The Latest: Pakistan raises vaccine budget to $250 million
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has increased its funds allocation for purchasing COVID-19 vaccines amid a surge in the coronavirus.
Dr. Nausheen Hamid, parliamentary secretary for National Health Services, says the budget for the vaccines has been enhanced to $250 million. Earlier, the government had set aside $150 million.
Pakistan recorded 3,369 new cases of the virus and 72 new deaths on Saturday.
A surge in the virus comes amid massive disregard by people for precautionary measures despite constant warnings by the authorities.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Trucks with first COVID-19 vaccine in US get ready to roll
— Brazi l releases pandemic vaccination plan with holes
— Barcelona concert tests use of same-day COVID-19 screening
— The coronavirus is spreading rapidly in California’s San Joaquin Valley and filling its hospitals. It has the fewest available intensive care unit beds of any region in California, a frightening reality that health officials hope will convince more people to wear masks and socially distance.
— Italy is reclaiming a record that nobody wants: The most coronavirus deaths in Europe. Italy is still trying to figure out how to protect its vulnerable elderly.
— The French government i s giving care home residents more freedom for the end of year holidays, allowing them out to spend time with their families and receive visits even if they are positive for COVID-19.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
UNITED NATIONS — A global alliance of more than 1,000 organizations has announced $20.6 billion in pledges to help women, newborns, young children and adolescents deal with the COVID-19 pandemic as well as longstanding issues.
The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, which is hosted by the World Health Organization, says $16.1 billion are new commitments to address COVID-19, $2.2 billion is new money not linked to the coronavirus, and $2.3 billion is new funding for existing programs.
Low and middle income countries including Afghanistan, India, Kenya, Liberia and Nigeria pledged a total of $6.6 billion while $14 billion came from international aid and grants from Germany, Canada, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the partnership said. The pledges were announced Thursday and Friday.
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, who chairs the partnership, says: “Our concern is that resources -- insufficient to begin with -- are being diverted away to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Clark, who also led the U.N. development agency from 2009 to 2017, said the $20.6 billion will ensure women, children and adolescents can access health services and priority social protections throughout the COVID-19 crisis and recovery periods.
SAN DIEGO -- California’s attorney general has told the owners of two strip clubs to follow orders because he said they are violating the state’s new stay-at-home policy, which bars social gatherings in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
In a letter sent Friday to Midway Ventures LLC and F-12 Entertainment Group, the owners of Pacers Showgirls International and Cheetahs Gentlemen’s Club, respectively, Xavier Becerra said the clubs must change their policies because they are in violation of the order, issued Dec. 6, that covers Southern California.
Becerra said the state will pursue legal action if the companies don’t comply.
The clubs could not immediately be reached for comment.
TOKYO — Japan’s daily coronavirus cases have exceeded 3,000 for the first time while the government delays stricter measures for fear of hurting the economy ahead of the holiday season.
The 3,030 new cases, including 621 in Tokyo, took Japan’s national tally to 177,287 with 2,562 deaths, the Health Ministry said Sunday.
Experts say serious cases are on the rise around the country, putting burden on hospitals and affecting the daily medical treatment for other patients. They urged authorities to take measures such as suspending out-of-town trips and requesting stores to close early.
Recent media surveys show support ratings for the government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga have dropped about 20 points from around 70% during his first three months in office amid public discontent over his coronavirus handling.
Japan issued a non-binding state of emergency in the spring and has survived earlier infection peaks without a lockdown. Experts say the ongoing resurgence in the dry and cold season would be a bigger challenge.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has set another record for its daily coronavirus tally with 1,030, as authorities struggle to suppress the viral spread.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Sunday the additional cases including two deaths raised the national caseload to 42,766 with 580 fatalities.
About 80% of the new cases were found in the densely populated Seoul area, where authorities have shut nightclubs and other high-risk venues, banned late-night dining and taken other steps to slow the spread. But such measures have shown little effect.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Saturday his government may have to enforce its highest-level social distancing rules if the virus doesn’t slow down. Such restrictions would ban a gathering of more than 10 people, shut down schools, theaters and department stores and suspend professional sports leagues.
BALTIMORE — The U.S. has recorded more than 16 million cases of COVID-19, by far the most of any country in the world, according to data kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Cases of the virus have been rising across much of the U.S., causing record death totals in recent days.
India and Brazil are the only two other countries that have reported more than 3 million cases of COVID-19. Globally, more than 71 million cases have been confirmed. The actual number of cases is believed to be far higher because many people haven’t been tested and some who get the disease don’t show symptoms.
The U.S. also leads the world in deaths related to the coronavirus at more than 297,600, including a record 3,309 recorded on Friday.
The increases come as millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer start rolling into U.S. hospitals on Monday. The first vaccines will go to hospital staff and other health care professionals.
