Beijing, 4 April 2020 (dpa/MIA) – China held three minutes of silence during Tomb Sweeping Day on Saturday for people who have died in the coronavirus outbreak.
During the national mourning event, national flags across China and at Chinese embassies and consulates abroad were lowered to half-mast, and public entertainment activities halted.
The three minutes of silence started on time at 10 am (0200 GMT). At the same time, car horns honked, trains and ships sounded their whistles, and air defence alarms went off.
The event is intended to honour “martyrs and dead compatriots killed in the fight against the new coronavirus epidemic,” the State Council said on Friday.
Tomb Sweeping Day is an annual Chinese holiday during which families gather to honour their ancestors and clean their tombs.
However, with restrictions in place to prevent the new coronavirus from spreading, this year many provinces asked residents not to make the pilgrimage to the graves but instead to honour the dead from home.
In Wuhan in Hubei province, the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak in China, all public commemoration events were prohibited. Cemeteries organized collective rites for the dead. Platforms have also been set up on the internet in which offerings can be given virtually.
At a ceremony in Beijing, head of state and party leader Xi Jinping and the Chinese leadership, sporting dark suits with white mourning flowers on the lapels of their jackets, bowed in front of a national flag waving at half-mast.
So far, China has counted over 80,000 coronavirus cases. The death toll reached 3,326 on Saturday, according to official figures. Over 76,000 patients have so far recovered.
Officials said more than 3,000 medical personnel had become infected with the novel coronavirus, of whom 14 have died.
Cases worldwide have topped 1 million, and deaths exceeded 50,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University in the United States.