THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The coronavirus has interrupted the process of forming a new Dutch government, with one of the two “scouts” mapping out possible coalitions testing positive for COVID-19.
The government information service says that talks scheduled Thursday have been cancelled following the positive test recorded by Kajsa Ollongren, who is also caretaker interior minister and deputy prime minister in the outgoing coalition.
Ollongren is the second member of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Cabinet to test positive this week, following state secretary for economic affairs and climate Mona Keijzer.
The coalition talks are expected to take weeks or months following last week’s general election. Rutte’s conservative VVD party won the most seats in the lower house of parliament but will likely need to enlist other parties to gain a majority in the 150-seat legislature.
The two coalition “scouts” had been scheduled to meet Rutte and Sigrid Kaag, leader of the centrist D66 party that finished second in the election.
The government information service says officials are looking into “how and when the talks can resume.”
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Bolsonaro under fire as Brazil hits 300,000 virus deaths
— AstraZeneca confirms strong vaccine protection after US rift
— Hong Kong vaccination drive struggles to gain public trust
— More than three months into the U.S. vaccination drive, many of the numbers paint an increasingly encouraging picture
— Mexican officials remain unsure about whether the supposed Russian coronavirus vaccines seized last week are real or fake
— The government of war-torn Syria says it will send emergency oxygen supplies to neighbouring Lebanon, which is experiencing shortages
— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s president said he hoped his country will soon overcome the coronavirus pandemic but asked people to continue adhering to social distancing rules.
President Arif Alvi made his comments in a televised speech Thursday after witnessing a military parade in the capital, Islamabad.
Authorities provided face masks to all those who witnessed the military parade.
His comments came shortly after Pakistan reported 3,946 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, one of the highest increases in recent months.
On Thursday, Pakistan also reported 63 additional deaths from coronavirus, increasing the country’s total fatalities to 14,028 among 640,988 cases since last year.
Alvi’s remarks came a day after Pakistan’s top health official Faisal Sultan said his country will purchase 1 million doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine and 60,000 doses of the vaccine made by Chinese company CanSino Biologics.
A day ago, Pakistan government ordered the closure of schools in the capital, Islamabad and in several high-risk cities until April 11.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka has decided to purchase 7 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.
The government says it will pay $69.65 million for the shots.
Sri Lanka aims to inoculate 14 million people out of the population of 22 million. So far, over 850,000 people have received their shots using the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Sri Lanka has received 1.2 million AstraZeneca doses out of at least 10 million it plans to purchase for $52.5 million. It has also approved China’s Sinopharm shots.
Of the 1.2 million doses, Sri Lanka got 500,000 as a donation from India and bought another 500,000. The other 264,000 came through the COVAX facility.
Sri Lanka has reported 91,017 confirmed cases including 554 fatalities.
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine president has ordered at least nine city and town mayors investigated for possible charges after they reportedly jumped ahead of a priority list led by 1.7 million health workers and got injected with COVID-19 vaccine amid a shortage in supply.
President Rodrigo Duterte said in a televised meeting Wednesday night with key Cabinet members that aside from the mayors, the son of an actress also got immunized. He expressed fears that the Philippines may lose the chance to get more donated vaccines arranged by the World Health Organization if its conditions would continue to be violated.
“We were told by the WHO country representative, ‘If you do not follow the list of priority, you might lose the assistance of the WHO,’’’ Duterte said. “It wasn’t followed because I heard even the son of an actress got it. It’s always the favoured few.”
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III reported to Duterte that just slightly more than 508,000 of a total 1.7 million doctors, nurses and other health workers have been immunized and added that only 1.5 million vaccine doses, all donated by China and the WHO, have arrived in the country so far.
The government program to inoculate about 70 million adult Filipinos has faced delays, supply problems, public hesitancy and widespread criticism. After health workers, the next in line of priority include elderly Filipinos and people with non-COVID-19 illnesses like diabetes and the poor.
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s mask mandate will end April 10 after the Republican governor signed a bill that lays out a new timeline for lifting some of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Masks orders will remain in place for schools and gatherings of more than 50 people. Businesses can also choose to require them.
Gov. Spencer Cox signed the measure on Wednesday, the same day that vaccinations opened to all people aged 16 and older.
New coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Utah have been on a downward trend since January. According to state data, more than 438,000 of the state’s 3.2 million residents have been fully vaccinated.
The U.S. has surpassed 30 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
Coronavirus cases nationwide reached 30,001,245 on Wednesday, nearly three months after the country hit 20 million.
COVID-19 related deaths now total more than 545,000.
The new milestone comes as public health experts show cautious optimism three months into the U.S. vaccination rollout. It is believed that 70% of Americans 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine and COVID-19 deaths are below 1,000 a day on average for the first time since November.
The federal government is dramatically ramping up vaccine production and several states have already expanded vaccination eligibility to people age 16 and up.
