Shanghai's Lockdown Isn't Going Well

First deaths in new COVID outbreak reported as food, supplies, tempers run short
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 18, 2022 7:42 AM CDT
Amid Shanghai Lockdown, First Deaths in New Outbreak
Commuters wearing face masks to help protect from the coronavirus look out from a crowded traveling bus during the morning rush hour, Monday, April 18, 2022, in Beijing.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

(Newser) – Shanghai authorities on Monday reported the first COVID-19 deaths in the latest outbreak in China’s most populous and wealthiest city. All three people who died were elderly, had underlying diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, and had not been vaccinated against the coronavirus, city Health Commission inspector Wu Ganyu said. The deaths raise to 4,641 the number of people that China says have succumbed to the disease since the virus was first detected in Wuhan in late 2019. While China has an overall vaccination rate of around 90%, a low rate among the elderly remains a concern. Only 62% of Shanghai residents over age 60 have been vaccinated.

While highly contagious, the omicron BA.2 variant driving the Shanghai outbreak is less lethal than the previous delta variant. Most of Shanghai’s 25 million residents are being confined to their homes for a third week in a “zero-tolerance” strategy. China on Monday said 23,362 people had tested positive for the virus over the previous 24 hours, most of them showing no symptoms and almost all in Shanghai. The city has reported more than 300,000 cases since late March. Shanghai began easing restrictions last week, although officials have warned that the city doesn't have its outbreak under control, reports the AP.

Shanghai, home to China's biggest port and most important stock exchange, appeared unprepared for such a massive undertaking. Residents have run short of food and other daily necessities while enduring lockdown conditions, and tens of thousands put under medical observation have been sequestered in crowded facilities where lights are always on, garbage bins overflow, food is inadequate, and hot showers nonexistent. Anyone who tests positive but has few or no symptoms is required to spend one week in a quarantine facility. While the ruling Communist Party has urged more targeted prevention measures, local officials have routinely adopted stringent regulations, possibly for fear of being fired or penalized over outbreaks in their areas.

(Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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