- Police officers and security guards were seen guarding a crematorium in Beijing, Bloomberg reported.
- Staff at the facility told the Financial Times that it cremated at least 30 COVID-19 victims last Wednesday.
- However, China reported no deaths in Beijing on Friday.
Police officers and guards were seen guarding a crematorium in Beijing this week amid reports suggesting China may be hiding its real death toll from COVID-19.
Bloomberg reported Monday that guards were seen stationed outside the Dongjiao funeral home on Monday. Reporters on the scene were forced to move to the rear of the facility’s parking lot, Bloomberg reported. About a dozen minivans were also seen entering the facility and appeared to be dropping bodies, according to Bloomberg.
The Bloomberg reports of the heavy police presence at the facility came after the Dongjiao Funeral Home became the subject of two separate reports: a Financial Times report on Fridayand a Reuters article on Saturday.
The Financial Times spoke to a staff member at Dongjiao Funeral Home last week, who said they had cremated several dozen people who died of COVID-19.
“We cremated 150 bodies on Wednesday, many times more than a typical day last winter,” an anonymous funeral home employee told the Financial Times, adding that some 30 to 40 of those who died had died of COVID-19.
“We are doing it as quickly as possible and prioritizing deaths from Covid,” the employee added. “We are going to incinerate them the same day they are brought in.”
Reuters reported separately on Saturday that it saw around 30 hearses parked at the entrance of Dongjiao Funeral Home. One of them contained a dead body that workers dressed in hazmat suits came out of the facility to collect, Reuters reported.
The news agency also reported seeing around 20 body bags containing corpses at a funeral home several meters from the crematorium. But he could not immediately establish whether these contained the bodies of COVID-19 victims.
Reuters also reported that other funeral homes in the Chinese capital are being overwhelmed by the growing demand for cremations. The news outlet spoke to staff at around 12 funeral homes, many of whom reported seeing many of their workers testing positive for COVID-19, along with a further backlog of bodies for cremation.
The reports are in stark contrast to China’s zero death count from COVID-19
Insider could not independently confirm reports by the Financial Times and Reuters about rising demand for funeral services in Beijing.
But these reports stand in stark contrast to the death toll reported by the Chinese government, the Monday, the country’s Ministry of Health reported no deaths. And in Friday, on the day of the Financial Times report, China also did not report any deaths.
Beijing and other cities in China have seen a marked increase in COVID-19 cases. This is after the country made 10 changes to its zero COVID policy December 7which were essentially a smooth reversal of restrictions —including harsh lockdowns— that sparked protests across the country.
Last week, China also stopped tracking Asymptomatic infections by COVID-19. Chongqing, a Chinese megacity, is also encouraging people with mild symptoms of COVID-19 to keep working, in what appears to be a hub for living with the virus, reported the South China Morning Mail Monday.
However, a new report from the US-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation suggests that the relaxation of the zero-COVID policy, coupled with upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations in January, may lead to an increase in positive infections. If this happened, more than a million people could diethe report stated.
A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC, did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.