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Shanghai reports 12 new deaths from COVID as frustration abounds

A healthcare worker in a protective suit takes a swab from a resident of a nucleic acid test in the midst of a coronary heart disease epidemic (COVID-19) in Shanghai, China on April 22, 2022. cnsphoto via REUTERS

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SHANGHAI, April 23 (Reuters) – Shanghai’s main financial center reported 12 new COVID-19-related deaths on April 22, up from the previous 11, as public frustration continued to erupt amid harsh blocking and severe online censorship.

The city, which has battled China’s largest coronavirus epidemic to date, reported 20,634 new local asymptomatic infections on Friday, rebounding 15,698 a day earlier. The total number of new symptomatic cases reached 2,736, compared to 1,931 on April 21, according to official data.

Patients who died had an average age of 88, the Shanghai government said. They all had basic health problems and no one was vaccinated.

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“One strategy that requires immediate implementation is to increase revaccination rates in the elderly and other vulnerable groups and see if mRNA vaccines can be used,” said Jaya Dantas, a public health expert at Curtin School of Population Health v. Australia, which monitors epidemic in Shanghai.

China has not yet introduced its own mRNA vaccines and has decided not to import those developed overseas.

In a study published by the China Center for Disease Prevention and Control on Friday, medical experts in the northeastern city of Jilin, the site of another recent outbreak, said Chinese vaccines were still effective, although emerging variants of COVID-19 remained unpredictable.

They said “the data is strong enough to indicate the public importance of the full and revaccination strategy, especially for the elderly population.”

Although frustration continued to bubble in Shanghai’s enclosed residential complexes, local officials said there would be no release until all new cases outside the quarantine areas were removed.

“The more critical the period, the more we have to grit our teeth and focus our strength,” said Shanghai Mayor Gong Zheng late Friday night on WeChat’s official government channel in Shanghai.

The number of cases outside the quarantine area was 218 on Friday, down from 250 the previous day.

Liang Wannian, head of the National Health Commission’s COVID-19 expert advisory body, told state television on Friday that China’s current “dynamic” zero COVID policy had given the country “time to prepare,” allowing it to boost vaccination levels. .

The locking of the entire city in Shanghai began in early April, although many residents are locked in their homes for much longer.

Tang Jiafu, a city official, admitted on Saturday that the disruption has put pressure on Shanghai’s environment, with less than half of its sanitation workers currently active, affecting waste collection rates.

Even after weaning for more than 30 days, some compounds are still reporting new cases, which calls into question the effectiveness of the Chinese approach.

“It takes a lot of time and it has an impact on mental health: people are exhausted and frustrated,” Dantas said.

On social media overnight, Internet residents fought against censors to share a six-minute video called “Voice of April,” a compilation of voices recorded during the outbreak of the Shanghai epidemic.

The video moves quiet Shanghai skyscrapers and consists of residents who complain about the lack of food and medicine, as well as the cumbersome tactics of the city authorities.

All direct references to the film were removed from Weibo’s microblogging service by Saturday morning, although some comments criticizing censorship survived.

“I can only say that if you don’t want to listen to just a small number of real voices, then it’s really hopeless,” said one of them.

Many recalled the anger that erupted on social networks two years after the death of Li Wenliang, a doctor reprimanded by police for sharing “false” information about a new SARS-like infectious disease in Wuhan at the end of 2019 on COVID-19.

“Dr. Li, nothing has changed after two years,” said another Weibo user. “We still can’t open our mouths, we still can’t talk.”

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David Stanway and Wang Jing reports; Edited by Sam Holmes & Shri Navaratnam

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