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COVID: US pulls nonessential staff from Shanghai consulate

April 12, 2022

As Shanghai remains under a strict lockdown, the US has ordered all non-emergency consular staff to leave the city. Meanwhile, Britain is expanding the use of Pfizer's oral antiviral treatment. DW has the latest.

China, Shanghai
The US State Department has ordered all non-emergency consular staff to leave ShanghaiImage: Greg Baker/Pool/AP/picture alliance

The United States has ordered all non-essential consular staff in Shanghai to leave the city, which is currently under a tight lockdown to contain what for China is an unusually high number of COVID cases.

The order, which covers "non-emergency US government employees and
their family members from U.S. Consulate General Shanghai," goes a step further than last week's "authorized" departure, which made the decision voluntary.

"Our change in posture reflects our assessment that it is best for our employees and their families to be reduced in number and our operations to be scaled down as we deal with the changing circumstances on the ground," the US State Department said late on Monday.

China's largest city is currently under a harsh lockdown with many of its 26 million residents confined to their homes for up to three weeks. 

People who test positive have been forced into mass quarantine centers where some describe conditions as crowded and unsanitary. 

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


United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Ted Chaiban, who is spearheading the push for global vaccinations, called for accelerated progress in inoculations to end the pandemic. 

He told the UN Security Council the number of countries to have vaccinated fewer than one in 10 people had dropped from 34 to 18 since January, but " the next six months are critical."

"In 2022, we must take the rapid action needed to accelerate vaccination. The window of opportunity is gradually closing. We risk losing the momentum and failing on vaccine equity," Chaiban said.


Germany's Health Ministry has warned that around 3 million doses of COVID vaccines could be wasted unless used by the end of June. According to a ministry spokesman, the country currently has more reserves than levels of demand and the capacity to donate spare doses was also almost exhausted. Currently, he said, the international COVAX vaccine procurement body had stopped accepting donations. 

"Therefore there is absolutely a danger of vaccine doses being thrown away," the spokesman said. Only the longer shelf life of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine prevented the figure of 3 million from becoming 10 million. 

Germany also reported 162,790 new infections on Tuesday, with the seven-day incidence falling slightly to 1,087 cases per 100,000 people per week. The Robert Koch Institute also reported 289 COVID-related deaths. 

Britain is set to expand access to Pfizer's oral antiviral COVID treatment to thousands more people after Paxlovid, a combination of the company’s new pill with older antiviral ritonavir, was made available to thousands with compromised immune systems in February.

Also in the UK, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologized, after
being fined for breaking coronavirus lockdown rules at a party to celebrate his birthday

"It didn't occur to me that, as I say, that I was in breach of the rules. I now humbly accept that I was," Johnson said.

UK police said they would issue more than 50 fines to people who attended gatherings at Johnson's offices and residence, including one for Johnson himself. The parties took place at a time when such events were banned under coronavirus lockdown rules.


China's manufacturing hub of Guangzhou has been closed to most arrivals as cases of the virus rise across eastern cities.

Unlike Shanghai, no lockdown has been announced for Guangzhou, which recorded just 27 cases on Monday. But primary and middle schools have switched to online learning and an exhibition center is being converted into a makeshift hospital. 

Only citizens with a "definite need" can leave Guangzhou if they test negative for the virus within 48 hours of departure.


The United States Supreme Court will not allow the public to attend courtroom sessions in person this month as the District of Columbia registers a rise in COVID infections.

"Courtroom access will be limited to the Justices, essential Court personnel, counsel in the scheduled cases, and journalists with full-time press credentials issued by the Supreme Court," the country's top court said in a statement. But a live audio feed of oral arguments will be provided.

While infections remain under control across most of the country, a number of high-profile political figures have tested positive in Washington DC, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of President Joe Biden's Cabinet.

Also in the US, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said the pandemic has worsened an underlying trend of increasing STDs over the past decade, due to declining public health funding and less screenings.

"We already had a strained, crumbling public health infrastructure. There are many communities in the United States that do not have STI specialty clinics. What that led to was an exacerbation of the already increasing trends," said Jonathan Mermin, a doctor and senior CDC official, which authored the report.

see/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)