LONDON — Ireland has administered its first doses of coronavirus vaccine.
National broadcaster RTE says 79-year-old Annie Lynch was the first person to be vaccinated, getting a jab at St. James’s Hospital in Dublin.
Lynch says. “like everyone else, I have been waiting for the vaccine and I really feel like there is a bit of hope there now.”
Ireland received a shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine over the weekend as part of its rollout to the 27 nations of the European Union.
Irish authorities plan to vaccinate 40,000 people a week beginning in January, starting with elderly people in nursing homes and frontline health care workers.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Belarus, Argentina start vaccinations with Russian shots
— Hospitalizations in England exceed peak in spring
— Russia’s updated stats indicate more than 100,000 coronavirus deaths
— Iran begins 1st human trial of locally made virus vaccine
— Surge filling hospitals in California, where virus restrictions likely to be extended
— Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore says she has tested positive for the coronavirus and is in isolation.
The 69-year-old Milwaukee Democrat says in a statement she is “following guidance from my doctor” and is “thankful to be feeling well.”
Moore says she didn’t expect the virus to affect her work and encouraged the continued wearing of masks, washing of hands and practicing of social distancing.
The statement didn’t say when she learned she had contracted the virus or where she might have gotten it.
The Journal Sentinel reports Moore announced nearly two years ago she had been diagnosed with small-cell lymphocytic lymphoma. Moore has been in Congress since 2005.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United Arab Emirates has detected the country’s first known cases of the new fast-spreading variant of the coronavirus.
The UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority reported Tuesday it found “a limited number of cases received from abroad,” without specifying how many or where the travelers had been.
Neighboring Gulf countries halted international commercial flights because of concerns about the virus strain found in the United Kingdom. The UAE, with its large population of British expats, has remained open to tourists. Those arriving from the U.K. are required to get tested for the virus upon arrival in Dubai.
On Tuesday, the health ministry recorded more than 1,500 infections, the highest single-day total in months.
The federation of seven sheikhdoms has an economy that draws heavily on tourism, aviation and hospitality industries. The health ministry has reported more than 204,300 confirmed cases and 662 confirmed deaths amid an aggressive testing campaign.
MOSCOW — Russia’s updated statistics on coronavirus-linked deaths show more than 100,000 people had died by December, a number much higher than previously reported by government officials.
A total of 116,030 people with the coronavirus died in Russia between April and November, according to data released Monday by Russia’s state statistics agency Rosstat. The count included cases where the virus was not the main cause of death and where the virus was suspected but not confirmed.
Also, Belarus and Argentina announced the start of mass coronavirus vaccinations with the Russian-developed Sputnik V shot. They are the first countries outside of Russia to roll out the vaccine that is still undergoing late-stage studies to ensure its safety and effectiveness. The first batch of Sputnik V arrived in Belarus. Argentina plans to start using the Russian vaccine on Tuesday.
Russia has been widely criticized for giving Sputnik V regulatory approval in August after the vaccine only had been tested on a few dozen people. This month, Russian authorities started mass vaccinations with Sputnik V, even though it is still undergoing late-stage trials.
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s state TV says the first study has begun on the safety and effectiveness of a locally developed coronavirus vaccine in Iran.
Details about the vaccine’s production remained slim. Dozens are due to receive the shot in the hardest-hit country in the Middle East. The vaccine is produced by Shifa Pharmed, part of a state-owned pharmaceutical conglomerate. It’s the first in the country to reach human trials.
The study, a Phase 1 clinical trial, will enroll a total of 56 volunteers to receive two shots of Iran’s vaccine within two weeks. Iran has struggled to stem the worst virus outbreak in the region, which has more than 1.2 million confirmed infections and nearly 55,000 confirmed deaths.
MILWAUKEE — Clinicians had to discard about 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine after vials were kept unrefrigerated for too long at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton.
Advocate Aurora Health officials say someone removed 50 vials from a refrigerator to access other items and failed to put them back overnight Friday. Each vial contained 10 doses of vaccine.
The Journal Sentinel reports an internal investigation found the failure was an “unintended human error.”
Clinicians were still able to administer some of the vaccine from the vials within the allowable 12-hour, post-refrigeration window but had to discard most of it. Once the vaccine is thawed, it cannot be refrozen.
Advocate Aurora Health says it has vaccinated about 17,000 of its employees in the last 12 days.
KARACHI, Pakistan — Health officials in southern Pakistan say they have detected the country’s first three cases of the virus variant that prompted strict new lockdown measures in Britain and global travel restrictions.
Health and population Welfare department in the Sindh province says it took samples of 12 people upon their return from Britain and three of them showed a 95% match to the coronavirus variant from U.K.
It says efforts were under way to trace people in contact with the infected persons, who were kept in isolation and will undergo more thorough tests.
The announcement comes a day after Pakistan extended its ban on passenger flights from the U.K for a week to avoid the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus.
It is the first time that such infections have been found in Pakistan, which Tuesday reported 1,776 newly confirmed coronavirus cases and 63 deaths in the past 24 hours. There have been 9,992 confirmed deaths and 475,085 cases since February.
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Celebrations in Cyprus will be a tight family affair after authorities imposed a limit on all New Year’s Eve gatherings of no more than 10 people from two families.
But until Jan. 10, all other get-togethers at home are restricted to only those who reside there. All public gatherings outdoors are limited to two people.
Only essential staff will be permitted into government offices, while all others will have to work from home. A 9 p.m. – 5 a.m. curfew remains in effect, except for New Year’s Eve when that’s extended to 1 am.
The measures were announced after Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou warned that intensive care units treating COVID-19 patients are on the verge of exceeding their capacity because a rising number of infections. On Monday, authorities reported 751 new coronavirus infections from nearly 13,500 tests — a large number for the country of around 900,000 people.
