China changes count of Covid deaths as crematoria fill up


For much of the pandemic, images of overcrowded hospitals and bustling funeral homes from across the United States have featured heavily on Chinese state-controlled television, where the deaths of over a million Americans from Covid are being portrayed as a gross failure of Western democracy.

Now, as an unprecedented wave of infections rolls through China, state media are willingly ignoring scenes of overcrowded infirmaries and crowded crematoria unfolding at home, while officials insist few people are dying from Covid, according to the government’s own statements.

For nearly three years, China’s no-compromise zero-Covid policy protected its people from the kind of mass deaths that plagued Western nations — a contrast that has been consistently emphasized by the Communist Party to illustrate the perceived superiority of its rule.

But when China abruptly abandoned that strategy without warning or apparent preparation, the prospect of soaring deaths — projected by some studies to be as high as one million — became a thorny issue for a government that staked its legitimacy on “saving lives.” ”

Officially, China reported just eight Covid deaths this month – a strikingly low number given the rapid spread of the virus and relatively low booster rates among vulnerable elderly.

The official tally was met with disbelief and derision online, where there are many posts mourning loved ones dying of Covid. Caixin, a Chinese financial magazine known for its investigative articles, reported the deaths of two veteran state media journalists infected with Covid on days when the official count was zero.

Other social media posts have described the frustration many have experienced trying to get a hearse and the difficulty of securing a place for cremation at a funeral home.

When CNN visited a large crematorium in Beijing on Tuesday, the parking lot was completely overcrowded, and a long line of cars snaked around the cremation area, waiting to enter. Smoke rose steadily from the ovens while yellow body bags piled up in metal bins.

Mourning family members who waited in line captured photos of the deceased. Some told CNN they had waited more than a day to cremate loved ones who died after contracting Covid. One man told CNN the hospital where his friend died was too full to hold the body because so many people had died there. His friend’s body was left on the hospital floor, he said.

At nearby shops that sold funeral items, a florist said she was running out of stock and a supermarket owner said the shop had never been so busy.

In many parts of the country, crematoria are also struggling to keep up with the influx of bodies, according to social media footage.

Outside a Beijing hospital earmarked for Covid patients, a steady stream of elderly patients in wheelchairs entered the facility when CNN visited on Tuesday. A man outside the hospital said space was running out and he had to leave the night before to book his elderly family member for a bed.

A worker in hazmat suits sorting yellow bags of medical waste said he had been working overtime in the evenings to cope with the surge in Covid patients. “There are a lot of old people in particular,” he said.

Elderly Covid patients with underlying conditions were dying every day, the worker said.

– Source:
” data-fave-thumbnails=”{“big”:{“uri”:”×9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill”},”small”:{“uri”:”×9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill”}}” data-vr-video=”” data-show-name=”Anderson Cooper 360″ data-show-url=”″ data-check-event-based-preview=”” data-network-id=”” data-details=””>

beijing empty streets

This is why the streets of Beijing are empty despite the easing of Covid restrictions

Amid growing skepticism that it is downplaying Covid deaths, the Chinese government defended the accuracy of its official tally by revealing that it had updated its method of counting deaths from the virus.

– Source:
” data-fave-thumbnails=”{“big”:{“uri”:”×9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill”},”small”:{“uri”:”×9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill”}}” data-vr-video=”” data-show-name=”Anderson Cooper 360″ data-show-url=”″ data-check-event-based-preview=”” data-network-id=”” data-details=””>

china covid cases wang pkg

China has reported fewer Covid deaths since scrapping zero Covid. CNN sees a different story

According to the latest guidance from the National Health Commission, only those whose deaths are caused by pneumonia and respiratory failure after contracting the virus are classified as Covid deaths, Wang Guiqiang, a top infectious disease doctor, said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Those who are presumed to have died from another illness or underlying condition, such as in the case of a heart attack, are not counted as virus deaths, even if they had Covid at the time, he said.

World Health Organization chief Michael Ryan commented on China’s criteria for counting Covid deaths on Wednesday, saying the definition was “pretty narrow”.

“People who die from Covid die from many different (organ) system failures given the severity of the infection,” Ryan said. “So to narrow the diagnosis of death from Covid to someone with a positive Covid test and respiratory failure is to greatly underestimate the true Covid-related death toll.”

According to Wang, the Chinese doctor, the change in definition was necessitated by Omicron’s mild nature, which differed from the Wuhan strain at the beginning of the pandemic, when most patients died from pneumonia and respiratory failure.

But Jin Dongyan, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong, pointed out that these are more or less the same strict criteria that Chinese authorities have been using to count Covid deaths all along.

The definition was only slightly expanded in April This year plans are to include some Covid patients who died from underlying diseases during the lockdown in Shanghai to justify the draconian restrictions, Jin said.

During the outbreak in Shanghai from March to May, city officials reported 588 Covid deaths out of around 600,000 infections. But when the city was lifted from lockdown, the nationwide death toll remained zero for the next six months, even as infections numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Then, in late November, Beijing announced that three octogenarians had died from underlying Covid conditions, just as the city tightened its own Covid restrictions amid a widening outbreak.

According to Jin, these inconsistencies show that China’s method of counting Covid deaths is “entirely subjective”. “The death dates were misleading from the start,” he said.

Counting Covid deaths versus Covid deaths has been a topic of discussion around the world since the pandemic began, said Ben Cowling, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong.

Most countries, including the United States, decided it was too difficult to assess each individual death to know if Covid was a factor and counted deaths with Covid in their official death totals, Cowling said.

However, he pointed out that the debate over how to count Covid deaths would be overshadowed by a larger problem in China – namely that very few PCR tests are being carried out after the government rolled back mass testing.

“We know there are already many, many Covid deaths. And these are not counted with either the Chinese method or the American method because the tests are not carried out,” he said.

“The significant reduction in testing would have a greater impact on the death statistics that we will see over the coming month or two.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *