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Overcrowded crematoriums in China as Covid-19 cases explode

Several Chinese crematoriums have admitted to being overwhelmed due to a wave of cases of covid-19, despite the fact that the official death toll released by the authorities is low, the French agency AFP reported today.

After street protests, China abruptly ended, in early December, most of the measures of the “covid zero” policy, including mandatory tests, which caused the number of cases to skyrocket in the Asian country with 1,400 million inhabitants.

In the most recent report on covid-19, Chinese authorities today reported five deaths and 2,722 new infections in the last 24 hours, but had not reported fatal cases between May 28 and November 19.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), China reported more than 10 million cases of infection and 31,309 deaths between January 2, 2020 and December 19 (Monday).

The US-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) recently predicted that China’s abrupt lifting of strict Covid-19 restrictions could result in an explosion of cases and more than a million deaths in the coming months.

Millions of Chinese will travel during the Lunar New Year festivities in January, which is expected to contribute to the increase in infections.

In a round made by the AFP, Chinese crematorium officials said that the death toll has increased in recent weeks, without specifying, however, how many of these deaths will be related to covid-19.

In Chongqing (southwest), a provincial city with a population of over 30 million, a crematorium ran out of space to store the bodies.

The number of bodies in recent days is “much higher than before,” said an official, who asked not to be identified for security reasons.

“We are all very busy, there is no more space for the bodies in the cold rooms,” he added.

A similar situation prevails at the other end of the country.

“Of course we’re busy, what place isn’t occupied right now?” replied an employee at a crematorium in Baoding, near Beijing.

The Chinese capital and its 22 million inhabitants have been particularly hard hit by Covid-19, which has spread rapidly in recent days.

The five deaths reported by authorities on Tuesday took place in the Chinese capital, after two the day before.

Experts consider that these numbers are largely underestimated, according to the AFP.

The French agency saw more than a dozen vehicles waiting to enter Beijing’s Dongjiao crematorium on Tuesday, mostly hearses with dark ribbons and wreaths.

A driver in the queue told AFP that he had been waiting for several hours.

A crematorium in the city of Guangzhou, in the southern province of Guangdong, bordering Macau and Hong Kong, described the situation as “extremely worrying”.

“We are cremating more than 40 bodies a day, compared to about a dozen previously. We are three to four times busier than in previous years,” said one official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Covid-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which was first detected in the city of Wuhan, in central China, in late 2019.

In view of the spread of the virus, the WHO declared the pandemic in March 2020.

The respiratory disease caused more than 6.6 million deaths globally, according to WHO figures.

To try to stop the disease, more than 13,000 million doses of anti-covid vaccines were administered worldwide, 3.4 million of which were in China.

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