China announces first Covid death in six months as it battles outbreaks

A worker in a protective suit guides people to scan QR health code (REUTERS)
A worker in a protective suit guides people to scan QR health code (REUTERS)

China has announced its first death from Covid in six months as numerous cities battle outbreaks.

The death of the 87-year-old man in Beijing is the first since May, bringing the total death toll to 5,227.

A further 24,215 cases were also reported across the last 24 hours.

It comes as businesses in the capital shut after people were urged to stay home over the weekend.

More than 92 per cent of people in China are vaccinated. However, the vaccination rate is lower among the elderly, falling to just 65 per cent among those over 80.

Authorities have sought to ease the impact of their zero-Covid policy, which is battering the world’s second-largest economy and sowing anger as case numbers are at their highest since April.

China has reported more than 286,000 cases since Covid was first detected in Wuhan in late 2019.

The World Health Organisation says there have been 9.4 million confirmed cases in China, while the Johns Hopkins University tracker puts the number at 3.3 million.

It comes after crowds overturned police cars and stormed a government building earlier this week as anger over Covid lockdown measures exploded into violence in the Chinese city of Guangzhou.

Protesters tore down control barriers and yelled "no more testing" at public health workers as police were pelted with debris in Haizhu district.

The area, which is under strict stay at-home orders, houses many poorer itinerant labourers who have complained of not being paid if they are unable to turn up for work, as well as food shortages and skyrocketing prices.

Earlier this month, access to the industrial zone in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou was suspended Wednesday after the city reported 64 coronavirus cases.