HONOLULU — Hawaii officials are extending a vaccination incentive program to get more shots in arms.
Hawaii Public Radio reports a second round of vaccine incentives will be launched this month. People can register for the second round of incentives beginning July 12, with new prizes include cars, cash and furniture.
The incentive programs have been funded by local businesses.
The state Department of Health says the state’s current incentive program contributed to a 30% increase in vaccinations over what was expected in June.
Nearly 58% of Hawaii’s population is fully vaccinated. When the state reaches 70%, all COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC
— Britain registers nearly 28,000 daily cases, highest since January
— Turkey lifts most pandemic restrictions as new cases plateau
— Delta coronavirus variant exploits low global vaccine rates
— Africa’s COVID-19 envoy blasts EU, COVAX over vaccine crisis
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentine officials say they will study the possibility of combining two different COVID-19 vaccines due to the delayed arrival of Russia’s Sputnik V for many who already received a first dose.
Buenos Aires city Health Minister Fernán Quirós tells Radio Mitre that officials would choose a random sample of potential volunteers to receive a second dose of vaccines made by AstraZeneca or China’s Sinopharm, or wait for a second shot of Sputnik likely starting in mid-August.
Several other countries have tried mixing vaccines due to distribution delays or safety concerns.
Some 70,000 people in Buenos Aires got an initial shot of Sputnik V three months ago and are still waiting a second dose. The number is about 300,000 nationwide.
The country has seen a renewed wave of infections at the start of the Southern Hemisphere winter.
PRAGUE — The Czech Republic is imposing measures to contain the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.
Health Minister Adam Vojtech says all Czechs who return from abroad, including those who are at low risk, must get tested.
Workplaces have been ordered to bar employees who do not present a negative test after returning to the country.
The new restrictions don’t apply for people who have been fully vaccinated, however.
Infections began rising this week after several months of declines.
LISBON, Portugal – Portugal will impose an 11 p.m. curfew in parts of the country with surging coronavirus cases.
The curfew affects 45 council areas including the two largest cities, Lisbon and Porto.
Restaurants, cafes and cultural venues can stay open until 10.30 p.m., with limits on how many people can sit together.
Health authorities say the delta variant is pushing infections to levels not seen since February in the country of 10.3 million people.
Nearly 2,500 confirmed cases were reported Thursday. Hospital admissions of COVID-19 patients are at a two-month high.
BERLIN — A German advisory panel is recommending people who get a first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine be given a second shot with one of the mRNA vaccines.
Germany’s committee on vaccinations cites studies showing a “significantly superior” immune response from a mixture of AstraZeneca with a second shot of an mRNA vaccine compared with two shots of AstraZeneca.
In a draft recommendation Thursday, it calls for a gap of at least four weeks between the different shots.
Germany uses the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines.
In April, German authorities decided people under 60 who had received a first shot of AstraZeneca should as a rule get a second shot of a mRNA vaccine.
That decision came after the AstraZeneca vaccine was linked to extremely rare blood clots.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Police have begun evicting hundreds of homeless families from a recently established tent city near Rio de Janeiro, underscoring Brazil’s resurgent poverty during the pandemic.
Residents blocked the entrance to the site Thursday with bonfires as police launched tear gas and fired water cannons at the tents. In the heart of the Southern Hemisphere winter, the city was experiencing one of its coldest mornings on record.
The forced removal in Itaguai follows a court decision in favor of the land’s owner, state oil company Petrobras. The residents had occupied the plot for two months and baptized it the “First of May Refugee Camp.”
Emergent shantytowns in several cities across Brazil reflect a surge of poverty after the government pared back its pandemic welfare programs. That left many exposed to soaring inflation as the nation’s weak job market has yet to show signs of recovery.
BRANSON, Mo. — Health officials working to boost lagging coronavirus vaccination rates in Missouri are concerned as the July 4 holiday weekend approaches, creating ripe conditions for the fast-spreading delta variant.
Missouri is second only to Nevada for having the highest coronavirus diagnosis rate in the past week. Its seven-day rolling average of daily cases has risen in the past two weeks from 576 per day on June 15 to 891 on Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
State data shows hospitalizations are up 38%.
ISTANBUL — Turkey has eased nearly all pandemic restrictions on businesses and events and lifted nighttime and Sunday curfews.
The Interior Ministry says restaurants and weddings no longer have to limit the number of people, but they still need to abide by social distancing rules. Only hookah shops are still closed.
Concerts and festivals can take place indoors and outdoors, but music must end by midnight.
Turkey’s vaccination drive has gathered speed, surpassing 50 million doses. But only 18% of Turkey’s 84 million population has been fully vaccinated.
Coronavirus infections have been hovering around a seven-day average of about 5,500 cases.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says unspecified “extra precautions” to contain the spread of the coronavirus will be needed in coming weeks, while voicing confidence the remaining restrictions on social contact can be lifted on July 19.
Infections in the U.K. have risen sharply in recent weeks, with government figures showing another 27,989 new cases on Thursday. That’s the highest level since the end of January.
Johnson says he is hopeful life will get back “as close to it was before COVID,” given the evidence showing vaccines are reducing deaths despite rising infections from the more contagious delta variant.
As of Thursday, 67% of the U.K. population has received at least one dose while 49% have had two. Daily virus-related deaths remain relatively low.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has come up well short of his goal of delivering 80 million vaccine doses to the rest of the world by the end of June.
