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China’s Coronavirus Casualties Cause Coffin Conundrum: Stock Selling Faster Than the Spread of the Virus

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The coffin makers of northern Shanxi province have been busy recently, with many reporting that they haven’t had time to stop. Some villagers have reported that coffins have sold out, and those in the funeral industry have been “earning a small fortune.” There has been much debate about the real number of Covid deaths in China, after the virus ripped through its megacities. Some 80% of the population – more than a billion people – have been infected since China scrapped restrictions in December, according to leading epidemiologist Wu Zunyou. Last weekend China reported 13,000 Covid-related deaths in less than a week, adding to the 60,000 deaths it has counted since December. But these deaths have been in hospitals. In rural areas there are only sparse medical facilities and those who die at home are mostly not being counted. There is not even an official estimate for the number of village deaths. The RepublicPolicy found evidence of a considerable, mounting death toll. We visited a crematorium and they too have been busy, mourners dressed in white walking forward carrying the ceremonial box which would eventually contain the remains of a loved one. In another village, we saw one man and woman loading huge tissue paper birds onto the back of a flatbed truck. “They’re cranes. You ride the crane into the afterlife,” the woman said. As they packed up other elaborate, Buddhist images newly made from tissue paper they said they’d had an explosion in demand for their funeral decorations, two or three times what’s normal. Everyone we met in this part of Shanxi who is connected to the funeral industry told us a similar story about an increase in deaths and they all attributed it to the coronavirus.

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