The Latest: NYC mayor aims for 1M vaccinated in January

NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has set an ambitious goal of vaccinating 1 million residents with the coronavirus vaccine in January.

The mayor noted Thursday that meeting the target would require outside cooperation and the city dramatically increasing access to the vaccine. Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi says officials want to double citywide access points to at least 250 sites. Those would include hospitals, community health centers and urgent care clinics.

The city also plans to double its 150,000-dose-a-week capacity during January. The city has vaccinated 88,000 people since doses became available Dec. 14.



— Warp Speed effort to vaccinate millions in US off to slow start

— Britain uses ads to urge residents to ‘see in New Year safely at home’

— 2020 is finally ending, but New Year’s Eve revelries around the world will be muted by the coronavirus

— A homegrown coronavirus vaccine has won the first approval for general use in China; Sinopharm says it’s nearly 80% effective


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ATLANTA — People exposed to a coronavirus patient who stay well for 10 days still have a 7% chance of getting sick, but a U.S. government recommendation on shorter quarantines is not changing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday published results of a study of 185 households in Tennessee and Wisconsin where a person in the house had the coronavirus.

The study shows 7% of household contacts who did not have symptoms and tested negative through 10 days of quarantine went on to have symptoms and a positive test within the next four days.

The CDC says people who leave quarantine before 14 days should avoid close contact and wear masks when around others.

The CDC in early December shortened its quarantine recommendation from 14 days to 10 days, or 7 days with a negative test result. At the time, health officials said shorter quarantines would get more people to comply.

The study is based on households in Nashville, Tennessee, and Marshfield, Wisconsin. People in the study kept track of their symptoms and collected nasal swab samples for testing.


PARIS — French health authorities are reporting the country’s first coronavirus infection with the more contagious 501.V2 variant from South Africa that has driven its surge in cases.

A Health Ministry statement Thursday said the infected man lives in eastern France close to its border with Switzerland and tested positive after a trip to South Africa. The man self-isolated and is now recovered. No contact cases were discovered.

The South African variant is considered more infectious than the original and may have fueled an infection spike there past 1 million confirmed cases.

France requires travelers from South Africa to produce proof of a negative test no older than 3 days. France has recorded more than 64,000 deaths from the coronavirus, the seventh-highest death toll in the world. The U.S. leads with more than 343,000 dead.


ROME – Italy recorded 23,477 confirmed cases on Thursday, the highest in nearly a month.

That’s nearly 7,300 more than the previous day. There were just under 17,000 more swab tests done in the last 24 hours compared to the previous day.

Italy has reached 2.1 million confirmed cases. There were 555 confirmed deaths recorded on the final day of the year, raising the total to 74,159. That’s the fifth-highest death toll in the world, and highest in Europe.


TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian media says the country is negotiating the purchase of coronavirus vaccines from China.

The semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s chief of staff Mahmoud Vaezi as saying: “We are reaching agreement with China for buying 4 million doses.”

Vaezi said the process would take around two months. Iran has already discussed buying vaccines from both Russia and India. China on Thursday authorized the Sinopharm vaccine for general use, after it had already approved its use earlier to health care professionals and essential workers under emergency-use guidelines.

Vaezi said Iran will also buy 16.5 vaccines from COVAX, the global vaccine consortium.

Iran on Tuesday began the first study of the safety and effectiveness of Coviran, the country’s first home-made coronavirus vaccine.

Also Thursday, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said Iran and Cuba are working together on a vaccine and would test its safety and effectiveness on 50,000 volunteers in February.

Iran has 1.2 million confirmed cases and more than 55,000 confirmed deaths.


DENVER — Colorado plans to ease public health restrictions for restaurants and gyms in the much of the state starting next week.

Gov. Jared Polis announced the change on social media late Wednesday, citing sustained improvement in the state’s COVID-19 data, including intensive care units operating below capacity. He says he is asking the state health department to move counties with level red restrictions, including Denver and the rest of the populated Front Range region, to level orange starting on Monday.

The announcement came a day after Colorado said it had confirmed the first case of a new and apparently more contagious variant of the coronavirus in the U.S.


NEW YORK — While there won’t be crowds of cheering spectators in New York City’s Times Square, Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed “it’s going to be a joyous night, if ever there was one.”

