Search for ‘funeral homes’ flood Chinese internet as Covid cases explode
Days after lifting the curbs that were in place as part of its zero-Covid policy, China is reportedly seeing an explosion of business. Such is the situation that the authorities have finally acknowledged deaths for the first time since the lifting of its strict pandemic control policy.
The recent outbreak is so bad that a crematorium in Beijing assigned to handle Covid cases is reportedly seeing a huge increase in claims. On Baidu, China’s dominant online search engine, searches for “funeral homes” by Beijing residents have reached a record high since the pandemic began, CNN reports.
Many business owners are also facing staff crunches as employees fall ill, forcing authorities to step in.
On Monday, Harvard-based epidemiologist and health economist Eric Feigl-Ding shared a video, allegedly from China, showing corpses piling up at hospitals.
A tweet by Feigl-Ding said epidemiologists estimate that more than 60 percent of China and 10 percent of the Earth’s population are likely to be infected over the next 90 days.
He added that China’s current Covid objective is “let whoever needs to be infected, let whoever needs to die. Early infections, early deaths, early peak, early resumption of production.”
As many as 2.1 million deaths are expected with the loss to Covid curbs, according to a paper published last month by the Shanghai Journal of Preventive Medicine. Infections could rise to more than 233 million. Various studies conducted by American and British organizations also predict more than one million deaths immediately after the curbs are lifted.
According to Chinese experts, the worst is yet to come. Wu Zunyou, the chief epidemiologist at the Chinese CDC, said the country is being hit by the first of three expected waves of infections this winter. Wu said at a news conference in Beijing on Monday that the current wave will last until mid-January, while the second wave is expected to last from late January to mid-February next year.
However, China’s current focus is on regaining economic momentum, it has promised to carry out a vaccination campaign for the elderly. Experts believe that the reason for the surge of Covid in China is an under-vaccinated population with little natural immunity.
Meanwhile, the US has expressed concern that the situation in China could cause new mutations of the virus. “When it comes to the current outbreak in China, we want to see it addressed,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a briefing on Monday. “We know that when the virus spreads in the wild, it has the potential to mutate and pose a threat to people everywhere,” he added.