China declared Saturday a day of mourning for the thousands of “martyrs” who have died in the new coronavirus outbreak, flying the national flag at half mast throughout the country and suspending all forms of entertainment.
The day of mourning coincided with the start of the annual Qingming tomb-sweeping festival, when millions of Chinese families pay respects to their ancestors.
At 10 a.m. (0200 GMT) Beijing time, the country will observe three minutes of silence to mourn those who died, including frontline medical workers and doctors. Cars, trains and ships will sound their horns and air raid sirens will wail.
More than 3 300 people in mainland China have died in the epidemic, which first surfaced in the central province of Hubei late last year, according to statistics published by the National Health Commission.
In Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and the epicentre of the outbreak, all traffic lights in urban areas will be turned red at 10 a.m. and all road traffic will cease for three minutes.
Some 2 567 people have died in the city of 11 million people, accounting for more than 75% of the country’s coronavirus fatalities.
As of Friday, the total number of nationally confirmed cases stood at 81 639, including 19 new infections, the National Health Commission said.
Eighteen of the new cases involved travellers arriving from abroad.
The remaining one new infection was a local case was in Wuhan, a patient who was previously asymptomatic.