The Latest; Germany offers transportation for vaccinations

BERLIN — Amid slowing demand for the shot, authorities in Berlin offered a special train service Monday for anyone interested in getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The service operated on a circular commuter line that runs around the center of the German capital for two hours.

Officials invited anyone aged 18 or older to step aboard and receive a dose of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Health authorities are trying to make it easier for people to get the shot, as the pace of vaccination has declined noticeably in recent months. Slightly more than 60% of the German population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while infection rates are rising strongly again.

The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in Germany has more than doubled over the past two weeks from almost 5.2 new cases per 100,000 people on Aug. 15 to nearly 11 on Aug. 29.



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MILAN — New virus restrictions were in effect Monday in the southern region of Sicily, the first region in Italy to have its status shifted since a summertime loosening.

Sicily has been reporting more than 1,000 new cases of virus every day since the middle of August, and has exceeded the threshold for number of hospital and intensive care beds occupied.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said shifting Sicily to a yellow zone from a white zone “is the confirmation that the virus has not yet been defeated, and that the priority is to continue to invest in the vaccine campaign and on prudent and correct behaviors by each of us.”

The new restrictions come as Italians begin to wind down summer holidays, with Sicily as a popular destination.

People in Sicily are now required to wear masks outdoors and seating in restaurants is limited to four people at a table, even outdoors.

There are no limits on movements and no curfews, as during yellow zones in previous waves.


RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian health officials have begun vaccinating high school students between ages 16 to 18 in the occupied West Bank with a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Gaza health authorities are expected begin vaccinating the same age range later this week as part of an expected two-week blitz of all 255,000 secondary school students in the West Bank and Gaza.

The Health Ministry says at least 843,500 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have received a single dose of the vaccine, and more than 452,400 people have received two doses. New infections have risen sharply in the West Bank following the emergence of the highly infectious delta variant.

Last week, Palestinian health officials in Gaza and the West Bank received 500,000 doses of Moderna vaccine donated by the United States through COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing initiative.

But the territories remain far behind neighboring Israel. Less than half the population of the West Bank has received the first dose of coronavirus vaccine while in Gaza the figure is around 15%.

Israel, which launched one of the most successful vaccine campaigns, has faced international criticism for being slow to provide the Palestinians with vaccines. It says that previous diplomatic agreements mean that Israel is not responsible for vaccinating the Palestinians.


PARIS — Some 2 million French workers in restaurants and other service jobs must now show a health pass to go to work, as part of government virus-fighting efforts.

The public is already required to show the pass to go to French restaurants, tourist sites and many other public venues.

Starting Monday, all staff members must also show the pass, which requires proof of vaccination, a fresh negative virus test or recovery from COVID-19. Those who don’t risk suspension or other punishment, and businesses that don’t comply face potential fines.

Nearly 72% of French people have had at least one virus dose and more than 64% are fully vaccinated. A small but vocal minority of people who oppose vaccinations or the health pass system have held weekly protests around the country since July.

France recorded the second-highest number of infections in Europe over the past month, but its summer spike in cases has started to subside since the government imposed stricter vaccination and other virus rules. The country has reported more than 114,000 virus-related deaths.


WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand has reported its first coronavirus vaccine death.

A health board that monitors vaccine safety said Monday a woman died from myocarditis after taking the Pfizer vaccine. The board said the woman likely developed the condition because of the vaccine, although she had other medical issues which may have contributed.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said myocarditis was a very rare side effect and there was clear evidence that taking the vaccine was much safer than being infected with COVID-19.

Health authorities have so far administered vaccines to more than 2 million New Zealanders. The board declined to answer questions from The Associated Press, including the woman’s age and the date of her death, citing protocol because a medical examiner, known as a coroner, is investigating the case further.

Also Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Auckland would remain in strict lockdown for at least two more weeks and the rest of the country for at least one more week, but with slightly fewer restrictions, as the nation battles an outbreak of the delta variant.


SINGAPORE — Singapore has fully vaccinated 80% of its population, reaching a milestone that would make the country “more resilient to COVID-19,” according to a top government official.

Singapore’s 80% vaccination rate among its 5.7 million population ranks it among the most vaccinated countries in the world.

“It is the result of the collective effort of many people working behind the scenes, and the people of Singapore coming forward to take care of themselves and the people around them,” said Singapore’s health minister Ong Ye Kung in a Facebook post Sunday.

Singapore already began easing coronavirus restrictions earlier this month, allowing those who are fully vaccinated to dine at restaurants. It will also open travel lanes with Germany and Brunei that would allow vaccinated travelers from these countries to visit Singapore without having to serve a mandatory quarantine period.

Singapore has reported 67,304 coronavirus infections so far, with 55 deaths.


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