The distribution of funeral urns stokes doubts about China’s figures

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The distribution of funeral urns stokes doubts about China’s figures

Image of a Wuhan clinic. / Afp
Image of a Wuhan clinic. 

Images of warehouses and trucks carrying the ashes of the victims of the coronavirus in Hubei point to a higher number of deaths

The photographs spread like wildfire on social media. The most shared shows a warehouse in which the funeral urns containing the remains of the deceased are kept due to the coronavirus epidemic in Wuhan, epicenter of the pandemic. Caixin, one of the few media outlets doing investigative journalism in China, claims that there are stacked 3,500. It also relates how the driver of a truck carrying 2,500 says he has already made two trips in two days with that load. And finally, Caixin stresses that those who went to collect the remains of their loved ones when funeral homes reopened earlier this week had to wait up to five hours in line to receive the urn.

“In addition, the authorities assure that they are going to deliver 500 ballot boxes a day until April 4, coinciding with the Qingming Festival – equivalent to All Saints in the Asian giant.” The numbers do not add up, ”a journalist who works for a state media outlet and who prefers to remain anonymous comments to this newspaper. “The figures given by the Government are false. More people have died », says a Hubei doctor who also asks to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.

Indeed, China assures that in Wuhan 50,006 people have been infected, of which 2,535 have lost their lives. Official data has been controversial from the start: First it was shown that they followed a perfect arithmetic progression that caused reasonable suspicion among epidemiologists, then the criteria were modified and there was the largest daily increase in the number of cases, and it is now known that asymptomatic cases are not counted, even if they are positive in the tests.

However, at this juncture it is impossible to determine if the statistics provided by the Chinese authorities are true, because there is no way to confirm that all these funeral urns are full or contain the ashes of those who have died due to the coronavirus and not because of other diseases. “It has happened on other occasions and it will happen again. We will never know how many people have died», Sentences the Chinese journalist. But this is not a problem unique to China. Also the figures of the European countries cause doubts», He adds.

What different videos do reveal is that China did not provide the world with the correct information in the initial phase of the epidemic. «The infectious capacity of this coronavirus is not high. We do not rule out the possibility of contagion between humans, but the risk of sustained transmission is low. With the measures implemented, this disease is preventable and controllable, “said Li Gang, director of the Wuhan Center for Disease Prevention and Control on January 19, just four days before China decreed the largest quarantine in history in the province. from Hubei.

Information like this, which could be due to a lack of real data and not deliberate concealment, spread the world that SARS-CoV-2 was a simple flu and delayed both preventive measures and stockpiling to prepare health systems for the one that was coming. Without a doubt, the division within the World Health Organization itself, which on two occasions refused to decree the international health emergency, also did not help. “When all this happens, responsibilities will have to be refined, but, more importantly, it is necessary to analyze what happened and develop the mechanisms that prevent the next pandemic. Because it will come, “says the doctor.

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