Latest: Putin self-isolates, coronavirus in his inner circle
MOSCOW — The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin is in self-isolation after people in his inner circle became infected with the coronavirus.
The Kremlin said Tuesday that Putin tested negative for the coronavirus. Putin, who is fully vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V, held several public engagements indoors Monday.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov say Putin is “absolutely healthy” but came in contact with someone who contracted the coronavirus. Peskov didn’t say when Putin began self-isolating, when he tested negative, how long he would remain in self-isolation or who among the president’s contacts was infected.
On Monday, Putin met with Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose hand he shook. Assad tested positive for the coronavirus in March and later recovered; it’s not clear if he is vaccinated. Putin also shook hands with Russian Paralympians and pinned medals on them and attended military exercises alongside other officials.
Russia’s daily coronavirus cases have fallen in the past month from 20,000 to about 17,000. However, few virus restrictions are currently in place in Russia.
On Friday, only 32% of the population had received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine and only 27% had been fully vaccinated.
Russia’s state coronavirus task force has reported a total of 7.1 million confirmed cases and 194,249 confirmed deaths. Health experts have called into question how Russia is tallying cases and deaths.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Russia's Putin in self-isolation due to coronavirus cases in inner circle
— UK recommends COVID-19 booster shots for over 50s
— FDA experts among group opposing U.S. booster shot plan
— Judge's temporary order allows Iowa schools to mandate masks
— See AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BERLIN — Berlin officials announced a change in coronavirus rules, favoring vaccinated people while restricting access to some venues for people who haven’t received the COVID-19 shot.
Berlin’s top health official says authorities will give restaurants, bars, sports venues, zoos, gambling halls and other recreational venues the option of allowing in only people who have a vaccine or recovery certificate, known as the ‘2G’ rule in Germany. Alternately, they also can continue to apply the 3G rule of letting in people with negative test results.
Those venues that choose to apply the tougher 2G rule won’t need to require that patrons wear masks or respect minimum distancing. Night clubs were already required to only let in people who are vaccinated or recovered from the coronavirus.
Several of Germany’s 16 states are not allowing statutory sick pay for unvaccinated people who are ordered to quarantine.
About 62% of the country’s population has received the necessary shots to qualify for a vaccine certificate. The government wants a rate of at least 75% heading into fall to prevent a surge of infections.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish health authorities says they’ll offer vaccinations at cultural events after experiencing success with one-day pop-ups in supermarkets.
“There are still a number of young people aged 20-34 who have not yet been vaccinated, and the Danish Health and Medicines Authority continues its efforts to increase vaccination support in this age group as well,” said Niels Sandoe of the National Board of Health.
He called it “incredibly positive” that 386 people were vaccinated in supermarkets last Saturday, saying it “shows that there are still citizens who want to be vaccinated when they receive a local offer.”
The pop-up vaccination will take place on Sept. 17 at the SPOT festival of Danish and Nordic music.
More than 80% of people above age 12 have been fully vaccinated. Sandoe has said Denmark’s target of 90% vaccinated by Oct. 1 is reachable.
LONDON — An expert advisory panel has recommended the U.K. government offer a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to everyone over age 50 to protect against the coronavirus.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization’s recommendation Tuesday came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepared to announce the government’s new plan for combating the pandemic.
The World Health Organization has asked wealthy nations to delay booster shots until every country has vaccinated at least 40% of their populations.
The JCVI say booster shots were needed to ensure vulnerable people are protected against COVID-19 because studies have shown that the immunity conferred by vaccines slowly weakens over time.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government’s independent medical advisory body says that booster shots of coronavirus vaccines should be given “with high priority” to people with seriously compromised immune systems.
The Health Council of the Netherlands also said Tuesday that giving booster shots to the rest of the Dutch population is not currently necessary. But it said preparations should be put in place to give people a booster shot if it becomes clear that vaccines’ effectiveness in preventing serious illness is declining.
The council says that while the protection of some COVID-19 vaccines against infection “has diminished somewhat over time, protection against serious illness has not.”
It concludes that there is “currently hardly any room for improving protection against serious illness and death with a booster.”
The government generally follows the advice of the health council in its coronavirus decision-making.
Some 62% of the Dutch population of 17.5 million people has been fully vaccinated — that amounts to 77% of adults.
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus’ health minister says the east Mediterranean island nation has achieved the milestone of having 80% of the population receive at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Minister Michalis Hadjipantela said in a statement on Tuesday it’s expected that 80% of citizens will be fully vaccinated within two or three weeks.
He said the achievement has put Cyprus among those European Union member states that have achieved or surpassed the target set by the 27-member bloc.
Hadjipantela said health authorities will ramp up vaccination efforts to ensure that the country will enter the winter season with a greater degree of safety.
