For the ruling Communist Party and leader Xi Jinping, the holding of the congress, even in curtailed form, offers an opportunity to showcase China's success in curbing the spread of the coronavirus, while many others are still wrestling with it.
Since March, a patchwork of restrictions has kept most of the city's 25 million residents confined to their homes or compounds, with daily caseloads regularly edging over 25,000.
Chengdu, in the southwest, has become the latest to announce a shutdown, saying in an official notice that residents must "stay home in principle" from 6pm on Thursday to combat a new wave of infections.
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.
The proliferation of COVID cases in China is terribly alarming. The country has been garnering a million cases per day, in some parts of the country. COVID is the common enemy of mankind.
Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal.
A restaurant in China has apologised for its controversial policy of asking diners to weigh themselves before entry in an overzealous response to a new national campaign against food waste.
Guangzhou authorities have ordered residents of entire districts to be tested for the virus, while the nearby cities of Foshan and Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, have also launched mass testing after local cases were detected in the past week. Hundreds of flights out of Guangzhou's Baiyun International Airport have been cancelled.
Since the coronavirus first emerged in central China, Beijing has mostly managed to bring the country's outbreak under control, and has administered over 777 million vaccine doses after a sluggish start.