BEIJING Authorities in Shanghai on Monday reported the first COVID-19 deaths following the latest eruption in China’s most populous and richest city.
All three who died were elderly, had underlying diseases such as diabetes and hypertension and had not been vaccinated against coronavirus, city health commissioner Wu Ganyu told reporters.
“After entering the hospital, their condition worsened and they died after attempts to rescue them failed,” Wu said.
The death toll rises to 4,641, the number of people that China says has succumbed to the disease since the virus was first discovered in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019.
Most of Shanghai’s 25 million inhabitants will be confined to their homes for a third week, as China continues to use a “zero tolerance” strategy to stem the outbreak and demands isolation from anyone who may be infected.
China said Monday that 23,362 people had tested positive for the virus during the previous 24 hours, most of them showing no symptoms and almost all in Shanghai.
The city has reported more than 300,000 cases since the end of March. Shanghai began easing restrictions last week, although officials have warned that the city does not have its outbreak under control.
Shanghai, home to China’s largest port and main stock exchange, seemed unprepared for such a massive venture.
Residents ran shortages of food and daily necessities while enduring confinement, and tens of thousands of people put under medical observation have been besieged in crowded facilities where lights are always on, trash cans are overflowing, food is inadequate and hot showers are not available.
Anyone who tests positive but has few or no symptoms should spend a week in a quarantine facility.
Concerns have risen over the economic consequences of the government’s tough policies.
China’s economic growth rose to a still weak 4.8% from a year earlier in the first three months of 2022, when shutdowns reduced production in major industrial cities. Official data showed growth accelerated from the previous quarter’s 4%.
While the ruling Communist Party has called for more targeted prevention measures, local officials have routinely adopted strict rules, possibly for fear of being fired or punished for outbreaks in their areas.
In the city of Wenzhou, which has seen only a handful of cases, authorities have approved rewards of up to 50,000 yuan ($ 7,800) for information about people falsifying their health status, the online news site The Paper reported.
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