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 catering 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 mainland China has recorded since May, when the city of Shanghai was still under lockdown.

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

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

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

Schools in some parts of the capital have moved lessons online. Various apartment communities have been locked down, with residents not allowed to leave.

The southern province of Guangdong, particularly its capital Guangzhou, remains the hardest hit by 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 maintain online classes, while one district could gradually resume in-person classes. On Nov. 10, schools in eight districts moved their classes online for most students.

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

Vaccination of 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 had yet to be vaccinated. Only China-made vaccines are available locally so far.

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

In the United States, well over 90% of people aged 75 and over have been vaccinated, while in Singapore at least 90% of people aged 80 and over have been vaccinated, according to official data from each country.

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

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