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China accuses some countries of overacting to Covid-19 epidemic; gross underreporting suspected of virus deaths

(TibetanReview.net, Feb15’20) – While reporting continued drop in cases outside Hubei city for the 11th consecutive day, China reported yet another set of high numbers of confirmed and suspected cases of Covid-19 infections in the mainland on Feb 14. A top Chinese official has accused some countries of overreacting to the epidemic’s spread while cremations being carried out at Funeral Homes in Wuhan are said to indicate actual numbers of daily deaths from the infection to be much, much higher than the officially reported figures.

The number of newly confirmed cases reported on Feb 14 was 2,641 while the number of deaths that day was 143, taking their totals across the mainland to 66,492 and 1,523, respectively, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Feb 15.

Hubei Province continued to account for most of the new infections, including 2,420 confirmed cases and 139 deaths on Feb 14.

The number of new suspected cases that day was 2,277. The report cited China’s National Health Commission a saying 11,053 patients were in severe condition while 8,969 people, including 5,534 in Hubei, were suspected of being infected with the virus.

The total number of those discharged from hospital thus far after recovery was put at a total of 8,096 people.

The commission was further cited as saying 513,183 people who had close contacts with suspected cases had been traced and among them 30,081 were discharged from medical observation. A total of 169,039 others were stated to be still under medical observation.

Some 1,700 medical workers had been infected, with six dying from the infection, reported the AFP Feb 15, citing health officials.

* * *

The report cited President Xi Jinping as acknowledged the outbreak had exposed “shortcomings” in the country’s health emergency response system.

He called battling the outbreak a “big test for the country’s governance system and governance ability” while chairing a political meeting on government reforms this week, the report cited sate media as reporting.

State Councilor Wang Yi, who also serves as China’s foreign minister, acknowledged that the epidemic was a significant challenge but defended Beijing’s management of the epidemic and lashed out at the “overreaction” of some countries, reported aljazeera.com Feb 15.

The report said more than two dozen countries had confirmed cases and several nations had suspended trade and travel links with China in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.

There have so far been three deaths recorded outside mainland China: one in Hong Kong one in the Philippines, and the most recent in Japan.

* * *

Meanwhile funeral homes in central China are working round the clock to cremate bodies during the coronavirus epidemic, advertising to recruit manual workers to collect dead bodies from people’s homes by night by offering high wages, reported the Mandarin and Cantonese Services of rfa.org Feb 14.

It noted that the Wuchang Funeral Home in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, had recently advertised for 20 new members of staff to man a four-hour night shift collecting bodies from their homes. It said the recruits were being offered 4,000 yuan (US$ 572) for four hours’ work. The report noted that the average monthly salary for city-dwellers in China was around 8,452 yuan (US$1,228.38).

Citing Social media users, the report said there were 84 incinerators located at seven funeral homes across Wuhan, with a capacity to perform 2,016 cremations in any 24-hour period. Given the fact that all of those funeral homes had been working around the clock in recent weeks, with dead bodies lying in rows waiting for cremation, the daily numbers of deaths are bound to be much higher than the officially reported figures.

The report quoted Wuhan voluntary worker Zhong Qiang, who had recently carried out an unofficial survey of funeral homes and crematoria in Wuhan, as saying, “There is a fairly small funeral home in Wuhan that is able to cremate more than 100 dead bodies a day. … They have been doing so since mid-January, and it’s been going on for more than 20 days.”

“That’s several thousand bodies per funeral home, right?” he was quoted as asking.

Zhong has said a small crematorium typically had around 11 furnaces that could cremate 120 bodies a day, while the larger facilities had double that number.

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