As the Chinese authorities brandish a triumphant account of overcoming the pandemic and begin to lift restrictions in Wuhan after two months of iron confinement, doubts grow about the actual death toll in the city where the coronavirus broke out last December.

According to official Chinese government data, Covid-19 has killed 2,535 people in Wuhan, a city of 11 million inhabitants. However, the saturation suffered by hospitals, the authorities’ attempts to cover up the outbreak in its initial stages or the changing criteria to record official cases feed speculation on social media and independent media.

In recent days, the networks have echoed the long lines in front of the city’s funeral homes, which began last week to distribute the ashes of the dead to their families. Photographs have also circulated with hundreds upon hundreds of stored urns that some say would suggest that the deaths were far more than the 2,500 officers.

In Wuhan the restrictions are being lifted and little by little everything is back to normal.

In Wuhan the restrictions are being lifted and little by little everything is back to normal.

According to Radio Free Asia, a media outlet that often questions versions of the Chinese government, each of Wuhan’s top seven funeral homes has been delivering about 500 ballot boxes a day. The cremations began on March 23 and are scheduled to be completed on April 5, when Chinese tradition honors the dead, leading the media to calculate that the total number of ballot boxes delivered would amount to 42,000.

Caixin, an independent publication, assures for its part that last week they arrived two shipments of about 2,500 urns to a single funeral home, both Wednesday and Thursday.

According to this medium, Many people who died with symptoms of Covid-19 but without being tested have not been included in the official count.. We must also take into account those who died from other diseases because they could not be adequately cared for due to saturation in hospitals.

According to the official city record, in the last quarter of 2019 there were 56,007 cremations in Wuhan, a figure that exceeds 1,583 in those of the fourth quarter of the previous year. The figures would only include the start of the outbreak, as the first cases of a rare respiratory illness were recorded in December.

The Bloomberg news agency has called Wuhan funeral homes, but none wanted to reveal how many urns they had already received or had delivered to family members.

Source: La Vanguardia

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