7 more covid deaths in Shanghai today, count rises to 17

Confinement has exacted a high social and economic price

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China reported seven Covid-19 deaths in Shanghai on Wednesday, bringing the tally in the city to 17 as authorities struggled to control infections despite a grueling weeks-long lockdown.

The fast-spreading Omicron variant of coronavirus has caused a huge spike in cases in the metropolis of 25 million people, with the government imposing strict restrictions on movement and multiple rounds of mass testing to combat the outbreak.

The lockdown has taken a heavy social and economic toll, with residents venting their anger on social media over food shortages and lack of access to non-Covid healthcare.

The seven newly reported deaths were cases with underlying conditions including lung cancer and diabetes, city officials said. Five of the patients were people older than 70 years.

The patients “became seriously ill after hospital admission and died after ineffective rescue efforts, with underlying disease being the direct cause of death,” the Shanghai government said in a statement.

The city reported more than 18,000 new and mostly asymptomatic cases of coronavirus on Wednesday.

More than 400,000 infections have been reported in Shanghai since March, with the city reporting its first Covid deaths on Monday.

The official death count remains low compared to reported cases, but some have disputed these figures, pointing to the low vaccination rate in China’s large elderly population.

By comparison, Hong Kong, which also has a large number of unvaccinated elderly people, has recorded nearly 9,000 deaths out of 1.18 million known cases since Omicron emerged there in January.

Beijing insists its zero-Covid policy of strict lockdowns, mass testing and lengthy quarantines has prevented deaths and the public health crises seen in many other parts of the world.

But the latest lockdowns have clogged supply chains, forcing companies to halt production.

Authorities have called for a “white list” of key industries and companies to be drawn up so that production can continue, with more than 600 companies identified for early resumption of work in Shanghai.

US electric car giant Tesla “officially resumed production” on Tuesday, state media reported, after suspending work at its “gigafactory” in the city for more than 20 days.

However, the resumption will occur on a “closed-loop system,” with staff sleeping on the spot and getting tested for Covid, Bloomberg News reported.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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