2 COVID-19 deaths reported in Beijing as virus surges

Dec 18, 2022, 6:29 AM | Updated: Dec 19, 2022, 4:51 pm
A woman carries a child near a sail structure on display at a public park in Beijing, Monday, Dec. ...

A woman carries a child near a sail structure on display at a public park in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

              A woman carries a child near a sail structure on display at a public park in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              An elderly woman pushes a child on a scooter at a public park in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              An ambulance passes a worker in protective gear outside a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A masked man walks by medical workers in protective gear on duty inside the fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A masked woman walks past a medical worker in protective gear as she leaves the fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A medical worker in protective gear carries yellow bags of medical waste from a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              Medical workers in protective gear look out from the fever clinic at a hospital in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a medical worker administers a second booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine for a resident through the nose, at a temporary vaccination site in Beijing, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday, Dec. 19, 2022 announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (Ren Chao/Xinhua via AP)
            
              In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a medical worker prepares to administer a second booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine for a resident, at a temporary vaccination site in Beijing, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday, Dec. 19, 2022 announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (Ren Chao/Xinhua via AP)
            
              In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a woman wearing a face mask receives a second booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine through the nose, at a temporary vaccination site in Beijing, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday, Dec. 19, 2022 announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (Ren Chao/Xinhua via AP)
            
              A woman watches the transfer of a deceased body wrapped in yellow to a vehicle parked next to a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A woman watches the transfer of a deceased body wrapped in yellow to a vehicle parked next to a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A patient is wheeled into the fever clinic at a hospital in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A family member carrying the photo of a deceased relative walks beside a vehicle carrying the body outside a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              An ambulance passes a worker in protective gear outside a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A masked man walks by medical workers in protective gear on duty inside the fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A masked woman walks past a medical worker in protective gear as she leaves the fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A medical worker in protective gear carries yellow bags of medical waste from a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              Medical workers in protective gear look out from the fever clinic at a hospital in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A woman watches the transfer of a deceased body wrapped in yellow to a vehicle parked next to a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A woman watches the transfer of a deceased body wrapped in yellow to a vehicle parked next to a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A patient is wheeled into the fever clinic at a hospital in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A family member carrying the photo of a deceased relative walks beside a vehicle carrying the body outside a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              An ambulance passes a worker in protective gear outside a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A masked man walks by medical workers in protective gear on duty inside the fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A masked woman walks past a medical worker in protective gear as she leaves the fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A medical worker in protective gear carries yellow bags of medical waste from a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              Medical workers in protective gear look out from the fever clinic at a hospital in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A woman watches the transfer of a deceased body wrapped in yellow to a vehicle parked next to a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A woman watches the transfer of a deceased body wrapped in yellow to a vehicle parked next to a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A patient is wheeled into the fever clinic at a hospital in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A family member carrying the photo of a deceased relative walks beside a vehicle carrying the body outside a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              An ambulance passes a worker in protective gear outside a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A masked man walks by medical workers in protective gear on duty inside the fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A masked woman walks past a medical worker in protective gear as she leaves the fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A medical worker in protective gear carries yellow bags of medical waste from a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              Medical workers in protective gear look out from the fever clinic at a hospital in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A woman watches the transfer of a deceased body wrapped in yellow to a vehicle parked next to a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A woman watches the transfer of a deceased body wrapped in yellow to a vehicle parked next to a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A patient is wheeled into the fever clinic at a hospital in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A family member carrying the photo of a deceased relative walks beside a vehicle carrying the body outside a fever clinic in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Chinese health authorities on Monday announced two additional COVID-19 deaths, both in the capital Beijing, that were the first reported in weeks and come during an expected surge of illnesses after the nation eased its strict "zero-COVID" approach. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              Delivery riders load online grocery orders on their bike as a surge of COVID-19 cases is causing a shortage of delivery workers in Beijing, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              Medical workers tend to residents at a gymnasium converted into a fever clinic in Beijing, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. Deaths linked to the coronavirus are appearing in Beijing after weeks of China reporting no fatalities, even as the country is seeing a surge of cases. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

BEIJING (AP) — China’s health authorities on Monday announced two COVID-19 deaths — the country’s first reported fatalities in weeks — amid an expected surge of illnesses after it eased its strict “zero-COVID” approach.

Unofficial reports point to a widespread wave of new coronavirus cases, and relatives of victims and people who work in the funeral business said deaths tied to COVID-19 were increasing. Those people spoke on condition of not being identified for fear of retribution.

