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The Latest: Health workers cheer as EU starts vaccinations – Toronto Star

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ROME — European Union nations kicked off a co-ordinated effort Sunday to give COVID-19 vaccinations to the most vulnerable among the bloc’s nearly 450 million people, marking a moment of hope in the continent’s battle against the worst public health crisis in a century.

Health care workers, the elderly and leading politicians got some of the first shots across the 27-nation bloc to reassure the public that the vaccinations are safe and represent the best chance to emerge from the pandemic.

“It didn’t hurt at all,” said Mihaela Anghel, a nurse at the Matei Bals Institute in Bucharest who was the first person to get the vaccine in Romania. “Open your eyes and take the vaccine.”

In Rome, five doctors and nurses wearing white scrubs sat in a semi-circle at the Spallanzani infectious diseases hospital to receive their doses.

“The message is one of hope, trust and an invitation to share this choice,” said one of the recipients, Dr. Maria Rosaria Capobianchi, who heads the virology laboratory at Spallanzani and was part of the team that isolated the virus in early February. “There is no reason to be concerned.”

Altogether, the EU’s 27 nations have recorded at least 16 million coronavirus infections and more than 336,000 deaths

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Unemployment benefits expire for millions in the U.S. as Trump rages

— EU launches huge vaccine rollout, bringing hope to the continent’s nearly 450 million people

— Millions face new UK virus restrictions; border chaos eases

— COVID-19 has engulfed prisons in Belarus that are packed with people in custody for demonstrating against the nation’s authoritarian president.

— Thailand says two new coronavirus clusters appear linked to a major outbreak among migrant workers

— A Black doctor who died battling COVID-19 complained of racist medical care on social media, prompting an Indiana hospital system to promise a “full external review.”

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Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Unemployment benefits for millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet lapsed overnight as President Donald Trump refused to signed an end-of-year COVID relief and spending bill that had been considered a done deal before his sudden objections.

The fate of the bipartisan package remained in limbo Sunday as Trump continued to demand larger COVID relief checks and complained about “pork” spending. Without the widespread funding provided by the massive measure, a government shutdown would occur when money runs out at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

“It’s a chess game and we are pawns,” said Lanetris Haines, a self-employed single mother of three in South Bend, Indiana, who stood to lose her $129 weekly jobless benefit unless Trump signed the package into law or succeeded in his improbable quest for changes.

Washington has been reeling since Trump turned on the deal after it had won sweeping approval in both houses of Congress and after the White House had assured Republican leaders that Trump would support it.

Instead, he assailed the bill’s plan to provide $600 COVID relief checks to most Americans — insisting it should be $2,000. House Republicans swiftly rejected that idea during a rare Christmas Eve session. But Trump has not been swayed in spite of the nation being in the grip of a pandemic.

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WARSAW, Poland — A nurse at the main coronavirus hospital in Warsaw has gotten the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the first person to be vaccinated in Poland as part of a European Union rollout on Sunday.

Alicja Jakubowska, the head nurse at the Interior Ministry hospital in Warsaw, got a shot, followed by doctors and other health workers. Vaccinations in dozens of other hospitals were scheduled to begin across the country on Sunday.

“This is a historic moment for me,” Jakubowska said. “The hospital management chose me. A nurse is the first to be vaccinated, a nod to hard-working nurses and midwives.”

Jakubowska said getting the shot is is an important step “in the return to normality.” Afterwards, she said it did not hurt at all.

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ZAGREB, Croatia — A 81-year-old care home resident on Sunday became the first person to receive COVID-19 vaccine in Croatia.

Top officials attended as Branka Anicic received the vaccine before cameras. She says it felt great to be the first in Croatia to receive the vaccine and urged others to do the same.

Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic says the vaccines first will go to those who are the most vulnerable and exposed to the virus. He expressed hope most people will agree to vaccination.

Croatian media have reported that many among Croatia’s 4.2 million people remain skeptical regarding the vaccines, even among doctors. Authorities have launched a campaign to encourage people to get vaccinated.

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MADRID— Two women, a 96-year-old resident and a worker at a nursing home, became the first Spaniards to receive the coronavirus vaccine on Sunday morning.

