China: Satellite images capture crowds at crematoriums and funeral homes as Covid surge continues



CNN

Satellite images taken from a number of Chinese cities have captured crowds at crematoriums and funeral homes, as the country continues its battle against an unprecedented wave of Covid-19 infections following the dismantling of tough pandemic restrictions.

The images – taken by Maxar in late December and early January and reviewed by CNN – show a funeral home on the outskirts of Beijing, which appears to have built a brand new parking lot, as well as lines of vehicles waiting outside the funeral homes. in Kunming, Nanjing, Chengdu, Tangshan and Huzhou.

Streets around the Kunming Funeral Home a year ago.

The scene at the same house last week, showing more cars parked along the streets near the entrance.

China has recently moved away from its strict zero Covid approach to the virus, which sparked mass unrest after more than two years of strict checks on citizens’ personal lives.

China’s strict policies have shielded its population from the kind of mass deaths seen in Western countries – a contrast repeated repeatedly by the Communist Party to illustrate the supposed superiority of its restrictions.

Satellite images are consistent with CNN reports and testimonies shared on social media regarding overcrowding at funeral homes and crematoriums.

CNN has reported firsthand in Beijing of the makeshift facilities used to store the deceased, as overworked staff try to keep up with the volume of boxes containing yellow body bags, and families report waiting days to bury or cremate loved ones.

A funeral home in Tangshan City in January 2020, before the pandemic swept the country.

The same house last week, where many other vehicles are parked.

Meanwhile, China’s official Covid-19 death toll since it eased restrictions remains surprisingly low – with just 37 deaths recorded since December 7.

The country only lists Covid patients who have succumbed to respiratory failure as having died from Covid, a criteria the World Health Organization (WHO) has criticized as “pretty narrow”.

As reports of overwhelmed hospitals and funeral homes arrive, China has been accused by the WHO and the US of underrepresenting the severity of its current outbreak, with top global health officials urging Beijing to share more data on the explosive spread.

“We continue to call on China for faster, regular and reliable data on hospitalizations and deaths, as well as more comprehensive real-time viral sequencing,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. at a press conference in Geneva last week.

“WHO is concerned about the risk to life in China and has reiterated the importance of vaccination, including booster doses, to protect against hospitalization, serious illness and death,” it said. -he declares.

Speaking in more detail, WHO’s executive director for health emergencies, Mike Ryan, said figures released by China “understate the true impact of the disease” in terms of hospital admissions. hospital and intensive care unit, as well as death.

He acknowledged that many countries have experienced delays in reporting hospital data, but pointed to China’s definition of a Covid death as part of the issue.

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