City authorities announced the first virus deaths on Monday, while Tuesday’s fatalities brought the total official toll to just 10, despite the magnitude of the outbreak.
Beijing insists its zero-covid policy of harsh lockdowns, mass testing and prolonged quarantines has prevented fatalities and the public health crises that have engulfed much of the rest of the world.
But some have questioned the official figures in a country where the large number of elderly people have low vaccination coverage. Health officials in Shanghai noted on Sunday that less than two-thirds of residents over 60 had received two Covid shots and less than 40 percent had a booster.
Unverified social media posts have also claimed unreported deaths, mostly before being taken off the internet. Hong Kong, meanwhile, has attributed nearly 9,000 deaths to Covid-19 since the Omicron variant boomed there in January.
The Shanghai Municipal Health Commission said on Tuesday that the seven victims were between the ages of 60 and 101 and all suffered from underlying conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
The patients “came seriously ill after hospitalization and died after ineffective rescue attempts, where the immediate cause of death was underlying diseases,” the committee said.
It also reported more than 20,000 new cases of Covid, the vast majority asymptomatic.
Many of Shanghai’s 25 million residents have been confined to their homes since March as the daily number of cases has surpassed 25,000 – a modest number by global standards, but virtually unheard of in China.
Many residents have flooded social media with complaints about food shortages, spartan quarantine conditions and heavy-handed enforcement, with images of rare protests circulating faster than government censorship can remove them.
The country’s zero-tolerance approach to Covid had largely slowed new cases to a trickle after the virus first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.
But officials have been scrambling in recent weeks to contain cases in multiple regions, driven in large part by the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.