The coffin makers are busy in northern Shanxi province making coffins as China’s 80 per cent population has been infected with the virus, according to leading epidemiologist Wu Zunyou.
A BBC report that tracked the funeral industry cited one of the villagers, a customer, as saying that the coffins have sold out at times. The customer also noted that those in the funeral industry had been ‘earning a small fortune’.
The real number of Covid deaths in China is debatable after the virus exploded through its megacities since the government eased restrictions. Last week, 13,000 Covid-related deaths were reported in less than a week taking the death toll to 60,000 since December, the report added.
These deaths are confined to hospitals. In rural areas where the medical facilities are sparse and those who die at home remain mostly out of count.
In absence of any official estimate for the deaths in villages, the BBC gathered evidence of a considerable rise in the death toll. Some of the villagers who packed up an elaborate coffin with Buddhist images made from tissue paper said there has been an explosion in demand for their funeral decorations, two or three times what’s normal.
The majority of people in Shanxi, who is connected to the funeral industry shared a similar story citing coronavirus as the reason behind deaths, the report quoted.
“Some sick people are already very weak,” said a man as he continued to load the truck. “Then they catch Covid, and their elderly bodies can’t handle it.”
One of the persons said though the cost of funeral arrangements had surged over a period of time because of the rise in Covid deaths, they would pay the extra money in honour of those dying.
Every year, hundreds of millions of younger people go back to their hometowns at this time to celebrate the Lunar New Year. It’s China’s most important festival.
Most people are coming back to places where older people are more vulnerable to Covid. There has been concern that this year’s Spring Festival mass migration may spread the coronavirus into more remote areas, to deadly effect.
The government also warned those in the cities to avoid visiting home this year if their elderly relatives had not yet been infected.