• China held a three-minute-long national moment of silence to honor victims of the novel coronavirus on 4 March.
  • The national mourning coincided with Qingming Festival, or "Tomb-Sweeping Day", when people traditionally visit their ancestors' graves.
  • This year, the Chinese government advised people against the practice to maintain social-distancing guidelines.

Life in China came to a complete standstill for three minutes on 4 March as people honored those who died of the novel coronavirus with a national moment of silence.

At 10 a.m. local time, people around the country paused their activities and stood still for three minutes to honor the victims of the disease.

They also paid tribute to the country's coronavirus "martyrs" — a high honor bestowed by the Chinese Communist Party to citizens killed while serving the country. China on Thursday awarded Li Wenliang, the doctor in Wuhan who was censured for sounding an early alarm about the coronavirus, this title.

The three minutes of national mourning came on Qingming Festival, or "Tomb-Sweeping Day," when people traditionally visit their ancestors' graves and make offerings to the dead.

This year, however, the government has advised people to avoid congregating or visiting cemeteries en masse to in adherence to social-distancing guidelines. Provinces around China have started lifting its lockdowns and travel bans as new infections in the country appear to plateau, but authorities are still being cautious.

Scroll down to see photos of the country pausing to honor coronavirus victims.

Traffic came to a standstill, and police officers left their vehicles, to pay tribute to the country's coronavirus victims on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. local time.

Traffic police officers and vehicle drivers observe a moment of silence on a road in Wuhan, Hubei province, as China holds a national mourning for those who died of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the Qingming tomb-sweeping festival, April 4, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS  ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT. - RC2HXF9AJCU8
Traffic in the country came to a standstill in respect.
Image: REUTERS

Life has been slowly getting back to normal in China as provinces start lifting their lockdowns. These people outside Hankou Customs House in Wuhan made sure to keep some distance between them during their moment of silence.

People observe a moment of silence outside Hankou Customs House where the Chinese national flag flies at half mast, in Wuhan, Hubei province as China holds a national mourning for those who died of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the Qingming tomb-sweeping festival, April 4, 2020. cnsphoto via REUTERS   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT. - RC2HXF9120KF
The Chinese national flag flies at half mast.
Image: REUTERS

The city of Wuhan, where the virus first broke out last December, has been locked down since January 23, with people confined to their homes and police patrolling the streets to make sure everyone complies.

Authorities there have been slowly allowing some people to travel within and around the city again.

The Wuhan lockdown will fully lift on April 8, while other provinces are loosening their restrictions earlier.

The suitcases, pictured here in Beijing, suggest that people are resuming travel within the country after weeks of being sealed off from one another. These citizens also stopped to observe the moment of silence.

People wearing face masks stand to pay tribute as China holds national mourning for those who died of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the Qingming tomb-sweeping festival, in Beijing, China, April 4, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter - RC2FXF9NMQNQ
Citizens have been restricted from traveling across the country.
Image: REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Some of the country's unsung heroes during the coronavirus outbreak also honored the victims. Here, street cleaners in Beijing can be seen bowing their heads, all while standing with some distance between them.

Street cleaners wearing face masks pays tribute during  China's national mourning for those who died of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the Qingming tomb-sweeping festival, in Beijing April 4, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter - RC2FXF9P344W
China's unsung heroes.
Image: REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Delivery workers in Wuhan — many of whom still worked during the lockdown — also put down their parcels to bow their heads outside a shopping mall.

Delivery workers standing amid parcels observe a moment of silence outside a shopping mall in Wuhan, Hubei province, as China holds a national mourning for those who died of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the Qingming tomb-sweeping festival, April 4, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS  ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT. - RC2KXF9SQNYN
Delivery workers paused in their duties to pay respect.
Image: REUTERS

All across the country flags flew at half mast, like this one in Wuhan...

