The Latest: Vietnam virus surge leads to Hanoi lockdown
HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam has announced a 15-day lockdown in the capital Hanoi as a coronavirus surge spread from the southern Mekong Delta region.
The lockdown order, issued late Friday night, bans the gathering of more than two people in public. Only government offices, hospitals and essential businesses can stay open.
Earlier in the week, the city had suspended all outdoor activities and ordered non-essential businesses to close following an increase in cases.
On Friday, Hanoi reported 70 confirmed infections, the city’s highest, part of a record 7,295 cases in the country. Nearly 5,000 are from Vietnam’s largest metropolis, southern Ho Chi Minh City, which has extended its lockdown until Aug. 1.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Vietnam locks down capital Hanoi for 15 days as cases rise
— Thousands protest lockdown in Sydney, several arrested
— AP poll: Most unvaccinated unlikely to get shots
— Britain’s summer getaway takes off but nothing like pre-coronavirus
— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
SYDNEY — Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Sydney and other Australian cities to protest lockdown restrictions amid another surge in cases.
Police made several arrests after crowds broke through barriers and threw plastic bottles and plants. The unmasked participants marched from Sydney’s Victoria Park to Town Hall in the central business district, carrying signs calling for “freedom” and “the truth.”
There was a heavy police presence in Sydney, including mounted police and riot officers in response to what authorities said was unauthorized protest activity. Police confirmed several arrests. New South Wales Police said it recognized and supported the rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, but the protest was a breach of public health orders.
LONDON — British schools are closed for the summer, though fewer families are heading off for warmer climes since before the coronavirus pandemic.
This weekend traditionally marks the high point of the great summer getaway from Britain. However, with travel to and from many popular destinations facing varying quarantine and testing requirements, it’s clear that many families think it’s all too much hassle and have opted again to holiday within the U.K.
Still, Gatwick Airport is expecting its busiest weekend of the year so far. Spain remains the most popular foreign destination, with between 60 and 70 flights a day, while around 30 planes will depart each day for Greece.
U.K.’s rapid rollout of coronavirus vaccines that has seen nearly 70% of the adult population receive the requisite two doses. That’s important for Britain’s travel sector, one of the worst affected, as well as many destinations in Europe which have relied heavily on the millions of British holidaymakers.
OKLAHOMA CITY — The number of newly reported coronavirus cases in Oklahoma topped 1,000 for a third consecutive day on Friday and the seven-day average of new cases has nearly quintupled in less than a month, according to Oklahoma State Department of Health figures.
The department reported 1,194 new cases for a total of 471,176 cases since the pandemic began, and a seven-day average of 938 cases, compared to a seven-day average of 196 on June 25.
Oklahoma ranked ninth in the nation with 249.8 new cases per 100,000 residents, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of hospitalizations reached 495 and health officials have estimated about 90% of those hospitalized are unvaccinated. The CDC reported Oklahoma was 39th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia with 46.6% of the population having at least one vaccination.
SEATTLE — The top public health official in Washington state’s most populous county is asking everyone to wear masks in indoor public spaces because of the rise of the COVID-19 delta variant — even if they have been vaccinated.
Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer at Public Health – Seattle & King County, made the recommendation Friday.
Washington state’s top epidemiologist, Dr. Scott Lindquist, is urging people to use common sense and to try to not be in places with poor ventilation but is not issuing a state mask recommendation for vaccinated people.
Lindquist said Friday there are discussions about a broader recommendation but at this point the state is comfortable with local health officials making such decisions.
(This item has been updated to CORRECT that Washington state officials are not recommending vaccinated people wear masks indoors but are leaving such decisions to county officials. It also removes inaccurate figures about weekly case counts in Washington.)
WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the United States has shipped 22 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine to other countries this week.
The total was a weekly record as vaccines went to 23 countries. Psaki says the recipients included Pakistan, Vietnam, Guatemala, Panama, Senegal, Cameroon and Morocco, among other nations. By this weekend, roughly 80 million doses in total will have shipped from the United States to other countries.
Psaki stressed at Friday’s White House news briefing that the United States is “donating more to the world than any other country.” Still, there is a global vaccine gap between wealthier nations and poorer ones, a reflection of the economic might of American and European countries as well as the pressure to address the needs of domestic populations.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is encouraging everyone, whether vaccinated or not, to wear masks indoors if they can’t stay distanced from others.
His guidance released Friday comes as Louisiana sees more 1,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state.
But the Democratic governor stopped short of issuing any face covering mandates or new restrictions on activities and businesses.
Louisiana’s in its fourth spike of COVID-19, driven this time by the highly contagious delta variant. The state has among the nation’s lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates and is seeing thousands of new confirmed cases of the coronavirus illness each day.
Edwards said Louisiana has the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases per capita in the nation.
O’FALLON, Mo. — St. Louis city and county officials say they will require masks in some public places starting Monday, citing a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases spurred by the delta variant.
Masks will be mandatory in indoor public places and on public transportation for everyone age 5 or older, even for those who are vaccinated, officials said in a news release on Friday. Masking outdoors “will be strongly encouraged,” especially in group settings.
