Satellite images of Chinese crematoriums and funeral homes hint at the true cost of the Covid outbreak

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Chinese officials reject criticism of the data they have provided, saying the true death toll will become clear after analysis of «excess deaths.»

Dr. Liang Wannian, an epidemiologist and senior adviser to the Chinese government, said on Wednesday that the priority right now should be treating severe cases.

Until the pandemic is over, «it is impossible to identify the exact death rate,» he told a news conference in Beijing.

He also defended the way China determines whether a death was related to covid, counting only those involving respiratory failure, a definition the WHO has criticized as too narrow.

There is no global consensus on how to define Covid deaths, Liang said, «so each country has its own individual way of calculating.»

China informed all WHO member states of its Covid outbreak last week and provided additional information on its response, said Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead.

“However, there are some very important information gaps that we are working with China to fill,” he told a news conference on Wednesday.

Citing a lack of data on the outbreak from China, the United States and other countries have imposed restrictions on travelers from China in recent weeks. Beijing called the measures unscientific, excessive and discriminatory, taking the first of its promised countermeasures on Tuesday by suspending short-term visas for citizens of South Korea and Japan.

Japan lodged a protest to China over the suspension, while South Korea says its Covid border measures are based on science and China’s response «very regrettable».

China’s new foreign minister Qin Gang, who is visiting Ethiopia, told Phoenix TV in an interview on Wednesday that restrictions by South Korea and Japan had hampered China’s personnel exchanges with the two countries, “So we, the Chinese side, have a reason to respond. .”

olivia guan, angie ling, Janis Mackey Frayer Y Eric Baculinao contributed.

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