“Goodbye, 2020. Here comes something better: 2021,” the Democrat added, reflecting on a year when the U.S.’ most populous city became an epicenter of the pandemic in spring and has tallied over 25,000 deaths from the virus to date.

Crediting New Yorkers with showing strength and resilience to the world through this year’s trials, he pledged that next year, “we’re going to show people what it looks like to recover.”

“I cannot wait to get started,” de Blasio said. “We are turning the page and going someplace better.”


TEL AVIV, Israel — Business owners in Israel were hopeful the New Year might bring back a sense of normalcy and reverse their financial fortunes.

Israel will be spending New Year’s Eve under the country’s third national lockdown since the pandemic began, with restaurants closed except for delivery and bars, clubs and events spaces shut indefinitely. The virus restrictions have battered the country’s economy and sent unemployment soaring, hurting the service industry especially hard.

“2020 was a disaster,” said Morris Melvyn, who owns an Indian restaurant in Tel Aviv. “I hope 2021 will give us a better year, and we’ll start enjoying our lives again.”

Billie Heyman, a Tel Aviv flower shop owner, said 2020 taught her to be “more friendly and gentler with each other,” she said. “Because, when we don’t have this, we have nothing.”

Any New Year’s Eve celebrations are expected to be low-key. While some underground parties are expected to be held, police plan to enforce the lockdown rules.


CAIRO — The Egyptian government will shut down schools until Feb. 20 to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, which has so far claimed more than 7,500 lives.

Classes should be conducted remotely starting Saturday and until the end of the first semester in mid-January, read a statement posted on the official Facebook page of Egypt’s cabinet. Mid-year exams will be postponed until after the mid-year recess, which should last from Jan. 16 to Feb. 20, added the statement.

Egypt has recorded more than 136,000 confirmed cases.

However, Egypt’s Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Khaled Abdel Khaffar said this week the actual number of cases was much higher. He added Egyptians should brace for a higher infectious rate next month.


LONDON — On New Year’s Eve, the British government is running ads imploring people not to celebrate with anyone outside their household. The campaign is urging Britons to “see in the New Year safely at home.”

No parties, no hugging strangers, no mass choruses of “Auld Lang Syne.” Stephen Powis, medical director of the National Health Service in England, says “COVID loves a crowd.”

Most of the country’s population is under lockdown measures to slow the spread of a new, easily transmissible coronavirus strain. Social gatherings involving multiple households are barred. Police will be patrolling to deter groups planning to celebrate or to mark Britain’s final economic split from the European Union.

London’s annual New Years’ Eve fireworks display, which usually draws thousands of people to the banks of the River Thames, has been canceled. One tradition will continue: The huge Big Ben bell of Parliament will sound 12 bongs at midnight.


BISMARCK, N.D. — The North Dakota Department of Health has reported two suspected severe allergic reactions to the Moderna vaccine.

The Bismarck Tribune reported the two people had no history of anaphylactic reactions. Neither person was hospitalized and both have recovered. The allergic reactions occurred during a 15-minute post-vaccine observation period recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

State health officials say anaphylactic reactions after being vaccinated are rare. For other vaccines, they occur at a rate of one per 1 million doses.

The state is vaccinating health care workers and long-term care residents. More than 13,000 people have received the first dose of the vaccine.


LISBON, Portugal — Portugal is closing out the year with a record of 7,627 daily coronavirus cases.

The General Directorate for Health says that beat the previous record of 7,497 on Nov. 4.

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital continued to drop, with 56 fewer, and the number of patients in ICUs fell to the lowest level in more than a month.

Portugal has officially reported more than 406,000 cases and 6,830 confirmed deaths.


BEIJING — China has approved its first homegrown COVID-19 vaccine for general use, marking the addition of another vaccine as the virus surges back around the world.

The two-dose vaccine from state-owned Sinopharm is the first approved in China. The go-ahead comes shortly after the country launched a program to vaccinate 50 million people before the Lunar New Year holiday in February.

It also comes one day after British regulators authorized AstraZeneca’s inexpensive and easy-to-handle vaccine.

Sinopharm says preliminary data from last-stage trials had shown the vaccine to be 79.3% effective. Experts say data such as the size of the control group and how many were vaccinated is missing.

Sinopharm is one of at least five Chinese developers in a global race to create vaccines for the coronavirus, which has killed more than 1.8 million people worldwide. China has reported 4,782 deaths.


