The spate of deaths of celebrities and celebrities across China has raised concerns that the actual death toll from Covid-19 may be much higher than officials are reporting.
Chinese social media are flooded with mourning for actor Kong Jintan, who died on New Year’s Day at the age of 83. He was known for his portrayal of Father Kang in the sitcom Kang’s Family, which first aired in 2000.
Gong’s death, which has been well-known in China for years, was reported by local media, but the cause of death was unknown.
“I’m too upset. [Gong] It represents our memories for two generations,” one person said on Weibo, the Chinese microblogging platform.
Last month, Beijing opera fans were shocked by the sudden death of 40-year-old soprano Chu Lanlan, who performed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. According to an obituary released by the Peking Opera Art Academy, Mr. Zhu, who was a teacher at the academy, died of illness. Her family said they were saddened by her death, but she did not elaborate on the cause, local media reported.
China eased Covid-zero restrictions last month, leading to a surge in infections that quickly overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums.
In late December, China’s National Health Commission stopped releasing daily Covid data. Earlier this week, the World Health Organization criticized China’s “very narrow” definition of Covid deaths and warned that official statistics did not show the true impact of the outbreak.
China has recorded only 22 deaths from Covid since December, dramatically narrowing the criteria for classifying such deaths.
The recent deaths of celebrities like Gong and Chu have left many in China questioning official Covid data.
Under the Weibo hashtag that read, “The first wave of the novel coronavirus did not cause mass deaths,” many Chinese internet users were citing Chinese health officials in December. and angrily questioned the gross underestimation of the death toll. The hashtag had been viewed by him over 220 million times by Friday afternoon.
“Whether it’s academics or celebrities…or my relatives and friends, I feel so many people have died, but experts keep saying otherwise.” One person commented.
Another user said: How many people who have contributed so much to the country have died? And these were all celebrities. ”
Award-winning film director Wang Jingguang, best known for his 2013 film Never Come Back, was also among the recent deaths, dying last month at the age of 54.
Last month, the famous Chinese screenwriter Ni Zhen passed away at the age of 84. Ni was known for writing the screenplay for the classic 1991 film Raise the Red Lantern.
Retired soccer star Wang Ruoji also died last month. Chinese state media reported that Wang died of Covid at the age of 37.
Weibo influencer Haishang Yilanghua, who has 364,000 followers, said last month, “Many celebrities have died, many of them young. No, there were still many other ordinary people who died in agony.”
Xiaoqian Zhu contributed to this report