The Latest: New Zealand reports 1st virus vaccine death
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand has reported its first coronavirus vaccine death.
A health board that monitors vaccine safety said Monday a woman died from myocarditis after taking the Pfizer vaccine. The board said the woman likely developed the condition because of the vaccine, although she had other medical issues which may have contributed.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said myocarditis was a very rare side effect and there was clear evidence that taking the vaccine was much safer than being infected with COVID-19.
Health authorities have so far administered vaccines to more than 2 million New Zealanders. The board declined to answer questions from The Associated Press, including the woman’s age and the date of her death, citing protocol because a medical examiner, known as a coroner, is investigating the case further.
Also Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Auckland would remain in strict lockdown for at least two more weeks and the rest of the country for at least one more week, but with slightly fewer restrictions, as the nation battles an outbreak of the delta variant.
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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
SINGAPORE — Singapore has fully vaccinated 80% of its population, reaching a milestone that would make the country “more resilient to COVID-19,” according to a top government official.
Singapore’s 80% vaccination rate among its 5.7 million population ranks it among the most vaccinated countries in the world.
“It is the result of the collective effort of many people working behind the scenes, and the people of Singapore coming forward to take care of themselves and the people around them,” said Singapore’s health minister Ong Ye Kung in a Facebook post Sunday.
Singapore already began easing coronavirus restrictions earlier this month, allowing those who are fully vaccinated to dine at restaurants. It will also open travel lanes with Germany and Brunei that would allow vaccinated travelers from these countries to visit Singapore without having to serve a mandatory quarantine period.
Singapore has reported 67,304 coronavirus infections so far, with 55 deaths.
SYDNEY — Australia’s success in protecting its Indigenous peoples from the pandemic has ended with the death of a man in his 50s.
The man, who was not vaccinated against COVID-19, died in Dubbo Base Hospital west of Sydney in New South Wales state on Sunday, state government official Scott McLachlan said Monday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said earlier this month that among the most significant achievements of Australia’s pandemic response were the fact that COVID-19 had been kept out of Outback Indigenous communities and no Indigenous Australian had died from the virus.
The Australian government last year restricted travel to Outback Indigenous communities because their people are considered particularly vulnerable to disease.
Indigenous Australians account for 3% of the population and have poorer health, lower education levels and shorter life expectancies than other ethnic groups. Indigenous adults account for 2% of the Australian population and 27% of the prison population.
Australia has been relatively successful in stamping out COVID-19 clusters in the past. But a delta variant outbreak that started in Sydney in June and has locked down New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory is proving more stubborn.
Four people died of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing Australia’s death toll from the pandemic to more than 1,000. Just 6.3% of Indigenous people in the Dubbo area are fully vaccinated, compared with 26% of the general population.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The number of new coronavirus cases in New Zealand has fallen significantly for the first time since an outbreak was detected nearly two weeks ago.
Officials hope it is an indication that a strict nationwide lockdown might be working to halt the virus’s spread.
Health authorities on Monday reported 53 new community cases, down from 83 a day earlier. Some of that decrease may have been attributable to fewer tests being completed.
New Zealand’s government is pursuing an elimination strategy in which it tries to stamp out the virus entirely whenever it appears. The government put the country into the toughest form of lockdown after the first case of the current delta-variant outbreak was detected Aug. 17.
HONOLULU — Hawaii has reported nearly 1,700 new COVID-19 cases, which is the state’s highest level for the pandemic, although officials note that the count includes a backlog from one lab.
The Hawaii Department of Health reported 1,678 cases Sunday, while noting that it included a partial catch-up of reporting after one lab experienced system errors from Aug. 15 to Aug. 25.
The state saw 10,817 new confirmed coronavirus infections documented in the last 14 days.
The state health director Dr. Elizabeth Char says that “this tidal wave of cases is straining our ability to respond at all levels — our hospitals, our labs and even our morgues are nearing or at capacity.”
Hawaii also reported two deaths from COVID-19, both women older than 60 with underlying health conditions. That brings the state’s totals since the pandemic began to 62,229 coronavirus cases and 589 deaths.
ATHENS, Greece — Clashes erupted in Athens on Sunday evening between the police and some participants in a protest rally against COVID-19 vaccinations.
Police estimate the participants in the rally in central Syntagma Square at between 7,000 and 8,000.
As the last of the speeches denouncing government plans to make vaccinations for health workers and students mandatory were finishing, some youths attacked police standing before the tomb of the Unknown Soldier next to the Greek Parliament with bottles, firecrackers and some firebombs.
Police used tear gas, stun grenades and a water cannon to disperse protesters, who shouted obscenities at the police and against Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
While over 5.7 million people in Greece’s population of 10.7 million have been fully vaccinated, there has been a recent resurgence of cases and hospitalizations, almost entirely fueled by the delta variant and mainly affecting the unvaccinated.