ROME — Italy’s interior minister has ordered 70,000 law enforcement officers to patrol New Year’s Eve to ensure that no illegal gatherings take place.

Minister Luciana Lamorgese says this year’s celebrations will be “more sober” than usual, due to restrictions in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The country with the highest death toll in Europe, topping 73,000, is under a modified lockdown, permitting just one outing a day for up to two people to visit friends or family in the same region.

Italians typically celebrate with friends or family at home or in restaurants. But restaurants are not permitted any indoor dining, and anyone staying a hotel for New Year’s Eve will be limited to room service. Fireworks will go on as scheduled at midnight over the Colosseum in Rome, but viewing will be from balconies only due to the nationwide 10 p.m. curfew.


CONAKRY, Guinea — Guinea officials say the government has begun inoculating against the coronavirus with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine on an experimental basis, starting with government officials.

Guinea has ordered only 55 doses of the Russian vaccine, says Dr. Sakoba Keita, the director-general of the National Health Security Agency. Guinea is one of the first African nations to vaccinate its officials.

Minister of Defense Mohamed Diané was the first to receive the vaccine. He was shown getting the inoculation on national TV followed by other Cabinet ministers receiving the shots.

Russia has businesses in the West African nation and Guinea is known for its bauxite mining. Russian President Vladimir Putin was among the first world leaders to congratulate Guinea’s President Alpha Conde after he won a controversial third term in office after a violently contested election in October.


ISTANBUL — A four-day lockdown is set to begin in Turkey at 9 p.m. Thursday in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19 over the New Year’s holiday.

Istanbul’s governor says some 34,000 law enforcement personnel will be on duty to enforce the rules in Turkey’s most populous city. The interior ministry says more than 208,000 officers will be working across the country and have set up thousands of control points.

Tourists, who have been exempt from lockdowns, won’t be allowed to go to symbolic squares and avenues.

Turkey has among the worst infection rates in the world, but official statistics show the seven-day average of daily infections has dropped to around 16,000 from above 30,000 since evening curfews and weekend lockdowns were instituted in early December.

The confirmed total death toll is 20,642, according to health ministry statistics.


BERLIN — Berlin’s chief of police says thousands of officers will be enforcing bans on protests and the use of fireworks in much of the German capital on New Year’s Eve.

Barbara Slowik told public broadcaster rbb-Inforadio on Thursday that her force was prepared for the possibility that people opposed to coronavirus restrictions or left-wing extremists might ignore a ban on demonstrations.

German courts this week rejected legal challenges against the ban on public assemblies in Berlin on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day that authorities had imposed due to the pandemic.

Instead of the annual open-air show at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, which regularly draws hundreds of thousands of people, organizers are putting on a virtual event for people to watch at home.

Germany’s disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute, reported 32,552 confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and 964 deaths.


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — For the second consecutive day, the United Arab Emirates has shattered its single-day record of new coronavirus infections, with 1,730 cases recorded ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations expected to draw tens of thousands of revelers to Dubai from around the world.

The record figures come after the UAE said it detected its first known cases of the new, fast-spreading variant of the virus in people arriving from abroad. With an economy that runs on aviation and hospitality, the UAE has remained open for business and tourism, including from the United Kingdom, where the new variant of the virus was found. The country is home to hundreds of thousands of British expats.

The commercial hub of Dubai will press ahead with New Year’s Eve celebrations, including the annual fireworks show around the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower. Police will be out in force to ensure spectators are wearing masks and adhering to other measures.

The UAE has reported a total of 207,822 cases and 669 confirmed deaths.


PARIS — No more lockdown-busting lunches in Monte Carlo for day-trippers from France.

This weekend, restaurants in the principality of Monaco will no longer be allowed to serve visitors who have been popping across its border with France to savor culinary pleasures unavailable to the French, whose eateries have been closed since October to fight coronavirus infections.

Starting Saturday evening, only people who can demonstrate that they live, work or have a hotel room in the wealthy enclave will be allowed to eat in its restaurants. The government decree, signed Wednesday, follows grumbling about Monaco’s comparative laxness from authorities on the French side, where infections have been surging.

The mayor of the French city of Nice, along the Mediterranean coast from Monaco, appealed Monday for Monaco to tighten health restrictions or face stricter border controls.


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