The Latest: Parade will honor NYC essential pandemic workers

NEW YORK — The people who helped get New York City through the coronavirus pandemic will be honored with a parade up the Canyon of Heroes.

City officials say the event Wednesday will honor a range of people, including workers in health care, transportation, education and infrastructure. The parade is kicking off at Battery Park and traveling up Broadway in lower Manhattan, the iconic stretch known as the Canyon of Heroes.

“Here are some of the folks who made history in New York City’s toughest hour,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Previous parades have honored world leaders, celebrities and winning sports teams. The last parade before the pandemic honored the U.S. women’s soccer team after their 2019 World Cup win.

City officials say the parade’s grand marshal will be Sandra Lindsay, a health care worker who was the first person in the country to get a COVID vaccine shot.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— South Korea’s daily cases jump to 1,200 amid slow vaccination

— WHO: Weekly virus deaths drop to lowest since October, cases tick upward

— New York City honors essential workers at parade up Canyon of Heroes

— In Uganda, disputes over bills illustrate chaotic COVID-19 care

— Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – Starting Friday, Slovakia will require travelers from any country to quarantine on arrival unless they are vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Slovakia is gradually reopening dozens of border crossings previously closed amid measures to contain the delta coronavirus variant. The measure became effective on Monday. Slovak authorities are tightening border checks at the remaining crossings to enforce the travel restrictions.

Some 30 crossing have been closed, drawing protests at home and in neighboring countries, which include EU members Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, Hungary and Ukraine. All people traveling to Slovakia from any country must register online before they cross the border.

Slovakia registered 45 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday.

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GENEVA — The World Health Organization says the number of coronavirus cases ticked up worldwide last week even as the weekly count of COVID-19 deaths dropped to the lowest level since October.

The U.N. health agency, in its latest weekly epidemiological report on the pandemic, says its 53-country European region reported a “sharp increase” — 30% — in infection incidence, while Africa registered a 23% rise in mortality from COVID-19 during the period.

All WHO regions except the Americas — one of the hardest-hit regions — and southeast Asia posted an increase in deaths over the last week, the agency said in a statement.

More than 2.6 million new coronavirus cases were reported between June 28 and July 4, a slight increase on the previous week, while the tally of deaths registered over the week declined 7% to 54,000, WHO says. That was the lowest such weekly figure since October.

WHO says most new cases were reported in Brazil and India — though weekly case counts in those two countries were declining — as well as Colombia, followed by Indonesia and Britain, which each tallied a weekly increase in cases.

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BEIJING — Chinese authorities locked down a city bordering Myanmar on Wednesday, shutting most businesses and requiring residents to stay at home as a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 expanded.

Another 15 cases were found in Ruili in the last 24 hours, on top of six in the previous two days, health authorities in southwestern Yunnan province said. In addition, two people without COVID-19 symptoms have also tested positive for the virus.

The lockdown shut down all businesses and public institutions except hospitals, pharmacies and essential shops such as grocery stores, according to a notice posted online. It affects the urban part of Ruili, which like most Chinese cities includes surrounding rural areas in its jurisdiction.

Myanmar is battling a large outbreak with limited resources to contain it. The Southeast Asian nation reported 3,602 new cases in the last 24 hours, state media said Wednesday, its highest daily total since the pandemic began.

Ruili lies across a river from the city of Muse in Myanmar’s Shan state. Chinese anti-virus measures have dealt a blow to the active cross-border trade between the two countries, China’s state-owned Global Times newspaper reported earlier this week.

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka is administering Pfizer shots to people who were left waiting after receiving their first AstraZeneca doses earlier this year.

Mixing two vaccines is still being studied for its effectiveness, but Sri Lanka health officials approved it due to a severe AstraZeneca shortage.

Sri Lanka received 26,000 doses of Pfizer on Monday as the first batch of 5 million shots to be received this year. It started rolling them out Wednesday to residents 55 and older in the capital Colombo.

About 384,000 people were fully vaccinated before Sri Lanka ran out of AstraZeneca doses with 540,000 people only partially vaccinated.

Channa Jayasumana, the state minister overseeing pharmaceuticals, said getting Pfizer as the 2nd dose was optional and a consignment of AstraZeneca vaccine was expected this month.

Sri Lanka also has used Sinopharm and the Russian Sputnik V to vaccinate people against COVID-19.

Sri Lanka has seen a sharp increase of coronavirus infections and deaths since April. It has recorded 266,499 cases with 3,268 fatalities overall.

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand medical regulators have approved use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, after earlier in the year approving the Pfizer vaccine.

But New Zealand’s government intends to stick with its plan of primarily using the Pfizer vaccine to inoculate the population of 5 million.

The provisional approval for the J&J vaccine by regulator Medsafe applies to adults aged 18 and over and will need to be signed-off on by the Cabinet, which will likely happen next month.

New Zealand has an agreement to buy 2 million doses of the J&J vaccine. COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says having a second vaccine will provide increased flexibility and it could be used in emergencies or in locations that are hard to reach.

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SYDNEY — A two-week-old pandemic lockdown in Australia’s biggest city is being extended for another week due to the vulnerability of a population largely unvaccinated against the coronavirus.

New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Wednesday that health experts recommended pushing the lockdown in Sydney on to midnight July 16.

The decision means most children in Sydney and some nearby communities will not return to school next week following their mid-year break.

Only 9% of Australian adults are fully vaccinated, heightening fears that the delta variant of the coronavirus could quickly spread beyond control.

There have been more than 300 coronavirus infections in Sydney linked to a limousine driver who tested positive June 16. He is thought to have been infected while transporting a U.S. flight crew from the airport.

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea is reporting more than 1,200 new coronavirus cases, a level unseen since the worst of its outbreak in December as it slips into another virus surge with most of its people unvaccinated.

The 1,212 new cases reported Wednesday came close to South Korea’s largest daily increase during the pandemic, on Christmas Day, when officials listed 1,240 new cases.

The government had planned to raise the cap on private social gatherings from four to six people and allow restaurants to extend indoor dining by two hours starting this month. But officials in Seoul and nearby areas have held off as infections rise.

Just 30% of South Korea’s people have received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine as of Wednesday.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum says officials will consider tougher social distancing rules if transmissions continue to grow over the next two or three days.

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HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe has returned to strict lockdown measures to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 amid vaccine shortages.

Infections have dramatically increased in recent weeks despite a night curfew, reduced business hours, localized lockdowns in hotspot areas, and bans on inter-city travel.

The country’s information minister announced the virus has spread to rural areas which have sparse health facilities.

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced after a Cabinet meeting that most people must stay at home, similar to restrictions on movement adopted in March last year when towns and cities became almost deserted.

People will now need letters from employers to justify why they must venture out of their neighborhood.

Zimbabwe is one of more than 14 African countries where the delta variant s quickly spreading. The delta variant was first identified in India.

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden says the rise of a more transmissible COVID-19 variant in the U.S. “should cause everybody to think twice.”

Speaking Tuesday at the White House as he outlined his administration’s summer plans to boost vaccinations, Biden said the delta variant first identified in India is now responsible for a majority of new virus cases in much of the country.

“It seems to me it should cause everybody to think twice, and it should cause reconsideration especially among young people,” he said, referencing the demographic least at risk of negative outcomes from the virus.

Biden says the surest way for Americans to protect themselves and their loved ones is to get vaccinated. He said the White House was working with state and local partners to support hyper-local vaccination drives in communities with low uptake.

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