China reports first Covid deaths since May lockdown in Shanghai


This restaurant, along with many others in Beijing’s Chaoyang business district, had to suspend dinner service over the weekend as Covid infections surged.

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 under lockdown.

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

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

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

Schools in parts of the capital have put lessons online. Several apartment communities have been locked down and residents are not allowed to leave.

The southern province of Guangdong, especially the capital Guangzhou, remains the hardest hit by this month’s Covid surge. Before Sunday, the province reported nearly 1,000 Covid infections with symptoms, and more than 8,000 who were asymptomatic.

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

Vaccination for the elderly

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

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

In the US, more than 90% of people 75 and older are vaccinated, while in Singapore at least 90% of people 80 and older are vaccinated, according to official data in each country.

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

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