Shanghai reports the first official figures of deaths from covid-19 after weeks of confinement

How is confinement lived in Shanghai? This is how a CNN reporter tells it 3:10 Hong Kong (CNN) — Shanghai reported three deaths from covid-19 this Monday, the first officially announced by a furious omicron outbreak that has infected hundreds of thousands of people despite confinement imposed by the government throughout the city. Three elderly people between the ages of 89 and 91 died from COVID-19 on Sunday after their condition deteriorated in hospital, the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission said in a statement on Monday. None of the three were vaccinated and had underlying health conditions including coronary heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, according to officials. The city reported 2,417 symptomatic cases and 19,831 asymptomatic cases on Monday, down slightly from the previous day, according to the health commission. The death toll seems surprisingly low compared to the large number of cases: Since March 1, more than 370,000 people in Shanghai have been infected, and according to the official count, no one had died of covid as of Sunday. By comparison, the region’s other financial hub, Hong Kong, has recorded nearly 9,000 Covid-19 deaths out of a total of 1.18 million cases as of January this year. Experts have attributed Hong Kong’s high death toll to its high proportion of unvaccinated elderly. As of early March, only 48% of people aged 70 and over had received two doses. And as of the beginning of this year, only 25% of residents age 80 and older had been vaccinated. Panic buying in Shanghai due to covid-19 confinement 1:00Discrepancies due to covid-19 death count in Shanghai vs. Hong Kong The low official death toll in Shanghai has raised questions among some experts outside mainland China, especially given that vaccination coverage among the elderly in Shanghai is not much higher than in Hong Kong. On Monday, Shanghai officials said 62% of the city’s residents over the age of 60 had been fully vaccinated and 38% had received a booster shot. The number of people over the age of 80 with all vaccinations was even lower, at just 15%, according to the Communist Party newspaper, the People’s Daily. Jin Dongyan, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong, said the low death toll in Shanghai is partly due to how Covid-19 deaths are counted in mainland China. “The methods used by Hong Kong and the mainland to calculate Covid-19 deaths are completely different. More than 90% of reported Covid-19 deaths in Hong Kong will not be counted on the mainland,” he said. In Hong Kong, a person is said to have died of Covid if he was confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus less than 28 days before his death, even if he died by suicide or traffic accident, Jin said. “On the mainland, if the deceased had underlying ailments, most of them would be classified as dead from other diseases rather than COVID,” Jin said. In Shanghai, the number of officially designated serious cases is also low. According to Wu Jinglei, director of the Shanghai health commission, only 16 serious cases were being treated at the hospital as of Saturday. “One of them has been fully vaccinated, the rest were not vaccinated against covid-19,” he said. Chinese health officials have noted the high proportion of asymptomatic and mild cases in the country’s omicron outbreak. Wang Guiqiang, an infectious disease doctor in Beijing, told a government news conference on April 6 that this was because the omicron variant is less virulent, people are vaccinated and active testing has caught many cases early, during the incubation period. But Wang cautioned that the omicron variant remains dangerous for the elderly, especially those who have not received full vaccination. This is only the second time mainland China has reported Covid deaths this year. Last month, the northeastern province of Jilin reported two deaths, the first in more than a year. Throughout 2021, mainland China reported just two Covid deaths, both in January. Robots deliver food to isolated citizens in Shanghai 0:57Official Covid death figures raise questions Chinese officials and state media have attributed the country’s low death toll to the purported success of its zero-Covid strategy, often contrasting it with the hundreds of thousands of reported deaths in Western countries. But increasingly, the low official death toll is also raising questions among many Shanghai residents about whether imposing the kind of strict measures that have upended the lives of millions is justified. The reported Covid-19 deaths come as the metropolis of 25 million people continues to endure a grueling lockdown, which has brought the vibrant and bustling commercial city to a virtual standstill. Residents have been confined to their homes for three weeks and continue, with many complaining of food shortages, lack of medical access, poor conditions in makeshift quarantine camps and heavy-handed measures such as separating children. infected from their parents. On China’s heavily censored social media, users have resorted to creative ways to express their growing discontent over the prolonged lockdown, including posting with seemingly irrelevant hashtags that draw veiled criticism or sarcasm. But those hashtags are also often censored after they get noticed. On Sunday, the latest censored hashtag on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, is the first line of China’s national anthem: “Rise up! Those people who refuse to be slaves.” — Additional reporting by Simone McCarthy and the CNN Beijing Bureau.