Multiple reports published on Wednesday quoting residents of Wuhan, China, the city where the coronavirus pandemic originated, found extreme skepticism among locals that the Communist Party’s official coronavirus death toll truly reflects the disease’s impact on the community.
Dictator Xi Jinping declared Wuhan on the road to recovery in mid-March, visiting the central Chinese city for the first time despite evidence that the pandemic began there as early as November 2019.
This weekend, the government opened Wuhan’s subway system to customers for the first time since the lockdown there began in January and began allowing the families of the dead to pick up urns holding the remains of their loved ones. The number of urns handed out at Wuhan’s seven funeral homes, multiple reports found, is somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000, suggesting that the real death toll of the coronavirus in Wuhan is at least ten times what the Chinese regime claimed it was.
Speaking to the Spanish newswire service EFE, Wuhan residents who declined to give their names out of fear of reprisals from the government said they knew of no one in the city who believed the Communist Party’s estimates.
“There are suspicions that many people died in their homes without being diagnosed and, at first, there were no kits to do the test,” one anonymous resident said. “Many people would die, officially, of a cold or some other disease. But there are stories going around of citizens who were made to sign death certificates of relatives without any other explanation.”
“Nobody in Wuhan believes the official numbers. The real one, only they know,” the resident said, pointing to the sky, presumably referring to the dead themselves.
EFE noted that much of the online chatter on Weibo, the legal Chinese social media outlet, has grown increasingly frustrated with the Communist Party, but has resulted in increased censorship. One comment the news service noted merely advised readers to read quickly, as any comment potentially hinting at dissent with the government would rapidly disappear.
The Spanish news service said its reporters attempted to enter a Wuhan funeral home to ask workers there about the number of urns, but authorities blocked them on the grounds of Chinese culture demanding privacy for the loved ones picking up remains.
The Epoch Times, a U.S.-based anti-communist newspaper, also published remarks from unnamed Wuhan locals on Thursday who not only believe the Chinese government’s death tolls are artificially deflated but that allowing relatives to crowd in front of funeral homes to collect the remains of their loved ones exposes them unnecessarily to coronavirus infection.
“The relatives were anxious. Most people are still restricted from going out. You have to pick up the ashes, in accordance with the community’s request. The community centers arranged cars to pick you up. There is also a risk of infection in the car,” a man identified as “Mr. Liu” told the newspaper. “Once the funeral homes hand you the ashes, their job is done and they don’t care for anything else. It is very likely that there were too many urns there and no space to store them. So, it was necessary to inform the families to take them away.”
“Just exactly how many Wuhan residents have died from the virus if the line at the cemetery is so long?” another unnamed resident said. “China’s official media reported over 3,000 coronavirus deaths. I think the real figure is at least ten times the official figure, and even 100 times is not impossible.”
“The citizens of Wuhan believe that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) concealed the true death toll,” the Epoch Times concluded. “They made this judgment based on two facts: one, the lines outside the funeral home to collect the ashes are very long, and two, the medical standards of European and American countries are higher than those in China. But the reported death rates in these countries are higher than that of China.”
In late March, shortly after Xi’s visit to Wuhan, reports began surfacing of doctors at Wuhan hospitals being forced to release individuals in the week preceding Xi’s arrival and declare them “cured” of coronavirus so that Beijing could tell the world that the outbreak was ebbing. The result was likely deliberately exposing Chinese citizens to infection.
“There are 60 million people in Hubei [the province where Wuhan is located], and they have all just been left to live or die without any help,” Zhang Ruyi, a Wuhan resident, told Radio Free Asia. “It’s basically down to a person’s immune system.”
Like the others, Zhang questioned the official statistics: “They are saying that only a few thousand died here in Wuhan, but does that sound right?”
A bombshell report by the Chinese independent outlet Caixin estimated that just one of Wuhan’s seven funeral homes handed out 5,000 urns in one day last week. Beijing claims about 2,000 fewer deaths than that nationwide for the entirety of the pandemic.