The Latest: Denmark to give booster shots in nursing homes

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke says residents in nursing homes will get a third shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, starting next week.

He says Denmark has seen an increase in cases in nursing homes, despite 96% of the people living there getting vaccinated.

“At the same time, they have the greatest risk of a serious course,” Heunicke wrote on Twitter.

The government acted on a recommendation by the Danish Health Authority, which says the “revaccination of residents in nursing homes starts now, as they are at increased risk of a serious course of COVID-19.”

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— Excitement meets worry as European kids head back to school

— With ICUs at Idaho hospital full, doctors brace for need to conserve resources

— Kim orders tougher epidemic prevention after North Korea turned down some vaccines

— Young African adults struggle to keep jobs, continue education during pandemic

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— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronvirus-vaccine

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

AMSTERDAM — The European Medicines Agency says it’s examining whether there is a risk of a rare inflammatory syndrome in people who have received the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech.

In a statement on Friday, the EU drug regulator says it is assessing the case of a 17-year-old male in Denmark who developed multisystem inflammatory syndrome after receiving a dose. He has since recovered.

The EMA says several other instances of the syndrome had been reported elsewhere across Europe and a few cases have also been recorded in the U.S. The syndrome is a rare, serious inflammatory condition that affects multiple parts of the body and can include severe fever, tiredness, chest pain and breathing difficulties.

“At this stage, there is no change to the current EU recommendations for the use of COVID-19 vaccines,” the agency says. It adds it’s evaluating data from other countries to determine if the vaccine might be responsible for the rare syndrome. The EMA has previously noted the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is linked to a small number of people who have developed temporary chest and heart inflammation after receiving a dose. It says that the benefits of being vaccinated still outweigh the risks of immunization.

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NICOSIA, Cyprus — A survey indicates 13% of Cypriots aren’t planning on getting vaccinated against COVID-19 soon and 6% of that percentage categorically state they won’t get a shot.

The two main reasons people who refuse to get vaccinated cited in the survey results released Friday are a lack of trust in the government’s handling of the pandemic and not being convinced vaccines will protect them from the coronavirus.

Of the 2,000 people surveyed, more than 9 of 10 over age 60 were in favor of vaccination. The same applied to 89% of people ages 41-60, 84% in the 31-40 category and 79% of ages 18-30.

At the end of August, 74.2% of Cyprus’ adult population was fully vaccinated, while 78.6% had received at least one shot.

The survey was conducted in recent weeks by IMR/University of Nicosia in cooperation with the Cyprus Federation of Patients’ Associations.

(This item has been corrected to 13% aren’t planning to get vaccinated instead of nearly one-quarter).

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s government has extended its COVID-19 lockdown by another week as the island nation grapples with an unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases and deaths.

The lockdown was due to end Sept. 6, and a high-level committee chaired by President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa decided Friday to prolong it until Sept. 13, a presidential spokesperson said.

The government first imposed the lockdown on Aug. 20 but has allowed export-related factories and agriculture operations to run as usual. Essential services such as health, food distribution, communication and power also were exempt.

Doctors and trade unions have warned that hospitals and morgues are reaching their maximum capacities as Sri Lanka copes with the surge of infections that started in late July, fueled by the delta variant.

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GENEVA — The U.N. weather agency says the world experienced a brief, sharp drop in emissions of air pollutants last year amid lockdown measures and travel restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The World Meteorological Organization, releasing its first air quality and climate bulletin on Friday, said the decline was especially noticeable in urban areas, but it cautioned that reductions in pollution were patchy.

WMO cited declines of up to nearly 70% in average levels of nitrogen oxides, which are largely emitted through transportation and burning of fossil fuels. It also noted up to 40% drops — the biggest ones in southeast Asia — of average levels of tiny particulate matter in the air during full lockdown measures last year, compared to the same periods from 2015 to 2019.

Nitrogen oxides also destroy ozone in the air. Partially as a result of the drop in nitrogen oxides, ozone levels — which vary depending on location — remained flat or slightly increased in some places. Carbon monoxide levels fell in all regions, especially South America.

Many parts of the world showed pollution levels that outpaced air quality guidelines, and some types of pollutants emerged at even higher levels, the Geneva-based agency said.

“A pandemic is not a substitute for sustained and systematic action to tackle major drivers of both population and climate change and so safeguard the health of both people and planet,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said.

(This item has been corrected to declines in nitrogen oxides, not nitrous oxides).

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BRUSSELS — The European Union says it’s reached an agreement with drugmaker AstraZeneca to end their legal battle over the slow delivery of the Anglo-Swedish company’s coronavirus vaccine.

The EU’s executive branch, the European Commission, said Friday that AstraZeneca made a “firm commitment” to deliver a total of 300 million vaccine doses by next March.

