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New department to deal with the virus crisis in Tunisia

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TUNIS, Tunisia – The Tunisian President has ordered a special body to be set up to address the country’s coronavirus crisis amid rampant infections and public anger over the government’s handling of the pandemic.

President Kais Saied made the announcement on Wednesday, according to Tunisian media, saying the new virus operation will be carried out by the military health service and tasked with ensuring enforcement of virus restrictions, managing medical supplies and coordinating national virus strategy.

Saied suspended parliament, sacked the prime minister and took over all executive powers earlier this week after nationwide protests broke out against Tunisia’s long-running economic crisis and the government’s handling of the virus.

Tunisia has the highest virus death rate in Africa and has faced the worst COVID-19 outbreaks to date in the past few weeks, with thousands of cases and more than 100 deaths daily in a country of 11 million, according to government and John’s Hopkins data University.

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MORE ABOUT PANDEMIC:

– Tokyo officials alerted as cases hit record highs

– Europe on vacation, but vaccinations never take a break

– In turn, Burundi says it will accept COVID-19 vaccines

– Republicans applaud the US Health Department’s mask instructions with hostility

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– For more AP coverage, please visit https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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HERE STILL HAPPEN:

TOKYO – Japanese officials sounded the alarm when Tokyo reported record-breaking coronavirus cases for the third year in a row while the Olympics were underway.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katunobu Kato told reporters that the new cases are increasing not just in the Tokyo area but across the country. He says Japan has never seen an increase in infections of this magnitude.

Tokyo reported 3,865 new cases on Thursday, up from 3,177 on Wednesday and twice as many as a week ago.

Japan has kept its cases and deaths lower than many other countries, but its 7-day moving average is growing, at 28 per 100,000 nationwide and 88 in Tokyo, according to the Department of Health.

Despite requests to stay home, people are still roaming the streets, making the restrictions ineffective. Tokyo governor says cases could hit 4,500 a day.

“While almost nothing helps slow the infections down, there are many factors that can speed them up,” said Dr. Shigeru Omi, a senior government medical advisor, on the Olympics and the summer vacation. “The greatest risk is the lack of a feeling of crisis.”

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NAIROBI, Kenya – Burundi’s government now says it will accept COVID-19 vaccines, making it one of the last countries in the world to introduce them. However, the Ministry of Health says it takes no responsibility for any side effects they might cause.

Health Minister Thaddee Ndikumana said Wednesday that the vaccines will arrive with support from the World Bank. It was not initially clear how many doses the East African country would get and when.

“The vaccine is given to those who need it,” said the Minister of Health. The government will keep the doses but will not take responsibility for any side effects, he added.

Burundi’s announcement came on the same day that neighboring Tanzania launched its vaccination campaign and pulled back from former President John Magufuli’s denial of the pandemic. He died in March and the presidency went to his deputy Samia Suluhu Hassan, who has since reversed course on COVID-19 in one of the most populous countries in Africa.

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Burundi’s late President Pierre Nkurunziza, who died last year, has also been criticized for taking the pandemic lightly. His successor’s government, President Evariste Ndayishimiye, said earlier this year the country of more than 11 million people did not yet need COVID-19 vaccines.

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BANGKOK – Health officials in Thailand rush to set up a large field hospital in a cargo building at one of Bangkok’s airports as the country reports record numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths.

Other field hospitals are already operating in the capital after running out of hospital facilities for thousands of infected residents. Workers rushed to complete the 1,800-bed hospital at Don Mueang International Airport, where beds made of cardboard materials are lined with mattresses and pillows.

The airport has been of little use because almost all domestic flights were canceled two weeks ago. The field hospital should be ready for patients in two weeks.

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The airport, a national and regional hub, has made little use of it as almost all domestic flights were canceled two weeks ago.

The rapid spread of the delta variant also resulted in neighboring Cambodia sealing its border with Thailand on Thursday and ordering a lockdown and movement restrictions in eight provinces.

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VILNIUS, Lithuania – The Lithuanian government says it will donate 20,000 doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to Taiwan.

The Baltic country’s Ministry of Health said Thursday that the donation “is a gift to the people of Taiwan to help cope with insidious coronavirus infections. We feel obliged to help other nations who need these stitches. “

Lithuania, a country of just under 3 million people, donated 20,000 vaccines each to other European countries – Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – earlier this year.

More than half of the Lithuanian population is either vaccinated or has recovered from COVID-19, although the infection rate has increased in recent weeks.

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Lithuania’s 14-day coronavirus infection rate has now reached 91 cases per 100,000 people.

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MANILA, Philippines – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warns that Filipinos who refuse to be vaccinated against the coronavirus will not be allowed to leave their homes to protect themselves from the more contagious Delta variant.

Duterte said on televised notes on Wednesday night that there was no law mandating such a restriction, but added he was ready to take lawsuits to keep people “throwing viruses left and right” off the streets .

The cheeky president adds that for people who don’t want to be vaccinated, “Well, for all I care, you can die anytime.”

More than public hesitation, however, the Philippines is grappling with vaccine shortages.

Almost 7 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated and more than 11 million others have received their first dose. That’s a fraction of the government’s target of 60 to 70 million people.

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CHICAGO – The hordes of people expected to attend the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago’s Grant Park this week will need to provide evidence that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested negative for the disease within the last three days.

The four-day festival begins on Thursday and is expected to be fully occupied again with around 100,000 visitors a day. After going missing last summer due to the coronavirus threat, it will be by far the largest gathering in Chicago since the pandemic began and one of the country’s.

This year’s festival will look very different than in the past. To gain entry, participants must present their vaccination card or a hard copy of a negative COVID-19 test no older than 72 hours. That means anyone who has a four-day pass and is not vaccinated will need to get tested twice. In addition, anyone who is not vaccinated must wear a mask.

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Public health officials and others have raised concerns that such a large gathering, even outdoors, could turn into a super-spread event. Officials in the Netherlands were shocked after a much smaller music festival attended by 20,000 people over two days earlier this month resulted in nearly 1,000 cases of COVID-19, CNBC reported. This festival had similar security measures as that of Lollapalooza.

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WASHINGTON – According to the State Department, Foreign Minister Antony Blinken has met with the head of the World Health Organization to urge additional studies on the origin of the coronavirus pandemic in China.

Blinken and WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus met on Wednesday in Kuwait City, Kuwait, where Blinken is completing a trip abroad.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Blinken had told Tedros that any follow-up investigation to the COVID-19 outbreak must be “timely, evidence-based, transparent, expert-led and disruption-free”.

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Blinken also stressed the importance of international unity in order to understand the pandemic and prevent future ones, Price said in a statement. He added that Blinken and Tedros were both committed to working with all members of WHO to “make meaningful, concrete progress in strengthening global health security to prevent, detect and respond to future pandemics and health threats.”

The previously unannounced meeting came after China rejected WHO’s calls for a second investigation into the virus.

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The governor of Puerto Rico announced on Wednesday that all public employees will need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus starting next month as U.S. territory reports a new surge in cases.

With a few exceptions, the implementing ordinance comes into force on August 16. Those who refuse to be vaccinated must submit a weekly negative virus test. If an employee refuses to get tested, they will be forced to use their vacation and may not get paid, Governor Pedro Pierluisi said.

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“To beat the pandemic, this is the next step,” he said. “Vaccination is the solution.”

Around 27,000 government employees are affected by the order, which was issued one day after Pierluisi ordered that masks should be worn indoors again.

The island of 3.3 million people has reported more than 124,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 2,500 deaths related to COVID-19. More than 76% of the population have received at least one first dose of vaccine.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in any way without permission.

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