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The Canadian Press

The most recent: spread of coronavirus increasing in South Korea

SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea has reported 700 more cases of coronavirus as the speed of viral spread approaches the levels seen during the country’s worst winter outbreak. The figures released by the Korean Disease Prevention and Control Agency on Thursday raised the number of national cases to 107,598, including 1,758 deaths. The daily jump was the biggest since January 5, when 714 cases were reported. About 500 of the new cases are in the densely populated metropolitan area of ​​Seoul, which has emerged as the center of the country’s epidemic since a winter wave that peaked with more than 1,200 infections added on Christmas Day. Health officials, who are also struggling with a slow release of the vaccine, are expected to announce measures to strengthen social distance after a meeting on Friday. ___ THE VIRUS OUTBREAK: VACCINES: More than 108.3 million people, or 32.6% of the U.S. population, received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . About 63 million people, or 19% of the population, completed the vaccination. CASES: The seven-day continuous average for new daily cases in the U.S. has increased in the past two weeks from 53,651 on March 23 to 64,791 on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. DEATHS: The seven-day continuous average for new daily deaths in the U.S. has decreased in the last two weeks from 821 on March 23 to 774 on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. – EU Agency: No restrictions on the AstraZeneca vaccine for people over 18 – Bolsonaro do Brasil ignores requests for blocking to delay the coronavirus – Follow the AP’s pandemic coverage at e / hub / coronavirus-vaccine ___ HERE WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING: SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The governor of Puerto Rico says authorities will start vaccinating everyone aged 16 or older from Monday Monday, leading to celebrations across the U.S. that face an increase in coronavirus cases. Currently, only people aged 50 and over, as well as anyone between 35 and 49 years old with chronic health conditions, are allowed to receive the vaccine. Governor Pedro Pierluisi also announced on Wednesday that he is implementing more stringent measures to combat a recent increase in coronavirus infections. At 10 pm the curfew will take effect on Friday, and companies will be forced to close at 9 pm. This is two hours earlier than allowed. Puerto Rico recorded more than 199,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 2,000 deaths related to COVID-19. ___ DETROIT – Michigan’s health director says the government is focusing on vaccinating more people, rather than imposing new restrictions on the economy amid a wave of new coronavirus cases and the clustering of hospitals with COVID- patients 19. Elizabeth Hertel said on Wednesday: “Our focus now remains on ensuring that we are vaccinating as many people as possible. We still have a number of restrictions in place that limit the size of the collection. ”His comments came when federal statistics showed that Michigan leads the US in new cases of coronavirus. The state has recorded more than 46,000 cases, or 469 per 100,000 people, in the past seven days. This is far ahead of New Jersey’s No. 2, 321. The state health department reported 8,000 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday. ___ MADRID – Spain plans to join other European nations in limiting the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for the elderly due to concerns over links to an extremely rare blood clot. Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias said after meeting with regional health chiefs on Wednesday that authorities will limit the use of the vaccine to people over 60. The decision was made after the European Medicines Agency said it had found a “possible link” between the injection and the rare clots. Last week, Germany and France limited the vaccine to groups of elderly people, and on Wednesday, British authorities recommended that the vaccine should not be given to adults under 30. Belgium said on Wednesday that it would not allow its use in people under the age of 56. restrictions, saying the vaccine’s benefits far outweigh the very rare cases of thrombosis. ___ TALLAHASSEE, Florida – The Florida Governor’s office, Ron DeSantis, confirms that he received a single dose vaccine against coronavirus. He did it out of the public eye, even when governors from other parts of the political spectrum were publicly vaccinated to assure Americans that the shots are safe. A spokesman for the governor declined to provide details on Wednesday, including when DeSantis received the dose. But it was reported that the governor received the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. DeSantis had recently said he would be vaccinated soon – but no announcement was made by his office, nor was there any media presence to witness the event. Some of its top lieutenants said they did not know that the governor had already been vaccinated, although they work to persuade Florida residents to get vaccinated against a virus that infected more than 2 million people in Florida and killed nearly 34,000. ___ BOISE, Idaho – Idaho Governor Brad Little issued an executive order prohibiting the state government from requiring or issuing COVID-19 “vaccine passports”. The governor’s order issued on Wednesday also prevents state agencies from providing information about someone’s vaccine status to individuals, companies or government entities. Little received the vaccine and says he strongly encourages others to get vaccinated too. But he says he has serious concerns that the requirement for a vaccine passport violates medical privacy rights. Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a similar order on Wednesday and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday. The White House has ruled out a national “vaccine passport”, saying it is leaving it to the private sector if companies want to develop a system for people to show that they have been vaccinated. ___ TORONTO – Canada’s most populous province plans to vaccinate people aged 18 and over in high-risk areas in and around Toronto and plans to vaccinate some teachers amid a third wave of coronavirus infections fueled by more contagious variants of the virus. Ontario has declared another state of emergency and will now allow all adults in certain postal codes to have priority access to vaccines. Ontario will also close non-essential stores for personal purchases and limit large stores to essential items such as groceries and pharmacy supplies. The province is calling its latest measures “stay at home”, although schools in most parts of the province remain open and golf courses remain open. Ontario has seen more than 3,000 new infections a day in the past few days and record numbers of intensive care. ___ RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says “there will be no national blockade”, ignoring the growing calls from health experts the day after the country saw the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in 24 hours since the beginning of the pandemic. Brazil’s Ministry of Health recorded 4,195 deaths on Tuesday, making it the third country to exceed that limit, as Bolsonaro’s political opponents demanded stricter measures to reduce the spread of the virus. “We are not going to accept this policy of staying at home and closing everything,” Bolsonaro said on Wednesday, resisting pressure in a speech in the city of Santa Catarina, Chapecó. The conservative president of Brazil also defended the use of so-called early treatment protocols, which include the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine. No scientific study has found the drug’s effectiveness in preventing or treating COVID-19. In an open letter published Tuesday in the newspaper O Globo, the Brazilian Association of Public Health asked for a national blockade of three weeks. ___ ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey reported 54,740 daily cases of COVID-19 while the daily number of infections on a single day reached a new dismal record. On Wednesday, the country also recorded an additional 276 deaths in the past 24 hours, the highest level so far. The total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic is now 32,943, while the total number of infections has reached 3.6 million. COVID-19 cases have reached alarming levels since the government eased restrictions in early March. The government announced new blockades on the weekends and the closure of cafes and restaurants during the Islamic month of Ramadan, which begins on April 13. But experts raised questions about the effectiveness of the measures. The health minister said that the most contagious variant first detected in Britain is responsible for 75% of cases. ___ MONTGOMERY, Alabama – Alabama Governor Kay Ivey urged people to use common sense in the fight against coronavirus while she suspends the state’s mask order. She said that a “greatly reduced” health order on Friday will have few restrictions, while encouraging people to continue to take precautions. Alabama ranks almost at the bottom of the country in terms of the percentage of people fully vaccinated, with 13.8%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alabama opened the vaccine’s eligibility to anyone aged 16 or over two days ago. State health officials say hospitalizations for viruses, positive tests and daily case numbers are reaching some of the lowest numbers in a year. Only 25.9% of Alabama’s population received at least one dose. ___ BANGKOK – Thai health officials confirmed the first local cases of the coronavirus variant detected in the country for the first time in Britain. The variant was found in nightclub customers in the capital Bangkok. The virus threat comes at a particularly vulnerable time for Thailand. Next week, Thais celebrate the traditional Songkran New Year holiday. It usually means an exodus of people from cities to visit relatives in other provinces, at risk of spreading the virus. Less than 1% of the country’s 69 million inhabitants have been vaccinated against coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization. The government’s Center for Situation Management COVID-19 announced on Wednesday that it had confirmed 334 new cases of coronavirus , bringing the total in Thailand to 29,905 cases and 95 confirmed deaths. ___ WASHINGTON – The United States government says more than half a million Americans have already taken advantage of the Biden government’s special health insurance enrollment window, which is linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. Figures released on Wednesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show that 528,005 people recently signed up for government-sponsored private plans from February 15 to March 31. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that about 3 million people have lost coverage because of the pandemic. Some experts estimate numbers in the range of 5 to 10 million. The government predicts that even more consumers will be covered in the coming months. That’s because millions of people recently became eligible for increased taxpayer subsidies for their premiums under President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief legislation. Biden reopened the law’s health insurance markets as a protection against job losses during the pandemic. The virus help package helped to reduce the price of health insurance, making taxpayer grants more generous and allowing more people to qualify for financial assistance. ___ WASHINGTON – The federal government is expanding access to the COVID-19 vaccine to all community health centers qualified by the federal government. White House COVID-19 adviser Andy Slavitt announced the development on Wednesday, which expands opportunities for underserved communities to find vaccines in their communities. There are about 1,400 health centers across the country, serving the communities most affected by the coronavirus and the most difficult to be vaccinated. The White House says the health center’s program is essential to ensure equity in the distribution of vaccines, adding that most doses distributed by community health centers were for racial and ethnic minorities. ___ WASHINGTON – A variant of the coronavirus first identified in Britain is now the most common strain in circulation in the United States. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, says the strain, formally known as B.1.1.7, is “now the most common strain in circulation in the United States.” The strain has been shown to be more transmissible and infectious among younger Americans, which Walensky says has contributed to the increase in the number of cases in recent weeks. Walensky says new outbreaks have been linked to youth sports and childcare. She particularly encouraged states with an increasing number of cases to reduce or suspend youth sports activities to slow the spread of the virus. More than 200 strains of the coronavirus have been identified circulating in the USA. CDC officials say B.1.1.7 is causing about 27% of new cases, according to the agency’s most recent data. The strain that was driving the epidemic in the country at the end of last year is now causing about 19% of new cases. The Associated Press

Paula Fonseca