China defends its Covid death reporting rates while allegedly banning photos, videos of Tibetan cemeteries

China is defending itself against World Health Organisation (WHO) claims that its reported Covid-19 death rates are inaccurate. Chinese health officials say that it is ‘not necessary’ to dwell on the exact number of Covid-related deaths in the country.

But, a news report by Radio Free Asia says that the government is allegedly banning photos and videos of cemeteries in Tibet.

The WHO criticised Beijing’s changing of its Covid-related death definition as being ‘too narrow,’ with Michael Ryan, its emergencies director, saying the new numbers under-represent the true impact of the disease.

China abruptly dropped its strict Zero-Covid policy last month, leading to hospitals and crematoriums being overwhelmed. It then revised its definition of what is considered a death due to coronavirus. The new definition states that only those who die specifically of respiratory failure caused by the virus are recorded as a Covid death. Critics, such as the WHO, say now many related fatalities are going uncounted.

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But, epidemiologist Liang Wannian, who is head of a government-appointed expert panel, thinks otherwise.

‘I don’t think it is necessary to look into the cause of death for every case at present. The key task during the pandemic should be treatment. If consensus can be reached globally, it would be the best. If consensus cannot be reached, each country will classify it according to its own situation.”

But, that situation on the ground in China has the WHO saying it doesn’t reflect any of the currently reported deaths from Covid. According to official figures, only 37 people have died from Covid since last month out of a population of 1.4 billion.

In Tibetan areas of China, Radio Free Asia reports that Chinese authorities are banning photos and video recordings at local cemeteries in a bid to keep news of rising Covid deaths from reaching the outside world. One anonymous source, who lives in the area, says that around 15 to 20 dead bodies are being brought each day to a cemetery in the Tibet Autonomous Region of Drigung and to other cemeteries in the capital of Lhasa.

“The Chinese government has placed tight restrictions around the cemeteries in Lhasa. People are not allowed to take pictures or videos of the scenes in the cemeteries or to share them.”

Another anonymous source said many died after seemingly recovering from the virus.

“Even though most of those who died were elderly people and people with underlying health issues, others were people who were believed to have recovered from Covid but then died suddenly after their recovery.”

“We have not been able to confirm all the causes of death, as access to hospitals and other medical facilities are now restricted.”

Another anonymous source told RFA that bodies were being brought in large numbers to the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in Sichuan’s Serta county.

Meanwhile, another source says China has opened Tibet again to visitors from other areas, with authorities in Lhasa offering free admission to tourist attractions in the capital.

China NewsCovid-19 News

Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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