AGENCIES, Beijing: At 10.00am Beijing time, the country observed three minutes of silence to mourn those who died in the coronavirus, including frontline medical workers and doctors. The national flag flew at half mast, cars, trains and ships sounded their horns and air raid sirens wailed. In Wuhan, traffic lights were turned red to halt traffic for three minutes.
The event coincided with the beginning of the annual Qingming tomb-sweeping festival, when millions of Chinese families pay respects to their ancestors.
President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders paid silent tribute in front of the national flag, with white flowers pinned to their chest as a mark of mourning.
Interestingly, Wuhan, one of the epicentres of the virus has banned all tomb-sweeping activities in its cemeteries until at least April 30, curtailing one of the most important dates in the traditional Chinese lunar new year calendar.
China’s government said the event was a chance to pay respects to its “martyrs”, a reference to the 14 medical workers including Li Wenliang, the doctor in Wuhan who died of Covid-19 after being reprimanded by the authorities for attempting to warn others about the disease.