China reported seven more deaths from COVID-19 in Shanghai
on Tuesday, after hundreds of thousands of cases in the metropolis during a
weeks-long lockdown.

City authorities revealed the first deaths of this outbreak on
Monday, with Tuesday’s fatalities bringing the official toll to just 10, even
as the virus continues to spread.

Beijing insists its zero-COVID policy of hard lockdowns, mass
testing and lengthy quarantines has averted fatalities and the public health
crises that have engulfed much of the rest of the world.

But some have cast doubt on official figures in a nation where the
vast elderly population has a low vaccination rate.

By comparison, Hong Kong — which also has a high number of
unvaccinated elderly — has tallied nearly 9,000 deaths among 1.18 million COVID-19
cases since the Omicron variant surged there in January.

Unverified social media posts have claimed Shanghai’s deaths are
going unreported, but the messages have been quickly scrubbed from the
internet.

Shanghai health officials said Sunday that less than two-thirds of
residents over 60 had received two COVID jabs and under 40% had received a
booster.

The seven newly reported deaths were all unvaccinated patients,
city health official Wu Qianyu told a press conference on Tuesday.

They were aged between 60 and 101, and suffered from underlying
conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, according to the Shanghai
Municipal Health Commission.

The patients “became severely ill after admission to
hospital, and died after ineffective rescue efforts, with the direct cause of
death being underlying diseases”, the commission said.

Shanghai logged more than 20,000 new and mostly asymptomatic COVID
cases Tuesday, defying officials’ efforts to stamp out the infection.

Many of the city’s 25 million residents have been confined to
their homes since March, with some flooding social media with complaints of
food shortages, spartan quarantine conditions and heavy-handed enforcement.

Protest footage has circulated faster than government censors can
delete it.

The country’s zero-tolerance approach to COVID had largely slowed
new cases to a trickle after the virus first emerged in the central Chinese
city of Wuhan in late 2019.

But officials have scrambled in recent weeks to contain an
outbreak spanning multiple regions, largely driven by the fast-spreading
Omicron variant.

By one estimate on Monday, around 350 million people in at least
44 cities are currently under some form of lockdown in China.

 

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2022-04-19

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