- Stephen McDonnell
- bbc correspondent
Coffin makers are very busy these days in Shanxi province in the northern region of China. We saw skilled artisans carving vines into coffins made of fresh wood. He says that in the last few months he has not got any free time. They are doing this work without stopping.
The process of death of people from Kovid is going on in China. And it remains a matter of debate among the people that what is the real figure of deaths from Kovid in China.
In December, ending its zero covid policy in China, the covid restrictions were greatly eased.
According to the country’s top epidemiologist Wu Junyu, 80 percent of China’s population of more than a billion has come under the grip of this epidemic after the removal of Kovid restrictions in December.
In the last week, 13 thousand people have died due to Kovid in China. And in December, 60 thousand people died due to Kovid in the whole country.
But these are only those deaths that have happened in hospitals. The number of hospitals in the villages of China is less. Therefore, the actual figures of deaths there are not coming. Most of the people who are dying in their homes are not being counted.
No official assessment has even been presented about the deaths due to Covid in the villages. But the PRESS24 NEWS has found evidence of a significant increase in the death toll.
Sales of caskets and funeral goods soared
We also visited the crematoriums. There also we saw a huge crowd. There a large number of mourners were seen carrying coffins dressed in white.
In a village we saw a man and woman loading giant birds made of tissue paper onto a flatbed truck. The woman said, “These are storks.” In that world you ride a stork.
He says that the demand for decorative items kept with coffins is increasing. At this time the demand has increased two-three times than normal.
All the people we met who were engaged in the business related to funeral rites in this area of Shanshi told the same thing. He said that the number of deaths has increased. These deaths have happened due to Kovid.
We followed the truck and reached the place where these goods were being delivered. There we met Wang Piwi, whose sister-in-law had just died.
His sister-in-law, a 50-year-old mother of two children, had diabetes and then she was caught by the corona virus.
The courtyard of that house was full of things used during the funeral. Piwi told that 16 people will take this coffin and then the funeral will take place.
He said that due to the increase in deaths from Kovid, the cost of arranging the last rites has increased significantly. He said that additional expenditure would be made in his honour.
Piwi says, “She was a wonderful woman. We have to make his last rites grand. We will do as much as we can.
Infection spreading in villages and increasing number of graves
Every year on Chinese New Year, millions of young people travel to their home cities. This is an important time to meet family and friends.
This is the biggest festival of China. In the villages where people are returning, now most of the elders are left there and they are most afraid of getting Kovid.
There is now a great fear in China that a large number of people returning home for the festival may spread Covid to remote areas of the country and have fatal consequences.
The government has told the people living in the city not to go there if their family members are not infected with Covid.
Dr. Dong Yongming, who runs his own small clinic in the village, believes that nearly 80 percent of the people in his village have had Covid.
He says, “All the patients who came to us were already sick. This is the only clinic in our village. The people who died had some or the other disease earlier.
People who die in these areas are buried in the fields. People plant crops or raise cattle around the graves.
more life than death concern
Passing through the streets in this area, we saw that there are piles of soil on many new graves and red flags are put on them. We saw them in large numbers. A goat grazing farmer also said that these graves are brand new.
He said, “People bury the elderly here after death. Many such graves have been built here.
He said that a few thousand people live here and more than 40 people have died in the recent Covid wave.
He says, “Someone is dying every day. Someone today, someone tomorrow. The process of deaths has not stopped since last month.
But the people of these remote rural areas have a philosophical outlook on life and death. They say that people will celebrate the new year as before.
He says, “My son and daughter-in-law are coming soon.”
I asked him whether the rapid movement of people from cities to villages has increased the concern of spreading the infection here.
In response to this question, he says, “People should not worry. No need to be afraid. Even if you remain hidden, you will get infected. Most of us have been infected and we are absolutely fine. ,
He and many people like him believe that the most dangerous phase of Kovid has now passed. People are thinking that life should be given importance instead of death. At least this time is spent with the living and not for burying the dead.
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