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Chinese media claims ‘all is well’ while concerns rise over rising Covid cases in the Communist country

There has been a rush of global media stories about longer-than-usual lines at crematoriums and funeral homes in China, which are crumbling under the burden of an increasing number of bodies, apparently all Covid-19 fatalities.

Though Beijing has only officially acknowledged seven Covid-19 fatalities as on December 19 and zero on December 20, many media reports, especially the Western media, have claimed that the fatalities from Covid are much higher.

Meanwhile, the Global Times, the state-owned media outlet reported that the country was fully equipped to tackle the situation and that it would allow recovered patients to return to workplaces without verifying the Covid test results.

The Beijing Municipal Government announced on Monday that the country would eliminate limits on the pace of attendance and mobility among districts, as well as the necessity of 3 tests within three days for newcomers in the capital city. The country also said that it wanted to restore regular production and living as quickly as possible.

It also allowed underground businesses such as bars, internet cafes, gymnasiums, dine-in services, hotel conferences, training, and banquets to operate in normal capacities. Meanwhile, the Communist Party’s Global Times newspaper also reported that the Chinese pharmaceutical firms were operating at full capacity to meet the increasing demands for cold and fever medicines while it reiterated that the country was working on its toes to handle the epidemic.

In another of its report, the Global Times quoted the Chinese government saying that it had put people’s lives first and that it is striving to protect people’s lives and health to the greatest extent possible. “At present, considering the new developments in the epidemic, China is constantly optimizing its prevention and control measures to strike a balance between epidemic prevention and control and economic and social development. We are willing to continue to work with the international community to cope with the challenges of the epidemic, to better protect people’s lives and health and restore healthy growth of the world economy, and promote the building of a healthy community for all,” the report read.

On vaccines, the Chinese government’s mouthpiece said that around 86.6% of persons over the age of 60 and 66.4% of elderly persons over the age of 80 have had their full Covid-19 immunization. While the country of China wants the world to believe in its numbers of cases and the vaccine developments, the World Health Organisation (WHO) on December 22 expressed concerns over the unprecedented wave of Covid cases in China and asked it to accelerate vaccination of the most vulnerable.

“WHO is very concerned over the evolving situation in China, with increasing reports of severe disease. WHO is supporting China to focus its efforts on vaccinating people at the highest risk across the country, and we continue to offer our support for clinical care and protecting its health system,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was quoted saying.

Interestingly, while the Chinese government mouthpiece claimed that its pharma companies are operating at full capacity to meet the increasing demands of flu medicines, a media report by CNN says that the country has reported severe shortage of drugs already with the health chief of Hong Kong urging the public to refrain from hoarding cold medicines and asking them ‘not to overact.’

“The panic purchasing has spread outside mainland China, with generic Tylenol and Advil selling out at drugstores in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and as far away as Australia, leading some local pharmacies to curtail sales. People seeking ways to counteract Covid are even buying home cures such as canned peaches,” the CNN report read.

Earlier it was reported that ‘zero Covid’ policy imposed by the Chinese government which had triggered massive protests across the country, had failed and that there is huge spike in new cases. The government relaxed all the ‘toughest’ restrictions imposed upon people’s movements in China as a part of the ‘zero Covid’ policy in one go probably resulting in spike of cases across the land. The country also happened to relax the Covid test norms and allow the people to run a few businesses in their normal capacity.

Notably, while the number of the Covid cases and deaths following remain underreported by the Chinese media outlets, the global media report by Washington Post stated that the crematoriums in the country are operating round the clock and that there is 5-6 days of the waiting list for the new Covid death reported in China. However, the Western media has displayed a habit of overplaying Covid alarmism and deaths when it comes to Asian powers like India.

OpIndia had also reported earlier that despite government data showing least Covid fatalities since December 4, two Beijing funeral facilities revealed that they were open 24 hours a day and were offering same-day cremation services to meet increased demand. The workers at Beijing crematoriums also stated that they were overwhelmed with the number of bodies as China confronts a wave of Covid cases. 

Further, the Wall Street Journal noted, “The end of the zero-Covid policy has been met with a wave of infections. Official statistics for daily Covid infections and deaths are low, with China’s National Health Commission reporting 2,656 cases and five deaths on Monday. But experts believe they vastly undercount the number of infections, and interviews with Chinese factory workers indicate the relaxed rules have resulted in many falling sick.”

It claimed that because China has ceased testing asymptomatic cases, it is impossible to determine the scope of the outbreak and the recorded death tolls of two on Monday and five on Tuesday are completely at odds with the grim predictions of prominent worldwide epidemiologists.

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, China will face a COVID-19 death toll of half a million people by April next year, with 1.6 million fatalities by the end of 2023 if the country stays on its current course.  According to an epidemiologist at the institution deaths in China might soar to close to 9,000 per day by the end of March.

The Chinese authorities might just save themselves from the unpleasant ramifications of the policy switch with the help of what appears to be flagrantly underreporting about the official Covid number, both fatalities, and cases, but the credibility problem that follows might well be difficult to handle. Since China does not have a free press and all information is controlled by the CCP, it is difficult to tell the exact situation of the pandemic and related issues inside the country.

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