China reported two additional deaths from COVID-19 as some cities cautiously eased their anti-pandemic measures amid mounting public frustration.

The deaths were reported in Shandong and Sichuan provinces, according to the National Health Commission. No information was given about the age of the victims or whether they had completed their vaccinations.

China, where the virus was first detected in late 2019 in the central city of Wuhan, is the latest major country to try to stop infections entirely through quarantines, lockdowns and mass testing. Concern over the vaccination rate is believed to be a key factor in determining the country’s ruling Communist Party to stick to its rigid strategy.

Although nine out of 10 Chinese are vaccinated, only 66% of those over 80 have received one dose, while 40% have received two, according to the commission. 86% of those over 60 are vaccinated.

Given those numbers, and the fact that relatively few people in the country have developed antibodies from exposure to the virus, some fear millions could die if restrictions were lifted entirely.

However, the signs of discontent seem to have caused the authorities to lift some of the harshest measures, although they affirm that the “zero COVID” strategy, which aims to isolate all positives, is still in place.

Beijing and other Chinese cities have announced that for the first time in months, passengers will be able to board buses and subways even if they don’t have a recent negative.

The slight relaxation of diagnostic testing requirements coincides with daily infection numbers near record highs, and after protests across the country by people frustrated by the rigid application of the rules against the virus, which enter their fourth year, while the rest of the world has reopened.

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