The Latest: Malaysia mandates shots for federal workers

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia will make COVID-19 vaccination compulsory for all federal government workers.

Vaccination is voluntary in the nation, but the Public Service Department says all federal staff must be vaccinated to ensure smooth delivery of public services.

It says it’s in line with plans to return to full operations following a lockdown since June. The department says nearly 98% of federal government staff have been inoculated. About 1,700 workers, accounting for 1.6% of the total, are unvaccinated.

It says all staff must complete their vaccination by the end of October, unless they are exempt due to medical reasons.

Nearly 62% of the nation’s 33 million people are fully vaccinated. New daily infections have dipped by nearly half from its peak of more than 24,000 last month. Malaysia has registered 2.23 million confirmed infections and more than 26,000 confirmed deaths.



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HELSINKI — Finland will ease coronavirus restrictions on bars and restaurants in selected areas, including extending hours of alcohol service until midnight, effective Friday.

Minister of Family Affairs and Social Affairs Krista Kiuru tweeted Thursday the ban on singing and dancing in bars and restaurants will be lifted Friday.

However, bars and pubs in Finland are still under certain coronavirus restrictions, including using half of seating capacity and restaurants using 75% of maximum capacity.

Last week, regional authorities in southern Finland announced the remaining gathering restrictions in the southern Uusimaa region, including capital Helsinki, will end Friday.


NAIROBI, Kenya — The World Health Organization says just 15 of Africa’s 54 countries have reached the global target of fully vaccinating 10% of their population by the end of this month.

Half of African countries have fully vaccinated 2% or less of their populations. The WHO says almost 90% of high-income countries have met the 10% target set by the World Health Assembly this year.

While vaccine deliveries to African countries have increased 10-fold since June, WHO Africa immunization official Richard Mihigo says deliveries need to more than double by the end of the year to reach the WHO target of fully vaccinating 40% of the population by then.

Mihigo says about 900 million doses are needed. He says African countries have received more than 200 million vaccine doses so far and administered over 70% of them. Just 4% of Africa’s population of 1.3 billion people have been fully vaccinated.


NEW YORK — A survey of Americans on President Joe Biden’s plan to require most workers to get either vaccinated or regularly tested for COVID-19 finds a deep and familiar divide: Democrats are overwhelmingly for it, while most Republicans are against it.

With the highly contagious delta variant driving deaths up to around 2,000 per day, the poll released Thursday by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed that overall, 51% say they approve of the Biden requirement, 34% disapprove and 14% hold neither opinion.

Sixty-four percent of vaccinated Americans say they approve of the mandate, while 23% disapprove. Among unvaccinated Americans, just 14% are in support, while 67% are opposed. Most remote employees approve, but in-person workers are about evenly divided.


MOSCOW — Coronavirus deaths in Russia hit a record on Thursday for the third straight day, and health authorities reported the highest number of new infections since late July.

Russia’s state coronavirus task force reported 867 deaths, the highest in the pandemic. The previous record on Wednesday stood at 857 deaths.

Officials reported 23,888 new infections on Thursday, the highest daily tally since late July.

Despite the surge, the Kremlin has said no nationwide restrictions are being discussed and stressed it’s up to regional governments to take local measures.


COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark seems to have failed to reach its target of 90% of people over the age of 12 having been vaccinated twice by Oct. 1 as the latest official figures show 84.9% have gotten both shots.

The latest official figures by Danish Health Authorities show that 4,366,235 people have gotten both shots.

Those who have gotten the first shot — 4,453,321 people — represent 86.6% of those over the age of 12.

The vaccine is voluntary and free of charge in Denmark, which on Sept. 10, declared that it no longer considers COVID-19 as “a socially critical disease” because of the large number of vaccinations. All restrictions have since been removed.

The Scandinavian country has a total population of 5.8 million.


VUNG TAU, Vietnam — Vietnam will lift the lockdown in its largest city on Friday, ending nearly three months of restrictions on movement to curb a coronavirus surge.

People in Ho Chi Minh City will be able to leave their homes, but the government will still enforce social distancing and travel in and out of the city will be controlled.

The delta variant infected 770,000 people and killed over 19,000 in three months, with Ho Chi Minh City accounting for the majority of deaths.

Vietnam is speeding up vaccinations by prioritizing big cities and squeezing the shots into a shorter timeframe to get both doses into more people.

Almost half of Ho Chi Minh City’s adults have received both shots, while Vietnam’s overall vaccination rate is low.


SANTA FE, N.M. — County jails across New Mexico are contending with a high-risk environment for COVID-19 infection at the same time that many more beds are filling with inmates.

County governments’ association attorney Grace Philips warned legislators on Wednesday that overall coronavirus vaccination rates among staff at county detention centers are lower than the statewide average — 61% versus about 71% for adults in general.

Inmates are far less likely to be vaccinated as they arrive in increasing numbers at county detention facilities.

The statewide county jail population has increased by more than a quarter since May 2020.


ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A second hospital in Alaska is beginning to ration health care as the state deals with a spike in coronavirus cases.

Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corp. in Bethel announced the move Wednesday as it reported it is operating at capacity.

Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, which is the state’s largest hospital, has already been rationing care.

Coronavirus infections in Alaska have risen 42% in the last week.

The president of the Bethel region hospital says it did everything possible to delay rationing but had to take the step.

Hospital CEO Dan Winkelman is urging “every resident of the Yukon-Kuskokwim region to get vaccinated, wear a mask in indoor public areas, and social distance.” He warns that “this is our last stand against this virus.”


MELBOURNE, Australia — Victoria state in Australia has reported 1,438 new coronavirus cases — almost 500 more than the previous high set a day just earlier.

Australia’s second-most populous state on Thursday also reported five more deaths from COVID-19 in the latest 24-hour period. Victoria on Wednesday reported 950 new infections and a daily record of seven deaths.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the national government remains determined to end lockdowns in Australia despite the worsening situation in the Victoria’s capital of Melbourne.

Frydenberg is a Melbourne resident and says the city has become despondent after spending 242 days in lockdown.

The government has said its payments to workers who have lost hours due to lockdowns will end two weeks after 80% of the people in a state or territory are fully vaccinated.

The government says 49% of Victoria’s target population is fully vaccinated


HONOLULU — Over 160 Oahu business operators have been cited, warned or arrested in the weeks since Honolulu imposed new pandemic safety rules. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that most of the cases involved warnings.

The Liquor Commission issued six notices of violation, included three for serving alcohol after 10 p.m., two for not checking vaccination status and one for failing to conduct contact tracing.

Police also issued citations or made arrests for people not wearing masks and not observing required physical distances.

Honolulu Police Department spokesperson Michelle Yu says city officials could not immediately break down the number of arrests vs. citations because they are compiled together in the same records-keeping category.

City spokesperson Tim Sakahara says the great majority of businesses are in compliance with the rules.

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