China accused of “cremating” untold number of coronavirus victims as disease sickness and death toll rises globally

Sunday, February 2, 2020
By Paul Martin

by: JD Heyes
Sunday, February 02, 2020

Amid reports that China may be understating the severity of the current coronavirus outbreak, a New Zealand newspaper reported an allegation that would indicate the death toll is much higher than ‘official’ numbers.

According to the New Zealand Herald, Chinese officials have been accused of cremating victims of the virus, suggesting that many more have perished than Beijing has admitted:

World health officials, back from a visit to Beijing, expressed great concern that a dangerous new virus was spreading between people outside of China, even as the number of illnesses continue to grow dramatically inside that Asian nation.

The new virus has now infected more people in China than were sickened during the 2002-2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak. On Wednesday, the number of cases jumped to 5974, surpassing the 5327 people diagnosed with SARS.

Officially as of Friday, the death toll in China stood at 132, less than half the 348 people who reportedly died from the SARS virus.

But “doubts have been raised about the official death toll,” the paper noted, “with claims that Chinese authorities have been cremating bodies in secret.”

One Chinese language news outlet, Initium, claimed to have interviewed workers at a local cremation center in Wuhan, a city of 11 million in central China where the coronavirus outbreak originated.

Officials reportedly told the outlet that bodies are being sent to the crematorium directly from hospitals without proper identification and without being added to the official death toll.

“So there are reasons to remain skeptical about what China has been sharing with the world because while they have been more transparent about certain things related to the virus, they continue to be sketchy and unreliable in other aspects,” noted DW News East Asia correspondent William Yang.

Global health officials are clearly concerned about the spread of the virus

The possibility that the Chinese government is underestimating the virus’ death toll is very real, considering how tightly controlled all information is coming into and out of the country. The government literally controls all health agencies, of course, as well as all media that is broadcast and social media that is posted.

So it wouldn’t be difficult to craft a narrative that the disease is under control and the official death toll thus far is low.

But health experts around the globe are already increasingly concerned simply because of the rapid spread of the virus and the rising death toll in other countries.

Plus, WHO officials noted Thursday that they weren’t so concerned with China’s handling of the outbreak but rather its spread to other countries with fewer resources.

“Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems and which are ill prepared to deal with it,” said WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

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