Before Monday’s two reported deaths — both in Beijing — China had not reported a death from COVID-19 since Dec. 4.

With those fatalities, the National Health Commission raised China’s total to 5,237 deaths from COVID-19 in the past three years, out of 380,453 cases of illness. Those numbers are much lower than in other major countries but also are based on statistics and information-gathering methods that have come into question.

Chinese health authorities count only those who died directly from COVID-19, excluding deaths blamed on underlying conditions such as diabetes and heart disease that raise risks of serious illness.

In many other countries, guidelines stipulate that any death where the coronavirus is a factor or contributor is counted as a COVID-19-related death.

China had long hailed its restrictive “zero-COVID” approach as keeping case numbers and deaths relatively low, comparing itself favorably to the U.S., where the death toll has topped 1.1 million.

Yet the policy of lockdowns, travel restrictions, mandatory testing and quarantines placed China’s society and the national economy under enormous stress, apparently convincing the ruling Communist Party to heed outside advice and alter its strategy.

The easing began in November, and accelerated after Beijing and several other cities saw protests over the restrictions that grew into calls for President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party to step down — a level of public dissent not seen in decades.

On Dec. 14, the government said it would stop reporting asymptomatic COVID-19 cases since they’ve become impossible to track with mass testing no longer required. Most testing is now carried out privately, with those showing only mild symptoms allowed to recuperate at home without being forced into a centralized quarantine center.

The lack of data has made it more difficult to grasp the scale of the outbreak or its direction. However, a major drop in economic activity and anecdotal evidence of the virus’ spread point to a growing caseload, while health experts have projected a possible major wave of new infections and a spike in deaths over the next month or two, particularly among the elderly.

China is trying to persuade reluctant seniors and others at risk to get vaccinated, apparently with only moderate success. The other major concern is shoring up health resources in smaller cities and the vast rural hinterland ahead of January’s Lunar New Year travel rush, which will see migrant workers returning to their home towns.

Numbers of fever clinics have been expanded in both urban and rural areas and people have been asked to stay home unless seriously ill to preserve resources. Hospitals are also running short on staff, and reports say workers have been asked to return to their posts as long as they aren’t feverish.

___

AP journalist Dake Kang contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in Nov. 2022, a...
Associated Press

News groups ask Idaho Supreme Court to reject University slayer gag order

Thirty news organizations have asked the Idaho Supreme Court to overturn a gag order in a case against a man accused of stabbing four students to death.
19 hours ago
Nathan Chasing Horse stands in court. Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in North Las Vegas, Nev. Nathan Chasing...
Associated Press

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor charged in 2018 rape in PNW

Canadian police confirmed Tuesday they are pursuing a criminal case against a former "Dances With Wolves" actor who was arrested last week and charged in Nevada with sexually abusing and trafficking Indigenous women and girls.
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Tiny California mouse wins Guinness award for longevity

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A tiny California mouse now has a big title after winning a Guinness World record for longevity. A Pacific pocket mouse named Pat — after “Star Trek” actor Patrick Stewart — received the Guinness approval Wednesday as the oldest living mouse in human care at the ripe age of 9 years […]
19 hours ago
This shows a Chinese Dahua brand security camera in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. Aust...
Associated Press

Australian Defense Department to remove Chinese-made cameras

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s Defense Department will remove surveillance cameras made by Chinese Communist Party-linked companies from its buildings, the government said Thursday after the U.S. and Britain made similar moves. The Australian newspaper reported Thursday that at least 913 cameras, intercoms, electronic entry systems and video recorders developed and manufactured by Chinese companies […]
19 hours ago
In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a mi...
Associated Press

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un presides over big military parade

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un brought his young daughter to a huge military parade showing off the latest hardware of his fast-growing nuclear arsenal, including intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to reach the United States, state media said Thursday. North Korean photos of Wednesday night’s parade in the capital, Pyongyang, […]
19 hours ago
FILE - Filmmaker Ken Burns walks with inmate Rahsaan Thomas at San Quentin State Prison in San Quen...
Associated Press

‘Ear Hustle’ podcast co-host is free from San Quentin prison

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A co-host of “Ear Hustle,” the Pulitzer Prize-nominated podcast produced behind bars, was released from San Quentin State Prison on Wednesday, a year after California Gov. Gavin Newsom commuted his sentence. Rahsaan “New York” Thomas, 52, left the lockup near San Francisco and was greeted by his fellow podcast co-hosts Walter […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
2 COVID-19 deaths reported in Beijing as virus surges