Celebrity deaths in China spark fears over death toll Celebrity deaths in China spark fears over death toll

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Beijing, Jan 5 (IANS) The growing number of Chinese public figures whose deaths are being made public is prompting people to question the official Covid death toll, according to a media report.

The death of Chu Lanlan, a 40-year-old opera singer, last month came as a shock to many, given how young she was, BBC reported.

Her family members said they were saddened by her “abrupt departure”, but did not give details of the cause of her death, the report said.

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

But the country has stopped publishing daily case data, and has announced only 22 Covid deaths since December, using its own strict criteria. 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, BBC reported.

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, BBC reported.

Gong, 83, was known to many households for his performance in the country’s longest-running TV series, ‘In-Laws, Out-laws’. His portrait of Father Kang had captivated fans for more than two decades since the show first aired in 2000.

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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