Hong Kong, Dec 4: China on Sunday reported two additional deaths from COVID-19 as some cities move cautiously to ease anti-pandemic restrictions following increasingly vocal public frustrations.

The National Health Commission said one death was reported each in the provinces of Shandong and Sichuan. No information was given about the ages of the victims or whether they had been fully vaccinated.

China, where the virus first was detected in late 2019 in the central city of Wuhan, is the last major country trying to stop transmission completely through quarantines, lockdowns and mass testing.

Concerns over vaccination rates are believed to figure prominently in the ruling Communist Party's determination to stick to its hard-line strategy.

While nine in 10 Chinese have been vaccinated, only 66 per cent of people over 80 have gotten one shot while 40 per cent have received a booster, according to the commission. It said 86 per cent of people over 60 are vaccinated.

Given those figures and the fact that relatively few Chinese have been built up antibodies by being exposed to the virus, some fear millions could die if restrictions were lifted entirely.

Yet, an outpouring of public anger appears to have prompted authorities to lift some of the more onerous restrictions, even as they say the "zero-COVID" strategy which aims to isolate every infected person is still in place.

The demonstrations, the largest and most widely spread in decades, erupted Nov. 25 after a fire in an apartment building in the northwestern city of Urumqi killed at least 10 people.

That set off angry questions online about whether firefighters or victims trying to escape were blocked by locked doors or other anti-virus controls. Authorities denied that, but the deaths became a focus of public frustration.

The country saw several days of protests across cities including Shanghai and Beijing, with protesters demanding an easing of COVID-19 curbs.

Some demanded Chinese President Xi Jinping step down, an extraordinary show of public dissent in a society over which the ruling Communist Party exercises near total control.

Beijing and some other Chinese cities announced that riders can board buses and subways without a virus test for the first time in months.

The requirement has led to complaints from some Beijing residents that even though the city has shut many testing stations, most public venues still require COVID-19 tests.

On Sunday, China announced another 35,775 cases from the past 24 hours, 31,607 of which were asymptomatic, bringing its total to 336,165 with 5,235 deaths.

While many have questioned the accuracy of the Chinese figures, they remain relatively low compared to the US and other nations which are now relaxing controls and trying to live with the virus that has killed at least 6.6 million people worldwide and sickened almost 650 million.

China still imposes mandatory quarantine for incoming travellers even as its infection numbers are low compared to its 1.4 billion population.

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New Delhi, Feb 6: Jammu and Kashmir has been turned into Afghanistan by the BJP which is using bulldozers to demolish the homes of poor and marginalised under the ongoing anti-encroachment drive, former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti alleged Monday.

Addressing a press conference here, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief appealed to Opposition leaders in the country not to be a mute spectator to the "atrocities being committed by the BJP".

She alleged the BJP is using its brute majority to weaponize everything and "bulldoze" the Constitution.

"Palestine is still better. At least people talk. Kashmir is becoming worse than Afghanistan the way bulldozers are being used to demolish homes of people. What is the purpose of demolishing small houses of people," she said.

Mehbooba said that according to the government even the centuries-old Shankaracharya Temple and cantonment built by the erstwhile Maharaja are also on encroached land.

The PDP leader said Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha may claim that the houses of poor will not be touched during the anti-encroachment drive but his message is not being heard on the ground as dwellings even with tin sheds are being demolished.

She said the initial call for 'Ek Samvidhan, Ek Vidhan, Ek Pradhan' has given way to 'one country, one language, one religion' where there is no Constitution.

Voice of anyone speaking about the Constitution is being crushed, she said.

"Was removal of Article 370 in accordance with the Constitutional provisions?," she asked.