LONDON — Official figures show more people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in England than at the first peak of the outbreak in the spring.
There were 20,426 patients in hospitals as of Monday morning — the most recent data — compared to the previous high of 18,974 on April 12.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of Britain’s National Health Service, says health care workers are back in “the eye of the storm” as they had been in the spring.
British authorities are blaming a new variant of the coronavirus, first identified in southeast England, for soaring infection rates. Almost half of England’s population is under tight restrictions on movement and on everyday life in an attempt to curb the spread.
Stevens says vaccines provide some hope, and estimated all vulnerable people in Britain could be inoculated against the coronavirus by late spring 2021.
BERLIN — German authorities say the coronavirus variant found in Britain has been detected in samples from two patients who were infected in northern Germany in November.
The health ministry in Lower Saxony state said late Monday the samples were tested more thoroughly after news of the new variant emerged in Britain, regional public broadcaster NDR reported. They were taken in November from an elderly man with other medical conditions, who later died, and from his wife.
The ministry says the man’s daughter had been in England in mid-November and likely was infected there.
News this month of the variant, which scientists suspect is more infectious, triggered tighter restrictions in parts of England and new hurdles to travel.
Germany, like several other European countries, detected a case of the new variant last week, in a woman who flew in from London on Dec. 20.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka has reopened to tourists after more than nine months.
The Indian Ocean island nation closed to tourists in March, amid the first wave of the coronavirus. Authorities also closed the two main international airports.
The government says a pilot program to attract tourists is being implemented. The first tourists arrived on a special flight from Ukraine on Monday. The 186 tourists are expected to stay in Sri Lanka for 10 days.
Under the pilot program, which will run to Jan. 24, some 2,580 tourists are expected to arrive in Sri Lanka, mostly from CIS countries.
The coronavirus has dealt a severe blow to tourism, a vital economic sector for Sri Lanka, accounting for about 5% of its GDP and employing 250,000 people directly and up to 2 million indirectly.
Previously, the government announced the country would reopen to tourists on Aug. 1, but the date was pushed back after new clusters of COVID-19 patients emerged.
Sri Lanka has confirmed 41,602 cases and 194 deaths.
TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel’s Health Ministry says the country has vaccinated more people in nine days than have been infected with the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.
The ministry says nearly 500,000 people, or about 5% of Israel’s population of 9 million, have already received the vaccine since the country began its inoculation drive last week. There have been more than 407,000 confirmed cases in Israel, and more than 3,200 have died.
Israel is hoping a mass vaccination campaign will help bring its current outbreak under control and ultimately wipe out the virus. This week the country entered its third national lockdown, with much of the economy shut down to help slow surging infection numbers.
Israel is among the world’s leading countries for coronavirus vaccinations per capita.
SEOUL, South Korea — The United States has started vaccinating its troops based in South Korea, as its Asian ally reported its highest daily number of COVID-19 deaths amid surging cases in the country.
The United States Forces Korea says it started inoculating military and civilian healthcare workers, first responders and the USFK command team with the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday. The Moderna vaccine arrived in South Korea on Dec. 25.
The USFK says the vaccine is voluntary and not mandatory for the 28,500 American troops in South Korea.
The government says it will have vaccine doses for 56 million people, an amount seemingly enough for the country’s 51 million people. Officials say they plan to begin inoculating the public in February.
South Korea reported 40 confirmed deaths in the past 24 hours, the country’s highest daily death toll. South Korea logged 1,046 new cases, raising the total caseload to 58,725 and 859 confirmed deaths.
NEW DELHI — India has found six people who returned from the United Kingdom in recent weeks infected with a new variant of the coronavirus.
The health ministry says all six patients were isolated and their fellow travelers were tracked down. Close contacts of the infected patients were also put under quarantine.
India previously suspended flights from and to the UK until the end of the year, noting the new variant is “spreading and growing rapidly.”
India on Tuesday reported 16,432 new cases, taking its total to 10.22 million confirmed infections and 148,153 confirmed deaths. India is expected to start a vaccination drive for some 300 million people early next month.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s civil aviation authority has extended its ban on passenger flights from the U.K for a week in an effort to avoid the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus.
The ban was imposed last week after European and other countries halted air travel from Britain due to a new and seemingly more contagious variant of the coronavirus in England.
In a statement, Civil Aviation Authority says the ban on passenger flights from U.K. will remain in place until Jan. 4. Under a government order, Pakistani nationals who traveled to Britain can return home provided their coronavirus tests are negative.
On Tuesday, Pakistan reported 1,776 new cases and 63 confirmed deaths in the past 24 hours.
There have been 9,992 deaths among 475,085 cases since February.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea says 40 more coronavirus patients have died in the past 24 hours, the highest daily number since the pandemic began.
Officials also reported 1,046 new confirmed infections Tuesday, taking the total caseload to 58,725 and 859 confirmed deaths.
South Korea’s previous daily high for coronavirus deaths was 24, reported on Dec. 21 and Dec. 22.
Some observers say surging deaths reflect an increase in cluster infections at nursing homes and long-term care centers.
BEIJING — China has reported seven new cases of coronavirus infection in Beijing, where authorities have ordered the testing of hundreds of thousands of residents.
Cases have been clustered largely in villages on Beijing’s northeastern edge, but authorities are wary of any spread in the capital that could hurt claims it has all-but contained local spread of the virus.
City authorities have already urged residents not to leave the city during the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays. China has canceled big gatherings such as sports events and temple fairs. Cinemas, libraries and museums operate at 75% capacity. The government is also discouraging business trips.