China reported its first Covid-19 deaths since January 2021

Omicron variant continues to spread with two deaths reported on Friday

A member of the medical staff guards quarantined houses, in Shanghai, China. Photograph: Epa/Alex Plavevski

China reported its first Covid-19 deaths since January 2021 as the omicron variant continued to spread across the world’s most-populous nation.

The two deaths were both recorded in Jilin on Friday, according to the National Health Commission. China has reported fewer than 5,000 fatalities throughout the entire pandemic, with most occurring when the virus first emerged from Wuhan in early 2020.

In Hong Kong, the effects of Covid on the city’s workforce are easing, with about 70 per cent of the 32,200 infected public servants having recovered, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a daily briefing. Some 17 per cent of government employees have been infected along with about 20 per cent of hospital and rail operator MTR Corp. staff, she said.

Cases and antibodies

Hong Kong reported a total of 16,597 new confirmed Covid cases, the fewest in about three weeks, according to health officials.


The city recorded 243 deaths, 61 of them backlogged, the Department of Health’s Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan said at a briefing. Officials said 63 covid patients were currently in critical condition.

Indonesia estimates 86.6 per cent of its population has developed antibodies against the coronavirus, even though only about half of them have been fully vaccinated.

The government held a seroprevalence survey in November and December as a basis for setting public policy against the virus, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said in a statement on Friday. Some 99.1 per cent of people who have had two vaccine doses carried Covid-19 antibodies, compared with 73.9per cent for the unvaccinated.

Hong Kong will map out its plan to resume quarantine-free travel after the current fifth wave of the pandemic subsides, HK01 cited Chief Executive Carrie Lam as saying in a letter to a local business group.

The city’s “utmost priority” is to vaccinate the elderly, Lam said in the letter to the International Business Committee dated March 18th.

China reported its first Covid-19 deaths since January 2021 as the omicron variant continued to spread across the world’s most-populous nation.

The two deaths were both reported in Jilin on Friday, the National Health Commission said in a statement.

Austria Coronavirus measures

Austria will broaden mandatory mask wearing and shorten the quarantine for health care workers to curb record coronavirus infections and ensure hospitals continue to function. The government is stepping back from a decision to remove most restrictions after daily infections reached record highs and modeling points to elevated case counts for the next two weeks.

Johannes Rauch, appointed this month as Austria’s health minister, said intensive-care unit occupancy remained low, but that hospitals were struggling to care for all patients due to the number of doctors and nurses becoming infected.

Myanmar’s military government will lift a ban on foreign visitors from April 17 by allowing international passenger flights to operate as normal after suspensions for over two years.

The junta cited a “significant drop in new Covid cases and deaths” and said the lifting aimed to develop tourism sector and facilitate easy entry for foreigners.

About 330 coffins arrived in Hong Kong via sea and land to supplement supply after local manufacturers suppliers experienced difficulties because of the worsening pandemic situation in the city, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said in a statement Friday.

Hong Kong coordinated with mainland authorities to supply the coffins, with more than 1,200 having arrived in the city over the past five days and another 500 expected in the next two days. it said.

— Bloomberg L.P.