On Saturday, China mourned the thousands of “martyrs” who died in the new coronavirus epidemic, flying the national flag at half mast across the country and suspending all forms of entertainment.
The day of mourning coincided with the start of the annual Qingming Grave Sweeping Festival, when millions of Chinese families pay homage to their ancestors.
At 10 a.m. (0200 GMT) Beijing time, the country observed three minutes of silence to mourn those who died, including doctors and primary care physicians. Cars, trains and ships rang and the sirens of air strikes roared.
In Zhongnanhai, the seat of political power in Beijing, President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders paid a silent tribute to the national flag, with white flowers pinned on the chest in mourning, state media reported .
More than 3,300 people in mainland China died in the epidemic, which surfaced for the first time in central Hubei province at the end of last year, according to statistics released by the National Health Commission.
In Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province and the epicenter of the epidemic, all traffic lights in urban areas turned red at 10 a.m. and all road traffic stopped for three minutes.
Some 2,567 people died in the city of 11 million people, which represents more than 75% of the country’s coronavirus deaths.
Among those who perished were Li Wenliang, a young doctor reprimanded by Wuhan police for “spreading rumors” while trying to raise the alarm about the illness.
Since then, the virus has spread to every corner of the world, killing more than a million people, killing more than 55,000 people and crippling the global economy.
The total number of confirmed cases reported in the United States now exceeds three times the official count of China.
“Li Wenliang was a hero, he found out early … now it is too late, but now our country is stronger than the rest,” said Gan Weineng, 78, a resident of Wuhan.
Wuhan also banned all grave sweeping activities in its cemeteries until at least April 30, thereby reducing one of the most important dates in the traditional calendar of the Chinese Lunar New Year which generally sees millions of families traveling for s take care of their ancestral graves, offer flowers and burn incense.
They also told residents, most trapped at home due to lockdown restrictions, to use online streaming services that will allow them to watch cemetery staff perform these tasks live.
Some residents have burned joss paper, a tradition that they say sends money and wealth to deceased relatives, on the sidewalks and within the confines of their barricaded homes.
Online celebrities, including “X-Men: Days of Future Past” star Fan Bingbing, swapped glamorous social media profile photos for dark gray or black photos, gathering millions of “i like “fans.
Chinese gaming and social media giant Tencent suspended all online gaming on Saturday.
As of Friday, the total number of confirmed cases across the country was 81,639, including 19 new infections, the National Health Commission said.
Eighteen of the new cases involved travelers arriving from abroad. The last remaining infection was a local case in Wuhan, a patient who was previously asymptomatic.
Asymptomatic people have few signs of infection such as fevers or cough and are not included in the count of cases confirmed by the Chinese authorities until they do so.
However, they are still infectious and the government has warned of possible local transmissions if such asymptomatic cases are not properly monitored.
China reported 64 new asymptomatic cases on Friday, including 26 travelers from abroad. This brings the total number of asymptomatic people currently under medical observation to 1,030, including 729 in Hubei.