Mainland China reports first Covid-related deaths since Shanghai went into lockdown

This restaurant, along with many others in Beijing’s Chaoyang business district, had to suspend weekend dining service due to a sharp rise in Covid infections.

Jade Gao | AFP | Getty Images

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

All three people, who were between 87 and 91 years old, had previous illnesses and lived in Beijing, according to state media. The reports did not indicate whether they were vaccinated.

The city of Beijing tightened Covid controls through the weekend as the number of local cases rose to several hundred a day, including infections with and without symptoms.

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

Schools in parts of the capital have moved classes to the Internet. Various residential communities were cordoned off and residents were forbidden to leave.

The southern province of Guangdong, particularly the capital Guangzhou, remains the hardest hit by the Covid wave this month. For Sunday, the province reported nearly 1,000 symptomatic Covid infections and more than 8,000 without symptoms.

Guangzhou authorities said 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 put their classes online for most students.

The recent wave of Covid infections in mainland China has hit all 31 provincial-level regions in the country, with varying restrictions on local business and social activities. 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 elderly population need to be improved, 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.

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

In the US, well over 90% of people aged 75 and over are vaccinated, while in Singapore, at least 90% of people aged 80 and over are vaccinated in every country, according to official figures.

Just over a week ago, Chinese authorities announced they would cut quarantine periods by two days, among other relaxations of measures, while focusing on making Covid controls more targeted. The country has maintained a strict zero-Covid policy while the rest of the world has moved to a live-with-Covid strategy.

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