The Los Olmos nursing home is located in Guadalajara near the distribution hub that vaccine maker Pfizer has in central Spain 70 kilometres (43 miles) northeast of Madrid.

“Let’s see if we can all behave and make this virus go away,” said Araceli Hidalgo, the elderly resident, after receiving her injection.

“I am proud (to receive the vaccine),” said Mónica Tapias, the 48-year-old worker. “What we want is for as many people as possible to get vaccinated. We have lost some residents here to COVID, and that has been very sad. Let’s see if this can finally finish with this.”

Army trucks escorted by police cars left the company warehouse before sunrise to distribute loads of the vaccine to all the regions of mainland Spain. Military airplanes or helicopters flew crates of doses to Spain’s Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, and its north African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

Spain plans to receive over 4.5 million doses of the vaccine over the next three months, enough it says to immunize just over 2.2 million people.

Nearly 50,000 people have been confirmed to have died from COVID-19 in Spain. Many more are estimated to have died before a test could confirm the infection.

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PRAGUE — Prime Minister Andrej Babis has kicked off the coronavirus vaccination in the Czech Republic.

Babis became the first Czech to receive a shot of the vaccine in Prague’s military hospital during the Czech public television’s live broadcast on Sunday morning.

“There’s nothing to worry about,” Babis told reporters before a ceremonious start of the vaccination program. “Everything’s fine,” he added after getting a shot.

World War II veteran, the 95-year-old Emilie Repikova, sitting next to the prime minister, was the second.

The medical personnel in four hospitals in Prague and two in the second largest city of Brno will get vaccinated by the first batch of almost 10,000 vaccines by Germany’s BioNTech and American drugmaker Pfizer in three days. The second batch of 19,500 vaccines expected to arrive next week will be distributed in all regions across the country.

The Czech Republic had 670,599 confirmed cases of coronavirus with 11,044 deaths.

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SEOUL, South Korea __ South Korea has decided not to immediately enforce its toughest distancing rules in the greater Seoul area despite a surge in fresh infections.

The Seoul area, which has been the heart of a recent viral resurgence, is currently under the second highest distancing rules. There have been calls for raising the restrictions to the highest level as the current curbs haven’t showed much significant effects. But the government was reluctant to do so because of worries about the economy.

Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol said Sunday the government will maintain the current level restrictions in the Seoul area until Jan. 3 and that it’ll see how the outbreak develops this week before determining whether to adjust the curbs. He says the third highest level of distancing rules imposed in other regions will also remain in place until Jan 3.

Kwon says South Korea has logged an average of 999 new cases each day last week, 690 of them in the Seoul area.

Earlier Sunday, South Korea reported 970 new cases, bringing the total to 56,872, with 808 deaths.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The Persian Gulf state of Oman has launched its COVID-19 inoculation campaign, with the sultanate’s health minister receiving the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

State-run media reported that the first batch of 15,600 doses was flown in industrial freezers to Muscat International Airport last week to vaccinate a priority group of older adults, health care workers and those with underlying health conditions starting on Sunday.

Another 28,000 doses of the vaccine by American drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech are expected to arrive next month.

Oman says it aims to vaccinate 60% of its roughly 5 million people.

The virus outbreak in Oman has infected over 128,000 people and killed more than 1,400.

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TOKYO — Japan is barring entry of all non-resident foreign nationals as a precaution against a new and potentially more contagious coronavirus variant that has spread across Britain.

The Foreign Ministry says the entry ban will start Monday and last through Jan. 31.

Last week, Japan banned non-resident foreigners coming from Britain and South Africa after confirming the new variant in seven people over the last two days — five from Britain who tested positive at airports and two others in Tokyo.

Japan is also suspending the exemption of a 14-day quarantine for Japanese nationals and resident foreigners that began in November. The entrants now must carry proof of a negative test 72 hours prior to departure and self-isolate for two weeks after arrival.

Japan is struggling with surging cases since November. It has confirmed a total of 217,312 cases including 3,213 deaths, up 3,700 from the previous 24-hour period. Tokyo alone reported 949 cases, setting a new record, despite calls by experts for people to spend a “quiet” holiday season.

