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The Latest: AstraZeneca backs Australia vaccine advice

Last Updated Jul 26, 2021 at 3:44 am MDT

Workers in protective gear lower a coffin of a COVID-19 victim to a grave for burial at the special section of the Pedurenan cemetery which was opened to accommodate the surge in deaths during the coronavirus outbreak in Bekasi, West Java, Indonesia, Monday, July 26, 2021.(AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

CANBERRA, Australia — AstraZeneca has backed the advice of Australia’s immunization expert body that Sydney residents should take any COVID-19 vaccine they can get.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, known as ATAGI, recommended on July 13 that adults under the age of 60 take Pfizer because of the increased risk in younger adults of blood clotting caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine. Pfizer and AstraZeneca are the only COVID-19 vaccines registered in Australia.

But with a delta variant cluster growing in Sydney since mid-July, ATAGI on Saturday recommended adults in Australia’s largest city as young as 18 “should strongly consider getting vaccinated with any available vaccine,” including AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca on Monday said it supported ATAGI’s advice, adding that regulatory authorities around the world agreed that the benefits of using the vaccine significantly outweighed the risks across all adults age groups.

Australia has abundant stocks of locally-manufactured AstraZeneca, but imported Pfizer is in short supply.

Because Australia has been relatively successful in containing COVID-19 outbreaks before the more contagious delta variant arrived in Sydney with a U.S. air crew, many Australians are prepared to wait months for Pfizer rather than risk AstraZeneca.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— Malaysia’s Parliament opens after 7 months, emergency to end Aug. 1

— German business confidence sinks as virus clouds outlook

— Europe’s summer tourism outlook dimmed by variants, rules

— Positive virus tests knock Rahm, DeChambeau out of Olympic golf tournament

— Tunisian president fires premier, freezes parliament’s activities after violent protests over economy, virus spread

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— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

BEIJING — New coronavirus cases continue to grow in the major eastern Chinese city of Nanjing, with another 38 reported on Monday, bringing the total to more than 60 over recent days.

Tens of thousands of people are under lockdown and authorities are conducting mass testing of the population, standard practices in China that have generally been successfully in controlling the spread of the virus.

One other case of local transmission was reported in the nearby city of Suqian and one in the northeastern province of Liaoning. Both were classified as being linked to the Nanjing outbreak.

Another 36 imported cases were reported, half of them in Yunnan province near the border with Myanmar, which is facing a severe outbreak. All those newly diagnosed in Yunnan had crossed the border from Yunnan at some point before June 30 and July 24.

China has recorded 87,228 total cases since the initial outbreak in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019, with 741 currently in treatment. The death toll has stayed steady for months at 4,636.

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka has deployed special police teams to arrest people who fail to wear face masks and maintain social distancing in public places amid a surge in COVID-19 patients.

Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said Monday that intelligence officers had reported some people do not wear face masks at public places while some fail to wear it properly.

Rohana said such people “are dealt with according to quarantine laws” and will be arrested and produced before courts.

Under Sri Lanka’s quarantine laws, those who are arrested for not wearing face masks and also not maintaining social distancing in public could face a penalty of LKR 10,000 ($54), six months’ imprisonment or both.

The move comes as health officials warn of a rise in COVID-19 cases nationwide.

Sri Lanka has seen a sharp increase in positive cases and deaths since April, in part because of celebrations and shopping during the traditional new year festival. Total confirmed cases have reached 294,850 with 4,054 fatalities.

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BERLIN — German politicians were deeply divided Sunday over a warning by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff that restrictions for unvaccinated people may be necessary if COVID-19 infection numbers reach new heights in the coming months.

Chief of staff Helge Braun told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag that he doesn’t expect another coronavirus-related lockdown in Germany. But Braun said that unvaccinated people may be barred from entering venues like restaurants, movie theaters or sports stadiums “because the residual risk is too high.”

Braun said getting vaccinated is important to protect against severe disease and because “vaccinated people will definitely have more freedoms than unvaccinated people.” He said such policies would be legal because “the state has the responsibility to protect the health of its citizens.”

His comments fueled a debate in German politics about potential vaccination requirements. The issue has proven divisive, even within Merkel’s own Christian Democrats party. Its candidate to replace Merkel as Germany’s leader, Armin Laschet, said he opposes any formal or informal vaccine requirements for the time being.

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WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are weighing revising their COVID-19 guidelines to recommend that even fully vaccinated individuals wear masks in public.

Fauci, the nation’s top government infectious disease official, told CNN’s “State of the Union” TV show that he’s taken part in conversations about altering the guidelines, something he described as being “under active consideration.”

He noted that some local areas where infection rates are surging are already urging individuals to wear masks in public regardless of their vaccination status. Fauci said those local rules are not incompatible with the CDC’s recommendation that the vaccinated don’t need to wear masks in public.

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TOKYO — Known for their towering drives, golfers Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm won’t make it to the tee box at the Olympics.

The last two U.S. Open champions became the best-known athletes to drop out of the Tokyo Games on Sunday after testing positive for COVID-19.

DeChambeau’s positive came before he left the United States for Tokyo. The musclebound American famous for his game-changing swing speed will replaced by Patrick Reed.

“I am deeply disappointed not to be able to compete in the Olympics for Team USA,” DeChambeau said. “Representing my country means the world to me and it is was a tremendous honor to make this team.”

Rahm was flagged for COVID-19 for the second time in two months — he had a six-shot lead at the Memorial in early June when he was forced to withdraw because of a positive test. The Spaniard said he had gotten his final vaccine shot fewer than 14 days before that positive test.

Both players recently became first-time major champions. DeChambeau won the U.S. Open in 2020 at Winged Foot last fall, and Rahm took this year’s title at Torrey Pines in June, two weeks after the positive test at Muirfield Village.

Several dozen Olympic athletes have tested positive either before leaving for Tokyo or after they arrived.

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PAPEETE, French Polynesia — French President Emmanuel Macron has appealed for national unity and vaccination to fight the resurgent virus, and lashed out at those fueling anti-vaccination sentiment and protests.

About 160,000 people protested around France on Saturday against a special COVID-19 pass for restaurants and mandatory vaccinations for health workers. Many marchers shouted “liberty!” and said the government shouldn’t tell them what to do.

Macron visited a hospital in French Polynesia on Saturday night Tahiti time. He asked “what is your freedom worth if you say to me ‘I don’t want to be vaccinated,’ but tomorrow you infect your father, your mother or myself?”

He said protesters are “free to express themselves in a calm and respectful manner.” But Macron said demonstrations won’t make the coronavirus go away.

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LONDON — Chaos and confusion over travel rules and measures to contain fresh virus outbreaks are contributing to another cruel summer for Europe’s battered tourism industry.

Popular destination countries are grappling with surging COVID-19 variants.

But the patchwork and last-minute nature of the efforts as the peak season gets underway threatens to derail another summer.

Visitors to cultural and tourist sites in France were confronted this week with a new requirement for a special COVID-19 pass.

Italy has said that people will need a similar pass to access museums and movie theaters and dine inside restaurants and cafes.

The Associated Press