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Second Shanghai lockdown possible as China sees surge in COVID cases



(Last Updated On: July 12, 2022)

Shanghai residents may see another round of lockdown as the COVID-19 cases in China continue to soar amid the spread of a subvariant of omicron. 

The current wave of COVID-19 cases in the city is caused by the Omicron BA.5 variant, which was first detected in China on May 13. The patient was a 37-year-old male patient who had flown into Shanghai from Uganda, The Washington Post reported. 

On Monday, local government officials in the city of Shanghai deemed 37 streets to be at medium risk of COVID-19 transmission and one street designated high risk. While city officials have yet to impose an official lockdown, the classification means residents would not be allowed to leave their homes as part of the city’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus, the report said. 

The Shanghai government will also conduct PCR tests for all residents living in nine of the city’s 16 districts, according to a statement posted on the social media app WeChat as first reported by the Washington Post. 

City officials have not yet given a clear indication of whether they plan to put Shanghai in lockdown any time soon. However, some residents said Shanghai officials in March also initially denied reports of a possible lockdown before putting one in place. Many are now rushing to stores to stock up on goods, the International Business Times reported. 

During the last lockdown in March, the city’s 25 million residents struggled to buy food or secure basic health care. The city’s mental health hotline also received triple the number of usual calls, with as many as 2 in 5 residents reporting symptoms of depression. 

So far, there is no evidence that the BA.5 subvariant can cause more severe illnesses among patients. However, it is the most contagious COVID-19 variant so far and is thought to be even more transmissible than other Omicron variants, International Business Times reported. 

Reports of a possible lockdown come after health officials Sunday announced they have detected a new COVID-19 subvariant, Omicron BA.5.2.1, in the financial district of Pudong. The new subvariant was linked to a case from overseas, Zhao Dandan, vice director of the city’s health commission said in a briefing. 


WHO declares end to COVID global health emergency



(Last Updated On: May 6, 2023)

The World Health Organization said Friday that COVID-19 no longer qualifies as a global emergency, marking a symbolic end to the devastating coronavirus pandemic that triggered once-unthinkable lockdowns, upended economies and killed millions of people worldwide.

The announcement, made more than three years after WHO declared the coronavirus an international crisis, offers some relief, if not an ending, to a pandemic that stirred fear and suspicion, hand-wringing and finger-pointing across the globe, AP reported. 

The U.N. health agency’s officials said that even though the emergency phase was over, the pandemic hasn’t finished, noting recent spikes in cases in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

WHO says thousands of people are still dying from the virus every week, and millions of others are suffering from debilitating, long-term effects.

“It’s with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“That does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global health threat,” he said, warning that new variants could yet emerge. Tedros noted that while the official COVID-19 death toll was 7 million, the real figure was estimated to be at least 20 million.

Tedros said the pandemic had been on a downward trend for more than a year, acknowledging that most countries have already returned to life before COVID-19.

He bemoaned the damage that COVID-19 had done to the global community, saying the pandemic had shattered businesses, exacerbated political divisions, led to the spread of misinformation and plunged millions into poverty.

When the U.N. health agency first declared the coronavirus to be an international crisis on Jan. 30, 2020, it hadn’t yet been named COVID-19 and there were no major outbreaks beyond China.

More than three years later, the virus has caused an estimated 764 million cases globally and about 5 billion people have received at least one dose of vaccine.

In the U.S., the public health emergency declaration made regarding COVID-19 is set to expire on May 11, when wide-ranging measures to support the pandemic response, including vaccine mandates, will end. Many other countries, including Germany, France and Britain, dropped most of their provisions against the pandemic last year.

When Tedros declared COVID-19 to be an emergency in 2020, he said his greatest fear was the virus’ potential to spread in countries with weak health systems.

Most recently, WHO has struggled to investigate the origins of the coronavirus, a challenging scientific endeavor that has also become politically fraught.

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COVID-19 in Iran: Nearly 900 new cases, 24 deaths recorded



(Last Updated On: March 27, 2023)

The Iranian health ministry announced on Sunday that more than 890 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified across the country during the past 24 hours, adding that 24 patients have died in the same period of time, Fars News Agency reported.

“A sum of 891 new patients infected with COVID-19 have been identified in the country based on confirmed diagnosis criteria during the past 24 hours,” the Iranian Health Ministry’s Public Relations Center said on Sunday, adding, “454 patients have been hospitalized during the same time span.”

The ministry’s public relations center said 611 people infected with COVID-19 are in critical condition.

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China says 200 million treated, pandemic ‘decisively’ beaten



(Last Updated On: February 17, 2023)

China says more than 200 million of its citizens have been diagnosed and treated for COVID-19 since it lifted strict containment measures beginning in November.

With 800,000 of the most critically ill patients having recovered, China has “decisively beaten” the pandemic, according to notes from a meeting of the ruling Communist Party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee presided over by President and party leader Xi Jinping, AP reported. 

China enforced some of the world’s most draconian lockdowns, quarantines and travel restrictions and still faces questions about the origins of the virus that was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. Heavy-handed enforcement prompted rare anti-government protests and took a heavy toll on the world’s second-largest economy.

The official Xinhua News Agency quoted Xi as saying that policies to control the outbreak had been “entirely correct.” The abrupt lifting in November and December of the “zero COVID” policy that had sought to eliminate all cases of the virus led to a surge in infections that temporarily overwhelmed hospitals.

Case numbers have since peaked and life has largely returned to normal, although international travel in and out of China has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.

China is now transitioning to a post-pandemic stage after a fight against the outbreak that was “extraordinary in the extreme,” Xinhua said.

The government will continue to “optimize and adjust prevention and control policies and measures according to the times and situations with a strong historical responsibility and strong strategic determination,” Xinhua said.

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