February 6th , 2023



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A week ago

The northern Shanxi province's coffin manufacturers have been quite busy. We observed the expert carvers as they carved intricate ornamentation into the recently-cut wood. They claim that they haven't had time to stop lately.

One villager who was a consumer informed us that the coffins occasionally sold out. He said that people in the funeral business had been "making a tiny fortune," laughing with a dash of the local dark humor.

The actual number of Covid fatalities in China when the virus ravaged its megacities has been the subject of significant discussion.

Leading epidemiologist Wu Zunyou estimates that since China lifted restrictions in December, 80% of the population, or more than one billion individuals, have become infected.

In addition to the 60,000 deaths it has recorded since December, China reported 13,000 Covid-related deaths in less than a week over the last weekend.

However, some fatalities occurred in hospitals. There are very few medical services in rural regions, and most people who pass away at home are not counted.

Even an official estimate of the number of deaths in the community is lacking. However, the BBC discovered proof of a high and rising death toll.

When we went to the cremation, they were also crowded. Mourners carrying the ceremonial box that would eventually hold a loved one's bones were dressed in white.

We observed a guy and a woman loading enormous tissue paper birds onto the back of a flatbed truck in another hamlet. "It's cranes. You ascend to heaven on the crane "said the woman.

They said they had experienced an upsurge in demand for their funeral decorations, two or three times what is typical, while they packed away other intricate, freshly created Buddhist pictures made of tissue paper.

Every funeral professional we saw in this region of Shanxi had a similar account of an increase in fatalities that they all blamed on the coronavirus.

As he began to load the vehicle, one guy commented, "Some ill folks are already quite feeble. Then, because of their advanced age, they contract Covid.

We encountered Wang Peiwei, whose sister-in-law had just passed away, as we accompanied the truck to the location where the artworks were being distributed.

The 50-year-old mother of two had endured years of severe diabetes before contracting the coronavirus.

"She developed a severe temperature and organ failure after receiving Covid. Her immune system was too weak to survive "Mr. Wang stated.

The family home's courtyard was becoming more decorated for the occasion. Mr. Wang informed us that there will be additional pictures, flowers, and the like.

He described how 16 people would carry her casket and transport her remains on the day of the burial while standing in front of a tent in the courtyard where her body was hidden.

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