BEIJING (Reuters) – Former high school teacher Ayria was devastated. His 85-year-old father died after showing symptoms of what he believed to be COVID-19. The virus is spreading in the southeastern province of Jiangxi, where the family lives.
Although her father was never tested, Ayria and her mother both tested positive around the same time, and Ayria believes her father died of COVID-19 as well.
Hundreds of millions of Chinese people will start moving in time for the Lunar New Year holidays, which begin on January 21. Many of them are heading back to their hometowns after mourning for relatives who died from the novel coronavirus, which has swept across China, the world’s most populous country.
Many people are sad and angry. In December last year, China abruptly abandoned its three-year “zero-corona” policy centered on testing, travel restrictions and lockdowns. Bereaved families, on the other hand, say they were ill-prepared to protect the elderly.
Like many Chinese citizens, Aylia, 56, said she was in favor of reopening the economy. But her father died at the end of December, weeks after China abandoned its draconian coronavirus measures.
“I wanted to be free of restrictions, but not in this way. Too many elderly people are being victimized. It’s taking a toll on every family,” Ayria said in a telephone interview.
Nearly 60,000 people have died in hospitals from coronavirus-related deaths since the end of the country’s “zero-corona” policy, officials said on Monday. This is more than 10 times more than the previous figures. But many international experts see this as underreporting. That’s because people who died at home, like Ayria’s father, were not counted.
Ninety percent of victims were over the age of 65, with an average age of 80.3, officials said Wednesday.
Many experts believe that despite China’s efforts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus for three years, China did not make preparations to protect its people, especially the elderly, who number in the hundreds of millions, by lifting restrictions on movement. , points out. China has rejected these criticisms.
Inadequate preparations include inadequate vaccination of the elderly and inadequate supply of therapeutic drugs.
Chinese officials said on Jan. 6 that over 90% of people over the age of 60 had been vaccinated, but booster rates for those over the age of 80 were the latest available data on Nov. 28 last year. It remains at 40% at the time of
“As long as the resources used to contain the virus are used to protect the elderly,” Ayria said. Ailia, like many interviewees, prefers to withhold her full name because it is difficult to criticize the government in China.
Chinese officials have repeatedly reiterated the importance of protecting the elderly, with measures ranging from accelerating vaccinations to setting up a special task force to identify high-risk groups in China’s largest city, Shanghai. has also announced.
At the end of November, China erupted in widespread street protests, a rarity in the country, in reaction to its “zero-corona” policy. After this, the government decided to end the “zero corona” policy. But public grievances over methods to end the coronavirus containment have largely played out on heavily censored social media.
Analysts say the coronavirus response has eroded trust in the government, especially among the upper and middle class in cities, but they don’t think it poses a threat to the rule of President Xi Jinping or the Chinese Communist Party.
Lila Hong, 33, who works in the marketing department of an automaker, was in Wuhan when the outbreak began three years ago. Her Hong’s family survived an initial period of still little-knowledge about the novel coronavirus, but last month saw two of her grandparents and her family both infected with the virus. I lost my great uncle.
Hong said he and his father went to a crowded crematorium in Wuhan to pick up the ashes of his grandparents. Although heartbreaking, it has become a common sight in China, where the number of new coronavirus infections is surging.
“It’s supposed to be a respectful and dignified scene[for the deceased]. You might think so, but in reality it was little more than waiting in line at the hospital.”
“I’m not saying lifting restrictions is bad,” Hong said. “I think we should have spent more time preparing, that’s all.”
Zhang, 66, who lives in Beijing, has lost four people close to him to the new coronavirus since early December. One of them, an 88-year-old aunt, was infected with Corona while in the hospital.
Like others, Zhang said the process from her aunt’s death to her funeral was chaotic, hectic, and felt unconventional.
“I didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye to people close to me. If I can’t live a humane life (due to the coronavirus), I should at least be allowed to die a humane way,” Zhang said. “It’s very sad that I can’t even do that.”
In interviews for this article, seven grieving family members shared their thoughts. All but one did not list COVID-19 as the cause of death on the deceased’s death certificate. But they believe it was the novel coronavirus that killed their loved ones.
Family members also say that official death statistics cannot be trusted. Several people said that they had lost trust in the government during the three years of the “zero coronavirus” policy.
Philip, a 22-year-old student from Hebei province, who surrounds Beijing, supports protests against the lockdown in November, but is disappointed with the situation surrounding the lifting of restrictions and blames the government. Say there is.
“You look like you have all the power, but you can’t do this. If you’re the head of a company, you’d quit,” Philippe said. I lost my 78 year old grandfather on December 30th.
“The hospital didn’t have any effective drugs,” Philip said. “It was overcrowded and there weren’t enough beds.”
After his grandfather died, his body was quickly removed from the bed to make room for another patient.
“Nurses and doctors seemed extremely busy. They were constantly writing out death certificates and giving copies to families. Too many people died. A great tragedy.”
(Reporter by Martin Quin Pollard, translated by Erkleen)