JERUSALEM — The Israeli Cabinet has voted to extend a nationwide lockdown for at least five more days as it struggles to bring a raging coronavirus outbreak under control.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced early Monday that the restrictions, which have forced nonessential businesses and most schools to remain closed for the past month, will remain in effect until at least Friday. A ban on nearly all incoming and outgoing flights will remain in effect for another week.

The Cabinet is to meet on Wednesday to decide whether to extend the restrictions even longer.

Israel has launched one of the world’s most aggressive vaccination campaigns, inoculating more than one-third of its population in just one month.

But the vaccine has had little effect so far in controlling the outbreak, which has spread quickly with the arrival of foreign variants of the coronavirus and continued violations of lockdown restrictions. Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Israelis thronged a pair of funerals Sunday, defying a ban on large public gatherings.

Israel, a country of 9.3 million people, has been reporting an average of some 6,000 new cases of the coronavirus each day, one of the highest infection rates in the developed world. The Health Ministry says nearly 4,800 people have died since the beginning of the pandemic.

Boston allows gyms, theaters, museums, harbor cruises to reopen

BOSTON — Businesses like gyms, movie theaters, museums and sight-seeing harbor cruises can resume Monday in Boston under its coronavirus pandemic reopening plan.

The businesses can reopen, following a 25% capacity limit, given the improvement in the number of COVID-19 cases and in the city’s positivity rate.

Other sites include aquariums, indoor recreational venues with the potential for low contact, such as batting cages and bowling alleys, and gaming arcades.

“While there has been some improvement in recent weeks, it’s still vital that everyone remains vigilant,” Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement last week.

Lockdown in Perth, Australia reaches 5 days

PERTH, AustraIia — The city of Perth has been locked down for five days after Western Australia state’s first case of local COVID-19 infection in almost 10 months.

The city of 2 million people and coastal towns to the south were locked down from Sunday night until Friday night.

This followed a security guard who worked at a Perth quarantine hotel contracting a highly contagious British variant of the virus. Overseas travelers who arrive in Perth must isolate in hotel quarantine for 14 days.

The last previous known case of someone being infected with COVID-19 within Western Australia was on April 11.

Western Australia, Australia’s largest state by area, has remained virus-free for months by enforcing the nation’s toughest border restrictions in an elimination strategy. Those within the state have enjoyed some of Australia’s least restrictive pandemic measures because of the low risk.

All Perth residents must stay at home unless shopping for essentials, attending to

medical needs, exercising within their neighborhood or working if

unable to do so remotely.

Schools which were due to resume on Monday will remain closed for another week.

California COVID cases starting to slip

LOS ANGELES — California on Sunday reported another 481 coronavirus deaths, a day after the statewide death toll topped 40,000 even as the rates of new infections and hospitalizations continue to fall.

The state said that the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 slipped below 14,850 — a drop of more than 25% in two weeks.

The 18,974 new confirmed cases are about one-third the mid-December peak of 54,000.

With hospitalizations and confirmed cases falling, health officials are optimistic that the worst of the latest surge is over.

Deaths remain staggeringly high, however, with more than 3,800 in the last week.

It took six months for California to record its first 10,000 deaths, then four months to double to 20,000. In just five more weeks the state reached 30,000. It then took only 20 days to get to 40,000. On Sunday deaths rose to 40,697, while total cases topped 3.2 million.

NYC mayor acknowledges racial disparity in vaccination progress

NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is acknowledging that Black and Latino New Yorkers are receiving COVID-19 vaccines at far lower rates than white or Asian residents.

Data released by the city’s health department shows that 48% of the city residents who have gotten at least one vaccine dose are white. That’s far higher than the roughly one-third the city’s population that is non-Hispanic white.

Just 11% of vaccine doses administered to New York City residents went to Black people and 15% to Latinos. The vaccine numbers are incomplete because about 40% of people who have been vaccinated in the city haven’t provided demographic information.

Still, the figures mirror vaccination data from other cities and states.

“Clearly, we do see a profound disparity that needs to be addressed aggressively and creatively,” de Blasio said in a conference call with reporters. “We’ve got a profound problem of distrust and hesitancy, particularly in communities of color.”

Connecticut believes enough vaccines given in nursing homes to stop transmission

HARTFORD, Conn. — A top Connecticut official says that COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to enough nursing home residents in the state to potentially stop the transmission of the virus among those residents.