More than 124 million cases have been confirmed worldwide.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has signed legislation rewriting state laws for managing the coronavirus pandemic and future emergencies even though she believes it could hinder disaster response efforts.
The measure Kelly signed Wednesday extends the state of emergency for the pandemic until May 28 instead of letting it expire March 31. Kelly cited the extension in announcing her action.
The measure also leaves counties in charge of mask mandates and other restrictions. But in the state’s second most populous county of Sedgwick County, the county commission ended its remaining COVID-19 restrictions. Commissioners had said the measure signed by Kelly makes it more likely it would lose lawsuits over such restrictions.
The measure says anyone aggrieved by local restrictions during a pandemic or other emergency can file a lawsuit challenging them and the case must be heard within 72 hours.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas says it will be receiving only a fraction of the 100,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine for COVID-19 that it had expected next week.
The state Department of Health and Environment said Wednesday that it will receive 16,500 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine when it had expected 100,000 doses.
The department said production issues mean that the promised doses might not be ready to ship to Kansas until the second or third week of April.
Gov. Laura Kelly had cited the expected arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines last week in announcing that Kansas would make eligible for inoculations all residents from 16 through 64 who have medical conditions that would put them at risk of serious complications or death from COVID-19. The state had been limiting shots to people 65 and older, along with essential workers, as part of a second phase of its vaccine distribution.
SAO PAULO, Brazil — Brazil has reached 300,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths and become the second nation to top that figure. The United States hit the same milestone on Dec. 14, but it has a larger population.
Wednesday’s coronavirus figures from the Brazilian health ministry added another 2,009 deaths to the country’s tally, which local media say is an undercount.
On Tuesday, Brazil hit a single-day record of 3,251 COVID-19 deaths and authorities fear that April could be as grim as March in the country’s overwhelmed hospitals.
Brazil added 100,000 deaths to its tally in only 75 days, a spike health experts have blamed on a lack of political co-ordination, new variants that spread more easily and a disregard for health protocols in many parts of the country.
The Associated Press
Are You Looking After Your Oral Health Correctly?
You need to make sure that you are taking good care of your mouth at all times. Click here for some tips to ensure that your oral health is the best it can be.
Your mouth is one of the most important parts of your body, but it is also one of the easiest to care for. You need to make sure that you are always looking after your oral health. Neglecting it can give you a raft of health troubles.
Why It is Important
Overall, it is thought that Canadians have very good dental care, with over 75% of Canadians attending the dentist at least once a year. This is also a vast improvement over a couple of decades ago, and we will hopefully see improvements year on year.
Pain in your jaw caused by gum disease and other factors can be incredibly difficult to live with, but it is also really easy to avoid. With proper oral care and a diligent hygiene routine, you should be able to keep your mouth in good condition for the future. There are no excuses for poor oral hygiene – it is one of those adult responsibilities that we all need to take charge of.
Make Time for the Dentist
Other Canadians can manage a regular trip to the dentist – and you cannot be an exception to this. Even if you have the busiest of lives in Toronto, there is always going to be a way for you to make time for the dentist.
Whether you are popping into the North York dental clinic around the corner from your department or making an appointment you can easily get to from a Downtown office, there are plenty of professionals waiting to help you out. Your dentist is the best person to check that you are on the right track when it comes to caring for your oral health. Regular trips to see them, plus a commitment to following their advice, is going to put you on the right path for looking after your health.
Watch Your Diet
Many people think that they can maintain good oral health by just following a healthy diet. However, the best diets for your body overall might not be right for looking after your mouth.
If you eat a lot of fruit, you need to watch the sugar content of these fruits overall, as they can have quite the impact on your mouth. Likewise, you need to think about other foods that could be less than beneficial for your mouth’s health. Taking the time to learn about the best foods to boost your oral health and adding them into your diet is going to be a great move.
The health of your mouth can be an indicator into the health of the rest of your body, so you need to make sure that you are taking the best care of it. A regular routine of brushing and taking good care of your oral hygiene should be more than sufficient. There is always going to be a way for you to ensure that you are doing the utmost to keep your mouth as healthy as can be!
Canada will not restrict AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, says benefits outweigh risk
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada‘s health ministry said on Wednesday it would not restrict use of AstraZeneca Plc’s COVID-19 vaccine after a review showed the benefits outweighed the very rare risk of blood clots.
Denmark on Wednesday became the first country to stop using the vaccine altogether over a potential link to the rare blood clots. Other nations have imposed limits on its use.
But Health Canada, the federal health ministry, said in a statement that a review of data from Europe, Britain and AstraZeneca had not identified specific risk factors.
“Therefore, Health Canada is not restricting the use of the vaccine in any specific populations at this time … The potential risk of these events is very rare, and the benefits of the vaccine in protecting against COVID-19 outweigh its potential risks,” it said.
