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COVID digest: China sends army to help in Shanghai outbreak

April 4, 2022

Thousands of medical staff have been sent to Shanghai in China's largest public health response to the pandemic. Meanwhile in Germany, masks for shopping are no longer required. Follow DW for the latest.

Medical workers from Shandong Province take part in a departure ceremony before leaving for Shanghai
China sent thousands of medical workers and military personnel to Shanghai to help battle a COVID-19 outbreak in the cityImage: Xu Suhui/Xinhua News Agency/picture alliance

China has deployed more than 10,000 healthcare workers, along with 2,000 military medical personnel, to help contend with a COVID-19 outbreak in the country's largest city. Authorities carried out COVID-19 tests for all of Shanghai's 26 million residents, and officials said the city-wide testing drive was completed as of Monday evening. 

China is battling to contain the contagious omicron BA.2 virus variant, which is putting the country's so-called zero-COVID strategy to the test.

Shanghai has been under a two-phase lockdown for two weeks. Officials said a lockdown would remain in place as the results of the mass-testing are evaluated. 

The China Daily newspaper reported that around 15,000 medical staff from neighboring Jiangsu and Zhejiang province had set off by bus for Shanghai on Monday morning. The newspaper reported that four other provinces have contributed doctors and nursing staff.

The Associated Press cited a Chinese military publication reporting that over 2,000 members of the army, navy and support staff arrived in Shanghai on Sunday.

The measures are considered to be the largest public health response since tackling the initial outbreak in Wuhan.

Meanwhile, Shanghai health officials on Monday defended separating babies and young children from their parents in the event of testing positive for COVID-19. According to the policy, anyone testing positive must be isolated from those who haven't, regardless of whether they have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic.

"If the child is younger than 7 years old, those children will receive treatment in a public health center," said Wu Qianyu from the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission on Monday.

Shanghai enters phased lockdown

Here are the latest major developments on coronavirus from around the world:


In the United Kingdom a spike in COVID-19 cases has forced airlines to cancel hundreds of flights due to staff sickness. Easyjet canceled over 200 flights over the weekend and indicated that a further 60 would not fly on Monday.  British Airways also canceled a small number of flights on Sunday and said the issue was generally affecting airlines and airports.

"We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause to customers on affected flights," the airline said in a statement.

England scrapped COVID-19 restrictions earlier in the year, and those testing positive for the virus are not required to self-isolate, although employers are advising them to do so.

In large parts of Germany starting Monday, people going to shops are no longer required to wear face masks for the first time in around two years, as federal and state authorities eased restrictions.

Hamburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are maintaining mask protocols for the time being.

According to the latest figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the nationwide incidence of COVID-19 in Germany has continued to decrease.

On Monday, the number of new infections per 100,000 people stood at 1,424.6, compared to the figure of 1,457.9 the day before. There were 41,129 new COVID-19 infections in the space of a day, whereas the week before that number was 67,501.

Germany in coronavirus turmoil

Lithuania is also dropping face mask requirements indoors, although masks will still be necessary at hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and on public transport.

Health Minister Arunas Dulkys said the decision to ease face mask requirements was due to the current epidemiological situation in the country and a decreased burden on the health system. 

Sweden has recommended a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 65 and over, including those who live in nursing homes or who are receiving home care.

Previously, the recommendation had been that a fourth shot be administered to people aged 80 and older.

Sweden's Public Health Agency said the recommendation included giving fourth shots to those aged 18 to 64 who have compromised immune systems.

"The goal is just as before to prevent serious illness and death from COVID-19," said agency chief Karin Tegmark Wisell.

kb/wmr (AP, AFP, dpa)