Josh Geballe, chief operating officer for the state, said Saturday that Connecticut nursing homes are reporting that 90% to 100% of residents have received at least the first of two vaccine shots.

He said the number of weekly COVID-19 cases in nursing homes has declined by 66% in the last three weeks. Geballe said some vaccine doses that had been earmarked for nursing homes are being reallocated to hospitals and retail sites.

Peru lockdown efforts largely ignored

LIMA, Peru — Peru began what was supposed to be a severe lockdown Sunday to combat surging COVID-19, but the order was widely ignored in the nation’s capital.

President Francisco Sagasti went on television urging Peruvians “to make an extra effort to contain the growing wave of infections and deaths.” His government told people in the capital and nine other regions to limit trips outside the home to 60 minutes and it closed churches, gymnasiums, museums, libraries and other institutions.

But marketplaces were crowded. Even some bus drivers ignored mandatory face mask rules. Seventy percent of Peruvians have no income if they stay home. The government says it will give $165 each to 4 million families — but only after the two-week quarantine.

Hundreds of people crowded bus stations in Lima to head for less-restricted rural regions before terminals close later this week. Flights from Brazil and Europe have been cancelled.

Lima Police Chief Jorge Angulo said his agency would try to enforce restrictions, and he noted that 540 of his officers already have died of the virus.

The country of 33 million people has recorded more than 1 million infections and more than 40,000 deaths from COVID-19.

Greece detects first case of South African variant

ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities have confirmed the first detection of the South African variant of the new coronavirus in the country, prompting top health officials to fly to the area where it was found for meetings on Sunday.

The minister leading the government response to the pandemic and the head of the country’s public health body met with doctors and the local bishop in the northern city of Thessaloniki. The variant is believed to be more contagious than the original type and it was detected in a 36-year-old deacon in a suburb of the city.

“We will be doing screenings to isolate the persons who have been in contact with the patient,” said Panayiotis Arkoumaneas, head of the National Public Health Organization.

There have also been 173 cases of people affected with a variant first detected in the U.K., authorities said Sunday.

Authorities announced 484 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, as well as 17 deaths. The total number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic is 156,957, with 5,796 fatalities.

Experts warn there could be a resurgence in February and March and say the situation will remain volatile until a large number of vulnerable people are vaccinated.

“The virus is playing the drums and we are dancing to its beat,” said Nikos Sipsas, member of the state advisory committee on the pandemic.

AstraZeneca to supply 9 million additional vaccine doses to lagging EU

BERLIN — Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has agreed to supply 9 million additional doses of its coronavirus vaccine to the European Union during the first quarter, the bloc’s executive branch said Sunday.

The new target of 40 million doses by the end of March is still only half what the British-Swedish company had originally aimed for, triggering a spat between AstraZeneca and the EU last week.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said after a call with seven vaccine makers Sunday that AstraZeneca will also begin deliveries one week sooner than scheduled and expand its manufacturing capacity in Europe.

“Step forward on vaccines,” tweeted Von der Leyen, who has come under intense pressure over the European Commission’s handling of the vaccine orders in recent days.

The EU is far behind Britain and the United States in getting its population of 450 million vaccinated against the virus. The slow rollout has been blamed on a range of national problems as well as delayed approval of the vaccines compared to elsewhere and an initial shortage of supply.

China records highest monthly case total since March

BEIJING — China recorded more than 2,000 new domestic cases of COVID-19 in January, the highest monthly total since the tail end of the initial outbreak in Wuhan in March of last year.

APTOPIX_Virus_Outbreak_China_13058

A woman wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus takes a souvenir photo near a Lunar New Year decoration with ox figures at Qianmen Street, a popular tourist spot in Beijing, on Sunday. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

The National Health Commission said Sunday that 2,016 cases were reported from Jan. 1-30. That does not include another 435 infected people who arrived from abroad. The tally for Jan. 31 is due to be released Monday.

Two people have died in January, the first reported coronavirus deaths in China in several months.

Most of the new cases have been in three northern provinces. Hardest-hit Hebei province, which borders Beijing, has reported more than 900 cases. Beijing, the Chinese capital, has had 45 cases this month.

