China reports first two Covid-19 deaths in more than a year - GulfToday

China reports first two Covid-19 deaths in more than a year


Both the cases come in the northeastern province of Jilin. Picture used for illustrative purposes only.

Gulf Today Report

Mainland China reported deaths in more than a year on Saturday, the first recorded rise in the death toll since Jan. 2021, according to a post on the National Health Commission's website that said two people died in the northeastern region of Jilin.

The fatalities were the first reported in China since January 26, 2021, and bring the country's total death toll in the pandemic to 4,638.

In all, China reported 4,051 new cases on Saturday, down from 4,365 the day before, the commission said.


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The striking news comes as the country battles its most widespread outbreak to date, maintaining its zero-tolerance approach using "dynamic clearance" - short shutdowns and rapid testing where cases are found.

Jilin, bordering North Korea and Russia, is at the heart of the current wave, with case numbers make up over two thirds of total domestic infections.

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The new cases, 2,157 were locally transmitted, compared with 2,388 a day earlier.

The country where the virus emerged in late 2019 has largely kept it under control thanks to a combination of strict border controls, lengthy quarantines and targeted lockdowns.

But the highly transmissible Omicron variant is posing a stern challenge to that strategy, prompting authorities to close off cities including the southern tech hub of Shenzhen, home to 17.5 million people.

Of the new cases, 2,157 were locally transmitted, compared with 2,388 a day earlier, with 78% appearing in Jilin and others found in the southeastern province of Fujian and the southern province of Guangdong among others.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, stood at 1,823 compared with 1,904 a day earlier. As of March 18, mainland China had confirmed 128,462 cases overall.

The first casualties in more than a year quickly caught the social media spotlight.

"Two new covid deaths in Jilin" was a top trending topic on China's Twitter-like Weibo platform, with many expressing a desire for more information on the two victims.

"For what reaon did this (the deaths) happen? (the details) should be released in a timely way," said one social media user.

Others voiced their support for China's zero-covid policy.

"In relation to 'lying flat', herd immunity, even opening up to allow people to exercise, this is not going to work," said another person on Weibo.


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