January 20, 2022, 8:34

The Latest: Vietnam imposes strict lockdown in southern city

The Latest: Vietnam imposes strict lockdown in southern city

People in high-risk districts are not allowed to leave home under the tight restrictions, which will remain in effect for at least two weeks. The city said it has mobilized police and army troops to monitor the lockdown and to deliver food as other necessities to each household.

Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam’s entire southern region have already been in lockdown since July, when the delta variant started to spread quickly. Public gatherings are banned, non-essential business are closed and people are asked to only leave home to buy food or for urgent matters.

Since June, Ho Chi Minh City, a metropolis of 10 million people, has set up more than a dozen temporary hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients, but the high number of cases means thousands of patients are not able to be hospitalized.

According to the ministry of health, about 19,000 COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms have been asked to stay at home with medical assistance from teams of mobile doctors in their communities.

On Sunday, the health ministry reported 737 deaths, the highest number Vietnam has confirmed in a day, increasing the total death toll to 8,277, mostly in the southern region.

On Tuesday, U.S Vice President Kamala Harris is to land in Hanoi, which is also under a lockdown, for a two-day visit to boost bilateral relations.

The U.S has been Vietnam’s largest vaccine donor, providing 5 million doses of Moderna to help the country’s vaccination program.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— U.S. mask, vaccine conflicts descend into violence and harassment

— Pandemic fiction: Fall books include stories of the virus

— The Rev. Jesse Jackson, wife Jacqueline, hospitalized for COVID

— Hurricane Henri thwarts Central Park concert hailing NYC virus rebound

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Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — New Zealand’s government on Monday said it is extending a strict nationwide lockdown until at least Friday as it tries to extinguish a growing coronavirus outbreak.

The news came after health authorities reported 35 new local cases of the fast-spreading delta variant, the highest number of daily cases since April last year.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the lockdown would continue until at least the end of the month in Auckland, where most of the cases have been found.

“We do need more information, we need more certainty, we don’t want to take any risks with delta. If the world has taught us anything, it is to be cautious with this variant of COVID-19,” she told reporters.

The outbreak, first discovered last week, has grown to 107 cases.

But health authorities say they’ve found links between most of them, giving them hope they can contain the outbreak.

They said they’ve tested about 3% of the nation’s population over the past week.

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CANBERRA, Australia — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Monday that pandemic lockdowns are unsustainable and states must open their borders once vaccination rates reach 80% of the population aged 16 years and older.

Australia has successfully stamped out COVD-19 clusters throughout the pandemic, but an outbreak of the delta variant that was introduced by a U.S. cargo flight air crew to Sydney in June has proved more stubborn.

New South Wales state reported 818 new infections on Monday, neighboring Victoria reported 71, the Australian Capital Territory reported 16 and Queensland reported a single case. All but Queensland state are locked down.

Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory reported no community infections and none is locked down.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan has said his government won’t honor an agreement reached by Australian government leaders in July that would end lockdowns and state border closures once 80% of the population is vaccinated if that meant his state would no longer be free of the virus.

“This cannot go on forever, this is not a sustainable way to live in this country, without those freedoms that we all cherish. We understand, all sensible Australians understand, that there has had to be restrictions, there has had to be a curtailment of what we can do during the course of a global pandemic,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

He declined to say whether he would withdraw financial support for businesses and households in states that continued to lock down after the 80% threshold is reached.

By Sunday, 30% of Australians aged 16 and over were fully vaccinated.

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TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen received her first dose of the island’s domestically developed coronavirus vaccine on Monday, launching its rollout to the public.

The vaccine, made by Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp., was given emergency approval by regulators in July using a shortcut that prompted fierce opposition from parts of Taiwan’s medical and scientific community.

Taiwanese regulators bypassed the large-scale, longer term studies that are typically used to approve vaccines. Instead, they compared the level of antibodies that Medigen’s vaccine was able to generate with that of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which has been approved by many governments and has undergone the full three stages of clinical trials.

The two-dose Medigen protein subunit vaccine uses a piece of the coronavirus to teach the body to mount an immune response.

The decision to give approval based on the new standard prompted an expert from the advisory committee on vaccines to resign.

Critics say granting approval before finishing full clinical trials does not provide adequate information on how effective the vaccine is in the real world in protecting from COVID-19, although initial studies may have promising results.

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HOUSTON — U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls of Texas says that he’s tested positive for COVID-19 and has moderate symptoms.

Nehls, a Republican from the Houston area, said Saturday that he is fully vaccinated and hopes the symptoms pass soon. “All Americans are free to make their own health decisions, but I strongly encourage getting vaccinated,” he wrote on Twitter Saturday. “It is scientifically proven to drastically reduce the risk of severe illness & death from COVID.”

Nehls, the former sheriff of Fort Bend County who was elected to Congress last year, had said on Wednesday that a close family member had tested positive. Nehls said he has been quarantining at home and will continue to do so for at least the next 10 days.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The school superintendent in Florida’s capital city announced Sunday that masks will be required for students in prekindergarten through eighth grade, becoming the seventh district to defy Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on such COVID-19 mandates.

Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna said the district has seen positive tests for the coronavirus skyrocket since school opened Aug. 11 in Tallahassee and its immediate suburbs. He said parents who don’t want their elementary or middle school student to wear a mask will need to get a signed note from their child’s physician or psychologist by Friday.

Leon, which has 32,000 students, initially had backed off on such a mandate after DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said districts could only impose a mask mandate if parents can opt out their children on their own. They have threatened to cut funding from districts that impose stricter mandates and impose sanctions against their elected officials.

Hanna said he is “in total favor of individual rights and freedom and the rights of parents,” but that does not include the right to endanger the health of others.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says he wouldn’t be surprised if the Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine comes soon and he expects that it will spur more vaccine mandates by schools and businesses.

Murthy said Sunday he didn’t want to get ahead of the FDA’s announcement but didn’t disagree it could happen this week. He cited a wealth of data showing Pfizer’s two-dose regimen is safe and effective.

Currently the vaccine is being distributed under the FDA’s emergency use authorization. Murthy said he believes that once the agency completes its full review and issues approval, more Americans will be persuaded to get the shots.

He also anticipated more vaccine requirements, including for teachers and staff, describing mandates as a “reasonable” thing to do to create a safe environment for children and others.

Murthy said that given the highly transmissible delta variant, “We have got to take every step we can” when health and well-being is “on the line.”

He spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union,” ABC’s “This Week” and “Fox News Sunday.”

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