The Latest: Fiji urges more jabs as COVID deaths rise
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Fiji’s leader is urging people to get vaccinated as the island nation contends with a devastating outbreak of the delta variant of the coronavirus.
Relative to its population of less than 1 million people, Fiji’s outbreak is currently among the worst in the world.
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said the nation’s mission was to vaccinate 80% of adults by the end of October. About 47% of Fijians have had at least one vaccination dose.
He said “lies, misinformation, and unholy insanity” about the vaccine were endangering people.
Fiji has reported a record 1,285 new cases in its latest daily update. It has reported 193 deaths since the outbreak began in April.
Fiji has also reported a further 101 deaths of COVID-19-positive patients that it’s not classifying as coronavirus deaths because the patients had underlying conditions. Before the April outbreak, Fiji had recorded just two COVID-19 deaths.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— With virus surge, US to keep travel restrictions for now
— Some French health workers resent, resist mandatory vaccines
— Pandemic leaves Indians mired in massive medical debts
— What happens when your Olympics COVID test gets taken 39 minutes early?
— Malaysian doctors walk off job in government hospitals
— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BEIJING — The major eastern Chinese city of Nanjing recorded another 31 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, as authorities announced more than 1.5 billion doses of vaccine have been administered around the country.
The new cases bring Nanjing’s total to more than 106 over recent days. The virus circulating in the city has been identified as the delta variant, according to local officials.
The city has been carrying out mass testing and placed tens of thousands of people under lockdown. Along with near-universal indoor mask wearing, China has utilized such practices to largely contain the domestic spread of the virus.
China has also aggressively pursued vaccinations, with little word of noncompliance. The National Health Commission said 1.55 billion doses had been administered as of Sunday — exceeding the country’s population of 1.4 billion.
However, questions have been raised about the efficacy of Chinese-made vaccines, particularly the SinoPharm jab among older people.
That’s stirred concern for the dozens of countries that have given the Chinese company’s shots to their most vulnerable populations. Some countries now say they are prepared to provide a third shot to boost production of protective antibodies.
China on Tuesday also reported another 40 imported cases, almost half in Yunnan province along the border with Myanmar, which is facing a major outbreak.
China has 795 people currently in treatment for COVID-19. The death toll has stayed steady for months at 4,636.
MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s second-most populous city is ending its fifth pandemic lockdown Tuesday as the Victoria state government declares it has beaten an outbreak of the highly contagious coronavirus delta variant for a second time.
The five-day lockdown in Melbourne and across Victoria will allow schools, pubs and restaurants to reopen. But people will not be allowed to have visitors in their homes for two more weeks.
Meanwhile, the city of Sydney remains in lockdown indefinitely after more than four weeks. Australia’s most populous city is where the delta outbreak began in mid-June when a limousine driver was infected while transporting a U.S. air crew from the airport. The New South Wales state government reported a new daily high of 172 infections Tuesday.
South Australia state announced that its week-long lockdown will end as planned Wednesday after no new cases were recorded Tuesday.
HONOLULU — Hawaii’s Department of Health is recommending that masks be used in all indoor settings at schools and that social distancing be observed in classrooms when possible. Masks are recommended outdoors when there is crowding or prolonged close contact.
The department made the recommendations Monday in updated guidance for school officials before the Aug. 3 start of another school year during the pandemic.
The department also says schools should consider screening tests for all teachers and staff who have not been fully vaccinated. It further recommends screening for students who are not fully vaccinated for participation in sports and other activities with a higher risk of virus transmission.
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N.’s deputy humanitarian chief is warning that the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting conflict-ridden and impoverished countries much worse this year than in 2020, with many facing higher caseloads and rising deaths.
Ramesh Rajasingham said in a closed briefing Monday to the U.N. Security Council that these surges are being fueled by a lack of access to vaccines, the easing of public health measures, increased social mixing, and the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus.
In his briefing obtained by The Associated Press, Rajasingham says that so far in 2021 almost three-quarters of countries needing humanitarian aid have recorded more pandemic cases or deaths than in all of 2020. He adds that in over one-third of those countries “at least three times more cases or deaths have been recorded this year compared to last.”
SAN FRANCISCO — California will require state employees and all health care workers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or get tested weekly as officials aim to slow rising coronavirus infections, mostly among the unvaccinated.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the new policy Monday. The mandate will affect at least 238,000 state employees, according to the California controller’s office, and at least 2 million health care workers in the nation’s most populous state.
About 62% of all eligible Californians are fully vaccinated, and the state has struggled to make significant progress in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, the more contagious delta variant now makes up an estimated 80% of infections in California. Hospitalizations are on the rise, though still far below where they were during the winter peak.
MADRID — Spanish health authorities say the spread of the coronavirus is slowing down following weeks of a steep surge of infections driven mostly by young groups that are yet to receive vaccines.
The country has reported 700 new cases per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks, a level that Spain only recorded in the third major surge at the beginning of the year, when it peaked at 900 new cases per 100,000.
But Health Secretary Silvia Calzón said Monday that the one-week cumulative incidence had dropped to less than half the 14-day figure for the first time in weeks, leading officials to believe that contagion is receding.
The more contagious delta variant of the virus accounts since this week for most new cases, the Health Ministry said in a report on Monday.
Nearly 8% of hospital beds across the country are treating COVID-19 patients, although in ICUs the occupation rate is now already more than 16% and growing.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey has recorded more than 15,000 new coronavirus cases, as the number of infections continue to surge.
Health Ministry figures on Monday showed another 16,809 new infections in the past 24 hours, the highest number of cases since early May. The ministry also reported 63 new deaths, bringing the overall death toll to 50,997.
“The rate of increase in the number of cases makes keeping the outbreak under control more difficult,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted on Monday, urging the public to observe coronavirus precautions and to get vaccinated.
Experts are warning that Turkey could face another peak with the highly contagious delta variant and vaccination rates are not sufficient. Only about 26% of the country of 84 million people have been fully vaccinated, using China’s Sinovac and the Pfizer vaccines.