The Latest: UK records more than 90K COVID-19 deaths

LONDON — The U.K. has recorded more than 90,000 coronavirus-related deaths, just ten days after it passed the 80,000 threshold.

Government figures Tuesday show that another 1,610 people were reported to have died in the 28 days after testing positive for COVID-19, taking the total to 91,470. The daily increase is the highest daily figure reported since the pandemic took root in the U.K.

Figures released Tuesday have invariably been higher throughout the pandemic because of weekend reporting lag effects.

Though the number of people dying is rising on a 7-day average, the number of people testing positive for the virus is clearly declining in the wake of the lockdown measures put in place across the U.K.

On Tuesday, the government recorded another 33,355 people were reported to have tested positive for the virus. That’s the lowest since Dec. 27.

The U.K., which is Europe’s worst-hit nation in terms of COVID-related deaths, recorded huge increases in cases around the turn of the year, with scientists blaming a new variant of the virus first identified around London and the southeast of England.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Expert panel says both China and the WHO should have acted faster to prevent the pandemic

— Surging infections give Spain’s new emergency hospital in Madrid a second chance to prove its worth

— Germany’s Merkel meets with state leaders to ponder tougher virus restrictions

— High numbers of new infections are making the virus genetically diverse and each mutation threatens to undo progress

— Dubai promotes itself as the ideal vacation spot but the pandemic is shaking its economy

— Hospital chaplains are on the front lines, helping patients unable to see families

__Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

NEW YORK — New York City’s mayor says the city will run out of COVID-19 vaccine doses sometime Thursday without fresh supplies of vaccine.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that the city will have to start canceling vaccine appointments unless it gets more doses.

After a sluggish start, New York has ramped up the vaccination effort by opening new inoculation sites, including 24-hour vaccine hubs, around the city.

De Blasio said 220,000 doses were given out last week and the city could administer 300,000 doses this week if it had enough vaccine. But he said the problem is “we don’t.”

The mayor said 53,000 doses were expected to arrive Tuesday, leaving the city with just 116,000 for the week ahead. De Blasio said it’s up to the federal and state governments as well as manufacturers to do “everything they can to get us the maximum supply because we are proving literally every passing day we can reach more and more people.”

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BOSTON — Boston’s storied St. Patrick’s Day parade has been canceled for the second year in a row.

Organizers said Tuesday that ongoing state restrictions that limit outdoor public events to 25 people mean the 2021 South Boston St. Patrick’s Day/Evacuation Day Parade had to be canceled. A Facebook post said the organizers “look forward to finally seeing you all again in 2022.”

The parade, held every March and organized by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, traces it roots back more than a century and regularly involves hundreds of bands and floats and up to a million spectators.

St. Patrick’s Day parades in Holyoke and Worcester have already been canceled.

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is a big fan of the Chiefs, but he can’t help but worry after watching news coverage of fans celebrating close together following the team’s 22-17 NFL playoff game win over Cleveland.

Now, with the Chiefs hosting Buffalo in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, Lucas is urging fans to keep COVID-19 preventative measures in mind as they gather to watch.

The Kansas City Star reports that the city will touch base with entertainment districts to make sure crowds next weekend don’t leave “a lot of people sick around the Super Bowl.”

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MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s plan for the next phase of coronavirus vaccinations covers essential workers, including teachers, child care providers, law enforcement officers and hospital staff who aren’t on the front lines.

In Wisconsin, it doesn’t include grocery store employees, as recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the states’ second phase of COVID-19 vaccinations. Grocery store owners, who thought their employees would be included in the next phase, are upset.

Tim Metcalfe owns three Metcalfe’s Market stores, one in Wauwatosa and two in Madison, wrote an open letter to the committee that plans Wisconsin’s vaccination phases.

“Grocery workers have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and are as critical to our food supply as farmers. While our company takes every safety precaution possible for our team, the reality is that this team has been exposed to members of the public every day and put at increased risk of infection for nearly a year now.”

The Wisconsin State Journal reported the state said that the CDC’s guidelines were overly broad for who qualifies as a “front-line essential worker.”

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has repeatedly blamed limited access to vaccines on the federal government, not on shortcomings of statewide planning. Several Republican lawmakers have put the blame specifically on Evers’ administration.

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BRUSSELS — The European Union is urging member states to speed up the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations to ensure that at least 80% of the most vulnerable people to the virus — those over the age of 80 — are vaccinated by March this year.

In non-binding recommendations published Tuesday, the EU’s executive Commission also called on the 27 EU member states to accelerate the roll-out of vaccination so that 70% percent of the adult population across the bloc is vaccinated by the summer.

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HONOLULU — Hawaii is assisting about 800 residents of American Samoa traveling through Oahu to their island home, which was cut off by the coronavirus.

The U.S. territory located 2,200 miles south of Hawaii in the Pacific closed its borders March 13 to protect the islands from COVID-19.

