Mainland China reports first Covid-related deaths since Shanghai lockdown

This restaurant, along with many others in Beijing’s Chaoyang business district, had to suspend dinner service over the weekend as Covid infections surged.

Jade Gao | Afp | Getty Images

BEIJING – Three people died over the weekend after contracting Covid-19, the first deaths from the virus in mainland China since May, when the city of Shanghai was still under lockdown.

All three people, who were aged between 87 and 91, had pre-existing health conditions and lived in Beijing, according to state media. The reports did not specify whether they had been vaccinated.

The city of Beijing tightened Covid controls over the weekend as the number of local cases rose to several hundred a day, including both symptomatic and asymptomatic infections.

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Restaurants, primarily in Beijing’s Chaoyang business district, could only offer takeout or delivery. Many gyms, some supermarkets and at least one large shopping center are temporarily closed.

Schools in parts of the capital have moved classes online. Various residential communities have been locked down, and residents are prohibited from leaving.

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The southern province of Guangdong, particularly its capital, Guangzhou, remains the hardest hit in this month’s Covid wave. For Sunday, the province reported nearly 1,000 Covid infections with symptoms and more than 8,000 who were asymptomatic.

Guangzhou authorities said on Sunday that schools in seven of the city’s 11 districts would hold classes online, while one district could gradually resume in-person classes. On November 10, schools in eight districts moved classes online for most students.

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The latest wave of Covid infections in mainland China has affected all 31 provincial-level regions in the country, with varying degrees of restrictions on local business and social activity. In just one week, mainland China reported more than 26,000 Covid infections, with and without symptoms.

Vaccination for the elderly

Vaccination rates for Guangzhou’s elderly population need to improve, city officials said on Sunday, noting that 110,000 residents over the age of 60 have yet to be vaccinated. So far, only Chinese-made vaccines are available locally.

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More than 90% of China’s 1.4 billion people had been vaccinated as of Nov. 11, but the rate was lower for people over 80 at 65.7%, a senior health official told a briefing.

In the United States, more than 90% of people age 75 and older are vaccinated, while in Singapore, at least 90% of people age 80 and older are vaccinated, according to official data in each country.

Just over a week ago, Chinese authorities announced they would cut quarantine times by two days, among other easing measures, as they focus on making Covid controls more targeted. The country maintains a strict zero-covid policy, while the rest of the world has switched to living with the covid strategy.

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