China reports first Covid death in six months; schools go offline, eateries shut in Beijing district

Updated on Nov 20, 2022 08:49 PM IST

Beijing reported 516 new infections, low by global standards but a number high enough for city authorities to impose city-wide restrictions without declaring a lockdown

Residents line up for Covid-19 tests on the street of Beijing, China on Sunday. (AP)
Residents line up for Covid-19 tests on the street of Beijing, China on Sunday. (AP)

Beijing: China reported its first Covid-19 death on Sunday in nearly six months as authorities imposed new restrictions in Beijing, moved schools online, shut down offices and restaurants in the city’s most populous district, Chaoyang, and again urged residents to avoid going out unless necessary.

Overall, China reported 24,435 new Covid-19 infections for November 19, the national health commission (NHC) said on Sunday, down by a few from 24,473 a day earlier.

Beijing reported 516 new infections until 3pm on Sunday, low by global standards but a number high enough for city authorities to impose city-wide restrictions without declaring a lockdown as it continues to implement the “zero-Covid” policy.

“It is necessary to optimise various prevention and control measures in a strict, tight, scientific and accurate manner, strengthen the prevention and control of social aspects in key areas and key streets and townships, and further reduce the degree of crowd activity,” Liu Xiaofeng, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Sunday.

For Saturday, Beijing reported 621 new Covid-19 cases with 122 identified outside quarantine zones through community level test screening.

The death of a 87-year-old man from Covid-19 in a Beijing hospital fuelled fears of more restrictions being imposed with the city logging a record number of cases almost daily.

The new death brought the total death toll in China to 5,227 with previous deaths being reported from Shanghai, which went through a surge in cases and a bruising two-month lockdown earlier this year.

The 87-year-old died of sepsis triggered by a serious lung infection on Saturday, CCTV news reported, adding that the man was reportedly suffering from dry cough symptoms on November 11 and was confirmed as Covid-19 positive two days later.

“According to statistics released by the national health commission, it has been more than six months since China reported its last two Covid-19 deaths in Shanghai on May 25 and May 26 respectively,” the state-run tabloid, Global Times reported on Sunday.

Most of Beijing’s 16 districts have released notices through their official media accounts calling on people to reduce cross-district movement and avoid unnecessary trips.

Elsewhere in China, the southern city of Guangzhou reported 8,434 new locally transmitted infections for Saturday, down from 8,713 a day earlier. The southwestern metropolis of Chongqing reported 4,710 new locally transmitted infections, compared with 4,744 a day earlier, according to the NHC’s daily bulletin.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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