Mainland China reports first Covid-related deaths since the Shanghai lockdown

Finance

This restaurant, along with many others in Beijing’s business district of Chaoyang, had to suspend dine-in services over the weekend as Covid infections soared.
Jade Gao | Afp | Getty Images

BEIJING — Three people died over the weekend after contracting Covid, the first deaths from the virus that mainland China has recorded since May, when the city of Shanghai was still locked down.

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

Beijing city tightened Covid controls heading into the weekend as the local case count rose to several hundred a day, including infections with and without symptoms.

Restaurants, primarily in Beijing’s business district of Chaoyang, could only offer take-out or delivery. Many gyms, some supermarkets and at least one large shopping mall have closed temporarily.

Schools in parts of the capital city have moved classes online. Various apartment communities have been locked down, with residents banned from leaving.

The southern province of Guangdong, especially its capital city of 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 Sunday that schools in seven of the city’s 11 districts would keep classes online, while one district could gradually resume in-person classes. On Nov. 10, schools in eight districts moved their classes online for most students.

Mainland China’s latest wave of Covid infections has hit all 31 of the country’s province-level regions, with varying degrees of restrictions on local business and social activity. For Sunday alone, mainland China reported more than 26,000 Covid infections, with and without symptoms.

Vaccination for the elderly

Vaccination rates for Guangzhou’s older population needs to be improved, city officials said Sunday, noting that 110,000 of residents over 60 years old had yet to be vaccinated. Only Chinese-made vaccines are locally available so far.

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

In the U.S., well over 90% of people ages 75 and older have been vaccinated, while in Singapore, at least 90% of people who are 80 years and older have been vaccinated, according to official data in each country.

Just over a week ago, Chinese authorities announced they would reduce quarantine times by two days, among other easing of measures, while they focus on making Covid controls more targeted. The country has maintained a stringent zero-Covid policy, while the rest of the world has shifted to a live with Covid strategy.

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