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Saturday, November 26, 2022

Live Updates: Pope organizes Christmas Eve celebrations amid boom in Italy

For the second day in a row, Italy on Friday set a new pandemic daily record with 50,599 new cases. Another 141 people died, bringing the official death toll to 136,386.

The Vatican’s secretary of state on Thursday imposed a new vaccine mandate on all Vatican staff, except those who have recovered from the coronavirus. The faithful attending Mass are required to wear masks.

Francis, who is missing part of a lung and had intestinal surgery in July, has left a massive mask on. He is believed to have received a third booster shot.

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Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic:

– Hospitals, police departments struggle to keep staff afloat as Omicron infects workforce

– Fear of infection takes behind food insecurity as pandemic ravages African economies

– Coronavirus diminishes Christmas joy in Bible Bethlehem

Visit https://APNews.com/coronavirus-pandemic for day-long updates.

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Here’s what else is happening today:

Albany, NY – New York Governor Kathy Hochul has defended her response to the coronavirus, insisting that the state acted quickly and did all it could against the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Hochul also told a news conference on Friday that the state is reducing the time essential workers stay at home after testing positive.

Fully vaccinated people in health care and other frontline areas can return to work after five days instead of 10 if they are not showing symptoms or if their symptoms are resolving. They have to wear masks even at work. Some Republican officials have called the mask mandate an exaggeration.

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HARTFORD, Conn. — Ned Lamont, a spokesman for Connecticut Gov., says a small number of attendees at a recent holiday party hosted at a Greenwich home by Democrats and his wife have tested positive for COVID-19.

Lamont and wife Annie have both regularly tested negative for the coronavirus since the December 11 private event. Lamont spokesman Max Rees says guests were required to provide proof of being fully vaccinated and to present a negative test.

Hearst Connecticut Media reported Thursday that Rees says the couple is tested regularly and has tested negative in each instance since the party. He did not say how many guests were at the event.

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Miami – A COVID-19 outbreak has been recorded on a cruise ship based in South Florida, as the number of coronavirus cases in Florida reached its second highest level since the start of the pandemic.

An unknown number of passengers and crew aboard the Carnival Freedom caught the virus and the ship was denied entry to Bonaire and Aruba, Carnival said in a statement.

The ship has 2,497 passengers and 1,112 crew members and was scheduled to return to Miami on Sunday after an 8-day cruise. According to Carnival, passengers were required to be vaccinated and tested before leaving last Saturday.

“Carnival Freedom is following all protocols and there is a small number on board who are in isolation due to a positive COVID test,” the statement said. “Our protocols anticipate this possibility and we implement them as needed.”

It was the third outbreak this week affecting cruise ships operated by Carnival and Royal Caribbean that were departing from the ports of Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

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Istanbul – Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, has tested positive for COVID-19 and is displaying mild symptoms.

The Istanbul-based Patriarchate said on Friday that Bartholomew, who is 81 and recently had heart surgery, has been fully vaccinated. It added that “his general condition is good.”

The Patriarch has urged people to take their shots and follow doctors’ recommendations.

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Bartholomew was hospitalized overnight in the United States in late October and later had a stent placed to open a clogged coronary artery.

He is considered the first equal among Eastern Orthodox patriarchs, which gives him the prominence but not the power of the Catholic pope.

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NEW DELHI – India’s health ministry says an analysis of 183 omicron-type infections showed that 87 people were fully vaccinated and three included those who received a booster dose.

Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan told reporters on Friday that India has confirmed a total of 358 cases of Omicron type and 114 of the infected persons have already recovered.

He added that Asian countries are seeing a decline in COVID-19 cases overall, unlike North America and Europe.

India was overwhelmed by two major outbreaks in September 2020 and May this year. It recorded more than 400,000 new cases in 24 hours at the peak of its second surge in May. In the last two weeks, the country has reported an average of about 7,000 new cases a day.

Bhushan said that 61 per cent of India’s population over 18 received two doses of the vaccine. Despite being home to some of the world’s largest vaccine makers, India has largely relied on two jaws: the Astra Zeneca vaccine made by Serum Institute and the domestically developed vaccine from Bharat Biotech.

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Berlin: Germany’s health minister says the proportion of coronavirus infections in the country will rise sharply in the coming days with the new Omicron variant.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach acknowledged there would be delays in reporting holiday figures to local health offices, but called on Twitter to take steps to avoid infections during Christmas celebrations.

As of Wednesday, 3,198 COVID-19 cases in Germany were attributed to Omicron, according to the National Centers for Disease Control, a 25% increase from the previous day. The Centers for Disease Control said Thursday that 48 of those cases were hospitalized and one person had died.

As of now, the delta variant remains the dominant form of coronavirus in Germany.

