Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Covid death toll rises as Beijing warns of ‘grim’ situation

Covid death toll rises as Beijing warns of ‘grim’ situation

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A health worker takes swab sample on a child to be tested for the coronavirus at a swab collection site along a street in Beijing on Monday. AFP

Covid death toll rises as Beijing warns of ‘grim’ situation

Shanghai reported 39 Covid deaths Sunday, its highest daily toll despite weeks of lockdowns, while China’s capital Beijing warned of a “grim” situation with rising infections.

The world’s second-largest economy has been struggling to stamp out its worst outbreak in two years with a playbook of harsh lockdowns and mass testing as it sticks to a strict zero-Covid policy, taking a heavy toll on businesses and public morale.

The cosmopolitan business hub of Shanghai has been almost entirely locked down since the start of the month, snarling supply chains, with many residents confined to their homes for even longer as it became the epicentre of the outbreak.

China’s biggest city only announced its first fatalities from the outbreak on April 18, despite reporting thousands of cases each day in recent weeks.

It reported 39 more deaths on Sunday, National Health Commission data showed, bringing its total toll to 87, while the country logged nearly 22,000 new local virus cases.

Shanghai’s previous highest daily toll since lockdown was 12, reported a day earlier.

The city of 25 million has struggled to provide fresh food to those confined at home, while patients have reported trouble accessing regular medical care as thousands of health staff were deployed for Covid testing and treatment.

Health officials have warned of the particular risks of Covid to the country’s older and largely unvaccinated population, saying the average age among fatalities in Shanghai’s outbreak was 81.

Five of those who died had been vaccinated, though authorities have said the deaths involved people who had severe underlying diseases and who were in critical condition.

Doubts have been raised over the efficacy of China’s homegrown vaccines, and Beijing has not imported any foreign-made jabs.

Censors have battled to scrub an online backlash against the prolonged lockdown in Shanghai, including the rapid censorship of a viral video by residents outlining their daily challenges to eat and access essential services.

On Saturday evening, a residential building fire sparked fear and criticism on social media, given that many exits in compounds have generally been sealed as part of Covid controls.

Meanwhile 22 more infections were reported in Beijing on Sunday, with the capital locking down one downtown housing compound as officials warned the situation was “grim and complex”.

Health official Pang Xinghuo said preliminary observations suggested Covid had been “spreading invisibly” in the city for a week, “increasing the difficulty of prevention and control”.

Nearly a quarter of Beijing’s active cases are people over 60, and half of the infected seniors have not received Covid vaccines, Pang said.

The populous eastern district of Chaoyang said it would expand Covid testing, adding that it had indefinitely banned extracurricular in-person classes or sports activities.

Many of the capital’s fitness studios and gyms had already cancelled classes or closed.

Beijing has also imposed tight controls on entry to the city, with travellers required to have a negative Covid test from within 48 hours.

People who have travelled to cities or counties where just a single Covid case has been reported in the past two weeks are barred entry.

MOST VIEWED

  • Joy as Koh Ker Temple registered by UNESCO

    Cambodia's Koh Ker Temple archaeological site has been officially added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, during the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on September 17. The ancient temple, also known as Lingapura or Chok Gargyar, is located in

  • Famed US collector family return artefacts to Cambodia

    In the latest repatriation of ancient artefacts from the US, a total of 33 pieces of Khmer cultural heritage will soon return home, according to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. In a September 12 press statement, it said the US Attorney’s Office for the

  • Tina rebuffs ‘false claims’ over falling paddy price

    Agriculture minister Dith Tina has shed light on the trade of paddy rice in Battambang – Cambodia’s leading rice-producing province – in a bid to curb what he dubs a “social media fact distortion campaign” to destabilise the market. While acknowledging that the prices of paddy

  • Cambodia set to celebrate Koh Ker UNESCO listing

    To celebrate the inscription of the Koh Ker archaeological site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, the Ministry of Cults and Religion has appealed to pagodas and places of worship to celebrate the achievement by ringing bells, shaking rattles and banging gongs on September 20. Venerable

  • Kampot curfew imposed to curb ‘gang’ violence

    Kampot provincial police have announced measures to contain a recent spike in antisocial behaviour by “unruly’ youth. Officials say the province has been plagued by recent violence among so-called “gang members”, who often fight with weapons such as knives and machetes. Several social observers have

  • PM outlines plans to discuss trade, policy during US visit

    Prime Minister Hun Manet is set to meet with senior US officials and business leaders during his upcoming visit to the US for the UN General Assembly (UNGA), scheduled for September 20. While addressing nearly 20,000 workers in Kampong Speu province, Manet said he aims to affirm