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China’s COVID-19 death toll rises

SHANGHAI (AFP) – Shanghai reported 39 COVID deaths yesterday, 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 yesterday, 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.

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