Rural Hubei is infected with many deaths, and the opera troupe is too busy | Rural China | COVID Epidemic | Funerals

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[The Epoch Times, January 29, 2023](Compiled and reported by Epoch Times reporter Lin Yan) A young man from Tongcheng County, Xianning, Hubei revealed that when he returned home during the Chinese New Year, he saw many mourning halls built to commemorate the dead along the way. The theater troupe who performed events were overwhelmed, and even the chefs who served the tables were fully booked.

As the area with the weakest medical resources in China, the rural areas are experiencing the ravages of the COVID-19 epidemic. The death there is different from that in the city, and it is quiet.

“Think Global Health” (Think Global Health) under the New York think tank Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) published an article on Friday (January 27) by scholar Chen Chen (transliteration), introducing his hometown cloud The COVID-19 epidemic in Xi Township and the first-hand information learned from local friends.

Tongcheng County, Xianning, Hubei Province is located at the junction of Hunan and Jiangxi Provinces, with a population of about 500,000.

A friend said: “During the (45-minute) drive to Yunxi Township, I saw many mourning halls for the elderly.”

Rural people don’t like cremation, and some old people start digging graves in auspicious locations before they turn 80. Once gone, people in Tongcheng call the funeral a “big event”. No matter the town or the countryside, as long as someone dies, a mourning hall will be built outside the house as a dojo. Processions in white parade down the street. Often, the more onlookers and companions during the wake, the more face the family will have.

“The Taoist priests are fully booked, the companions are all busy, and even the cooks are fully booked.” The friend said, “There are too many funerals to be done.”

There are only a dozen households in Yunxi Township, most of whom are elderly people who have been staying in the village all year round. The friend heard that two people died in the village, and many others died in the surrounding villages. In a neighboring village by the river, three people died from COVID-19 in a family.

Rural China is particularly vulnerable to deaths and complications from COVID-19 because of its older population and limited access to medical resources. About 24% of people over 60 years old in rural China, compared with only 18% in urban areas. According to official statistics, in 2011, 650 million people lived in rural areas and 700 million in urban areas. By 2022, the numbers are 491 million and 920 million, respectively.

In the 10 days leading up to Chinese New Year on Jan. 22, the friend revealed he had been busy helping family and friends in the village prepare for funerals. He introduced that many rural elderly who died of COVID died at home.

A pulmonologist in the urban area of ​​Tongcheng County, who did not want to be named, also confirmed that they were as busy as usual and did not see many COVID patients from the countryside.

Generally speaking, the elderly can’t bear to go to the county to see a doctor. They are worried that they can’t afford the cost, and they also worry that they won’t be able to come back. With such a wave of deaths in rural areas, many funeral traditions that used to be taken for granted have been cut short or omitted entirely.

“Normally, (when it’s a big event) you can have Taoist priests sing all day long, as long as they want, but now they have to go door-to-door very quickly,” said another villager.

“Without (death) data, no one knows,” he said. “We just know that a lot of people died.”

“Hang up” is a euphemism in China that refers to death. As of January 19, China’s official COVID-19 death toll stood at 73,000. But no one believed this figure.

This year’s New Year’s celebrations continue as many rural families lose their mistresses and masters.

But even local doctors in Yunxi Township and Tongcheng County are not immune to this COVID wave. A well-respected local village doctor, a 78-year-old diabetic who tested positive for COVID, did not go to the hospital because it was too full. He died at home a few days later.

Responsible editor: Lin Yan#

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