Urns in Wuhan far exceed death toll, raising more questions about China’s tally

The reliability of China’s coronavirus numbers is under question once again in view of the staggering amount of urns being distributed out in Wuhan.

According to official Chinese government data, 50,006 people were infected with the Covid-19 virus in Wuhan with 2,535 dying from the disease.

However, Chinese investigative outlet Caixin reports that when mortuaries opened back up this week in the Hubei capital, people had to wait in line for as long as five hours to receive the remains of their loved ones lost during the epidemic.

One photo published by Caixin shows a truck loaded with 2,500 urns arriving at the Hankou Mortuary. The driver said that he had delivered the same amount to the mortuary the day before.

Another photo shows stacks of urns inside the mortuary. There were seven stacks with 500 urns in each stack, adding up to 3,500 urns.

Taken together with the new shipment, the number of urns on hand at the mortuary looks to be more than double Wuhan’s death toll.

Urns are reportedly being distributed at a rate of 500 a day at the mortuary until the Tomb Sweeping Day holiday, which falls on April 4 this year.

Wuhan has seven other mortuaries. If they are all sticking to the same schedule, this adds up to more than 40,000 urns being distributed in the city over the next 10 days.

When reporters at Bloomberg made calls to the funeral homes to check on the number of urns waiting to be collected, the mortuaries said that they either did not have that data or were not authorized to disclose it.

As the outbreak was ongoing, many viewed China’s official numbers with skepticism amid multiple revisions to the way in which cases were counted, accusing Chinese authorities of attempting to downplay the already extreme severity of the epidemic.

Considering what has happened in other countries around the world, in retrospect, China’s numbers now look even more suspect. The United States has recently surpassed China in number of reported coronavirus cases while both Italy and Spain have reported more deaths.

For its part, China has touted its aggressive quarantine measures, community action, and medical resources to explain how it managed to weather the coronavirus storm. Life is now starting to return back to normal in the country.