A shocking report published Saturday local time by the Epoch Times revealed that crematoriums in China are struggling to keep up with the hundreds of bodies they are receiving, suggesting Beijing is undercounting the number of coronavirus deaths in the country.
The Epoch Times, a Chinese-American anti-communist newspaper, sent journalists to speak with the heads of several funeral homes and crematoriums in Hubei province – whose capital, Wuhan, is the epicenter of the current novel coronavirus outbreak. The newspaper found that adding up the total number of people cremated per day in several funeral homes yielded a significantly larger number than the official number of deaths tallied since the outbreak began in December.
The Chinese Communist Party alerted the world to the discovery of a new type of coronavirus on January 20, over a month after locals became aware of a disease spreading and 20 days after local officials shut down a wild meat market in Wuhan where the virus is believed to have originated.
According to the Epoch Times, the crematoria were handling “4-5 times the usual cremation volume” per day. Few of those cremated were officially confirmed as coronavirus cases.
“I received 127 corpses yesterday [February 3], and burned 116. Among them, 8 were confirmed [coronavirus cases] on the death certificate and 48 were suspected,” a funeral home director in Hubei using the pseudonym “You Hu” told the newspaper. “I am about to collapse, we are under great pressure now.”
The newspaper offered insight into a larger funeral home in Hankou, a Wuhan neighborhood, which it estimated had the capacity to burn 576 people per day. “You Hu” told the Epoch Times that the backlog of people waiting to be cremated was not due to lack of space in the burners, but lack of sufficient transportation and collapsing staff numbers, as few were sleeping or taking breaks. Due to transportation and staff limits, the Epoch Times estimated that the Hankou crematorium was burning 225 corpses a day.
With this math, the newspaper concludes that Hubei province incinerated 341 bodies on February 3; China reported 65 deaths nationwide due to coronavirus that day.
The article went on to state that Hubei province has eight municipal funeral homes. Similarly judging from their capacity for bodies and the amount of time the furnaces are running, the article adds another 135 patients a day to the tally from five of these. The other three, it concludes, burned 476 people a day. While less confident in these numbers since the journalists were unable to speak to their managers, these numbers reveal a rough estimate of nearly 1,000 people incinerated per day.
Of course, the article notes that there is no guarantee that all these people died after becoming infected with the novel coronavirus. It notes that, of the 127 remains “You Hu” received on February 3 (116 were cremated that day), eight were confirmed coronavirus patients and 48 were suspected carriers. The newspaper also identified another funeral home that took in 22 sets of remains and three were confirmed coronavirus cases.
These numbers, the report argues, do not align with the Communist Party policies issued on handling coronavirus remains.
“As per from the current policy of the Communist Party of China … the funeral home must give priority to the burning of novel coronavirus patients’ bodies; other bodies may not be burned on the same day due to funeral culture, rituals, and other reasons,” the article notes. “Based on this, it can be inferred that the 116 dead [at “You Hu”‘s crematorium] basically all died of novel coronavirus pneumonia, or at least suspected of having died of it.”
What’s more, a local ordinance in at least one Hubei county, Yangxin, required crematoria to immediately handle coronavirus victims and prioritize them over other deaths.
The Epoch Times report is not the first one to accuse the Chinese regime of secretly cremating large numbers of individuals suspected of carrying the novel coronavirus – or refusing to take patients in hospitals and confirm their disease. Last week, the Hong Kong-based website Initium Media published a report contending that the Communist Party is artificially suppressing the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak by incinerating people suspected of having died of it before their deaths can be properly documented.
The implication that China is also not properly documenting cause of death on people’s birth certificates is also not new. Shortly after China revealed the outbreak to the world on January 20, Radio Free Asia (RFA) highlighted the strange death of Xu Dapeng, the founder of the oldest environmentalist group in the country. Xu and his wife lived in Wuhan and both died of pneumonia in January. Neither they nor anyone who was exposed to them were tested for the novel coronavirus, and their cause of death was simply declared “pneumonia.”
At press time Friday, the Chinese government and the World Health Organization (WHO) have confirmed 31,527 cases of novel coronavirus. Of those, 638 people have died, all but two within China. The government also claimed another 1,568 people have fully recovered from the infection.
The WHO claimed on Friday that 82 percent of cases have been deemed “mild.”