The Latest: UK hits virus case record for 5th straight day

By The Associated Press
LONDON — The U.K. has registered a record 57,725 daily coronavirus cases.
Government figures show the U.K. has recorded five straight daily highs — all above 50,000 and nearly double the levels of two weeks ago.
Also, hospitals in Britain have started receiving batches of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, approved by British regulators this week.
Some 530,000 doses of the vaccine will be available for rollout across the country from Monday. Nursing home residents and their caretakers, those over 80 and hospital staff are set to receive the first doses.
The Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, part of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust in southern England, was among the first to get the vaccine. Dr. George Findlay, the trust’s chief medical officer, says the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is “much easier” to administer than the Pfizer-BioNTech, which needs storage at extremely cold temperatures.
Second doses of both vaccines will occur within 12 weeks rather than the 21 days initially planned, following a change in guidance that aims to increase the number of people who get the first vaccine. More than a million people in the U.K. have received their first shot of the Pfizer vaccine.
The government says 445 people have died in the 28 days after testing positive for the coronavirus. That takes the confirmed total to 74,570, the sixth-highest death toll in the world.
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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
The British government is facing mounting pressure from the teachers’ union to keep schools closed in England. The U.K. has reached a record of more than 57,000 daily coronavirus cases. On Monday, it plans to ramp up vaccinations, using the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Tokyo’s Gov. Yuriko Koike is asking the national government to declare a “state of emergency” to curtail the surging coronavirus “in the name of valuing life.” Tokyo reported a daily record of 1,337 cases on New Year’s Eve and concerns are growing ahead of hosting the Olympics in July.
In Ohio, a 95-year-old woman who made 1,700 masks took a short break while she recovered from the coronavirus. During World War II, Miriam Looker inspected parachutes for the Army.
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Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MEXICO CITY — A doctor in northern Mexico had a severe allergic reaction to the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine and remains hospitalized in intensive care Saturday.
The Health Department didn’t name the doctor, but in a statement said she was in stable condition and treated with steroids and anti-convulsion medications.
It said late Friday that she suffered difficulty breathing, brain inflammation and convulsions a half-hour after getting the shot.
The 32-year-old doctor had a known allergy to an antibiotic medication.
The reaction occurred at a hospital in the northern state of Nuevo Leon and included a rash and weakness.
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PHOENIX — Arizona reported nearly 8,900 coronavirus cases, giving the state a two-day pandemic high.
There were 10,060 cases reported Friday for a two-day confirmed total of 18,943. The state’s previous two-day high was 17,649 on Dec. 13-14.
Arizona reported 46 deaths on Saturday, increasing the total death toll to 9,061.
Arizona had the second-worst diagnosing rate in the past week, behind only California.
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WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation has reported 266 confirmed coronavirus cases and seven more deaths.
The figures reported late Friday increased the tribe’s totals since the pandemic began to 23,429 cases and 813 confirmed deaths.
The number of infections is considered far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick.
The tribe’s reservation includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The reservation was under a weekend lockdown that began Friday evening and ends Monday at 5 a.m.
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LAS VEGAS — Community advocates and health officials are working to engage with Nevada’s diverse communities and reach out in Spanish and other languages as the state plans for mass COVID-19 vaccinations.
Erika Marquez, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas public health professor and vice chair of the Nevada Minority Health & Equity Coalition, says merely translating information about the vaccine into other languages is not enough and there must be a conversation with the communities.
The Las Vegas Sun reports Marquez’s group is working on vaccine education materials in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese and Thai.
The group plans to release short videos in a few weeks featuring community leaders and culturally relevant information for Black, Latino, Native American, Asian and Pacific Islander communities along with LGBTQ people and those who are deaf.
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LOS ANGELES — Southern California funeral homes are turning away bereaved families because they’re running out of space for the bodies.
The head of the California Funeral Directors Association says mortuaries are being “inundated.”
One funeral home is averaging 30 body removals a day, about five times more than usual. Mortuary owners are calling each other to see if anyone can handle overflow, and the answer is always the same – they’re full.
Los Angeles County, the epicenter of the crisis in California, has surpassed 10,000 COVID-19 deaths. On Friday, California reported a record 585 coronavirus deaths.
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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Few Native American tribes have signed up to participate in clinical trials as coronavirus vaccines are developed.
The reasons range from suspicion and distrust tied to unethical practices of the past to the quick nature of the studies, which typically may need several layers of approval from tribes.
Researchers say without participation from Native Americans, tribes won’t know which vaccine might best be suited for their citizens.
About a handful of tribes have agreed to allow researchers to enroll their citizens in vaccine trials, including in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest. They point to a need to slow the virus among a population that’s been disproportionately affected.
About 460 Native Americans participated in the trials for the vaccine by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, including Navajos.
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ATHENS, Greece — Greece has tightened its lockdown for the next week, closing retail shops, hairdressers and bookshops.
The restrictions come as the government plans to open all schools, from kindergarten to universities, on Jan. 11.