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TORONTO — Officials in Canada’s most populous province have confirmed the first two known Canadian cases of of a more contagious variant of COVID-19 that was first identified in the United Kingdom.

The province’s associate chief medical officer says that the cases are a couple from Durham Region, just east of Toronto, with no known travel history, exposure or high-risk contacts.

The new variant is believed to spread more easily and faster than the original version of the disease but is not believed to be more deadly.

The provincial government said in a news release that is no evidence to suggest that the vaccines approved by Health Canada will be any less effective against the new variant.

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ST. LOUIS — Missouri set a new record for patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on Christmas Day as the pandemic surges.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that there were 2,862 patients hospitalized statewide, eclipsing the previous record of 2,851 on Nov. 18.

Meanwhile, the seven-day average for new cases is 2,213 each day.

“It is here, it is spread in the community, and we’ve got to make sure that that spread slows,” said St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern. “Our fates are in our own hands, and really, it’s not difficult to wear that mask.”

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SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico will begin providing COVID-19 vaccinations to 15,000 people who work or live at long-term care facilities, state officials announced Saturday.

Beginning Sunday, the CVS and Walgreens pharmacy chains and Vida Pharmacy in Albuquerque will administer doses of the Moderna vaccine at nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the state, officials said.

“Sunday marks a monumental day in our fight with this deadly pandemic. It signifies a step towards protecting our seniors and securing their safety,” said Katrina Hotrum-Lopez, cabinet secretary of the Aging and Long-Term Services Department.

The statement noted that people receiving vaccinations will need two doses from the same manufacturer administered several weeks apart.

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SPRINGFIELD, Illinois — The number of COVID-19 cases worldwide has topped 80 million.

Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University reported the mark Saturday morning after 472,000 cases were recorded Christmas Day. The number of deaths related to the coronavirus pandemic across the globe stands at 1.75 million.

The U.S. is by far the leader among nations in cases of coronavirus illness, reporting nearly 18.8 million Saturday. India follows with 10.2 million; Brazil has counted 7.45 million. There have been more than 330,000 deaths in the U.S., 190,000 in Brazil and 147,000 in India.

There have likely been many more cases of the coronavirus that have not been counted for a variety of reasons, including under-reporting, asymptomatic infections and lack of co-operation with contact tracers.

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PHOENIX — Arizona has reported more than 5,000 additional known COVID-19 cases for the 10th straight day, as the surge put a pandemic-high number of virus patients in intensive care beds across the state.

The state Department of Health Services reported 6,106 additional known cases and 15 more deaths, increasing the state’s totals to 493,041 cases and 8,424 deaths.

Arizona has the third-worst COVID-19 diagnosis rate in the United States over the past week, behind California and Tennessee.

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Region of Waterloo reports first daily single-digit COVID-19 case increase since October – CTV Toronto

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KITCHENER —
Health officials are reporting nine new cases of COVID-19 in Waterloo Region, the first time the daily increase has been in single digits since October.

Public Health last reported nine new cases on Oct. 27, before the second and third waves.

The Sunday afternoon dashboard update also shows 20 more cases now considered resolved, while the active case count has dropped by 10.

For the second straight day, no cases have been identified as variants of concern.

The number of related deaths, hospitalizations, and those being treated in the ICU have all remained unchanged.

An outbreak at an unnamed trades and services facility has been declared over, bringing the number of active outbreaks in the area down by one as well.

This brings the Waterloo Region COVID-19 totals to 18,280 confirmed cases, 17,865 resolved, 282 deaths, 124 active cases, 13 hospitalized, 13 in the ICU, eight outbreaks, 4,579 variants of concern, 3,122 Alpha variants, 21 Betas, 96 Gammas, and 1,083 Deltas.

On the vaccination front, 5,111 doses were administered in Waterloo Region and Saturday, bringing that total to 736,952.

The per cent of the eligible population (12 years old and older) that have received one dose now stands at 81.36 per cent, while per cent who are fully vaccinated stands at 64.63 per cent.

