Latest: Pakistan administers 10 million doses as cases decline
ISLAMABAD – Pakistan has administered 10 million doses of the vaccine as COVID-19 cases and deaths decline steadily in the country.
Asad Umar, Minister of Planning and Development, announced the milestone during a televised ceremony on Wednesday. He asked people to get vaccinated to get back to normal life.
From the start of its campaign in March until Wednesday, Pakistan has had more than 2.5 million fully vaccinated people and more than 4.7 million partially vaccinated.
Pakistan is now experiencing a single-day coronavirus positivity rate of around 2.5%, up from more than 11% in April.
It has reported 77 deaths from COVID-19 and 1,118 cases of coronavirus infection in the past 24 hours. Pakistan has recorded a total of 936,131 cases and 21,453 deaths from the pandemic.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
– Africa lags the world on immunization, even health workers treating COVID-19 patients while waiting for their vaccines
– United States less and less likely to meet Biden July 4 vaccination target as drop in cases lessens urgency
– New US investigation examines virus leak from Chinese laboratory
– United Nations General Assembly calls for action to end AIDS, says COVID-19 is hurting progress
– Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS:
SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea is in talks with Singapore about opening its first “travel bubble” in July, which would allow vaccinated travelers on direct flights to bypass quarantine.
Health officials said on Wednesday that the country has also proposed bubbles with Taiwan, Thailand and the U.S. Pacific territories of Guam and Saipan as they seek to ease travel restrictions linked to the pandemic to revive struggling tourism and airline industries.
South Korea is currently imposing two-week quarantines on most passengers arriving from overseas.
Yoon Taeho, a senior health ministry official, said the country would initially only open its travel bubbles to fully vaccinated travelers arriving on direct flights and group trips who could be monitored by their travel agencies. To bypass the quarantine, bubble travelers must have vaccination documents and be cleared by COVID-19 testing upon arrival.
Officials said talks about opening travel bubbles may not go quickly in places where the virus situation fluctuates. Thailand has seen its worst pandemic outbreak in recent weeks, still consistently exceeding 2,000 new cases per day, and Singapore and Taiwan have faced worrying new clusters.
About 9.2 million South Koreans received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday, representing about 18% of the country’s population.
MELBOURNE, Australia – Australia’s second-largest city will emerge from its fourth pandemic lockdown on Friday.
But some restrictions will remain and Melbourne’s 5 million people will not be allowed to travel to regional centers in surrounding Victoria state.
State officials say the lockdown is over after two weeks after a single new case of the coronavirus was detected in the last 24-hour period linked to the Melbourne cluster. The new case brings the number of infections in the cluster to 68.
Children will be able to return to school on Friday and travel restrictions will be changed to allow Melbourne residents to travel up to 25 kilometers (16 miles) for non-essential reasons rather than 10 kilometers (6 miles).
BEIJING – The southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou has ordered cinemas, theaters, nightclubs and other indoor entertainment venues to shut down as authorities seek to contain the country’s latest coronavirus outbreak.
Controls announced on Wednesday are even stricter in parts of the city where the risk of infection is classified as high or moderate. Guangzhou has isolated several neighborhoods where cases have been detected and banned people from leaving the city or surrounding province of Guangdong except when absolutely necessary.
Guangzhou has reported more than 100 cases of local transmission since May 21, and eight more were announced on Wednesday. Doctors say the cases in Guangzhou were caused by the most contagious delta variant that was first identified in India.
China has largely eliminated local transmissions elsewhere, with a total of 91,316 virus cases and 4,636 deaths from COVID-19 reported in the country.
JOHANNESBURG – The South African Minister of Health has been placed on special leave following a corruption scandal involving an irregular government contract.
Zweli Mkhize has spearheaded the COVID-19 response in South Africa, which has the most cases and deaths in Africa.
The contract called for $ 11 million to be paid by Mkhize’s health department to a company linked to two people who worked for him.
This decision was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in a statement from his office on Tuesday. He said Mkhize had been placed on special leave “to deal with allegations and investigations” regarding the irregular contract.
The South African Minister of Tourism will replace the Acting Minister of Health.
MILWAUKEE – A former Wisconsin pharmacist who intentionally ruined more than 500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine has been sentenced to three years in prison.
Steven Brandenburg, of Grafton, was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty in February to two counts of attempted tampering with a consumer product. He had admitted to removing Moderna-made doses from a refrigerator for hours at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, just north of Milwaukee. Brandenburg said in a statement before receiving his conviction that he felt “great shame” and accepted responsibility for his actions. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that he apologized to his colleagues, family and the community.
Prosecutors requested a sentence of three years and five months. Brandenburg faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $ 250,000 fine for each count.
Brandenburg is a recognized conspiracy theorist who believes vaccines are a product of the devil. Brandenburg also secretly substituted saline for the flu shot he was instructed to receive and persuaded several colleagues to secretly swap saline for their flu shot, court documents show.