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Tipsheet

How Wuhan Residents Are Estimating the True Death Toll...And It's Much Higher Than the Official Number

AP Photo/Arek Rataj

Residents of Wuhan, China, even know the government is lying about the death toll from COVID-19, and they’ve figured out as much based on the number of urns funeral homes have been returned to families. 

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The city has seven large funeral homes, and each has been returning the cremated remains of approximately 500 people to their families every day, and yet, the official government figures put the total death count around 2,500. 

Seven funeral homes currently serve Wuhan -- a huge conurbation of three cities: Hankou, Wuchang and Hanyang.

Social media users have been doing some basic math to figure out their daily capacity, while the news website Caixin.com reported that 5,000 urns had been delivered by a supplier to the Hankou Funeral Home in one day alone -- double the official number of deaths.

Some social media posts have estimated that all seven funeral homes in Wuhan are handing out 3,500 urns every day in total.

Funeral homes have informed families that they will try to complete cremations before the traditional grave-tending festival of Qing Ming on April 5, which would indicate a 12-day process beginning on March 23.

 Such an estimate would mean that 42,000 urns would be given out during that time. (RFA)

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"It can't be right ... because the incinerators have been working round the clock, so how can so few people have died?" one Wuhan resident told RFA last week.
 
"They started distributing ashes and starting interment ceremonies on Monday," he said.

Other estimates put the figure even higher. 

Another popular estimate is based on the cremation capacity of the funeral homes, which run a total of 84 furnaces with a capacity over 24 hours of 1,560 urns city-wide, assuming that one cremation takes one hour.

This calculation results in an estimated 46,800 deaths. (RFA)

During the peak of the epidemic the government brought in cremation workers from across the country to help Wuhan’s crematoriums work around the clock, according to locals. 

“Anyone looking at that figure will realize, anyone with any ability to think," one Wuhan resident said of the official figure. "What are they talking about [2,535] people?"

"Seven crematoriums could get through more than that [in a single day]."

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