Shanghai reports a rise in COVID deaths, while people fall through the cracks

Domestic News

Today in pandemic news from China: Seven more deaths in Shanghai, a red health code app leaves a man homeless, and more.

Another round of testing in Shanghai, on April 16, 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song.

A rise in COVID-related deaths: Shanghai reported seven more deaths, after announcing the first three fatalities in the current outbreak over the weekend and bringing the total death toll in Shanghai to 10.

  • The seven who died on Tuesday were aged between 60 and 101 and unvaccinated, city health official Wú Qiányú 吴乾渝 told a news conference, and all had preexisting health conditions.

Love, or hate, thy neighbor: Some residents have found themselves pitted against their neighbors over COVID shaming, as lockdown tensions expose divides between the old vs. the young, locals vs. foreigners, COVID positive vs. COVID negative. On the other hand, some citydwellers have formed unlikely communal bonds with their locked-down comrades, with many stories shared widely on social media over the past weeks.

A man was homeless for 10 days in Shanghai after his health code app turned red. The 29-year-old, surnamed Liu, was visiting from nearby Suzhou when he came in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Though he has since found a temporary job and his health code also reverted back to green, he was refused places to stay, constantly questioned by officers on the street, and left with barely enough to eat as he wandered Shanghai’s barren streets.

Shanghai officials pleaded for residents to cooperate, after some people, weary from weeks of lockdown rules, refused to join PCR testing queues amid a rare burst of public anger at the city’s pandemic policies.

An exodus of foreign students and teachers: Lockdown concerns are prompting foreign students and teaching staff to leave the country en masse, as many consulates arrange to evacuate their nationals back home.

The cities of Tangshan and Wuhu have gone under partial lockdown: Tangshan, a steelmaking hub that produces about 13% of China’s steel output and sits about 100 miles from Beijing, has locked down five districts and will conduct mass testing after detecting 29 cases on Monday, just over a week after lifting citywide curbs.

There have been reports of state-backed censors deleting an online list of people who died as the result of the lockdown in Shanghai, and then blocking the URL after online users saved the list to a blockchain-based site.

  • Separately, Zhōng Nánshān 钟南山, who is a expert on COVID and who gained renown for managing the SARS outbreak, wrote that China needs to reopen in order to “normalize” life and that the current COVID-zero strategy “cannot be pursued in the long run.” A Chinese translation of the editorial, which was published in National Science Review on April 6, was also published on mainland news sites on Monday but has since been deleted, per the South China Morning Post.

Meanwhile, the official voice on COVID zero is getting louder: “We should be mentally prepared for a long fight against COVID, but also have the confidence to win,” Wú Zūnyǒu 吴尊友, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a briefing in Beijing on Tuesday. “At the same time we shouldn’t be blinded by overly positive outlooks.”


Shanghai reports first COVID-related deaths as lockdowns stretch on

Follow our coverage of the Shanghai lockdown.

Nadya Yeh