations exploding in China?

A crematorium in Canton reported an “extremely worrying” situation: “We are cremating more than 40 bodies a day compared to a dozen previously.

We are three to four times busier than in previous years, ”testified an employee on condition of anonymity.

“All of Canton is like that”, he added, specifying however that it was “difficult to say” if the Covid-19 was the main cause of death.

In Shenyang, in the province of Liaoning bordering North Korea, the deceased can remain unburied for five days because the crematoriums are "really overwhelmed", according to an employee on site.

"I've never had a year like this," he lamented.

Source: leparis

All news articles on 2022-12-20

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