China on Saturday mourned the death of thousands of its people due to the coronavirus pandemic in the past few months. President Xi Jinping led the commemoration ceremony held in the morning. The country has reported 82,526 cases and 3,330 deaths according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.

The country came to a standstill, all movement of people and traffic was suspended, as people observed three minutes of silence to mourn the dead. During the commemoration, national flags flew at half-mast across the country and in all Chinese embassies and consulates abroad. All public recreational activities were suspended across the country.

People pinned white flowers to their chests and paid tribute in front of the country’s national flag, while air raid sirens wailed in symbolic mourning. In Beijing, people were seen breaking down on the streets as they stood to pay homage to the victims.

In Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, all traffic lights in urban areas turned red at 10 am and all road traffic ceased for three minutes.

Fourteen frontline workers in Central China’s Hubei Province, including alleged whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang, were identified as martyrs on Thursday for sacrificing their lives in combating the Covid-19 outbreak, according to PTI. Li Wenliang was reprimanded by the police in Wuhan for “spreading rumours” when he tried to raise the alarm about the disease. He died on February 7 after contracting Covid-19. As many as 95 police personnel and 46 medical workers have also died in the country. This is the first time China has revealed the casualties of the frontline officials fighting the battle against coronavirus.

People wearing face masks stand to pay tribute as China mourns those who died of the coronavirus disease in Beijing. [Credit: Reuters]
People wearing face masks stand on the street to pay tribute as China holds national mourning for those who died of Covid-19, at the Qingming tomb-sweeping festival, in Beijing. [Credit: Reuters]

More than 3,300 people in mainland China have died in the epidemic, which first surfaced in the central province of Hubei late last year, according to statistics published by the National Health Commission. Some 2,567 people have died in the city of 11 million people, accounting for more than 75% of the country’s coronavirus fatalities.

Meanwhile, Hubei reported four new deaths and one new case of Covid-19 on Friday. The province confirmed 38 asymptomatic COVID-19 patients, bringing the total to 729. Hubei has so far reported 67,803 confirmed cases, out of which, 50,008 cases were reported in Wuhan.

Wuhan also banned all tomb-sweeping activities in its cemeteries – when millions of families travel to tend to their ancestral graves, offer flowers and burn incense – until at least April 30, curtailing one of the most important dates in the traditional Chinese lunar new year. They have also told residents to use online streaming services which will allow them livestream the cemetry staff carrying out the tasks on their behalf.

Security personnel wearing face masks stand to pay tribute as China holds national mourning for those who died of the coronavirus disease. [Credit: Reuters]