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COVID: China faces worst COVID outbreak since 2020

March 21, 2022

China is experiencing a surge in COVID infections driven by the omicron variant. Meanwhile, Hong Kong has lifted its ban on international flights from nine countries. Follow DW for the latest.

Coronavirus - China
China reported 1,947 new locally transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms on SundayImage: Ng Han Guan/dpa/picture alliance

China's financial hub Shanghai reported a record daily surge in local COVID-19 infections on Monday, as the country faces one of its worst outbreaks since the start of the pandemic.

The city also closed Shanghai Disneyland to visitors starting Monday. It did not say how long the theme park would be shut.

According to official data, Shanghai reported 24 new domestically transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms for Sunday and 734 local asymptomatic infections.

"When it comes to the entire situation of epidemic control and prevention that we are facing, it is very complex and serious, and it is also a very big test for us," said Wu Jinglei, the city's health official.

In total, Chinese health authorities reported over 2,000 new symptomatic COVID-19 cases on Sunday. Nearly 2,500 asymptomatic cases were reported. 

Although the case numbers may be small by global standards, China is pursing a "zero-COVID" policy, calling for strict measures like lockdowns and mass-testing to stop outbreaks. 

Meanwhile, the state broadcaster reported the southern manufacturing hub of Shenzhen would allow offices and factories to restart operations from Monday.

Public transport in the city would also resume after residents in the city completed three rounds of COVID-19 testing, state-run CCTV reported.

COVID outbreaks in China geographically very concentrated: Professor Ben Cowling

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


Hong Kong loosened one of the world's toughest COVID-19 restrictions as it announced the resumption of international flights from the United States, Britain, and seven other countries from April.

"The epidemic situations in those countries are not worse than Hong Kong's, and most arrivals did not have serious symptoms," said Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam.

She said the flight ban — referred to as "circuit-breaker" — will be lifted for nine countries starting April 1.

"To extend the circuit-breaker will add to concerns and anxieties of Hong Kong residents stranded there," Lam said.

South Korea will buy 10 million doses of the country's first experimental coronavirus vaccine, developed by SK Bioscience co. ltd.

The vaccine candidate, codenamed "GBP510," has completed its phase 3 trial since August last year. It was jointly developed with the University of Washington's Institute for Protein Design and aided by pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

"They aim to secure formal approval in the first half of this year, and public distribution is expected to begin in the latter half," said Jeong Eun-kyeong, the director of Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

India is considering making booster shots of the vaccine available to all adults, according to sources quoted by Reuters news agency.

So far, only frontline workers and those above the age of 60 are eligible for booster shots.

With infections rising in other countries, many Indians are finding it difficult to travel abroad without the third dose, according to government health officials.


Germany's federal health minister, Karl Lauterbach, defended the relaxation of COVID measures that came into effect on Sunday.

"Since people in the omicron wave can protect themselves through masks and through vaccinations, one must not restrict freedoms as much as before," Lauterbach told German daily Tagesspiegel.

The easing of rules, he said, was a "legal, not a pandemic assessment," adding the mask requirement remained in place in most states until April 2.

A murder trial also began in Germany following the deadly shooting of a gas station attendant, allegedly sparked by a row over mask-wearing. 

The indictment said the 50-year old attendant, with possible connection to the far-right Querdenken ("Lateral Thinking") shot a 20-year-old employee with a handgun in the town of Idar-Oberstein.

The United Kingdom will start offering a fourth vaccine dose from Monday, the National Health Service (NHS) has announced.

The second booster shot would be given to nursing home residents, people aged 75 and above, and those aged 12 and older with immune deficiencies. This makes about five million people eligible for the fourth shot.

Health Minister Sajid Javid said those over 75 and those most at risk will be offered a "spring booster" which would "increase their protection against the virus."

Germany in coronavirus turmoil

London's Metropolitan Police said they have begun to interview witnesses to gatherings at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office and residence where staff enjoyed alcohol and generally flaunted the COVID-19 lockdown provisions being championed by Downing Street.

In Switzerland, Moderna said it signed an agreement to sell 7 million more doses of its COVID-19 booster shot.

In Bulgaria, the government has decided to remove its requirement for proof of vaccination, recover or a recent negative test to attend most public events, enter shopping malls or eat in restaurants.

The decision to lift the COVID-19 requirements comes as Bulgaria remains the country with the lowest vaccination rate in the EU. Less than 30% of the population is fully vaccinated and slightly more than 10% have received booster shots.

adi/wmr (AFP, Reuters, dpa)