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COVID digest: Shanghai reports 1st deaths in latest outbreak

April 18, 2022

Shanghai reported three COVID deaths — the first since a strict lockdown started last month. Meanwhile, Germany's health minister said the mask mandate may be brought back in autumn. Follow DW for the latest.

Workers in protective suits in Shanghai, China. REUTERS/Aly Song
Many resident have expressed their frustration over the lockdownImage: ALY SONG/REUTERS

Shanghai reported the first three COVID-19 deaths on Monday, in the latest outbreak in the city. Authorities reported the three were older patients who also suffered from other illnesses.

In mid-March, two deaths were reported in Jilin province in north-eastern China, which were considered the first in the country in more than a year. Experts are doubtful of the accuracy of figures reported by the government. 

China is seeing its worst outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic, with financial hub Shanghai at the center of the wave.

Shanghai's population of 26 million has been under a strict lockdown since the end of March as China continues to employ a "zero-COVID" policy.

But the city says it is targeting Wednesday as the turning point for its strict lockdown, amid growing frustrations among residents.

Many people have taken to social media to vent their anger about the rules, with videos of scuffles with police and residents screaming from skyscrapers going viral on social media.

A speech by a local official said the target will require officials to accelerate COVID testing and the transfer of positive cases to a quarantine center.


South Korea is lifting most of its COVID restrictions as authorities expressed hope that the worst of the omicron wave has passed. 

Authorities are lifting a midnight curfew at restaurants, coffee shops and other indoor businesses.  A cap of 10 people allowed to gather has also been scrapped.

An indoor mask mandate, however, remains.

"Fortunately, the outbreak has slowed for the second consecutive week. But there's persisting concern about an increase in serious cases and deaths that might come after time lags, the spread of 'stealth omicron,' or BA.2, which has become the dominant strain, and an expected increase in travel during spring weather," Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said Friday.

Almost all residents on Indonesia's most populous island Java have antibodies against COVID-19, according to a government-commissioned survey.

The survey looked at antibodies in 2,100 people on Java and Bali and concluded that 99.2% of over 150 million people have some protection against COVID.

An epidemiologist who worked on the survey told Reuters that the high level was due to a booster shot rollout.


Cruise ships have returned to Australia as the country ended a ban on the vessels entering the country's waters after more than two years.

Last month, the government said it had decided not to renew the ban, which was in place since March 2020 due to the pandemic.

The states of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland outlined additional security measures for passengers and crew in preparation for the ships to return, news agency AAP reported.

Western Australia and Northern Territory will allow smaller vessels to visit their ports while Tasmania and South Australia were still to announce their plans, broadcaster ABC reported.


German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said Germany might bring back the mask mandate in autumn.

He told tabloid Bild am Sonntag that with the change in season, cases may increase again, or there may be mutations and, therefore, the mask mandate rules may be revised again.

According to the current rules, masks are mandatory only in a few places, such as public transport.

Lauterbach also said that a vaccine adapted to the omicron variant will start being administered across Germany in September. 

"We are getting a vaccine that protects against the omicron variants. We expect that in September," Lauterbach told Bild am Sonntag. 
He said the fact that new variants were continually emerging made it "increasingly difficult for us to prepare for the mutations."

The Robert Koch Institute announced Monday morning that the seven-day incidence of coronavirus cases in Germany had fallen to 808.8. The previous day it had been 834.3, and a week ago it was still at 1,080.  But the Institute noted that there may be a temporary fall in reporting cases due to the Easter break. 

Two German virologists have expressed criticism of German Health Minister Lauterbach over his warning of a "killer variant" that could hit the country later this year.

Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit called the term "unscientific" and said it leads to "nothing but uncertainty among the population." He also said that the World Health Organization (WHO) has said the appearance of a "killer variant" is very unlikely.

Hendrik Streeck said that it is impossible to predict how variants will emerge and said instead the government should be preparing for autumn and winter.

Police in Scotland spoke to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon after the politician was filmed not wearing a mask while visiting a barber shop during an election campaign this weekend. Sturgeon claims she was only maskless for a few seconds before remembering to put her face covering back on. Police officers reminded the politician of "the importance of wearing a face covering when there is a legal requirement to do so" and said no further action would be taken. The order to wear masks in most indoors settings in Scotland has expired on Monday.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has tested positive for COVID-19. However, his office said that the 74-year-old was "asymptomatic."

The prime minister had to cancel a planned trip to Angola and the Republic of Congo due to his positive test result.

On Sunday, Pope Francis celebrated Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican for the first time since the pandemic started. 

Tens of thousands of people, numbered at 50,000 by the Vatican, packed the flowercovered square and a nearby boulevard to hear his words.

ab, tg,es/fb (dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters)