China reports first COVID deaths in over a year

SHANGHAI/BEIJING, March 19 (Reuters) – Mainland China reported its first COVID-19 deaths in more than a year on Saturday, according to an article on the National Health Commission website which said that two people had died in the northeast area of ​​Jilin.

China has reported just two COVID deaths for all of 2021, the last of those on January 25.

The country maintains a “dynamic clearance” approach that aims to reduce transmission as soon as possible, using strict measures such as short, targeted shutdowns and rapid testing programs where cases are detected. Read more

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Jilin, on the border of North Korea and Russia, accounts for more than two-thirds of domestic infections in the latest wave. Read more

One of the dead was not vaccinated, said Jiao Yahui, a senior National Health Commission official. The direct cause of death for both victims was underlying illnesses, Jiao told reporters in Beijing, when their COVID symptoms were mild.

One of the victims was 87 and the other 65, according to The Paper, a public Shanghai publication.

More than 95% of the nearly 30,000 people hospitalized with COVID in China have mild or no symptoms, Jiao said.

People line up amid snowfall at a mobile nucleic acid testing site, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Beijing, China March 18, 2022. REUTERS/ Tingshu Wang

The latest deaths brought China’s cumulative toll to 4,638. China reported 2,228 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Friday, up from 2,416 a day earlier.

Of the new cases, 2,157 were locally transmitted, up from 2,388 a day earlier, with 78 percent appearing in Jilin while others were found in southeastern Fujian province, southern Guangdong province and elsewhere.

New asymptomatic cases, which China counts separately from confirmed cases, totaled 1,823, down from 1,904 a day earlier. As of Friday, mainland China had a cumulative total of 128,462 confirmed cases.

The deaths quickly became one of the most popular topics on Chinese social media. “Two new COVID deaths in Jilin” featured prominently on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform, with many users hoping for more information about the two victims.

“Why did this happen?” said one social media user. “Details should be released in due course.”

Others voiced support for China’s aggressive clearance policy while criticizing talks of opening up.

“Herd immunity, even opening up to allow people to exercise, it won’t work,” another person said on Weibo.

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Reporting by Zhang Yan and Engen Tham in Shanghai, Roxanne Liu in Beijing; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, Kenneth Maxwell, William Mallard and Edmund Klamann

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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