This is what the crowd in funeral homes in China looks like in the face of a wave of covid-19
(CNN) — Satellite images taken over several cities in China have captured crowds at crematoriums and funeral homes as the country continues to battle an unprecedented wave of covid-19 after severe restrictions imposed by the pandemic are lifted.
The images — taken by Maxar in late December and early January and reviewed by CNN — show a funeral home on the outskirts of Beijing, which appears to have built an entirely new parking area, as well as lines of vehicles waiting outside funeral homes in Kunming. , Nanjing, Chengdu, Tangshan and Huzhou.
China recently abandoned its strict zero-covid policy, which had sparked mass riots after more than two years of tight controls over citizens’ private lives.
China’s strict policy protected its population from the mass deaths occurring in Western countries, an argument that the Communist Party repeated over and over again to illustrate the supposed superiority of its restrictions.
Since those rules were lifted, people have regained the freedom to travel the country.
The satellite images match CNN reports and testimonies shared on social media about overcrowded funeral homes and crematoriums.
CNN reported firsthand in Beijing on the makeshift facilities being used to store the deceased, as overworked staff try to keep up with the volume of boxes containing yellow body bags, and families report they have been waiting days for burials. or cremate your loved ones.
Meanwhile, the official death toll from Covid-19 since China eased restrictions remains surprisingly low: just 37 deaths since December 7.
As reports of overwhelmed hospitals and funeral homes emerge, China faces accusations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States that it is underestimating the severity of its current outbreak, as top world health officials urge Beijing to share more data on the explosive spread.
“We continue to call on China for faster, more regular and reliable data on hospitalizations and deaths, as well as more comprehensive and real-time viral sequencing,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday.
“WHO is concerned about the risk to life in China and has reiterated the importance of vaccination, including booster doses, to protect against hospitalization, severe illness and death,” it said.
Speaking in more detail, WHO’s executive director for health emergencies, Mike Ryan, said the figures released by China “do not reflect the true impact of the disease” in terms of hospital and intensive care unit admissions, as well as deaths.
He acknowledged that many countries have experienced delays in reporting hospital data, but pointed to China’s “narrow” definition of covid death as part of the problem.