The numbers, while low compared to many other countries, have prompted officials to tighten restrictions and strongly discourage people from traveling during the upcoming Lunar New Year, a major holiday when people typically return home for family reunions.

Protesters temporarily block L.A. vaccination site

The Los Angeles Times reports that one of the largest vaccination sites in the nation temporarily shut down Saturday because dozen of protesters blocked the entrance, stalling hundreds of motorists who had been waiting in line for hours.

Officials say the Los Angeles Fire Department shut the entrance to the vaccination center at Dodger Stadium about 2 p.m. as a precaution. The protesters had members of anti-vaccine and far-right groups.

Some of them carried signs decrying the COVID-19 vaccine and shouting for people not to get the shots. There were no incidents of violence.

752 new cases, 17 deaths from coronavirus in New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico reported 752 additional known COVID-19 cases and 17 deaths on Saturday, increasing the state’s pandemic totals to 173,539 cases and 3,265 deaths.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

New Mexico’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases dropped in the past two weeks while the rolling average of daily deaths was nearly flat.

Santa Fe’s school superintendent announced Saturday that schools will reopen in a voluntary hybrid model on Feb. 22, two weeks after when state officials have said New Mexico school districts and charter schools can reopen.

The Feb. 22 date provides time to inspect schools and for teachers to set up their classrooms while giving families and staff at least two weeks notice Superintendent Veronica García said.

Cuba tightens restrictions, requires quarantine period

HAVANA — Cuban authorities say they will tighten measures against the spread of COVID-19 to require tourists and other visitors to isolate at their own expense for several days until tests for the new coronavirus come out negative.

The announcement Saturday by Dr. Francisco Durán, Cuba’s director of epidemiology, came as the country announced 910 new infections of the new virus detected Friday, as well as three additional deaths.

Duran said that as of Feb. 6, arriving tourists and Cubans who live abroad will be sent to hotels at their own expense to wait for the results of a PCR test for the new coronavirus, which will be given on their fifth day in the country. A similar measure was imposed in the spring, and apparently helped stem the spread of the virus.

Cubans returning home from abroad will be housed in other centers at government expense to await test results.

Diplomats and some categories of foreign businesspeople will be allowed to isolate at home.

Cube has recorded 25,674 infections with the new coronavirus and 213 deaths since March.

Baltimore cancel some vaccination appointments after overbooking

BALTIMORE — Baltimore public health officials are canceling some COVID-19 vaccination appointments scheduled for next week after overbooking hundreds of first-dose appointments.

The city health department did not specify how many appointments would be canceled, or why the overbooking happened, The Baltimore Sun reported.

The department issued a statement saying it was working to identify potential issues in the state’s scheduling system, and the possibility that links to second-dose appointments were shared via email or social media.

“We are working to confirm that this situation will not occur moving forward,” the statement read.

Officials said they are prioritizing giving second doses to people who have already gotten their first shot because of limited inventory.

Meanwhile, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Saturday that state health officials have confirmed a case of COVID-19 caused by the new variant of the virus that was first detected in South Africa.

Boston’s Fenway Park to offer vaccinations

BOSTON — Starting Monday, 500 vaccinations per day will be administered at Fenway Park. The goal is to reach as many as 1,250 eligible residents per day under Massachusetts’ vaccination plan.

The site at the home of the Boston Red Sox is expected to stay open through the start of baseball season in early April.

Appointments are open for those people under Phase 1 of the state’s vaccine distribution plan and those 75 and older, who will start getting shots on Monday as the rollout moves into Phase 2.

Health care workers started receiving the vaccine at Fenway this week. The state’s first mass vaccination site at Gillette Stadium – home of the New England Patriots – opened this month.

State officials aim to open more than 100 public vaccination sites throughout Massachusetts.

2,400 businesses, people in Maine approved for PPP loans

AUGUSTA, Maine — Some 2,400 businesses and people in Maine have been approved for more than $221 million in forgivable loans in the first two weeks of the reopening of the Paycheck Protection Program.

Those figures apply to loans between Jan. 11 and Jan. 24, according to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, one of the politicians behind the program. The federal government provided $284.5 billion for the program in the most recent COVID-19 relief package.

Small businesses that employ 300 or fewer people and experienced a 25% or greater gross revenue loss because of the coronavirus are eligible to apply for a second forgivable loan under the program.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: