The Latest: Portugal winding down military-led COVID team

LISBON, Portugal — Portugal is winding up its military-led vaccine task force after almost reaching its target of fully inoculating 85% of the population against COVID-19.

The task force, led for the past eight months by a senior naval officer from a NATO building near Lisbon, is to be replaced by three teams reporting to the Health Ministry.

Portugal’s vaccination drive e rollout is the most advanced in the world, with 84.88% of the country’s 10.3 million people having received shots, according to Our World in Data.

Portugal is scrapping most of its pandemic restrictions starting Friday.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa said many people deserved credit for the country’s expeditious vaccine rollout, but he singled out Portugal’s acceptance of vaccinations as the prime reason for success.

Portugal has no significant anti-vaccination movement and is one of the European Union’s leading countries in terms of vaccine uptake for illnesses such as measles and influenza.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— Vaccination situation in Europe a story of two regions

— World Bank cuts Asia growth outlook, calls for virus action

— US appeals court clears New York City to impose teacher vaccine mandate

— Japan to lift all coronavirus emergency steps nationwide

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See all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s planning minister says the government will begin a drive to vaccinate children ages 12 and above to protect them from the coronavirus.

The announcement by Planning Minister Asad Umar came Tuesday amid a steady decline in COVID-19 deaths across the country.

Umar said in a tweet that the government would soon launch a campaign soon to vaccinate children at schools. He did not give a precise date.

Pakistan is currently offering free vaccine shots to teenagers and adults.

The country on Tuesday reported 41 more COVID-19 deaths and 1,400 new cases in the past 24 hours. It was the first time since July that Pakistan confirmed fewer than 1,500 daily cases..

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SYDNEY — Australia’s Victoria state has recorded more coronavirus infections than New South Wales for the first time since an outbreak of the delta variant began in Sydney in June.

Victoria is Australia’s second-most populous state and on Tuesday the state capital of Melbourne reported 867 new virus cases and four deaths from COVID-19 in the latest 24-hour period.

It was the highest daily numbers of infections and deaths in Victoria for the latest outbreak. Victoria’s previous high infection count was 847 reported Saturday.

New South Wales is the most populous state and home to Sydney, which reported 863 new infections Tuesday and seven deaths. The state has seen daily infections plateau as vaccinations have risen.

Sydney has been in lockdown since June 26 and Melbourne since Aug. 5.

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand is relaxing travel restrictions in Auckland six weeks after the nation’s most populous city was locked down due to the coronavirus.

People will be able to cross the city boundary beginning Monday night if they are permanently relocating, have shared caring-giving arrangements or are returning home. Those leaving Auckland on care-giving trips will have to be tested for the virus within a week of their departure.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says more flexibility is being given because the system of pandemic restrictions is “currently doing its job.”

The city reported eight new infections Tuesday in the latest 24-hour period. Auckland was locked down Aug. 17 after the delta variant leaked from hotel quarantine from a New Zealander who had returned from Sydney.

Pandemic restrictions elsewhere in New Zealand amount to little more than mandatory mask-wearing.

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NEW YORK — A federal appeals panel says New York City may require teachers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals acted late Monday to lift a temporary order issued Friday that blocked the mandate from taking effect so a challenge could be heard from a group of teachers.

The mandate had been set to go into effect Monday for teachers and other employees of the city’s schools. The appeals panel’s ruling put the mandate back in force.

Lawyers for the teachers said they will now ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene. One attorney said: “With thousands of teachers not vaccinated the city may regret what it wished for. Our children will be left with no teachers and no security in schools.”

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal judge has ordered that all employees entering California prisons be vaccinated or have a religious or medical exemption.

The order is aimed at heading off another coronavirus outbreak like the one that killed 28 inmates and a correctional officer at San Quentin State Prison last year.

The order also requires that inmates who want in-person visits or who work outside prisons, including inmate firefighters, must also be fully vaccinated or have a religious or medical exemption.

The prison guard’s union says it may appeal.

More than 50,000 California inmates have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 240 have died of COVID-19.

Categories: National & International News