The commission says the agreement involves the pharmaceutical company providing 135 million doses by the end of this year plus another 65 million doses in the first quarter of 2022.

Brussels says the deliveries would respect an advance purchasing agreement the EU reached with AstraZeneca a year ago. Tens of millions of doses already have been supplied to EU member nations, but not as many as the 27-nation bloc expected.

AstraZeneca was seen as a key pillar of the EU’s vaccine rollout. The legal tussle over delivery obligations tarnished the company’s image, but the commission has no issue with the quality of the firm’s vaccines.

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BERLIN — Schools, care homes and kindergartens in Germany will soon be able to demand that their employees tell them whether they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The country’s governing parties agreed late Thursday to endorse the authorization for employers, citing the need to protect particularly vulnerable sections of the population from infection.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said the agreement was “an important first step.” He urged the center-left Social Democrats to give up their opposition to expanding the measure to other employers.

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SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea will extend coronavirus restrictions in the greater capital area for at least another month as the nation grapples with its worst surge a few weeks before its biggest holiday of the year.

Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol on Friday acknowledged the prolonged virus restrictions were hurting livelihoods but said the pace of transmissions was too “dangerous” for officials to consider easing distancing measures.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 1,709 new COVID-19 cases, the 59th consecutive day it has confirmed more than 1,000. Only 38% of South Korea’s population of more than 51 million is fully vaccinated.

The Level 4 rules enforced in Seoul and nearby metropolitan areas are the highest level short of a lockdown and prohibit private social gatherings of three or more people after 6 p.m.

But Kwon said the limit will be raised to six people if at least four of them are fully vaccinated, All indoor dining at restaurants and cafes will be banned after 10 p.m.

Kwon said officials will limit occupancy in trains and passenger vessels during the Chuseok holiday period, the Korean version of Thanksgiving. The holiday falls on Sept. 21.

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SANGEH, Indonesia — Hungry monkeys on the resort island of Bali have taken to raiding villagers’ homes in their search for something tasty while they are deprived of the bananas, peanuts and other goodies brought in by tourists.

About 600 long-tailed macaques live in a Bali forest sanctuary where they swing from tall nutmeg trees and leap about the famous Pura Bukit Sari temple. The monkeys are considered sacred.

With the coronavirus pandemic keeping visitors away, villagers say the macaques have been venturing out from the sanctuary to hang out on their roofs and await the right time to swoop down to snatch a snack.

Local residents are worried the sporadic sorties will escalate into an all-out monkey assault on the village, and they are taking fruit, peanuts and other food to the sanctuary to try to placate the primates.

Ordinarily, tourism is the main source of income for Bali’s 4 million residents, who welcomed more than 5 million foreign visitors annually before the pandemic.

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The number of new coronavirus cases in New Zealand fell significantly on Friday, raising hopes among health officials that they have contained an Auckland outbreak of the delta variant.

Officials recorded 28 new local cases, down from 49 a day earlier and more than 80 a day during the peak last month.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said the results were encouraging, but the job was not yet done.

Auckland remains in a strict lockdown while other parts of the country are also in lockdown but have eased some restrictions.

New Zealand has opted for a strategy of trying to eliminate the virus entirely, while at the same time trying to increase vaccination rates. About 48% of the population of 5 million have had at least one dose.

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka has begun vaccinating 20-somethings as it nears full vaccination of older people and struggles with a surge of delta variant infections.

The health ministry says 3.7 million people are in the 20-30 age group and they plan to complete their inoculation before the end of October.

Nearly 14.6 million of Sri Lanka’s 22 million people are older than 30 and will be fully vaccinated this month.

Sri Lanka has expedited the inoculation drive as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths are surging. Doctors and trade unions have warned that hospitals and morgues are reaching their maximum capacities.

The island nation imposed its most recent lockdown on Aug. 20 and it will run through Monday.

Sri Lanka has confirmed 444,130 infections and 9,400 deaths since the coronavirus pandemic began.

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ATLANTA — The U.S. states with high COVID-19 vaccination rates are protecting children from hospitalization, according to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Cases, emergency room visits and hospitalizations are much lower among children in communities with higher vaccination rates,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday at a White House briefing.

In August, the hospitalization rate among children was nearly four times higher in states with the lowest vaccine coverage compared to states with high coverage, Walensky said.

The hospitalization rate in unvaccinated adolescents was nearly 10 times higher in July than among fully vaccinated adolescents, Walensky said, citing a second study. Both papers are set to be published Friday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Children under age 12 are not yet eligible for the shots. Vaccination of adults and teens slows the spread of the virus in a community, making it less likely a child will catch it from someone close to them.

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