Shanghai has confirmed coronavirus deaths for the first time during its current outbreak after three people who were infected with the disease died on Sunday.
The deaths come after the city’s roughly 26 million people have been living under extremely strict lockdown restrictions for several weeks.
People are banned from leaving their homes and are relying on the government to deliver food, with small-scale protests breaking out as some people have been unable to get enough.
Police in hazmat suits were seen dispersing people protesting against the city’s harsh COVID rules last week.
Under the measures, everyone who tests positive for COVID has to quarantine in centralised facilities where many people have complained about poor conditions.
Jane Polubotko, a Ukrainian expat in Shanghai, was sent to one of the centres three weeks ago after testing positive.
Four thousand people were living in the vast exhibition hall, with beds in cubicles next to each other, basic toilets and no showers.
More than 100 makeshift hospitals, with capacity for 160,000 patients, are being used as facilities while apartment buildings have also been turned into isolation centres.
Read more: Shanghai’s strict lockdown could have ‘massive global effects’ on supply chains
Shanghai, China’s financial hub, confirmed 19,831 new daily asymptomatic COVID infections yesterday, down from 21,592 on Saturday.
New symptomatic infections stood at 2,417, down from 3,238 on Sunday.
More than 200 million nucleic acid tests have been conducted in Shanghai since 10 March in an effort to curb China’s biggest outbreak since the virus was first discovered in Wuhan in 2019.
China’s president, Xi Jinping, said there should be no let-up in virus control and prevention efforts while China would strive to minimise the policy’s impact on economic and social development.
Domestic support for the zero-tolerance approach has worn thin in recent weeks due to the food shortages and family separations.
People in Xian, the capital of Shaanxi Province in central China, have been urged to avoid unnecessary trips outside their residential compounds, with employees encouraged to work from home or live at their workplace.
While in Suzhou, which has reported more than 500 infections in its latest outbreak, employees have been asked to work from home.