New year celebration and mourning in rural China, corona is not over yet

New year celebration and mourning in rural China, corona is not over yet

At the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit, the red of the Chinese New Year dominates. But for an unknown number of families, the lanterns will turn white this year. The color of mourning, the color of death. Covid may be waning, face masks may be gone: funerals are not over in rural China Fireworks are ringing everywhere, even for the dead.

K21 has the honor of being one of the slowest explosions in China. This train from Beijing stops at almost every intermediate station. In the meantime, let the slightly slower green trains pass. But for Jiang, who is traveling from the Chinese capital to his family in Quanzhou, the 26-hour journey is a blessing after three years of corona restrictions.

“The tickets for this train are also much cheaper than the express train,” he says in one of the compartments, where several men light another cigarette. “You close your eyes and you reach your goal,” laughs Jiang, whose childhood home is closer to Hanoi than Beijing. Beds on such trains are often sold out these days as people start traveling again.

“I haven’t been home for years”

The Ministry of Transport expects around 2.1 billion travel movements in the 40 days surrounding the country’s major holidays this year. It’s still about 30 percent less than ‘Wuhan’, but doubled by 2021. According to the figures, tourism only accounts for 10 percent of total travel. These are mostly family visits: 55 percent of the total. This also applies to K21, the endpoint of which is Nanning.

“I haven’t been home in years,” says a mother with her baby and toddler on her 36-hour journey. “It’s nice that it’s possible again.” The same goes for a young student from Beijing. “The last time I celebrated Chinese New Year with my grandparents, we had never heard of Corona,” he says, alongside his father. “For the first time in three years,” the student says.

These people aren’t afraid to infect parents, grandparents, and grandparents on New Year’s Eve. Not even around Hengyang, the Hunan city where above-average numbers of people land. “The whole challenge of testing and scanning QR codes,” says Zou, who chops wood to light the stove. He works at the factory some distance away in Guangdong but is home for the Chinese New Year.

“When Corona was nothing, you had no place to go. I had it. Then you took medicine and came back.” In the market in the nearby town of Baidishi, face masks that are not already being worn in the countryside as disciplined as in Beijing have almost disappeared. “We’ve been infected and now we’re immune,” says one of the peddlers who slaughter animals right before your eyes. It sells lamb, dog meat and veal.

There seems to be little concern about Covid in rural areas:

Senior epidemiologist Wu Zunyou stated at a press conference last weekend that the epidemic has subsided. More than 80 percent of the population is said to be infected. “From large, medium and small cities to the countryside: the epidemic has peaked.”

It’s actually much quieter in village clinics. In Hongtang Village, several villagers play card games and gamble at the Health Center. The village doctor is nowhere to be seen.

There was a shortage of medicine earlier this month, so villagers had to search the internet for paracetamol. Young farmer Li said, “Everyone here was positive last month. But here in the village the situation was not as bad as in the big cities,” he says. However, it is said that many people lost their lives here, most of them elderly. There is no time to find out: soon the police are asking us to leave.

still a victim

The healthcare system in rural China consists of three phases. Local health centers come after village clinics, followed by regional hospitals. Only the latter are reasonably equipped to truly continue the treatment. Although there are those who can skip the first two rings, the biggest rush in the regional hospitals is now over.

This does not mean that Covid has stopped demanding victims in China. A little further, it turns white in Pengjiawan Village and the local mourning band can be heard. “She was 80,” says one of the relatives of the deceased woman, whose photograph hangs proudly in the empty living room. “Covid was the last straw. He had several ailments, his health was not that good.”

Outside, guests have a real feast, hundreds of thousands of fireworks are thrown. “I really don’t know anyone who doesn’t have it,” one of them says. It’s something that gives hope to the authorities, who are eager for better news after the initial chaos. “In the short term, in the next two to three months, the chances of a second wave are not great,” said epidemiologist Wu.

Source: NOS

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