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With its zero-Covid policy discredited, China has stopped any meaningful reporting of its pandemic situation

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(TibetanReview.net, Dec19’22) – After remaining silent on Covid deaths since Dec 4, China has on Dec 18 reported just two, both in capital Beijing, said the AP Dec 18. Official reports have until then remained silent on Covid deaths, although they have clogged funeral parlours and crematoria. Besides, the country has stopped reporting asymptomatic cases and whatever else it still does report are being dismissed as meaningless.

The number of Covid-positive dead arriving at Beijing’s funeral parlours and crematoria is rising, according to media reports, despite China not reporting a fatality from the virus for two weeks until the Dec 18 report. Streets in major Chinese cities were stated to be eerily quiet on Sunday (Dec 18) as people stayed home to protect themselves from a surge in cases that had hit urban centres from north to south.

China is now in the first of an expected three waves of Covid-19 cases this winter, according to the country’s chief epidemiologist, Wu Zunyou. The reports from the Bloomberg, the AP, and Reuters and others over Dec 16-18 show that the abject failure of President Xi Jinping’s signature zero-Covid policy is compounded by lack of credible reporting on the pandemic’s spread.

Cases could multiply across the country if people follow typical travel patterns of returning to their home areas in a mass transit movement for the Lunar New Year holiday next month, Wu has said.

China did not report any Covid deaths since Dec 7, when the country abruptly ended most restrictions key to a zero-Covid tolerance policy after unprecedented public protests against the protocol, noted Reuters Dec 18.

Nevertheless, the Financial Times cited staff at a Beijing crematorium as saying they cremated the bodies of at least 30 Covid-19 victims, out of a total of 150, on Dec 14. And Reuters reported funeral homes in Beijing being overwhelmed. An employee at the Beijing Dongjiao Funeral Home has said Covid-19 deaths were being prioritized for cremation.

The reason why China is shy of reporting the scale of the deaths is clear. A wave of Covid-19 fatalities would undermine the Chinese government’s narrative that it has handled the virus better than other countries, the report noted.

It’s becoming increasingly hard to get a handle on the scale of China’s Covid-19 onslaught. The country last week halted reporting of asymptomatic cases, which typically made up the bulk of the infection tally.

Even before that move, the dismantling of the country’s once ubiquitous PCR testing apparatus and increased used of rapid antigen kits meant official data was virtually meaningless, said the Bloomberg report.

Local authorities or hospitals were stated to classify their deaths differently. And China’s National Health Commission had no comment on the reports of Covid-19 fatalities and stretched funeral parlours in Beijing, the report said.

Meanwhile, the lack of any reported deaths since curbs were lifted until Dec 18 have also been raising questions among some Chinese, with people on social media platforms such as Weibo querying whether fatalities in places like Beijing had increased while complaining about long queues at funeral homes, said the Bloomberg report.

While there have been questions about China’s Covid-19 data since the start of the pandemic, reports of long lines and stacks of urns at Wuhan’s funeral homes fuelled speculation the country was obscuring the true number of dead, the report said.

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