The Chinese city of Shanghai has announced its first deaths in a COVID-19 outbreak that has plunged the financial hub into a weeks-long lockdown and sparked widespread anger and rare protests.
In a statement on Monday, the city said three people infected with COVID-19 had died on the previous day.
They “deteriorated into severe cases after going into hospital, and died after all efforts to revive them proved ineffective,” the city said.
It added that two of the dead were women aged 89 and 91, while the third was a 91-year-old man.
The municipal health commission confirmed the deaths.
It also reported 22,248 domestic cases of COVID-19 on Monday.
While relatively low compared with other global outbreaks, the figures extend the pattern of recent weeks which has seen the city log tens of thousands of daily cases, most of which are asymptomatic.
In response, authorities have doubled down on Beijing’s longstanding zero-tolerance approach to the virus, vowing to persist with onerous curbs on movement and isolating anyone who tests positive – even if they show no signs of illness.
Residents in Shanghai – one of China’s wealthiest and most cosmopolitan cities – have chafed under the restrictions, with many complaining of food shortages, spartan quarantine conditions and heavy-handed enforcement.
Social media users ripped into authorities for the filmed killing of a pet corgi by a health worker and a now-softened policy of separating infected children from their virus-free parents.
In a rare glimpse into the discontent, videos posted online last week showed some residents scuffling with hazmat-suited police ordering them to surrender their homes to patients.
Other footage and audio clips have indicated increasing desperation, including some showing people bursting through barricades demanding food.
Despite the blowback, China, where the coronavirus was first detected in late 2019, is sticking to its tried-and-tested zero-COVID policy of mass testing, travel restrictions and targeted lockdowns.
But the world’s most populous nation has recently struggled to contain outbreaks in multiple regions, largely driven by the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
The country last reported new COVID-19 deaths on March 19 – two people in the northeastern rust-belt province of Jilin – the first such deaths in more than a year.