Three unvaccinated people die in Shanghai as virus outbreak spreads

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Three unvaccinated people die in Shanghai as virus outbreak spreads

Three Covid 19 deaths have been reported in Shanghai, the first to be officially counted since the beginning of the city's lockdown.

The three people reported on Monday included two women aged 89 and 91 and a 91-year-old man who also had underlying health conditions, and were reportedly unvaccinated. The three were admitted to the hospital and became critically ill, according to the Shanghai municipal authorities. They died on Sunday after all efforts were made to rescue them. More than 92 million Chinese people over 65, including 20.2 million over the age of 80, were not fully vaccinated.

Since March, the outbreak of the Omicron variant in the Chinese city of more than 24 million people has so far infected 320,000 people. It is the worst outbreak in China since the beginning of the epidemic, but zero deaths have been attributed to it, despite the high number of cases. Media reports have revealed several deaths of people after they contracted Covid - 19, particularly among elderly people in care homes, but authorities have largely attributed them to health complaints and not counted them as pandemic deaths.

At a press conference on Monday, Wu Qianyu, a first-level inspector of the municipal health commission, said the direct cause of death of three people was their underlying conditions, suggesting authorities have markedly changed the way they attribute Covid 19 deaths.

The Chinese authorities reported 22,248 cases for Sunday, including 19,831 asymptomatic. Of the total cases, 1,414 were detected outside quarantine and isolation facilities where all positive cases must be sent, except those that require hospitalisation.

The city has suggested that it will consider the outbreak contained when there are no new cases found outside quarantined buildings or areas. On Monday Reuters reported that authorities had set a target to stop the spread of the virus outside the quarantine and isolation system by Wednesday, which would allow some easing of restrictions.

There have been widespread unrest among Shanghai residents who complained of food shortages and overzealous enforcement of restrictions, and businesses reporting major obstacles to production and supply. It has resulted in rare mass online complaints and some protests.

There are multiple outbreaks across China, despite the fact that most of the cases are still being reported in Shanghai. On Friday, the northwestern city of Xian announced a four-day period of restrictions on the movement of its 13 million residents, including closure of entertainment venues and restaurant dining, and bans on some transportation leaving the city. Xian was also the site of long lockdowns in December due to an outbreak of the Delta variant. In Suining, Jiangsin province, authorities have conducted mass testing of nearly 900,000 workers and suspended trains. On Sunday, the province of Jilin lifted its lock down, but warned residents to make sure they have enough supplies on hand for a month if needed for a future lock down.