SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The U.S. government says it will deliver nearly 837,000 Pfizer vaccines to Caribbean nations as the region struggles with a spike in coronavirus cases.
The Bahamas will receive 397,000 doses, followed by Trinidad and Tobago with more than 305,000 doses. Barbados will receive 70,200 doses, with 35,100 slated for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 17,550 for Antigua and 11,700 for St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The Biden-Harris administration’s highest priority in the Americas today is managing and ending the COVID pandemic and contributing to equitable recovery,” said Juan González, the National Security Council’s senior director for the Western Hemisphere.
Haiti is among the hardest hit Caribbean nation, which on July 14 received its first vaccine shipment — 500,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine donated by the U.S. via the United Nations’ COVAX program.
Haiti, with more than 11 million people, has reported 20,400 confirmed cases and 575 deaths. However, health experts believe those numbers are severely underreported because of a lack of testing.
The Caribbean region has registered 1.29 million cases and more than 16,000 confirmed deaths. About 10.7 million people are vaccinated, according to the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— US to deliver nearly 837K Pfizer vaccines to Caribbean nations
— WHO will test 3 current drugs for potential use against coronavirus
— In Iran, slow vaccinations sow anger during pandemic
— US hospitals are running low on nurses, swamped with COVID-19 patients
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Doctors in Florida say they’re seeing more coronavirus infections among children as students return to classrooms.
There has been “an enormous increase” in cases among children in July and August at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ronald Ford says. About 20 children with the coronavirus sought treatment at the South Florida hospital’s emergency department in June, he said.
“That number went to well over 200 in July and, even at this point in the month of August, we are already up to over 160. So, we’re well on the way to breaking July’s record,” Ford says
Most children have been treated in the emergency room and sent home, but “those that are admitted are sicker than what we’ve seen before, and many of them are requiring care in our intensive care units,” Ford says.
Ford’s advice to parents sending their children back to school: Ignore misinformation. “The best thing you can do to protect your child is to keep them away from the virus. This virus is extremely infectious. And it doesn’t take much virus to infect and cause symptoms and disease.”
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel, has handled about 40% less passenger traffic in the first half of 2021, compared to the same period last year.
The hub’s chief executive announced the decline on Wednesday, as more contagious variants of the coronavirus cut off its biggest markets and impact the global aviation industry. However, he remained optimistic about the crucial East-West transit point as authorities gradually re-open Dubai’s key routes to the Indian subcontinent and Britain.
The airport handled 86.4 million people before the pandemic hit in 2019. It’s held the title of the world’s busiest for the past seven years.
GENEVA — The World Health Organization says it will soon test three drugs used for other diseases to see if they might help patients sickened by the coronavirus.
In a statement on Wednesday, the U.N. health agency says the three drugs would be adopted into the next phase of its ongoing global research into identifying potential treatments for COVID-19. The drugs were chosen by an independent panel based on the likelihood they could prevent deaths in people hospitalized for coronavirus.
They include artesunate, a malaria drug, the cancer drug imatinib, and infliximab, currently used in people with diseases of the immune system.
WHO’s ongoing study into COVID-19 treatments previously assessed four drugs. Among its findings, the agency determined that remdesivir and hydroxychloroquine didn’t help people hospitalized with the virus. WHO’s research includes thousands of researchers in hundreds of hospitals in 52 countries.
“Finding more effective and accessible therapeutics for COVID-19 patients remains a critical need,” says WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
MADRID — The Spanish Medicines Agency has given the go-ahead for the first clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine developed in Spain.
The agency, which regulates the country’s health products sector, said Wednesday it has approved the PHH-1V vaccine developed by Spanish company Hipra for testing on humans.
It said in a statement that dozens of volunteers aged between 18 and 39 are to receive two doses of the vaccine.
Hipra has its headquarters is northeastern Spain. Its main work is in the field of prevention and diagnosis of human and animal health, specializing in innovative vaccines.
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, has extended its lockdown in a bid to stamp out an outbreak of the coronavirus.
