© Reuters. People queue amid snowfall at a mobile nucleic acid testing site following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Beijing, China, March 18, 2022. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – Mainland China on Saturday reported its first COVID-19 deaths in more than a year, according to a report on the National Health Commission’s website that said two people died in the northeastern region of Jilin.

China reported just two COVID deaths for all of 2021, the last on January 25.

The country is maintaining a “dynamic clean-up approach” that aims to reduce transmission as quickly as possible, using strict measures such as short and targeted shutdowns and rapid test schedules where cases are found.

Jilin, which borders North Korea and Russia, is responsible for more than two-thirds of the domestic infections in the latest wave.

One of the dead had not been vaccinated, said Jiao Yahui, a senior official at the National Health Commission. The direct cause of death for both victims was underlying illness, Jiao told reporters in Beijing, while their COVID symptoms were mild.

One victim was 87 and the other 65, according to The Paper, a state-run publication in Shanghai.

More than 95% of the nearly 30,000 people hospitalized with COVID in China have mild or no symptoms, Jiao said.

The latest deaths have brought the total number in China to 4,638. China reported 2,228 new confirmed cases of coronavirus for Friday, up from 2,416 a day earlier.

Of the new cases, 2,157 were transmitted locally, compared to 2,388 a day earlier, with 78% appearing in Jilin while others were found in southeastern Fujian province, southern Guangdong province and elsewhere.

New asymptomatic cases, which China counts separately from confirmed cases, amounted to 1,823, compared to 1,904 a day earlier. On Friday, mainland China had a cumulative total of 128,462 confirmed cases.

The deaths quickly became one of the hottest topics on Chinese social media. “Two new COVID deaths in Jilin” featured prominently on China’s Twitter-like Weibo (NASDAQ:) platform, with many users hoping for more information about the two victims.

“Why did this happen?” said one social media user. “The details should be released in a timely manner.”

Others expressed support for China’s Dynamic Clearance policy, while criticizing opening talks.

“Herd immunity, even opening up to let people exercise, this isn’t going to work,” said another person on Weibo.​

This post China reports first COVID deaths in more than a year By Reuters

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