Celebrity deaths in China spark fears over death toll


The rise in the number of Chinese public figures whose deaths are being made public is prompting people to question the official Covid death toll, reports BBC news.

According to the report, the passing away of a 40-year-old opera singer, Chu Lanlan, last month was a shocker to many. Her family said they were saddened by her “abrupt departure”, but concealed the details of the cause of her death.

Though China scrapped its strict zero-Covid policy in December, it has seen a rapid surge in infections and deaths with reports of hospitals and crematoria becoming overwhelmed.

Using its own strict criteria, China has stopped publishing the daily cases data and has announced only 22 Covid deaths since December 2022. Now only those who die from respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia are counted.

On Wednesday the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that China was under-representing the true impact of Covid in the country – in particular deaths.

But the deaths of Chu Lanlan and others is sparking speculation about greater losses than those reported on official accounts.

According to the specialist news website Operawire, Chu Lanlan was a soprano who specialised in Peking Opera – a theatrical art in which performers use speech, song, dance and combat movements to tell stories – and was also involved in charitable causes.

On New Year’s Day news of the death of actor Gong Jintang devastated many Chinese internet users. The cause of his death is unclear, but many social media users linked it to the recent deaths of other older people, BBC reported.

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