The order by American Samoa Democratic Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga stranded residents who were in Hawaii and other states. Those travelers can now return home, but must first stop in Hawaii to undergo COVID-19 screening.

Honolulu is using the parking lot at the Waikiki Shell outdoor concert venue to conduct the virus tests.

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Officials say Alaska’s coronavirus contact tracing effort is rebounding after several months of hiring and several weeks of decreased daily cases.

Anchorage Daily News reports that state officials say great improvements have been made since November.

At that time, the contact tracing corps was overwhelmed and people testing positive were asked to reach out on their own to those they may have infected.

Public Health Nursing Chief Tim Struna of the Alaska Division of Public Health says contact tracers can now investigate reports within a day after receiving notice of new virus infections.

State officials say there are now about 500 contact tracers.

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BERLIN — Swiss authorities have started mass testing residents and visitors in St. Moritz after a new variant of the coronavirus was detected in the upscale skiing resort.

People were asked to register online and come in for free tests to a local gym and a beverage store on Tuesday, after two luxury hotels were put under quarantine Monday. All schools, kindergartens and skiing schools were closed.

Officials said at least two dozen cases were detected in the two hotels, which local media identified as the Palace and the Kempinski hotel.

The Kempinski said late Monday that health authorities had confirmed cases of the mutated coronavirus among the hotel’s employees.

“Local health officials have ordered that all guests and staff at the hotel should be quarantined to minimize exposure to the public,” a spokeswoman for Kempinski told The Associated Press. “The hotel is strictly following the advice of the local health authorities and World Health Organization guidelines.”

All people in St. Moritz who were 5 and older were asked to participate in the test, which was voluntary. Swiss media reported that the variant detected in St. Moritz was first found in South Africa.

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LISBON, Portugal — Local councils in Portugal are sending out teams to gather votes from people in home quarantine and from residents of nursing homes ahead of a presidential election on Sunday.

Authorities have taken exceptional measures to ensure voting is possible during the COVID-19 pandemic despite the fact the country is in lockdown.

For 48 hours beginning Tuesday, crews wearing protective clothing went to collect the votes of people who had registered for the service. However, fewer than 13,000 people — about 15% of those eligible — signed up for the service, officials said. Some voters complained that they were given little notice of the service.

On Sunday, 12,000 polling stations will be open, 2,000 more than usual, to help avoid large gatherings. Early voting last Sunday drew a record turnout.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norway has pledged to help fight the global pandemic by donating vaccines to low-income countries as soon as the vaccines are approved, its foreign aid minister said Tuesday.

“Ensuring COVID-19 vaccines reach people in the world’s poorest countries isn’t just about being charitable or acting on a moral imperative. It’s also in the best interest of every country to do so,” Dag-Inge Ulstein, the Norwegian minister for International Development, told The Associated Press.

“If the virus is circulating in one country, the rest of the world remains at risk.”

Ulstein gave no timeframe or figures for vaccine quantities but said the roll-out will take place “in parallel to the current vaccination of the Norwegian population.”

Norway’s move came a day after WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had lambasted drugmakers’ profits and vaccine inequalities around the world.

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GENEVA — A panel of experts commissioned by the World Health Organization has criticized China and other countries for not moving to stem the initial outbreak of the coronavirus earlier and questioned whether the U.N. health agency should have labeled it a pandemic sooner.

In a report issued Monday, the panel led by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said there were “lost opportunities to apply basic public health measures at the earliest opportunity” and that Chinese authorities could have applied their efforts “more forcefully” in January shortly after the coronavirus began sickening clusters of people.

“The reality is that only a minority of countries took full advantage of the information available to them to respond to the evidence of an emerging pandemic,” the panel said.

The experts also wondered why WHO did not declare a global public health emergency sooner. The U.N. health agency convened its emergency committee on Jan. 22, but did not characterize the emerging pandemic as an international emergency until a week later. At the time, WHO said its expert committee was divided on whether a global emergency should be declared.

“One more question is whether it would have helped if WHO used the word pandemic earlier than it did,” the panel said.

WHO did not describe the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic until March 11, weeks after the virus had begun causing explosive outbreaks in numerous continents.

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BRUSSELS — The head of Belgium’s COVID-19 vaccination task force said more than 100,000 people have gotten a vaccine shot so far.

Speaking during a press conference Tuesday, Dirk Ramaekers said the figure equates to about 35% of the first group prioritized by Belgian health authorities, which includes nursing home residents and staff, as well as hospital staff and other frontline workers.

Belgium health authorities are using shots manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the two vaccines that have been approved so far in the European Union. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots to be fully effective.

The second phase of the vaccination campaign is expected to start in March and will involve people over 65 years old and high-risk patients, starting with the eldest and working towards the youngest.

Infections numbers have reached a plateau in Belgium since the end of November, with new daily cases between 2,000 and 3,000. According to virologist Yves van Laethem, new infections among people over 80 have dropped 20%.

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