BEIJING (Reuters) – China mourned the thousands of “martyrs” who died in the recent outbreak of the corona virus on Saturday. They waved the half-flag at half-mast nationwide and stopped all forms of entertainment.
A policeman positions the Chinese national flag at half-mast along the Huangpu River in Shanghai, while China is holding a national mourning ceremony for those who died from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Qingming Grabfegerfest on April 4, 2020 cnsphoto about REUTERS
Mourning Day coincided with the start of the annual Qingming Tomb Festival, where millions of Chinese families pay tribute to their ancestors.
At 10 a.m. (0200 GMT) in Beijing, the country held a three-minute silence to mourn the dead, including doctors and doctors at the forefront. Cars, trains and ships sounded and air raid sirens howled.
In Zhongnanhai, the seat of political power in Beijing, President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders silently paid tribute to the national flag, with white flowers pinned to their chests as a sign of mourning, state media reported.
More than 3,300 people in mainland China have died from the epidemic, which, according to statistics from the National Health Commission, first occurred in central Hubei at the end of last year.
In Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province and epicenter of the outbreak, all traffic lights in urban areas turned red at 10 a.m. and all traffic was stopped for three minutes.
Around 2,567 people died in the city of 11 million, which corresponds to more than 75% of coronavirus deaths in the country.
Among those who died was Li Wenliang, a young doctor who was reprimanded by the Wuhan police for “spreading rumors” when he tried to raise the alarm about the disease.
Since then, the virus has spread to all parts of the world, making more than a million people ill, killing over 55,000 people and paralyzing the global economy.
The total number of confirmed cases reported in the US now triple China’s official number.
“Li Wenliang was a hero, he found out early … now it’s too late, but now our country is stronger than others,” said Gan Weineng, 78, a Wuhan resident.
Wuhan also banned all grave digging activities in his cemeteries until at least April 30, shortening one of the most important dates in the traditional Chinese New Year calendar, in which millions of families typically travel to take care of their traditional graves, offer flowers, and do so burn incense.
They also advised residents who are stuck at home due to restricted restrictions, to use online streaming services that allow them to watch cemetery personnel live while performing these tasks.
Some residents burned Joss paper, a tradition they believe is sending money and wealth to deceased relatives, on sidewalks and within the confines of their barricaded condominiums.
Online celebrities such as Fan Xingbing, the star of “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, exchanged their glamorous social media profile pictures for dark photos in gray or black and collected millions of “likes” from fans.
Chinese gaming and social media giant Tencent discontinued all online games on Saturday.
As of Friday, the total number of confirmed cases across the country was 81,639, including 19 new infections, the National Health Commission said.
Eighteen of the new cases concerned travelers from abroad. The remaining new infection was a local case in Wuhan, a patient who was previously asymptomatic.
Asymptomatic people have few signs of infection, such as fever or cough, and only then are they included in the list of cases confirmed by the Chinese authorities.
However, they are still contagious and the government has warned of possible local transmissions if such asymptomatic cases are not properly monitored.
China reported 64 new asymptomatic cases on Friday, including 26 overseas travelers. The total number of asymptomatic persons currently under medical observation is 1,030, including 729 in Hubei.
Reporting by Ryan Woo, Liangping Gao and Se Young Lee in Beijing and Brenda Goh and Thomas Suen in Wuhan; Cut by Sandra Maler and Lincoln Feast.