Beijing’s crematoriums still burned at the crack of dawn. The cold blue sky was dominated by plumes of smoke.
The Dongjiao crematorium, to the east of the capital was bustling. The ambulances arrived, and grieving family members gathered around. A queue of vans accompanied the coffins.
This crematorium is being reported to be specifically designated for COVID deaths. This is strange considering that the country has only reported eight deaths in seven months.
It is impossible to provide accurate data about China’s wave.
It is not known how many people are currently affected or how many have died from the virus.
However, the infamous zero COVID policy was dropped less than two weeks ago. It’s evident that the virus has infected China‘s capital.
It’s already starting to show.
A few minutes away was another crematorium where about 20 vans acted as hearses, waiting for their turn to enter. There was tension also in the air.
According to drivers, the last few days were busier than usual. They had been waiting for over three hours.
Families gathered around the corner to remember and mourn, many wearing white scarves, which are traditional for Chinese funerals.
Problem for authorities: numbers may be obscured… grieving family members cannot.
One group we met didn’t want their names to be revealed, but they wanted to talk. They are aware that COVID is killing people and they came to meet us.
A family friend of the deceased lady stated that she didn’t believe the government’s data.
She was 73 years of age. She did not have any other serious underlying conditions.
“The main reason she experienced a persistent low fever after being infected by Omicron is because she was unable to eat.
She didn’t realize her condition was so serious at first, so she did not go to the hospital. She died that day after being unconsciously taken to the hospital.
People aren’t panicking; they don’t realize that Omicron can have such severe consequences. This virus could cause death so quickly, which we didn’t expect.”
It is clear that there is a lot of sensitivity surrounding what’s happening here. Nearly everywhere we filmed, authorities intervened. One man attempted to grab our camera while we were walking away.
Police were guarding some crematoriums.
However, there is real pressure on the system. Multiple people waited outside a fever clinic in Beijing’s other part, including an elderly lady in a wheelchair, who seemed to be unconscious.
China’s seismic COVID changes are seismic
We could see through the window a room full of IV drips.
One time, what looked like a body in a chair was moved out of one door to another. The quilt was all that covered it.
Although it’s impossible for anyone to pinpoint exactly what happened, it does not bode well for the inside.
China’s hospitals have a low level of resources. The country has a low level of immunity and there are not enough beds for intensive care.
Sixty percent of those over 80 have not been fully vaccinated.
Many believe China didn’t have enough time to prepare Zero-COVID when it was abruptly dropped.
Beijing was the epicenter of the first wave, but smaller towns in rural areas will be more affected.
It is not clear how dire things are. They’re likely to get worse.