FILE – In this Oct. 3, 2017, file photo, a man walks his dog as he leaves a restaurant flying the Chinese national flag in Beijing, China. A city in southwestern China has banned dog walking during the daytime and banished the pets entirely from parks, shopping centers, sports facilities, and other public spaces. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
On Friday, the U.S. media gleefully reported that the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. had surpassed China’s total. In addition, the number of people who have died from the virus in both Italy and Spain has exceeded the total in China.
As of Thursday, according to the Chinese Government, there have been 81,340 cases and a total of 3,292 people have died. On Friday, the government claimed only one new person had been infected through local transmission, but that there had been 54 new imported cases. Remarkably, the country reported that there had been zero new locally transmitted cases in the previous two days, though there had been imported cases.
Many people have been somewhat reluctant to believe those figures.
The “staggering” number of urns containing the ashes of loved ones which have been delivered to local funeral homes for distribution to family members appears to contradict those claims.
Chinese investigative outlet Caixin reports:
When mortuaries opened back up this week in the Hubei capital, people had to wait in line for as long as five hours to receive the remains of their loved ones lost during the epidemic.
One photo published by Caixin shows a truck loaded with 2,500 urns arriving at the Hankou Mortuary. The driver said that he had delivered the same amount to the mortuary the day before.
Another photo shows stacks of urns inside the mortuary. There were seven stacks with 500 urns in each stack, adding up to 3,500 urns.
Taken together with the new shipment, the number of urns on hand at the mortuary looks to be more than double Wuhan’s death toll.
Urns are reportedly being distributed at a rate of 500 a day at the mortuary until the Tomb Sweeping Day holiday, which falls on April 4 this year.
Wuhan has seven other mortuaries. If they are all sticking to the same schedule, this adds up to more than 40,000 urns being distributed in the city over the next 10 days.
Bloomberg reporters called the funeral homes inside the city to find out how many urns they had received, and were told “they either did not have that data or were not authorized to disclose it.”
China maintains that due to their “aggressive quarantines, community action, and medical resources,” they were able to keep the death toll to a minimum.
Time Magazine spoke to Wuhan locals who are also wary of the government numbers, “particularly given Wuhan’s overwhelmed medical system, authorities’ attempts to cover up the outbreak in its initial stages, and multiple revisions to the way official cases are counted.” One woman, whose husband had died from the coronavirus, said she “had since been contacted by police warning her not to be too emotional — and to stop posting online.”
Photos taken of the activity which have been circulating on Chinese social media can be viewed here.