In Ontario, health officials are reporting 172 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday with two additional deaths. The province’s virus-related death toll stands at 9,313.

Another 144 people recovered from the disease yesterday, resulting in 1,450 active cases across the province.

The province said it administered 103,812 doses of COVID-19 vaccines Saturday, with over 18.9 million needles having gone into arms in the past seven months now.

As of Sunday, 8,569,752 people have received both doses and are considered to be fully vaccinated.

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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Sunday, July 25 – CBC.ca

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Recent developments:

  • Hundreds got vaccinated at pop-up clinic organized by the Escapade music festival.
  • Seventy per cent of Ottawa adults are now fully vaccinated.
  • Ottawa reported six COVID-19 cases Saturday and no new deaths.
  • An Ottawa man endured 100 COVID-19 tests to visit wife in long-term care home.

What’s the latest?

Hundreds of people turned up to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at a pop-up clinic held on Saturday by the organizers of an electronic dance music festival in partnership with the city’s public health department. 

While the vaccine clinic was underway, the City of Ottawa announced that 70 per cent of residents over the age of 18 have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, meaning they are now considered fully vaccinated.

Earlier this week, an Ottawa man marked an important, uniquely 2021 romantic milestone — his 100th COVID-19 test, which he needed to visit his wife of 50 years living in a long-term care home. 

OPH reported six new cases, and no new deaths on Saturday. One patient is in hospital with COVID-19.

Ontario reported 170 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, 22 fewer than the previous day. The province also reported three additional deaths linked to the virus.

WATCH | Ottawa’s associate medical officer of health says cases rising at higher rate than in previous weeks: 

Dr. Brent Moloughney, Ottawa’s associate medical officer of health, says cases are rising at a higher rate than in previous weeks as businesses reopen and residents interact more. 1:24

How many cases are there?

As of Saturday, 27,774 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 43 known active cases, 27,138 cases considered resolved, and 593 people have died from the illness.

Public health officials have reported more than 50,300 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 49,200 resolved cases.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 197 people have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 215.

Akwesasne has had nearly 700 residents test positive and 10 deaths between its northern and southern sections.

Kitigan Zibi has had 34 cases and one death. Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had 11, with one death. Pikwakanagan hasn’t had any.

CBC Ottawa is profiling those who’ve died of COVID-19. If you’d like to share your loved one’s story, please get in touch.

What are the rules?

Eastern Ontario:

Ontario is in Step 3 of its reopening plan.

The latest step allows for indoor dining, with capacity limits based on everyone being able to keep an acceptable distance.

Gyms, movie theatres and museums are able to reach a capacity of 50 per cent inside.

Larger general gathering limits have risen to 25 people inside and 100 people outside. Those limits are even higher for organized events, leading to the resumption of summer festivals and professional sports.

A detailed plan for the next school year is in the works, according to the education minister.

A hairstylist at Aline Unisex Hair Design in Ottawa’s Chinatown wears a plastic visor and mask while working. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

Western Quebec

Western Quebec is now under green zone restrictions, the lowest on the province’s four-colour scale. Its distancing length is now one metre.

Ten people are allowed to gather inside private residences and 20 people outdoors — which increases to 50 if playing sports. Organized games are permitted outdoors again and gyms are open.

People can eat both indoors and outdoors at restaurants and bars.

Personal care services and non-essential businesses can open. As many as 3,500 people can gather in a large theatre or arena and at outdoor festivals.

What can I do?

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets that can hang in the air.

People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine. Coronavirus variants of concern are more contagious and are established.

This means it is important to take precautions now and in the future like staying home while sick — and getting help with costs if needed —  keeping hands and surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don’t live with, even with a mask on.

Vaccines curb the spread of all types of the coronavirus.

Masks, preferably ones that fit snugly and have three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and recommended in crowded outdoor areas.

There’s federal guidance for what vaccinated people can do in different situations.

Fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents can now skip the 14-day quarantine. People have to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter Canada by land without a fine.

The federal government has announced fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents living there would be able to visit Canada without having to quarantine starting Aug. 9, while tourists from all other countries would be allowed as of Sept. 7.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions get help with errands.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who’ve been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length of self-isolation varies in Quebec and Ontario.

