Today’s coronavirus news: Shanghai starts China’s biggest COVID-19 lockdown in 2 years


The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

5:35 a.m. South Korea’s daily average of new COVID-19 cases declined last week for the first time in more than two months, but the number of critically ill patients and deaths will likely continue to rise amid the Omicron-driven outbreak, officials said Monday.

South Korea reported an average of about 350,000 new cases last week, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Monday. It was the first drop in the weekly average in 11 weeks, KDCA Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong said.

The current outbreak has likely peaked and is expected to trend downward, Jeong said citing expert studies. But new cases in South Korea will likely drop slowly because of relaxed social distancing rules, an expansion of in-person school classes and rising infections due to the coronavirus mutant widely known as “stealth omicron,” she said.

Read more from The Associated Press.

5:30 am Lauren Socha knows there is a chance her toddler got the placebo instead of the COVID vaccine, but that day in January still felt like a “little bit of hope.”

There hasn’t been a lot of that since Arthur was born. Waves of the pandemic intensified and receded. Vaccines arrived in cargo plans, politicians posed on the tarmac. Most Canadians rushed to get their shots while others loudly objected. Vaccine rates for children over five stalled.

“If both of my kids could get vaccinated right now, I would not hesitate at all,” she says.

Children under five are the only age group without vaccine access, as Canadians await the first approval for that cohort.

For Socha, a vaccine trial was the only way her son could get a shot at protection. (Her daughter of her is a newborn.)

Read more from the Star’s Katie Daubs.

5:15 a.m. China began its most extensive lockdown in two years Monday to conduct mass testing and control a growing outbreak in Shanghai as questions are raised about the economic toll of the nation’s “zero-COVID” strategy.

China’s financial capital and largest city with 26 million people, Shanghai had managed its smaller, past outbreaks with limited lockdowns of housing compounds and workplaces where the virus was spreading. But the citywide lockdown that will be conducted in two phases will be China’s most extensive since the central city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected in late 2019, confined its 11 million people to their homes for 76 days in early 2020.

Shanghai’s Pudong financial district and nearby areas will be locked down from Monday to Friday as mass testing gets underway, the local government said. In the second phase of the lockdown, the vast downtown area west of the Huangpu River that divides the city will start its own five-day lockdown Friday.

5 am White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said she tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday after returning from Europe with President Joe Biden, in the latest infiltration of the coronavirus into the West Wing’s protective bubble around Biden.

Jean-Pierre, the principal deputy press secretary, said she last saw Biden “during a socially distanced meeting” on Saturday. Biden, because he is fully vaccinated, is not considered a “close contact” under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Jean-Pierre traveled to Belgium and Poland with Biden after press secretary Jen Psaki tested positive for the virus last week.

Biden returned to the White House early Sunday morning from the four-day trip that saw him work to bolster the NATO alliance after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Read more from The Associated Press.

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