The Chinese national flag flies at half mast at a ceremony mourning those who died of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as China holds a nationwide mourning on the Qingming tomb-sweeping festival, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China April 4, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS  ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT. - RC2JXF90M5KV
Flags flew at half-mast all across China.
Image: REUTERS

Wuhan has been under severe lockdown since January 23, with all residents confined to their homes and police officers patrolling the streets to ensure nobody breaks the rules.

... outside Beijing Railway Station...

Chinese national flag flies at half-mast as security personnel wearing face masks pays tribute during  China's national mourning for those who died of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the Qingming tomb-sweeping festival, in Beijing April 4, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter - RC2FXF9UCLO2
Chinese national flag flies at half-mast in Beijing.
Image: REUTERS/Thomas Peter - RC2FXF9UCLO2

... along the Huangpu river in Shanghai...

A police officer positions the Chinese national flag at half-mast along Huangpu river in Shanghai, as China holds a national mourning for those who died of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the Qingming tomb-sweeping festival, April 4, 2020. cnsphoto via REUTERS   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT. - RC2GXF96N6NZ
Chinese national flag flies at half-mast in Shanghai.
Image: REUTERS

... in Tiananmen Square in Beijing...

People observe a moment of silence in front of the Chinese national flag at Tiananmen Square that is flying at half mast, as China holds a national mourning for those who died of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the Qingming tomb-sweeping festival in Beijing, April 4, 2020. cnsphoto via REUTERS   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT. - RC2GXF9LVH4F
Chinese national flag flies at half-mast in Tiananmen Square.
Image: REUTERS

... and at Beijing's Zhongnanhai complex, which is the headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party and State Council. President Xi Jinping led top officials in their moment of silence, state media reported.

The Chinese national flag flies at half-mast at  Xinhuamen Gate of the Zhongnanhai leadership compound as China holds a national mourning for those who died of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the Qingming tomb-sweeping festival in Beijing, China April 4, 2020.  REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins - RC2GXF9GTCFP
Chinese national flag flies at half-mast in Beijing's Zhongnanhai complex.
Image: REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Among those who were honored was Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist in Wuhan who sounded an early alarm about the coronavirus and later died of it. The Chinese government designated him a "martyr."

Li Wenliang wears a respirator mask, following the coronavirus outbreak, in Wuhan, China, February 3, 2020 in this picture obtained from social media. Picture taken February 3, 2020. LI WENLIANG/GAN EN FUND via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. - RC2KVE9E0Z2T
Li Wenliang died from the novel coronavirus.
Image: LI WENLIANG/GAN EN FUND

Li was also commemorated in state news channel CGTN's video montage of the national moment of silence.

Tributes were paid on television to those who have died from the COVID-19 coronavirus virus.
Image: CGTN/YouTube

Here's the full video:

The coronavirus outbreak has been a deeply painful moment for China, where thousands have died due to the virus.

A man wearing a face mask cries in Wuhan, Hubei province, as China holds a national mourning for those who died of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the Qingming tomb-sweeping festival, April 4, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song - RC2HXF967H60
The 3-minute silence was a deeply emotional moment.
Image: REUTERS/Aly Song

The moment of silence came on Qingming Festival, or "Tomb-Sweeping Day," when people traditionally visit their ancestors' graves and make offerings to the dead. But because of social-distancing guidelines this year, many people turned to "cloud tomb-sweeping" instead.

People wearing face masks pay tribute to the deceased in Wuhan, Hubei province, as China holds a national mourning for those who died of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the Qingming tomb-sweeping festival, April 4, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song - RC2FXF966PPM
On China's 'Tomb-Sweeping Day' families traditionally visit their ancestors' graves.
Image: REUTERS/Aly Song - RC2FXF966PPM

The government advised people to avoid congregating or visiting cemeteries en masse this year to maintain social-distancing guidelines.

Some local governments, including that in Wuhan, even banned them.

Many Chinese companies have started offering "cloud tomb-sweeping" services, which includes having people watch a livestream of a cemetery staffer clean their relative's tomb instead, according to the BBC.