Two Japanese living in Shanghai died during the lockdown of the Chinese city that began in late March amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the Japanese government said Wednesday, but the causes are unknown.

It is the first confirmation of Japanese deaths there since Shanghai, China's commercial and financial hub with a population of around 25 million, was locked down to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. The Japanese Consulate General in the city declined to provide any details on the people due to privacy reasons.

As the movement of people has still been significantly restricted in Shanghai, many have become frustrated by the all-encompassing constraints under the Communist-led government's radical "zero-COVID" policy.

A fence to restrict traffic is erected on a road in Shanghai on May 19, 2022, amid a continued COVID-19 lockdown. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Across China, including in its capital Beijing, a large number of people have also been prohibited from leaving their home or residential district, dealing a heavy blow to business and consumer activities in the world's second-biggest economy.

On Wednesday, the central government urged local authorities to take measures to prop up the slowing economy, Chinese media reported.

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