South Korea confirms local cases of viral mutants

Seoul, South Korea — South Korean health officials say they have detected the first local infection, feared to be the more contagious form of the coronavirus first identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said on Wednesday that it had found four local cases of the British variant and one local case of the South African variant.

Since October, healthcare professionals have discovered 39 new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. This includes the first confirmed form in Brazil. Earlier cases were found in people arriving from abroad.

In all five cases of local infection, the virus carrier was transmitted by relatives who recently arrived abroad, officials said.

KDCA said it is expanding contact tracing to determine if new variants may be further distributed. Government officials also called for increased surveillance of passengers arriving abroad to minimize contact with others during the two-week quarantine period, which can most often be done at home.



Outbreak of virus:

— World Health Organization investigator visits China’s Virus Institute, which is the subject of speculation about the origin of the coronavirus

— US President Joe Biden and his Treasury Secretary say Republican alternatives to his virus aid program are too small

— Biden expands access to COVID-19 vaccine and moves to raise virus costs


Follow all AP pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine, https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak



What else is happening:

Seoul, South Korea — South Korean officials allow train drivers to sell only window seats and passenger boats to operate at half capacity to limit travel and rallies during Lunar New Year holidays next week I am.

The Ministry of Health announced measures on Wednesday, repeatedly pleading for people to stay home amid a steady increase in coronavirus infections.

Authorities are also planning to step up disinfection and install more infrared cameras at stations, bus terminals and airports. Travelers should always wear masks and eating food at highway rest areas is prohibited.

Authorities have also extended the crackdown on private social gatherings of five or more people. This is done by punishing restaurants and other businesses when accepting large groups.


Canberra, Australia — Despite reports of dozens of elderly Norwegian deaths, Australian regulators have decided not to set an age limit on the use of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.


The Australian Department of Treatment Products said in a statement Tuesday that it received a report on January 14 about the deaths of about 30 of the more than 40,000 elderly people vaccinated against Pfizer. However, he added, “a causal link between vaccination and death could not be established.”

“Older patients can be vaccinated with this vaccine and there is no upper age limit,” officials said.

Regulators last month tentatively approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine in Australia. The first dose will be given to people over the age of 16 in late February.


Wellington, New Zealand — New Zealand medical regulators have approved the first coronavirus vaccine. Authorities hope to begin injections into border workers by the end of March.

There is no community infection of the virus in New Zealand, and border workers deal with arriving travelers and are considered the most vulnerable to catching and spreading the disease.


On Wednesday, regulators tentatively approved a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for people over the age of 16.

However, New Zealand’s successful eradication of the virus also means that the general public will have to wait longer than many other countries to vaccinate. Officials say they want to start a general vaccination by the middle of the year.


Richmond, Virginia — The Virginia Senate has passed a bill requiring all local school departments to make both virtual and face-to-face learning available to students.

The Chamber of Commerce passed the bill on Tuesday in a bipartisan vote of 26-13.

The potential for a bill at the State Capitol is less certain. During last year’s special legislative session, at least one similar, but narrower bill for students without adequate Internet access failed.

Virginia currently adopts a patchwork approach to schooling, with some public and private schools offering face-to-face learning, while others offer only virtual schools. Proponents of the bill say it is arming children whose parents do not have the resources to pay expensive tuition fees.


Governor Ralph Northam’s spokeswoman said he would consider the bill when it arrived at his desk.


Jackson, Mississippi-Governor of Mississippi, Tate Reeves, said he was skeptical of the new federal government’s efforts to reduce racial disparities in coronavirus vaccination rates.

Reeves said Tuesday that about 10% of Mississippi’s total weekly vaccine allocations will be planned to be sent to pharmacy chains such as Wal-Mart, CVS and Walgreens.

In the Governor’s words, “Probably true in Washington DC and New York City, you could walk blocks in either direction and hit Walgreens, or CVS or Wal-Mart … Mississippi. In the state, there aren’t many Walmarts in Isakena County, and there aren’t many Walmarts in very rural areas. “

As of Tuesday, 17% of Mississippi’s vaccine dose was directed to black residents and 69% to white residents.


Kensington, Maryland — A new study found that the blockade of the pandemic to clean the air warmed the planet a bit in 2020, especially in the eastern United States, Russia, and China.


A survey on Tuesday found that the pandemic blockade reduced soot and sulfate air pollution, but these particles reflected the heat of the sun and helped temporarily cool the area.

As a result, last year there was a temporary warming of two-thirds, and the entire globe warmed about .05 degrees. The lead author of the study said the loss of cooling outweighed the 2020 reduction in heat-trapping carbon pollution.


Topeka, Kansas — Republicans in Kansas are moving to formally condemn Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s decision to give prison inmates the COVID-19 vaccine before others.

The State Senate Health Commission agreed to sponsor a resolution from Republican Senator Richard Hilderbrand on Tuesday, calling on Kelly to overturn her policy on inoculation of prisoners.

The Senate may discuss it later this week.


Lansing, Michigan — Athletes advocacy groups, hockey leagues, and athletes’ parents have sued the director of health in Michigan for a two-and-a-half-month state ban on contact sports issued to control the coronavirus. It was.


He is one of the plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit in the claims court on Tuesday for letting Michigan, a group of student athletes, parents, coaches, and school administrators, play.

The complaint alleges that the order, which was recently extended until February 21, arbitrarily and irrationally selects players and deprives them of their constitutional rights and freedoms.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said he was optimistic that the state could move towards re-engagement in sports. Spokeswoman Lynn Satfin said the governor acted decisively in November as a surge in incidents that could overwhelm the hospital.


Mexico City — Mexico is on the verge of approving Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V after the initial results of advanced research have been published.

Government Pandemic Spokesman Hugo Lopez Gatel, Assistant Secretary of Health, said the Ministry of Health had signed 400,000 contracts for Sputnik V arriving this month on Monday.


Once approved, the Russian vaccine will be the third to receive emergency approval in Mexico. Regulators approved the Pfizer vaccine in December and AstraZeneca in January. Mexico turned to Russia’s vaccine because of the delay in obtaining other vaccines it had hoped for.

Mexico has administered Pfizer to a population of 126 million, all about 675,000 times. On Tuesday, a second batch of the active ingredient in the AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive in Mexico, where it will be packed and distributed to other parts of Latin America.

The Mexican government also launched a new website on Tuesday for people over the age of 60 to register for vaccination appointments. However, the Mexican Health Department’s website was quickly overwhelmed and stopped working.


San Juan, Puerto Rico — The mayor of the capital of Puerto Rico says he tested positive for the coronavirus after undergoing an antigen test.

Miguel Romero said on Twitter that he is isolated and is waiting for the results of a molecular test for confirmation. He added that the rest of his family tested negatively. He was planning to travel to her college with her daughter.


Governor Pedro Pierluisi has also been quarantined after his recent contact with Romero.

Romero is one of Puerto Rico’s top government officials with positive tests. In 3.2 million US territories, more than 157,000 cases and more than 1,800 deaths have been reported.


Brussels — The Belgian government has stated that it will not administer the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to people over the age of 55, and that data on its efficacy among the elderly is still lacking.

Health officials in France, Germany and other countries point out that the Swedish company has not tested the vaccine in enough elderly people to prove that the vaccine is effective and does not recommend it to the elderly. Did.

“There isn’t enough information to say for sure that it’s good for older people,” says Belgian Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.

Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

South Korea confirms local cases of viral mutants

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