Shanghai today announced three deaths from COVID-19, the first since long confinement in the Chinese city began, sparking anger and protests.
“After being admitted to the hospital, the condition of three people deteriorated. They died after efforts to save them,” the city said on social media.
According to the local government, among the dead are two women aged 89 and 91 and a man aged 91, which also said that all three had co-morbidities, including cardiac problems, diabetes and hypertension.
Shanghai, China’s largest city with 25 million people, has been under lockdown since March, the country’s most severe outbreak of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.
The country’s major economic hub reported 22,248 new local cases today, including 2,417 symptomatic, according to the Municipal Health Commission.
The level of contagion is relatively low compared to other outbreaks of disease in the world, but it reflects a trend in recent weeks, with thousands of cases per day, most of them asymptomatic.
Officials insist on maintaining a policy of zero-tolerance for the virus, which includes restrictions on the movement and isolation of infected people, even those who do not show symptoms.
low vaccination rate
Residents of Shanghai, one of China’s wealthiest and most cosmopolitan cities, have criticized restrictions for lack of food, inadequate conditions in quarantine centers and harsh enforcement of measures.
On social media, many criticized the authorities after health professionals killed a dog as the animal’s owners tested positive for Covid. They also question the policy of segregating diagnosed children. coronavirus His parents, however, have relaxed the measure.
In another sign of discontent, videos posted on social media showed some residents arguing with protective-friendly police officers who ordered them to leave their homes to infected patients.
Other videos showed the desperation of people in Shanghai, including some who jumped over barricades to demand food.
Officials, however, do not plan to ease restrictions.
The health ministry says the easing of restrictions could overwhelm hospital systems and lead to millions of deaths. And vaccination rates in the elderly remain low: More than half of people over the age of 80 received a booster dose.
The Chinese Communist Party uses the small number of deaths as a political argument, claiming that it prioritizes the lives of the population and not economic issues, in contrast to Western democracies, where the coronavirus has caused many deaths. is made.
But according to many analysts, political considerations are also in play. The party will host a crucial meeting in late 2022, which is expected to win a third five-year term before the formation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“This is a sensitive and important year for governance,” said Lynette Ong, professor of political science at the University of Toronto (Canada).
Chinese authorities have reported only 4,641 deaths due to the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic in late 2019, noting that China is the most populous country in the world (1.4 billion residents).
China, the first country to detect the coronavirus, has reduced the contagion to a minimum thanks to its ‘Covid zero’ policy, with mass testing, travel restrictions and targeted confinement.
But since the outbreak of the infectious type Omicron, the country has struggled to contain outbreaks in many cities.
China recorded deaths from Covid on March 19, when two people died in the city of Jilin (the country’s northeast), the country’s first two deaths from the disease in more than a year.