China’s health authorities reported two COVID-19 deaths on Saturday, the first since January 2021.
The deaths, both in northeastern Jilin province, bring the country’s reported coronavirus death toll to 4,638.
Both fatalities occurred in elderly patients and were the result of their underlying conditions, Jiao Yahui, an official with the National Health Commission, told a news briefing on Saturday. One of them had not been vaccinated for COVID-19, she said.
China has continued to impose a “zero-Covid” strategy since the initial outbreak in Wuhan. The strategy focuses on mass testing and strict lockdowns, with residents banned from leaving their homes until all new cases are either found in quarantine or through contact tracing.
With China now facing its worst outbreak since late 2019, officials have vowed to double down on the zero-tolerance strategy to contain the current surge. However, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, acknowledged for the first time the burden of the measures on Thursday, saying that China should seek “maximum effect” with “minimum cost” in controlling the virus.
Nationwide, China has reported more than 29,000 confirmed cases since the beginning of March.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: ABC NEWS