Vaccines

Four COVID-19 vaccines have been deemed safe and approved in Canada. Three are in use, with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine the only one approved for children aged 12 to 17.

Canada’s task force says people can wait up to 16 weeks between doses. There are factors pushing provinces to drastically speed up that timeline, including supply and the more infectious delta variant.

That same task force says it’s safe and effective to mix first and second doses.

There is evidence giving a second dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine offers better protection for people who got a first AstraZeneca-Oxford shot. Both Ontario and Quebec are giving people who got a first AstraZeneca dose the option to get a second of the same kind.

More than 2.8 million doses have been given out in the Ottawa-Gatineau region since mid-December, including more than 1.36 million in Ottawa and more than 450,000 in western Quebec.

Eastern Ontario

Ontario is vaccinating anyone age 12 or older.

People can look for provincial appointments opening up online or over the phone at 1-833-943-3900. Pharmacies continue to offer vaccines through their own booking systems, as do some family doctors.

Local health units have flexibility in the larger framework, including around booking, so check their websites for details. They offer standby lists for doses on short notice and recently, more walk-in options.

Campaigns are shifting to target those who are eligible to get their a second shot sooner or who haven’t yet got their first. Some mass clinics have closed.

Vaccine bookings depend on the supply being sent to health units, which generally aren’t reporting the supply problems of previous months.

Western Quebec

Quebec is vaccinating anyone 12 and older. Its goal is to provide second doses four weeks after the first.

People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone or visit one of the province’s permanent and mobile walk-in clinics.

People may have to show proof of being fully vaccinated to access certain services if there is an autumn surge of cases.

Symptoms and testing

COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Recently, a runny nose and headache have become more common.

Children tend to have an upset stomach and/or a rash.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help.

In eastern Ontario:

Anyone seeking a test should make an appointment. Check with your health unit for clinic locations and hours.

Ontario recommends only getting tested if you fit certain criteria, such as having symptoms, exposure or a certain job.

Staff, caregivers and visitors who have been fully-immunized and show no symptoms of the coronavirus no longer need to be tested before entering a long-term care facility.

People without symptoms but who are part of the province’s targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Rapid tests are available in some places.

Travellers who need a test have a few more local options to pay for one.

In western Quebec:

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.

People can make an appointment and check wait times online. Some walk-in testing is available.

Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, or someone travelling to work in a remote Indigenous community, are eligible for a test in Ontario.

Akwesasne has COVID-19 vaccine clinics, with information online or at 613-575-2341. Anyone in Tyendinaga who’s interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and should watch the website for dedicated vaccine clinics.

Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing and vaccines, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.

The last day for Ottawa’s Indigenous vaccination clinic is July 29.

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Jordan to open COVID vaccinations for 12-year-olds – Medical Xpress

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Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

Jordan’s health ministry announced Saturday that COVID-19 vaccines will now be available for children aged 12 and above.

The ministry “has decided to lower the COVID-19 vaccination age to 12 years, starting from Sunday July 25” and without requiring an appointment, the ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page on Saturday.

“Vaccination will be optional, and those under 18 will be able to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine with the consent of their guardian,” the statement added.

Jordan, a country of 10 million people, has officially recorded more than 763,900 coronavirus cases, including over 9,900 deaths, since the start of its outbreak.

Some 1.9 million people have been fully inoculated against COVID-19, while 2.7 million have received an initial vaccine dose.

The United States, Canada and the European Union have already authorised the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 12-year-olds.

Amman said last month it had concluded several agreements to obtain a total of around 12 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, and planned to order five million additional jabs.

The country last weekend received half a million Pfizer-BioNTech doses from Washington.

Authorities are pushing the population to take up the vaccines, and have adopted restrictive or punitive measures targeting those who fail to do so.

The measures include requiring unvaccinated or partially vaccinated public sector employees to present a negative COVID-19 test twice a week, and prohibiting the issuance or renewal of work and residency permits for those who are not fully vaccinated.


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US orders 200 mn more Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses


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