COVID: Coffins are in high demand as rural losses rise in China

The northern Shanxi nation’s coffin manufacturers have been quite busy. A BBC team saw the expert carvers as they sculpted intricate designs into the recently cut wood. They claim that they haven’t had time to slow down lately.

The actual number of COVID casualties in China when the virus ravaged its metropolitan areas has been the subject of significant discussion. Prominent epidemiologist Wu Zunyou estimates that since China lifted regulations in December, 80% of the population, or even more than one billion people, have become infected. In addition to the 60,000 deaths it has recorded since December, China confirmed 13,000 COVID-related deaths in less than a week over the last weekend.

The cremation where the team stopped by was bustling, with mourners holding the ceremonial box that would eventually hold a loved one’s bones and walking forward in white attire. They claimed that demand for their funeral preparations had increased two or three times over normal as they piled up additional intricate, newly created Buddhist pictures made of tissue paper.

The BBC team was told a similar narrative about a rise in deaths by everyone they encountered in this region of Shanxi who is involved in the burial business, and they all blamed the coronavirus.

The artist Wang Peiwei, whose sister-in-law had recently passed away, was waiting for the artwork to be delivered.

The 50-year-old mother of two children had endured years of severe diabetes before getting the coronavirus. Wang claimed that there would be further pictures, flowers, and the like.

He described how, on the day of the funeral ceremony, 16 people would take her casket and bury her as per custom while standing in front of a tent in the courtyard where her remains were hidden.

To celebrate the Lunar New Year, a huge number of people return to their hometowns each year around this time. It is the most significant celebration in China.

The towns they are returning to now have a large population of elderly residents, who are especially susceptible to COVID.

There has been a lot of worries that the huge travel for the Spring Festival this year could transmit the coronavirus fast and fatally to more rural locations.

The government issued a warning to city dwellers not to visit their older relatives if they had not yet become ill this year.

Doctor Dong Yongming, who runs a little rural clinic, estimates that at least 80% of the locals have already contracted COVID. Dr. Dong stated that they would not sell medicine to people who did not need it in regards to controlling the drugs they had as COVID struck the town.

People who pass away are interred in the fields. Around their ancestors’ burial sites, farmers then continue to produce crops and keep livestock.

However, the people here in the countryside have a very philosophical outlook on life and death. This farmer predicted that people would continue to celebrate the new year in the same manner. He, as well as numerous others, are hopeful that Covid’s most destructive mission has already been completed and that, at least temporarily, their energy can be used to be with the living rather than bury the dead.

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