Officials are imposing new contact restrictions, while most areas are closing nightclubs and taking other measures. In most cases, the restrictions are set to take effect just after Christmas, although some will go into effect from Friday.

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TOKYO – Japan has approved a COVID-19 pill developed by American pharmaceutical company Merck & Co for use from next week, the Japanese health minister said on Friday.

Health Minister Shigeyuki Goto told reporters that a ministry drug panel authorized Merck’s mollupiravir as part of a fast-track process and the drug would be shipped to hospitals and pharmacies starting next week.

It is one of two drugs that Japan has approved to treat COVID-19. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the country was buying 1.6 million doses from Merck.

Japan has also arranged for the shipment of 2 million doses of a COVID-19 pill made by Pfizer that has not yet been approved for use in the country.

Until recently, Japan had largely excluded coronavirus infections, including the new Omicron variant, by implementing stringent border controls. The first locally transmitted cases were reported in Osaka on Wednesday.

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Bethlehem, West Bank – The biblical city of Bethlehem is marking its second straight Christmas Eve in the shadow of the coronavirus.

Small crowds and gray, gloomy weather clouded the celebration on Friday in the traditional birthplace of Jesus. Israel’s ban on almost all incoming air traffic – the main entry point for foreign visitors into the occupied West Bank – kept international tourists away for the second year in a row.

Instead, local authorities are relying on the Holy Land’s small Christian community to lift the spirits. It’s a topic that is watched around the world as fun-lovers, weary of nearly two years of lockdowns and security restrictions, search for ways to celebrate safely.

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Before the pandemic, Bethlehem would host thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world, bringing a strong dose of holiday spirit to the city and a major blow to the local economy.

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PARIS – Protesters angry over virus and vaccine rules have taken over Guadeloupe’s regional legislature as talks stalled over their complaints about the management of the French Caribbean island.

Guadeloupe and Paris officials called Thursday’s incursions unacceptable and a threat to the democratically elected regional council.

Officials posted photos online showing a broken Christmas tree and a banner saying “No to Obligatory Vaccination, No to the Health Pass”.

Vaccination is mandatory for all French health workers and many places require a “health pass” to enter. The measures have faced stiff opposition in Guadeloupe and Martinique, reflecting a long-running frustration over the inequality between the islands and the French mainland.

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SYDNEY – Australia’s New South Wales state is reporting more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours for the second day in a row as state and federal governments take measures to curb the spread of the virus.

The federal health minister also said that experts have recommended that the gap between the second dose of the vaccine and the booster be reduced from five months to January 4, starting from January 4 to January 3.

State Premier Dominic Perrot had opposed the mandatory wearing of masks indoors due to Thursday’s record caseload.

Testing centers have been swamped by people seeking tests before traveling for family Christmas celebrations. People are now being advised to get tested only if they are symptomatic or are close contacts of existing cases.

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Quito, Ecuador – Ecuador is making vaccination against the coronavirus mandatory.

The government said on Thursday that only Ecuadorians whose medical conditions could be complicated by vaccination would be exempt. Those people have to provide the documents.

Officials say that this order has come due to the increase in coronavirus infection and the prevalence of new forms such as Omicron.

Ecuador says it has enough vaccine to vaccinate the entire population. As of Tuesday, about 77% of Ecuador’s 17.3 million people had been vaccinated. About 33,600 people have died of COVID-19 in Ecuador.

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Santiago, Chile – Chile plans to give its citizens a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

President Sebastian Pinera said Thursday that a fourth dose is expected to begin in February.

Health Secretary Enrique Paris says the shot will be different from the one people got before.

Chile has reported about 86% of its population to be fully vaccinated. It has the highest level against the coronavirus in Latin America and the best in the world, according to the online research website Our World in Data.

Pinera says that of the 19 million people in Chile, 10.2 million have received a third dose.

Chile has recorded nearly 39,000 COVID-19 deaths.

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LONDON – Britain’s Public Health Agency says preliminary data suggests people with the omicron version of the coronavirus are 50% to 70% less likely to be hospitalized than those with the delta strain.

The UK Health Protection Agency’s findings add to emerging evidence that Omicron causes milder disease than other types – but it spreads faster and is better avoided by vaccines.

The agency said on Thursday that, depending on cases in the UK, a person with an omicron is estimated to be 31% to 45% less likely to go to a hospital emergency department than Delta, “and 50 to 70% less likely to be admitted.” There is a possibility. to the hospital.”

It cautioned that the analysis is “preliminary and highly uncertain” due to the small number of Omicron patients in hospitals and the fact that most were in the younger age group. As of 20 December, 132 people had been admitted to UK hospitals with confirmed omicrons, of whom 14 – between the ages of 52 and 96 – had died.

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