Canada on Tuesday said it had recorded its first case of blood clotting with low platelets after someone received the AstraZeneca shot. The patient in question, a woman from Quebec, is recovering. (Graphic on vaccines: https://tmsnrt.rs/3tUM8ta)
COVID-19 cases are surging in Canada with the country reporting a near-record number of new cases recently. (Graphic on cases: https://tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi)
(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Allison Martell in Toronto; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
Factbox-Some countries limit AstraZeneca vaccine use, US pauses J&J shot
(Reuters) -Some countries are restricting use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to certain age groups or suspending use after European and British regulators confirmed possible links to rare blood clots.
Denmark became the first country to stop using the vaccine altogether, as it said results of investigations showed “real and serious side-effects”.
Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine has also been hit by concerns over blood clots, with European regulators reviewing such cases and U.S. federal health agencies recommending pausing its use for a few days. J&J noted no clear causal relationship had been established between the clots and its vaccine.
The developments pose a risk to vaccination plans in Europe.
Regulators have said the benefits of the AstraZeneca shot outweigh risks.
Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca said it was working with regulators to list the possible brain blood clots as “an extremely rare potential side effect” on the vaccines labels.
As of April 4, the European Medicines Agency had received reports of 169 cases of a rare brain blood clot known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), after 34 million doses had been administered in the European Economic Area. Most cases were in women under 60 years of age.
ASTRAZENECA VACCINE BEING USED, WITH OR WITHOUT RESTRICTIONS
Said on April 8 it recommends people under 50 should get Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in preference to AstraZeneca’s shot.
Has resumed use.
Authorities said they would not limit use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying benefits outweigh risks.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has said an alternative to the vaccine should be given for people under 30 where possible, but people should continue to have a second shot if they have received a first dose.
Resumed inoculations from March 19.
Resumed inoculations on March 19.
Authorities said in early April they would pause offering the vaccine to people under 55 and require a new analysis of the shot’s benefits and risks based on age and gender. On April 13, the country said it had recorded its first case of blood clotting with low platelets.
Suspended use of the vaccine for people under 60 on April 7.
Approved resumption of the vaccine on March 19 but said it should be given only to people aged 55 and over. On April 9, recommended that recipients of a first dose of the AstraZeneca shot who are under 55 should receive a second dose with a messenger RNA vaccine.
Resumed using the AstraZeneca vaccine from March 29, but only for people aged 65 and over.
Has limited use of the vaccine following the death of a nurse from anaphylactic shock, and vaccinations will continue only in full-fledged medical centres, Russian news agency TASS reported on March 19.
Sticking to its guidance from March 31 to limit use of the vaccine to those aged over 60. On April 1, Germany’s vaccine commission recommended people under 60 who have had a first shot of the vaccine should receive a different product for their second dose.
Continuing the vaccine’s rollout.
Resumed use on March 25 after suspending it on March 11.
Resumed using the vaccine on March 22 but warned against its use in people with a low blood platelet count.
On April 12, the country said it was restricting use of the vaccine to those over 60.
Has recommended the vaccine be used only for people over 60, the country’s top health adviser said.
Announced it was restarting administering the shots from March 19.
Restarted use on March 19.
Drug regulator Cofepris said on April 7 it did not “at this time” plan to limit the vaccine’s use but was investigating the information raised by Britain.
Limited use of the vaccine to people over 60, the Dutch government said on April 8.
Health minister said on March 31 the vaccine would be limited to people aged over 60 as a precautionary measure.
Suspended use of the vaccine for people under 60 on April 8.
Has resumed use of the vaccine after temporarily stopping vaccinating people with one batch of the vaccine on March 11.
Resumed use of the shot for people aged 30 or older on April 12. On April 7, it had suspended providing the AstraZeneca shot to people under 60.
From April 8, it was giving the vaccine only to people over 60.
Resumed use of the vaccine on March 25 for people aged 65 and older.
Began use on March 15 after delaying rollout the week before.
COUNTRIES WHERE ASTRAZENECA VACCINE USE SUSPENDED
Suspended administration of the vaccine it was scheduled to receive on March 20 as part of the global vaccines sharing scheme COVAX, the health ministry said.
In a world first, Denmark decided to stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine altogether after initially suspending use of the shot.
Authorities said on March 26 Norway would delay a decision on use of the vaccine, with a decision expected by April 15.
J&J VACCINE DELAYS AND RESTRICTIONS
On April 13, U.S. federal health agencies recommended pausing use of J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine for at least a few days after six women under the age of 50 developed rare blood clots after receiving the shot.
The company said it would delay the rollout of the vaccine to Europe, after regulators said they were reviewing rare blood clots.
Widespread use in the EU had not yet started after the company began delivering the doses in the week beginning April 12. The European drug regulator recommended storing doses already received until its safety committee issues an expedited recommendation
Suspended use of J&J’s vaccine on April 13.
(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka, Yadarisa Shabong, Manas Mishra, Vishwadha Chander, Amruta Khandekar and Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; editing by Josephine Mason, Alison Williams, Timothy Heritage, Larry King, Barbara Lewis)
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