The decision comes as both of Missouri’s urban areas are seeing a big uptick in cases in hospitalizations that began in rural areas of the state, especially in southwestern Missouri. The Kansas City Star reported Friday that medical leaders in that region appear to be on the verge of calling for a new mask mandate there as well.
Dr. Fredrick Echols, acting director of health for the city of St. Louis, said more than 500 St. Louisans have already died from COVID-19, “and if our region doesn’t work together to protect one another, we could see spikes that overwhelm our hospital and public health systems.”
ISTANBUL — Turkey has recorded another increase in daily COVID-19 infections with 11,094 positive cases and 60 deaths in the past 24 hours.
The seven-day average is hovering above 8,660 cases, according to health ministry statistics. The total reported death toll is at 50,821.
Turkey’s government eased the majority of restrictions on July 1, lifting nighttime and Sunday curfews and opening nearly all businesses. While mask mandates remain, compliance has visibly dropped. People travelled for a nine-day holiday to seaside towns where distancing and masking rules were not followed.
Experts are worried the highly contagious delta variant could have spread across the country. The most recent figures for variant cases were released by Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on July 13, when he said there were 750 infections in Turkey — up from 284 a week earlier. The minister tweeted Friday that people should “return from relaxation to strict precautions” and urged vaccinations.
Though more than 65 million jabs have been administered using Sinovac and Pfizer vaccines, only about 26% of the 84 million population have been fully vaccinated.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — With Alabama trailing the nation in COVID-19 vaccinations, infections rising and the governor refusing incentives to encourage more people to get shots, state prisons are offering $5 canteen credits to inmates to encourage getting shots.
The Department of Corrections, which said less than half of its more than 24,000 inmates have been vaccinated, is offering the canteen “grab bag” to inmates who get vaccinations, spokeswoman Kristi Simpson said.
Items like snacks, candy and personal hygiene products typically are offered to inmates in prison stores.
“Facility wardens (have) also been authorized to provide other incentives to encourage staff and inmates to receive a vaccination at their respective facilities,” she said in an email to The Associated Press.
Nearly all of the latest infections and deaths are among people who have not been vaccinated, health officials have said.
Gov. Kay Ivey has opposed incentives to encourage members of the general public to get shots, saying instead that “common sense” should be enough for people to get the free shots. A spokeswoman didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment on the prison incentives.
BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazil is reopening despite a looming threat from the delta variant of COVID-19.
The variant is boosting cases and deaths globally after a period of decline, and the World Health Organization anticipates it will become dominant within months. The race is on to vaccinate as many Brazilians as possible.
Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga says getting more of the population vaccinated the best way to stop the variant, but he insists that Brazil must resume its economic activities.
President Jair Bolsonaro has long opposed restrictions and played down COVID-19´s risks, often saying infection is inevitable. Lawmakers have begun investigating his administration’s handling of the pandemic, particularly why officials appear to have been slow to acquire vaccines.
Brazil’s Health Ministry counted 140 cases of the delta variant by Friday, including its three most populous states, and 12 deaths. Analysts say the figures are vast undercounts due to lack of testing and genome sequencing.
WASHINGTON — The federal government is buying 200 million more doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to prepare for future needs, such as boosters and shots for kids under 12.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says the Biden administration wants to have “maximum flexibility” to address changing conditions, and it’s “going to prepare for every contingency.”
The additional doses will be delivered between this fall and spring of next year.
It’s unclear whether booster shots will be needed for fully vaccinated people, but breakthrough infections attributed to the rapidly spreading delta variant have sparked a discussion. Most new coronavirus cases in vaccinated people have been mild or asymptomatic.
Likewise, it is still unclear if coronavirus vaccines will be approved for younger children.
BATON ROUGE — More than 1,000 people are hospitalized in Louisiana with COVID-19, the most since early February.
The state’s health department showed 3,127 new cases on Friday.
Soaring hospitalizations of mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients are putting medical staffs in Louisiana under stress for a fourth time, as state officials plead for people to get the shots that can prevent the disease.
The highly contagious delta variant has become the dominant strain of the coronavirus in Louisiana and around the country. Gov. John Bel Edwards planned to address the latest surge Friday.
NEW YORK — A new poll shows that most Americans who haven’t been vaccinated against the coronavirus say they are unlikely to get the shots. About 16% say they probably will get the vaccine.
Most also doubt they would work against the aggressive delta variant, despite evidence they do. Those findings underscore the challenges facing public health officials as soaring infections in some states threaten to overwhelm hospitals.
The poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found 35% of adults who have not yet received a vaccine say they probably will not, and 45% say they definitely will not.
That means “that there will be more preventable cases, more preventable hospitalizations and more preventable deaths,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University.
Just 3% of unvaccinated Americans say they definitely will get the shots, though another 16% say they probably will. Some 37% of those under age 45 say they haven’t and likely won’t get the shots. Those without college degrees compared to those who graduated say they aren’t and won’t be vaccinated, 30% to 18%.
Nationally, 56.4% of all Americans, including children, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the CDC. Vaccinations are starting to increase in some lagging states where cases are rising — Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada.
“What I learned from my patients is that when a loved one dies, that’s a tragedy,” says Dr. Howard Koh, a professor at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. “But when a loved one dies and you know it could have been prevented, that tragedy haunts you forever.”
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