China reports first Covid death since May after slight relaxing of virus control measures

Low vaccination rates among elderly and vulnerable populations remain a big hurdle for China

An 87-year-old man in Beijing has become China’s first Covid-19 fatality since May 26th, raising the country’s Covid death toll to 5,227.

China reported 24,435 new Covid-19 infections on November 19th, of which 2,267 were symptomatic and 22,168 were asymptomatic, the National Health Commission said on Sunday.

That compared with 24,473 new cases a day earlier – 2,137 symptomatic and 22,336 asymptomatic infections, which China counts separately.

The resumption of deaths attributed to Covid could test the tolerance of Chinese authorities, who earlier this month narrowed some curbs in a move many took as a sign of a shift away from its strict zero tolerance policy.


After being largely isolated from the rest of the world for the past three years, China shortened quarantine times for inbound travellers and close contacts, and ended a policy that suspended international flights tied to too many infected passengers.

Low vaccination rates among China’s elderly and vulnerable populations remain one of the biggest hurdles for the country’s reopening. Only 66 per cent of those aged 80 and above are fully vaccinated and 40 per cent have got a booster. That compares to a vaccination rate of more than 90 per cent for elderly people in the US.

The People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s flagship newspaper, said on Friday in its fourth commentary since the changes were announced that China is improving virus control measures and isn’t relaxing or “lying flat”.

China’s top health authorities said they are preparing for future infections by building more hospitals to treat Covid patients and ensuring that intensive care units that care for the most vulnerable account for 10 per cent of all beds.– Agencies