(Minghui.org) “The clinic of elderly rural doctor Li is full of patients with COVID, but he can’t offer them more than a few bottles of painkillers. And so it is throughout the Chinese countryside: there are too few doctors and hardly any medicine,” reported de Volkskrant, the third largest Dutch daily newspaper, on its January 19 article titled “Rural Chinese are almost alone in their fight against COVID: ‘If you don't get better, you die and it’s over.’”

A Silent Death Wave

At Shitouzui township of Yingshan County in Hubei Province, for example, the deaths have been three times higher than normal. “It is a death wave that happens in silence. Death is taboo in rural China, and most of the deceased are not cremated, but buried (illegal but tolerated) in the mountains, further reducing visibility,” the de Volkskrant report continued.”

The de Volkskrant report also cited an interview of a 75-year-old rice farmer named Huang Jigui in Yingshan County, Hubei Province. “If old people in the village get sick, there's nothing you can do about it,” wrote the report. “When you get better, you get better. If you don’t get better, you die and it’s over.” In the local area, people referred to COVID as “cold” or “fever.” While the village clinics or municipal hospital have poor quality and often run out of medicine, the city hospitals are often out of reach for ordinary villagers. The nearest town is an hour’s drive away, and many villagers do not have a car. Even if they manage to get to to the city hospital, they do not have the “connections” to get admitted anyway.

According to Radio Free Asia, human rights activist Jie Lijian recently learned of the COVID situation in his hometown – Gaozhaizi Village in Gaotang County, Shandong Province. About 20 elderly villagers had died lately and, with so many funerals, it was hard to find a coffin for the burial.

Columnist Gu Bei in Shanghai wrote on the Chinese social media platform Weibo that she had to wait for nearly two weeks to get her mother’s body cremated. The local funeral home was overwhelmed and could not tell her when they’d be available to hold memorial services for her mother.

A reporter from The Epoch Times recently contacted Dingzhou City Crematory and Shenze City Crematory, both in Hebei Province. Both crematories said there were long waiting lists and one had to make reservations at least three days in advance. Due to the high demand, no funeral ceremony was possible.

Crematories: Shortage of Freezers, Furnaces, and Fuel

Since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ended the zero-COVID policy on December 7, 2022, funeral homes and crematories across China have experienced shortage of body bags, freezers, body trucks, and furnaces.

Reuters reported said the crematory at Jieshou, a county-level city in Anhui Province, could not meet the high demand and was purchasing 30 integrated three-door freezers. One crematory in Shantou City, Guangdong Province, is purchasing two furnaces. Another crematory in Zigong City, Sichuan Province, said its diesel was “nearly depleted” and was purchasing 196,230 liters of diesel. This is enough to burn about 20,000 bodies and is 40% higher than normal annual fuel consumption of the facility.

COVID Cannot Be Recorded as Cause of Death

The shortage of cremation supplies can be explained by the number of deaths. Nanguan District Government of Changchun City, Jilin Province, surveys vulnerable groups (such as low-income, disabled, or elderly people) at the beginning and the end of each year to determine how much aid to distribute the following year. During the survey in December 2022, one of the sub-districts lost 98 handicapped people to COVID alone. Nanguan has about 620,000 people in its 25 sub-districts, meaning there are about 25,000 residents in each sub-district. Data from Chinese Disabled Person’ Federation showed there were 85 million (about 6.5% of the 1.3 billion people in China) disabled citizens in 2010. If we use 6.5% to roughly estimate the disabled population, then each sub-district has about 1,625 (=25,000*6.5%) disabled residents. This translates to a mortality rate of 6% (98/1625) among the disabled population.

Despite the high number of deaths, the CCP refused to acknowledge it. “Six relatives who lost loved ones to coronavirus in recent weeks said they were dismayed to see death certificates filled in with ‘pneumonia’ or ‘heart disease’ or other causes of death instead of Covid,” wrote a January 19 Financial Times article titled “Relatives angry as COVID kept off Chinese death certificates: ‘What are you trying to hide?’”

One of the relatives was Wang, who said the hospital was packed with COVID patients. “Until the end, he [father] couldn’t get a ventilator,” she added. “I felt helpless. We were at a hospital, but I wasn’t able to get my father treatment.” She and her mother was upset the real death cause could not be recorded, but they did not have a choice.

Other people had similar experiences. “Several medical professionals told the Financial Times that local officials had discouraged them from including coronavirus on the official documents either by complicating the process or by actively telling medical institutions not to include the words,” wrote the report.

Blocking Information

In addition to silencing COVID deaths through health facilities and crematories as well as government-controlled media, the CCP also blocked overseas media from accessing such information.

Netizen Cao Lijun wrote on social media platform Toutiao on January 18 that the CCP officials in Gansu Province had made an urgent announcement to monitor and stop three overseas media reporters. These reporters were said to have interviewed hospitals, clinics, and local residents “without authorization.” The announcement also prohibited residents from sharing information on COVID.

Airfinity, a UK-cased health data firm, updated its modeling on January 20. It estimated that the total infections in China has reached over 110 million since December 2022, with a death toll of more than 700,000. That translates to over 4 million infections and more than 33,000 deaths per day. Because of the large human migration around the Chinese New Year, the death toll could reach 36,000 per day.