A recent opinion poll showed that 13% of Cypriots are either reluctant about getting vaccinated against COVID-19 or completely oppose it.
The country’s COVID-19 infection rate has dropped in recent days following a sharp spike in new cases that had set record highs.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s planning minister has warned that people who are not vaccinated will not be allowed to work from offices after this month.
In a televised message Tuesday, Asad Umar said unvaccinated people will also not be eligible to enter shopping malls, use public transport or to travel by air after the Sept. 30 deadline.
Umar also asked people to keep social distancing in comments that came hours after Pakistan reported a steady decline in cases of coronavirus.
Umar said about 52% of the adult population in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, had been vaccinated and other cities should also try to vaccinate at least 40% of their eligible population as soon as possible to avoid lockdowns and COVID-19 related restrictions.
Pakistan has reported 1.2 million COVID-19 cases and nearly 27,000 deaths since the pandemic began last year.
BEIJING — A second city in southeastern China has seen a jump in COVID-19 cases in a delta variant outbreak that started late last week.
The National Health Commission said Tuesday that 59 new cases had been identified in the latest 24-hour period, more than doubling the total to 102. All are in Fujian province on China’s east coast.
The port city of Xiamen has confirmed 33 cases in the past two days. Another 59 cases have been found in Putian, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) north on the coast, where the outbreak was first detected.
Xiamen locked down affected neighborhoods, closed entertainment and fitness venues and canceled group activities including those for the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival holiday. Long-distance bus service to other parts of the province has been suspended.
China has largely stopped the spread of COVID but has sporadic outbreaks. A delta variant outbreak in July and August spread to several provinces, raising concern about new and more contagious variants.
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s capital city of Canberra will remain locked down for a second month after the local government reported 22 new coronavirus infections.
The Australian Capital Territory locked down Aug. 12 after a single case linked to a Sydney outbreak of the virus’ delta variant was detected.
Territorial Chief Minister Andrew Barr said Tuesday that Canberra’s lockdown will be extended until Oct. 15.
Canberra is surrounded by New South Wales state, where Australia’s delta outbreak began when a limousine driver tested positive June 16. He was infected while transporting a U.S. cargo flight crew from Sydney’s airport.
Sydney is Australia’s largest city and has been locked since June 26.
Before delta came to Canberra last month, the city of 430,000 people had not recorded a single case of coronavirus community infection since July 10, 2020.
CULLMAN, Ala. — As hundreds of mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients filled Alabama intensive care units, hospital staff in north Alabama contacted 43 hospitals in three states to find a specialty cardiac ICU bed for Ray Martin DeMonia, his family writes in his obituary.
The resident of Cullman, Alabama, was finally transferred to Meridian, Mississippi, about 170 miles (274 kilometers) away. The 73-year-old antiques dealer died Sept. 1 because of the cardiac event he suffered.
Now, his family is making a plea.
“In honor of Ray, please get vaccinated if you have not, in an effort to free up resources for non-COVID related emergencies,” his obituary reads. After describing the search for an ICU bed for DeMonia, the obituary adds: “He would not want any other family to go through what his did.”
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — Great Falls High School in Montana is moving to remote learning for the rest of the week due to an increase in coronavirus cases among students and staff.
School officials said Monday that more than 35 people have tested positive for the virus. Moving to remote learning will allow for quarantine or isolation times for students and staff to lapse and give sanitation crews time to disinfect more than 40 classrooms.
Student athletic activities will continue as scheduled, but there will be a mask requirement when students and coaches are in close proximity.
Other school districts have switched to remote classes because of outbreaks.
DENVER — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is urging the Food and Drug Administration to quickly authorize booster shots for the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine as well as permit children ages 5 to 11 to be vaccinated.
Polis said Monday that foot-dragging by U.S. health officials has cost lives. In his words, “The FDA needs to get out of their ivory tower and realize there is a real life pandemic.”
In August, Pfizer said it had started the application process for a third dose of its vaccine for everyone age 16 and older. It asserts that people’s antibody levels jump fivefold to tenfold after a third dose, compared to their second dose months earlier.
The White House has begun planning for boosters later this month, if both the FDA and the CDC agree. Advisers to the FDA will weigh evidence about an extra Pfizer shot Friday. The U.S. already offers an extra dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to people with severely weakened immune systems.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The number of coronavirus infections and people hospitalized for COVID-19 in West Virginia have set new highs as Gov. Jim Justice scolds residents who continue to balk at getting vaccinated.
At least 40% of the state’s people older than 12 have not received all doses.
The governor said Monday that “this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” He has balked at issuing either a vaccination or mask mandate.
Officials said Monday that confirmed virus cases statewide totaled about 8,860 last week, breaking the previous weekly high of about 8,200 set in early January. A record 852 people were in hospitals Monday for COVID-19, the disease that can be caused by the virus. The previous high of 818 was set Jan. 5.