The coronavirus has caused more than 1.6 million global deaths.
FRESNO, Calif. — California public health officials say the number of available intensive care unit beds in the vast San Joaquin Valley has dropped to zero for the first time Saturday. Just a day earlier, ICU capacity in region comprised of 12 counties was at 4.5%.
The news comes as ICU units fill up across California amid spiking COVID-19 cases. Last week, San Joaquin Valley and the enormous Southern California region were ordered to follow the strictest anti-COVID-19 rules under a new stay-at-home order.
Overflowing ICUs was a major factor in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to implement the new order.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The U.S. has reached a record 3,309 daily coronavirus deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The deaths reported Friday exceeded by 6% the previous high of 3,124 deaths reported Wednesday.
The U.S. also reached a record daily confirmed infections at 231,775, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. That’s nearly 4,000 more than the previous high on Dec. 4.
The increases come as millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer start rolling into hospitals on Monday. The first vaccines will go to hospital staff and other health care professionals.
The U.S. leads the world in confirmed cases at 15.9 million and deaths at more than 296,000. The coronavirus has caused more than 1.6 million global deaths.
WASHINGTON — The Federal Aviation Administration says pilots may receive the COVID-19 vaccine but may not fly for 48 hours.
The FAA says it is requiring the observation period “to maintain the highest level of safety” in the airspace it regulates. The 48-hour observation also applies to air traffic controllers.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved emergency use of a vaccine developed by Pfizer and shipments are expected in various states on Monday. The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses taken three weeks apart. The 48-hour period applies after both doses.
The FAA says it will monitor reaction to the vaccine. It requires similar waiting periods after aviation employees receive other vaccines, such tuberculosis and typhoid.
ROME — Italy added another 649 coronavirus deaths Saturday, bringing its official total to 64,036 and just shy of Britain’s Europe-leading 64,123 dead.
Italy could overtake Britain despite having 6 million people fewer than the U.K.’s 66 million, and trails only the much larger U.S., Brazil, India and Mexico, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Italy has the most deaths per 100,000 population among the most affected countries. Italy has added nearly 29,000 dead since Sept. 1.
More than 1.8 million Italians have contracted the virus since the start of the pandemic. Health experts say the numbers reflect an underfunded health care system with few ICU beds, government delays in imposing restrictions and an elderly population.
Global cases and death tolls are believed to greatly underestimated because of missed infections, limited testing and different counting criteria.
PHOENIX — Arizona reported 8,076 confirmed coronavirus cases, one of the state’s largest daily total.
The Department of Health Services reported 77 more deaths on Saturday, increasing the state’s confirmed totals to 402,589 cases and 7,322 deaths.
The cases eclipsed Friday’s 6,983 as the third-largest daily case report, behind 12,314 on Tuesday and 10,322 on Dec. 1.
The coronavirus hospitalizations on Friday reached 3,534, up 52 from Thursday and topping the summer surge high of 3,517 on July 13. There were 799 patients in intensive care units.
WASHINGTON — U.S. officials say the nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine will begin arriving in states Monday morning.
Army Gen. Gustave Perna says trucks will roll out Sunday morning as shipping companies UPS and FedEx begin delivering Pfizer’s vaccine to nearly 150 distribution centers across the states. An additional 450 sites will get the vaccine between Tuesday and Wednesday.
Perna is with Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine development program. He says the vaccine was timed to arrive Monday morning so health workers would be available to receive the shots and begin giving them.
BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Gov. Brad Little has authorized another 150 Idaho National Guard soldiers to help medical facilities battle the coronavirus.
The Republican governor added the soldiers to the 100 he activated last month to help the state deal with surging infections and deaths. The 250 soldiers will help with mobile testing support, facility decontamination and coronavirus screenings. They are also helping at food banks.
State officials say nearly 120,000 Idaho residents have been infected. There have been 1,151 confirmed deaths.
The positivity rate is 20%, well above the 5% or less state officials recommend.
VATICAN CITY — Vatican citizens, employees and their families will begin to receive the coronavirus vaccine early next year, according to Vatican News.
The head of the Vatican health service, Dr. Andrea Arcangeli, says the Pfizer vaccine has been chosen, but others might be introduced later. Arcangeli says the Vatican health services planned a campaign to underline the importance of the vaccine, which can be administered to anyone over 18.
The Vatican, a tiny city state of about 600 people in the center of Rome, has beefed up its coronavirus measures amid a resurgence of the outbreak in Italy, including requiring protective masks indoors.
In October, a resident of the Vatican hotel where Pope Francis lives and several Swiss Guards tested positive.
Italy has registered 1.8 million confirmed cases and more than 63,000 confirmed deaths, sixth highest in the world.