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China holds remembrance day to honour victims of Covid-19

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A day of remembrance is held in China to honour those who died of Covid-19

A nation stops to reflect, by Stephen McDonell

BBC News China correspondent

A couple pauses in front of a flag at half-mast in Beijing
Getty ImagesCopyright: Getty Images

 

 

Just before the allocated time for a three-minute pause to remember those who’ve died from the coronavirus in China, it seemed as though the idea could be a non-starter.

We went out to a random crossroads in Beijing to see how many people would participate and, at a few minutes to 10:00 (03:00 BST), there was no sign that anything would happen.

Then, bang on 10:00, we heard what sounded like an air-raid siren go off nearby.

Suddenly cars stopped. People stopped. A car horn, then another and another. Soon a cacophony of noise filled the street as more and more drivers joined in.

Pedestrians bowed their heads, as did bike riders sitting still next to the frozen traffic.

Nearly everyone is still wearing a face mask in Beijing and compulsory social distancing measures remain in place: Only residents are allowed into an apartment building, and restaurants must cap the number of diners.

There are considerable doubts that the country’s official death toll gives a comprehensive idea of the true number of cases but the trend in the numbers does seem to be real, so the overwhelming feeling is that the emergency is, for now, coming under control.

What’s more – when you look at the carnage this highly-infectious disease is causing in other countries, China can also be thankful today that, so far, this virus hasn’t been much more deadly here.

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