The Latest: Scotland to hold public inquiry into coronavirus
LONDON — Scotland says it will hold a public inquiry into the handling of the coronavirus pandemic by authorities, starting by the end of the year.
The Scottish government says the judge-led probe will “scrutinize decisions taken in the course of this pandemic and learn lessons for future pandemics.” It will look at deaths and other health impacts along with the economic and social effects of the coronavirus outbreak.
A separate inquiry for the whole U.K. has been announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson but is not scheduled to begin until next year. Families of people who died in the pandemic have been pushing for an earlier start.
Cases are once again rising following the easing of pandemic restrictions — especially in Scotland, where new infections have more than doubled in the past week. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says she can’t “rule out having to reimpose some restrictions” if cases continue to rise.
Britain has recorded more than 130,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest toll in Europe after Russia.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Oregon, once a virus success story, struggles with surge
— Pentagon to require COVID-19 shots for US service members after Pfizer vaccine approved
— Livestock medicine doesn’t work against COVID-19, Mississippi health officials warn
— School mask mandate ban challenged in new Utah lawsuit
Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ROME — The head of Italy’s nationwide vaccine effort is optimistic the country will vaccinate 80% of its eligible population age 12 and older by the end of September.
Army Gen. Francesco Paolo Figliuolo says the pace of vaccination is picking up again after an expected slump in daily vaccinations due to the peak summer vacation period.
Starting on Wednesday, some 3.7 million doses of Pfizer and 1.6 million of Moderna vaccines will be distributed across the country. The new infusion of supplies combined with young people’s enthusiasm to get the injections are boosting the general’s “optimism” about making the Sept. 30 target.
Two-thirds, or 67%, of Italy’s eligible population is fully vaccinated.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s health minister has announced restrictions and requirements for people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19, stressing that more than 90% of patients being treated for the disease in intensive care units are unvaccinated.
Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias also stressed Tuesday that health care and care home workers who refuse to get vaccinated would not get a grace period for a previously announced suspension from work starting Sept. 1.
From Sept. 13 until March 31, Kililias announced, all private and public sector workers without a certificate proving vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 within the last six months will have to undergo one rapid test per week. Two tests per week will be required for those working in academia, tourism, restaurants, cafes, bars, and in television, movie, theater and musical productions.
The minister says indoor restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs and entertainment venues will only be accessible to customers who are vaccinated or recently recovered, with checks conducted at the entrance through an app that scans the certificates to verify them.
Masks will be mandatory for all, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, in indoor public areas and in crowded outdoor areas.
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has registered its highest single-day COVID-19 death toll of the pandemic, according to state media reports.
The country’s Health Ministry said Tuesday that 709 people with the disease had died since Monday and 7,727 patients were in critical condition. The ministry said 40,600 new cases were confirmed in the same 24-hour period.
The previous daily record for COVID-19 deaths in Iran was set Sunday. The country reported its highest daily tally of confirmed cases — more than 50,000 — a week ago.
The highly contagious delta variant is fueling the surge in new cases. A five-day lockdown in the country that included a ban on the use of personal cars between provinces recently ended.
Only some 8% of Iranians have been fully vaccinated.
Authorities have said that less than 40% of the population follows measures such as wearing face masks and social distancing.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan will require all teachers, professors, school staff and students age 17 and older to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Unvaccinated people will be barred from entering educational institutions starting Oct. 15. That’s also when the government will require proof of vaccination in order to purchase train and bus tickets.
Planning Minister Asad Umar announced the new rules Tuesday at a press conference in Islamabad. He said vaccinated people can get online certificates from the National Database and Registration Authority, and a smartphone app is also being developed.
Pakistan, with a population of about 220 million, has reported more than 1,131,000 confirmed cases and 25,094 deaths.
NEW YORK — CVS Health Corp. is joining the group of U.S. companies that require employees who have contact with customers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Nurses and other employees who interact with patients, as well as all corporate staff, must be vaccinated by Oct. 31, the company said Monday. It said pharmacists have until Nov. 30 to be vaccinated.
CVS, headquartered in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, said other jobs might be added to the list requiring vaccination. The company says its workforce of some 300,000 people includes more than 40,000 physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and nurse practitioners.
HONOLULU — Hawaii’s governor is urging residents and potential visitors to limit travel to the islands to essential business while the state struggles to control outbreaks of the delta variant of the coronavirus.
Gov. David Ige wants to curtail travel to Hawaii through the end of October. In his words, “It is a risky time to be traveling right now.”
He says restaurant capacity has been restricted and there is limited access to rental cars.
But Ige is stopping short of last year’s strict travel rules that required quarantining and essentially shut down Hawaii’s tourism industry. He notes the CDC says fully vaccinated people can travel domestically.
Hawaii’s seven-day average of new daily cases hit 671 on Monday, more than triple the level four weeks earlier.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand has reported 41 new coronavirus infections, which is the country’s highest daily total since an outbreak of the delta variant last week prompted the government to put the nation into a strict lockdown.
Health officials said Tuesday that they are confident the country remains on track to quell the outbreak.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says most of the new cases appeared linked and officials aren’t seeing an exponential rise in infections.
New Zealand is scheduled to remain in lockdown until at least Friday, while the city of Auckland where most of the cases have been found will stay in lockdown until at least the end of the month.
The outbreak is the first in New Zealand in six months.
SALEM, Ore. — Oregon was once the poster child for limiting the spread of the coronavirus, after its Democratic governor imposed some of the nation’s strictest safety measures, including mask mandates indoors and outdoors, limits on gatherings and an order closing restaurants.
But now the state is being hammered by the super-transmissible delta variant, and hospitals are getting stretched to the breaking point. The vast majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.
The intensive care unit at Salem Hospital in Oregon’s capital city is completely full, with 19 of the 30 beds occupied last week by COVID-19 patients, the youngest only 20 years old. It’s the same at a hospital in Roseburg, a former timber town in western Oregon. A COVID-19 patient died in its emergency room last week while waiting for an ICU bed to open.
Oregon is among a handful of states, including Florida, Arkansas and Louisiana, that have more people hospitalized with COVID-19 than ever before.
SAN RAMON, Calif. — Chevron Corp. is requiring some of its employees to become vaccinated against the coronavirus as the oil industry struggles with rising infections among its unvaccinated workers.
The oil giant is requiring its workers who travel internationally, live abroad or work on its offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as some onshore support staff, to be vaccinated.
A spokeswoman for the San Ramon-based oil and gas company said Monday that vaccinations are the strongest safeguard against the virus, and the company will continue to carefully monitor medical data and guidance of health authorities to protect its workforce.
OLYMPIA, Wash. — The head of Washington state’s wildfire response is urging federal agencies to require coronavirus vaccinations for their wildland firefighting forces.
State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz also called on Monday for the deployment of federal resources to make vaccinations available at all fire camps on federal land.
The Washington Department of Natural Resources is making vaccines available within its jurisdictions at fire camps amid the rapidly spreading delta variant. Franz on Monday directed all his agency’s employees including firefighters to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.
WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden is celebrating the full FDA approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and is urging the unvaccinated to go get their inoculations.
Biden on Monday addressed those who were waiting on the full approval and declared “it is now happened, the moment you’ve been waiting for is here.”
He also used the moment to call on private companies to require their employees to get vaccinated. The president made clear: “it’s time to get your vaccination” and warned that the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus was causing COVID cases to rise nationwide.
The FDA had previously approved three vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — under an emergency use authorization. Pfizer is the first to receive full FDA approval, which Biden dubbed the “gold standard.”