Melbourne’s lockdown will be extended for a second week until the end of Aug. 19, the Victoria state government said Wednesday as it reported 20 new infections.
Meanwhile, authorities in Sydney say they are considering easing restrictions for vaccinated residents despite the delta variant.
Australian cities have used lockdowns to successfully end coronavirus outbreaks throughout the pandemic. But the highly contagious delta variant poses new challenges.
The New South Wales state government reported 344 new infections and says some lockdown restrictions could be eased for vaccinated Sydney residents in September.
BEIJING — State media say one of China’s most serious recent outbreaks of COVID-19 partly stemmed from people gathered at mahjong parlors and at a virus testing site.
The city of Yangzhou in the eastern province of Jiangsu added another 54 confirmed cases on Wednesday, bringing its total to 448 since the outbreak spread from the international airport in the provincial capital of Nanjing on July 20.
Reports said the cluster has been traced partly to a 64-year-old woman who visited several mahjong parlors after returning from Nanjing and was positive for the virus during mass testing following the outbreak.
Dozens of others were infected at a testing site in the village of Lianhe on the outskirts of Yangzhou, the ruling Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily said. While China has imposed stiff rules on testing, lockdowns and mask wearing, test sites in Beijing and elsewhere have experienced crowding and relatively little social distancing.
China currently has 1,789 COVID-19 patients in treatment, 666 of them in Jiangsu. The country has reported a total of 94,080 cases and 4,636 deaths from the illness since the first cases in the pandemic were discovered in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s government is warning its citizens to be prepared for a strict lockdown at the first sign of an outbreak of the delta variant of the coronavirus.
COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the government’s response is likely to be “swift and severe.” New Zealand has stamped out the spread of the virus and had previously planned to rely primarily on contact tracing for any small outbreaks.
But Hipkins said the problems that Sydney currently faces in trying to contact trace a growing outbreak showed the delta variant was extremely hard to manage and that New Zealand’s tolerance for risk was now very low.
He also hinted that New Zealand might soon mandate more mask use during outbreaks and change its strategy on administering second doses of the Pfizer vaccine to ensure more people got a first dose earlier, saying the details on the changes would be announced soon.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s daily increase in coronavirus infections has exceeded 2,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic, continuing an alarming spread despite the enforcement of strict virus restrictions in large population centers.
Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol on Wednesday pleaded for people to stay home during the holiday break around Liberation Day on Friday. He said that “in our fight against COVID-19, we are entering a new phase, a new crisis.”
Officials said more than 1,400 of the 2,223 new cases are in the Seoul metropolitan region. Kwon says transmissions are also spreading at faster speeds in other parts of the country.
South Korea has so far administered first doses of coronavirus vaccine to 42% of a population of more than 51 million.
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is ordering that students and employees in the state’s schools wear masks indoors, as the fast-spreading delta variant of the coronavirus brings more infections and hospitalizations.
Beshear’s executive order issued Tuesday applies to everyone in Kentucky schools for kindergarten through 12th grade, regardless of vaccination status. He says the requirement also applies to child care and pre-kindergarten programs.
The governor says “we are to the point where we cannot allow our kids to go into these buildings unprotected, unvaccinated and face this delta variant.”
Beshear says he wants to avoid schools shutting down in-person teaching and shifted to remote learning as occurred earlier in the pandemic. The number of children infected with the virus has risen sharply, and children under age 12 aren’t eligible for the vaccines.
HOUSTON — The latest wave of coronavirus infections in Texas continues to tax the state’s health care systems as health officials report that 10,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 for the first time since early February.
State health officials reported 10,041 hospital patients in Texas were ill with COVID-19 as of Monday. That is the most since 10,259 COVID-19 hospitalizations were reported Feb. 4.
Meantime, a state district judge in San Antonio granted a temporary restraining order to allow the governments of San Antonio and Bexar County to require public school students to wear masks in class and to quarantine unvaccinated students exposed to the virus.
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