The White House says logistical and regulatory hurdles have slowed the pace of U.S. vaccine diplomacy. The Biden administration had announced about 50 countries and entities would receive a share of the excess COVID-19 vaccine doses.
But an Associated Press tally shows the U.S. has shipped less than 24 million doses to 10 recipient countries. The White House says more will be sent in the coming days.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark is donating 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and North Macedonia.
Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod says the Balkan nations are “experiencing a major vaccine shortage” and he is “glad that we can step in and assist our close partners with the absolutely crucial weapon against the pandemic, namely vaccines.”
Denmark is also giving an extra 1 million doses to COVAX, and initiative to give countries access to coronavirus vaccines regardless of their wealth. Foreign Aid Minister Flemming Moeller says the donation is earmarked for North African countries and Bhutan.
The Scandinavian country has donated AstraZeneca vaccines to Kenya and committed to give doses to Ukraine.
NEW YORK — The latest alarming coronavirus variant is exploiting low global vaccination rates and a rush to ease pandemic restrictions.
That’s adding new urgency to the drive to get more shots in arms. The vaccines most used in Western countries still appear to offer strong protection against the highly contagious delta variant, which was first identified in India and is now in more than 90 countries.
The World Health Organization warned this week that easier-to-spread strains, insufficiently immunized populations and a drop in mask use and other public health measures will delay the end of the pandemic.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says that widespread vaccination is “even more critical because the virus that we have circulating is in fact more transmissible than the original wild type.”
MOSCOW — Russian health authorities have launched booster vaccines for those were inoculated against the coronavirus more than six months ago, amid a surge in new infections and deaths.
Moscow health authorities on Thursday started offering booster shots with the domestically produced, two-shot Sputnik V vaccine and its one-shot Sputnik Light version. Other Russian regions are also starting to offer boosters.
Russia has faced a surge in infections, with more than 20,000 new COVID-19 cases daily since last Thursday. That’s more than double the average in early June.
It recorded 672 deaths Thursday, the highest daily toll since the start of the pandemic.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Thousands of Indonesians have lined up at a sports stadium to receive a COVID-19 dose in a one-day mass vaccination event.
Authorities at the arena in Bekasi, outside Jakarta, aim to vaccinate 25,000 people.
It’s part of a push to dramatically scale up the nation’s virus fight as hospitals fill with sick patients. The goal is to administer 1 million doses per day in July and 2 million in August.
President Joko Widodo announced new community restrictions and the mobilization of the National Police and other resources to combat the surging infections.
The Red Cross warned this week that Indonesia is “on the edge of a COVID-19 catastrophe” and urgently needs to increase medical care, testing and vaccinations.
GENEVA — The World Health Organization says any coronavirus vaccines it has authorized for emergency use should be recognized by countries when they open their borders.
The move could challenge Western countries to broaden their acceptance of two Chinese vaccines, which the U.N. health agency has licensed but most European and North American countries have not.
In addition to vaccines authorized by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, the WHO has also given the green light to two Chinese vaccines made by Sinovac and Sinopharm.
In its aim to restore travel across Europe, the European Union said in May that it would only recognize people as vaccinated if they had received shots licensed by the European Medicines Agency, which doesn’t include the Chinese vaccines. However, it’s up to individual countries if they wish to allow entry to people who have received other vaccines, including Russia’s Sputnik V.
Although Western countries have largely relied on vaccines made in the U.S. and Europe, such as Pfizer and AstraZeneca, many developing countries have used the Chinese-made shots.
This year, the head of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged the effectiveness of its home-grown shots was low and numerous countries that have used them extensively have seen COVID-19 surges even with relatively high levels of immunization.
NAIROBI, Kenya — The African Union special envoy tasked with leading efforts to procure COVID-19 vaccines for the continent is blasting Europe as Africa struggles amid a crushing third wave of infections.
Strive Masiyiwa says “not one dose, not one vial, has left a European factory for Africa.”
Masiyiwa also took aim Thursday at the global COVAX effort to distribute vaccines to low-and middle-income countries, accusing it of withholding crucial information including that key donors had not met funding pledges.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia will impose a curfew in most areas in Selangor and parts of Kuala Lumpur, where coronavirus cases remain high despite a national lockdown since June 1.
Defense Minister Ismail Sabri says the decision was made given the dense population and rising infection rates in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, as well as the spread of more aggressive COVID-19 variants. Malaysia reported 6,988 new infections Thursday, with Selangor and Kuala Lumpur accounting for nearly 60%.
Under the two-week order starting Saturday, Ismail says, people are restricted to their homes, with only one person from each household allowed to go out to buy groceries within a 10-kilometer radius. The curfew starts at 8 p.m.
Only essential services and factories producing food, medicines and masks can operate.
BERLIN — A top German official is criticizing European soccer’s governing body for allowing some 40,000 fans to watch England’s European Championship match against Germany at London’s Wembley Stadium.
The crowd for Tuesday’s second-round match, which England won 2-0, was the biggest in Britain since the pandemic began and came as the more contagious delta variant is fueling a sharp rise in cases in the U.K.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Thursday: “I think this UEFA position is absolutely irresponsible.”
Seehofer added that commercial interests must not outweigh protecting people against infection.
He appealed to UEFA to state clearly that it wants reduced crowds and “not to push this off on local health authorities.”