Covid: Dozens of coffins outside Beijing crematorium, but China denies any new virus-related deaths

Dozens of morgues lined up outside a Beijing crematorium on Wednesday, even as China reported no new deaths linked to COVID-19, sparking criticism of how those affected by the virus are counted, as the capital braces for a surge in serious cases.

Following widespread protests in November, China began easing its “Zero Covid” policy. This made it possible to control the virus for three years, at the cost of considerable economic and psychological impact.

The sudden change in policy caught the country’s fragile health system and experts estimate that China could face more than a million deaths from COVID-19 next year.

This Wednesday, at a crematorium in Beijing’s Dongzhou district, a Reuters witness saw about forty corpses lined up, while the establishment’s parking lot was full.

Inside, family and friends, many of them dressed in white robes and headbands as per funeral rites, waited for about 20 coffins to be cremated.

Heavy police security

The staff wore protective clothing. Smoke rose from five of the 15 stoves. There was heavy police security outside the crematorium.

Reuters could not verify whether the deaths were related to COVID-19. China reported no new deaths on Tuesday and subtracted one from its total since the outbreak began, which now stands at 5,241, a fraction of what has been seen in the least populated country.

The National Health Commission said on Tuesday that only those who died of pneumonia or respiratory failure after contracting the virus were classified as COVID-19-related deaths.

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China reported 53 additional serious cases on Tuesday, up from 23 the previous day.

Employees of Communist Party and government institutions or companies in the southwestern city of Chongqing can go to work if they have mild COVID-19 symptoms and wear masks, the daily said. ‘State China Daily. Other Chinese media have reported similar actions in several cities.

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