Churches will remain closed and won’t celebrate the annual Epiphany holiday on Jan. 6, nor will priests conduct the traditional blessing of the waters. Also, the nightly curfew will start at 9 p.m. The new rules take effect Sunday and run until Jan. 11.
Greece announced 40 deaths and 262 new coronavirus infections on Saturday.
There have been 139,709 confirmed infections and 4,921 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
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RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia state Sen. Ben Chafin has died after contracting the coronavirus.
Lawmakers from around the state mourned Chafin’s death late Friday. The 60-year-old Republican state senator represented southwest Virginia and was from Russell County.
He was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2013 and then moved to the state Senate in 2014. Gov. Ralph Northam says Chafin “loved the outdoors, and he loved serving people even more.”
Chafin is the first Virginia lawmaker to die from the virus.
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VATICAN CITY — The Vatican says it expects to start administering COVID-19 vaccinations in mid-January.
A statement on Saturday says vaccines, “enough to cover the needs of the Holy See and of Vatican City State.”
The brief statement didn’t say if 84-year-old Pope Francis would be getting the vaccine. But it specified priority would go to Vatican health and security workers, to the elderly and to “the personnel most frequently in contact with the public.” Some 450 people, including the Swiss Guards, reside in Vatican City, while many others work in its offices, museums and other facilities.
Vatican City has registered at least 27 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Some cases last fall included Swiss Guards, who generally attend events with the Pope.
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NEW DELHI — India has tested its COVID-19 vaccine delivery system with a nationwide trial as it prepares to roll out an inoculation program to stem the coronavirus pandemic.
The exercise Saturday included data entry into an online platform for monitoring vaccine delivery, along with testing of cold storage and transportation arrangements for the vaccine.
The massive exercise came a day after a government-appointed panel of experts held a meeting to review the applications of potential vaccine candidates, including front-runner Covishield, developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca.
The government plans to inoculate 300 million people in the first phase of the vaccination program, which will include healthcare and front-line workers, police and military troops and those with underlying medical conditions over age 50.
India has confirmed more than 10.3 million coronavirus cases, second in the world to the U.S. More than 149,000 people have died in India, third behind the U.S. (347,000) and Brazil (195,000).
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TOKYO — Officials in Tokyo and three nearby prefectures have asked the national government to declare a state of emergency to curtail the surging spread of the coronavirus.
“In the name of valuing life, we made this plea together,” said Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike after meeting Saturday with the minister in charge of coronavirus measures, along with the governors of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa.
Japan has seen a recent rise in reported cases of the coronavirus, especially in urban areas. Tokyo had a daily record of 1,337 cases on New Year’s Eve.
There’s concern about hosting the Olympics in July, with 11,000 Olympic athletes set to enter Japan, as well as tens of thousands of officials and media.
“Corona knows no calendar,” says Koike. “Hospitals are getting packed, affecting medical care for all.”
Japan has never had a lockdown, attempting to juggle the need to keep the economy going with health risks. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has come under criticism over what some see as his mishandling of the pandemic. Japan has more than 3,500 confirmed deaths related to the coronavirus.
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BERLIN — The CEO of Germany-based travel operator TUI is predicting a “largely normal summer” in 2021 as more and more people are vaccinated against the coronavirus.
TUI chief Fritz Joussen was quoted as telling Saturday’s edition of the daily Rheinische Post that the company’s market research shows “people have an enormous longing to be able to go on nice journeys again after the difficult corona period.”
He said that “we expect a largely normal summer.” However, he added that the company will only offer around 80% of the flights it did in pre-pandemic years “to achieve optimal occupancy.”
Resurgent coronavirus infections in the fall and winter have prompted national and regional restrictions on travel and hotel stays, along with quarantine requirements, largely shutting down tourism in Europe after something of a revival last summer.
Vaccinations started in Europe last month but will take some time to have a significant impact on the situation.
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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea is extending stringent distancing rules for two more weeks as authorities seek to suppress a viral resurgence, while confirming its first case of an apparently more contagious coronavirus variant detected in South Africa.
Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol said Saturday the second highest level of distancing rules will remain in place for the Seoul region until Jan. 17. He says the third highest level of restrictions will stay in other areas until then.
The curbs include bans on social gatherings of more than five people and in-person religious services. The government will require foreigners entering South Korea to submit negative virus test results starting Jan. 8.
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LONDON — The British government is facing growing calls to keep all schools in England closed for at least two weeks as a result of surging coronavirus cases following another sudden reversal of policy.
The call from the National Education Union, which represents over 450,000 members working in schools, came after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson changed tack and said all schools for younger pupils in London should remain shut next week as the capital battles with high levels of infections.
Mary Bousted, the union’s joint head, said the decision was “entirely necessary” but slammed the government for originally planning to allow some schools to reopen in areas where new infections were running high.
The U.K. is in the midst of a sharp spike in new coronavirus cases that many have blamed on a new virus variant that is said to be up to 70% more infectious.
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