Shanghai records first official Covid deaths since start of lockdown
One 89-year-old woman and two 91-year-olds were among the three fatalities, raising worries about low immunization rates among the elderly.
Shanghai has recorded three Covid-19 fatalities, the first to be officially counted since the city's lockdown began.
Two women, ages 89 and 91, and a 91-year-old male were among the three victims reported on Monday, all of whom had underlying health issues and were allegedly unvaccinated. The three were admitted to the hospital and got severely ill, according to Shanghai municipal authorities. They died on Sunday "despite all attempts to save them."
More than 92 million Chinese individuals over the age of 65, including 20.2 million people over the age of 80, were not properly vaccinated as of 5 April.
Since March, an outbreak of the Omicron variety has infected at least 320,000 people in the Chinese city of more than 24 million people. It is China's deadliest epidemic since the pandemic began, yet despite a large number of infections, no deaths have been linked to it.
Numerous deaths after contracting Covid-19 have been reported in the media, notably among the elderly in care facilities, however, authorities have largely attributed them to underlying health issues and have not counted them as pandemic fatalities.
Wu Qianyu, a first-level investigator with the city health commission, claimed at a news conference on Monday that the three people's underlying diseases were the direct cause of death, implying that officials had drastically modified how they credit Covid-19 deaths.
On Sunday, Shanghai authorities reported 22,248 cases, with 19,831 of them asymptomatic. Only 1,414 instances were found outside of quarantine and isolation centers, where all positive cases must be sent except those that require hospitalization.
The city has stated that the outbreak will be considered contained once no new cases are discovered outside of the confined buildings or locations. According to Reuters, authorities have set a goal of stopping the virus from spreading beyond the quarantine and isolation system by Wednesday, which would allow some restrictions to be eased.
Food shortages and aggressive enforcement of restrictions have caused widespread anger among Shanghai citizens, with businesses reporting serious production and supply bottlenecks. This has provoked some protests and unusual huge online concerns.
While Shanghai is still reporting the majority of cases, there are additional outbreaks around China. On Friday, the city of Xian in northwest China declared a four-day period of restrictions on the movement of its 13 million citizens, including the closing of entertainment facilities and restaurants eating, as well as restrictions on various modes of transportation exiting the city.
In December, extended lockdowns were imposed in Xian in response to an outbreak of the Delta strain. Authorities in Jiangsin province's Suining performed mass testing of nearly 900,000 workers and halted trains. Jilin province lifted its lockdown on Sunday, but residents were told to exercise caution and ensure they had adequate supplies on hand for a month in case of a new lockdown.