SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea says it will provide India with oxygen concentrators, COVID-19 diagnostic kits and other aid items to help the South Asian nation with the world’s worst surge in coronavirus infections.
Health official Yoon Taeho said Wednesday the government will also allow irregular flights to bring back South Korean nationals from India. He says those returning will undergo virus tests three times and be placed under a quarantine.
Yoon didn’t elaborate on the amount of aid items South Korea will send to India. The country’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that the amount of material it was considering sending to India would be “considerable.”
Earlier Wednesday, South Korea reported 775 new virus cases, taking the country’s total to 120,673, with 1,821 deaths.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— CDC: Vaccinated people in US can go outside without mask
— India records more than 320,000 new cases of coronavirus
— Harry, Meghan to lead ‘Vax Live’ fundraising concert in LA
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s pandemic deaths have risen above 345,000, though officials say most states in the country are not seeing any rebound in coronavirus cases.
Only the Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo, home to the resort of Cancun, has seen an uptick in cases as has the Pacific coast state of Colima.
The government announced plans Tuesday to start vaccinating people between the ages of 50 and 59. Previously, only front-line health care personnel, teachers and those over 60 had been eligible for the shots.
The government has administered 16.7 million doses to date, a small amount given the country’s population of 126 million.
HONOLULU — A child who traveled to Hawaii with his vaccinated parents has died after contracting COVID-19.
The Hawaii Department of Health said Tuesday that the boy was younger than 11 and had a known underlying medical condition before being infected with the coronavirus.
It was the first coronavirus-related death of a child in that age range in Hawaii, which has had a total of 479 deaths linked to COVID-19.
The state Department of Health says the child began to show symptoms shortly after arriving in Hawaii and was taken to a hospital, where he later died. Officials say the child’s parents were fully vaccinated and were tested for the coronavirus before traveling to Hawaii.
Officials are giving no further information about the case was released because of privacy laws.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden says the U.S. is sending “a whole series of help” to India to combat the coronavirus, including life-saving therapeutics.
Biden says the U.S. is sending “mechanical parts” India needs to domestically produce COVID-19 vaccines. The president adds the administration is engaging in discussions about when the U.S. could send vaccine doses to India.
“I think we’ll be in a position to be able to share vaccines as well as know-how with other countries who are in real need. That is the hope and expectation,” Biden says.
On Monday, the White House announced it would share about 60 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine with the world once the vaccine passes federal safety and quality reviews.
RENO, Nev. — Burning Man organizers are canceling this summer’s annual counter-culture festival in the Nevada desert for the second year in a row due to COVID-19.
The San Francisco-based group posted a video on its web site Tuesday that said there are too many uncertainties to resolve in time to hold the event as scheduled Aug. 26 – Sept. 3 in the Black Rock Desert, 100 miles north of Reno.
Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell said the “difficult decision” is “based on the best information available to us.”
The Reno Gazette Journal first reported the news Tuesday on its website.
BUFFALO, NY — Want a beer with that shot?
Officials in Buffalo, New York, are hoping to entice more young people to get vaccinated by joining forces with local breweries.
Under the “Shot and a Chaser” program, people who receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine during a May 8 clinic at Resurgence Brewing Company will receive a token worth one drink of their choice.
A similar drink-for-a-dose clinic is planned at another brewery, and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Tuesday that other breweries are welcome to participate.
“We realize that a lot of millennials, a lot of the younger adults, don’t really feel the need to get vaccinated,” Poloncarz said.
Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said the county, which includes Buffalo, is seeing a significant number of new COVID-19 cases among 20-to-39-year-olds.
“This is a way to reach people when they are out and about,” said Jeff Ware of Resurgence.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards is partially lifting Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate enacted to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
The Democratic governor announced Tuesday that he’s limiting the face covering requirement to schools, hospitals, clinics and other specific locations.
Edwards’ decision to roll back the mask mandate he enacted in July is at odds with the recommendations of President Joe Biden’s administration. But it puts him more in line with other Southern state leaders.
The new rules starting Wednesday will require people in Louisiana to wear masks on public transit and in health care facilities, daycare centers , K-12 schools, colleges and some state buildings. Local officials can enact their own mandates.
SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said rising COVID-19 hospitalizations threaten to overwhelm doctors and she is taking steps that will impose restrictions in 15 counties, including a ban on indoor restaurant dining.
Some of the state’s biggest cities, including Portland, Salem, Bend and Eugene, are in the counties that will be moved to the extreme risk category, effective Friday.
“If we don’t act now, doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other health care providers in Oregon will be stretched to their limits treating severe cases of COVID-19,” Brown said in a statement.
The restaurant industry objected to Brown’s move. It’s “tone deaf and offensive to tens of thousands of Oregonians working in restaurants and bars across our state attempting to pay their bills,” said Jason Brandt, head of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association.
BOSTON — Students at all nine schools in the Massachusetts state university system will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to participate in on-campus activities this fall.
The schools’ presidents announced Monday the requirement applies to undergraduate and graduate students attending in-person classes, conducting on-campus research, living on campus or participating in other campus activities. Medical and religious exemptions will be made.
Combined, the nine schools have about 52,000 students.
PHOENIX — Arizona has plenty of COVID-19 vaccine and appointments are no longer required at the state-run vaccination sites in metro Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff and Yuma, the Department of Health Services announced Tuesday.
The department made the announcement a day after it said that 60,000 appointments remained available for this week at the seven sites statewide.
“There is now room for those who simply want to walk in at their convenience.” said Dr. Cara Christ, the department’s director.
About 40% of Arizona’s population has had at least one vaccine shot, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard.
NEW DELHI — India recorded more than 320,000 new cases of coronavirus infection as the surge weighed on the country’s health system.
The 323,144 new infections Tuesday raised India’s total past 17.6 million. It ended a five-day streak of recording the largest single-day increases in any country throughout the pandemic, but the decline likely reflects lower weekend testing rather than reduced spread of the virus.
The health ministry also reported another 2,771 deaths, with roughly 115 Indians succumbing to the disease every hour. The latest deaths pushed India’s total to 197,894, which experts say are probably an undercount.
DETROIT — Attorneys for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration defended coronavirus testing for school athletes, telling a judge Tuesday that Michigan law gives the health director extraordinary power to respond to a pandemic.
A parent group called Let Them Play Michigan is seeking an injunction to stop weekly coronavirus tests, which started April 2 for athletes ages 13-19, and related quarantines and mask requirements.
The group argues that the policy must go through a formal rule-making procedure, a process that would take weeks or months.
Assistant Attorney General Darrin Fowler said state law is clear: A health director can use emergency orders to combat a pandemic. Fowler said the broader interests of public health far outweigh the group’s claim of injuries.
Judge Michael Kelly said he’ll decide soon.
NEW YORK — U.S. health officials say fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear masks outdoors unless they are in a big crowd of strangers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the updated guidance Tuesday. Previously the CDC had been advising that people should wear masks outdoors if they are within 6 feet of each other.
The change comes as more than half of U.S. adults have gotten at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, and more than a third have been fully vaccinated.
The CDC guidance says fully vaccinated or not, people don’t have to wear masks outdoors when they walk, bike or run alone or with members of their household. They also can go maskless in small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated people.
Unvaccinated people should wear masks at outdoor gatherings that include other unvaccinated people. They also should keep using masks at outdoor restaurants.
The coronavirus has killed more than 570,000 people in the U.S., the highest death toll in the world.
SAO PAULO — Brazil’s Senate on Tuesday began an inquiry into the government’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic, a probe that analysts say could jeopardize the reelection of President Jair Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro has been one of the world’s most prominent opponents of restrictions aimed at curbing the disease, whose effects he has often downplayed. He has encouraged use of medications that scientists say are worthless. Critics say his policies, along with a bungled vaccine campaign, have contributed to the world’s second-highest death toll from the coronavirus.
While the investigation isn’t formally aimed at criminal allegations, it potentially could lead to charges. It’s also likely to provide a drumbeat of embarrassing accusations ahead of the 2022 presidential election.
Bolsonaro has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and instead blames governors and mayors, saying their restrictions on activity have caused more problems than the coronavirus.
FRANKFURT, Germany — Europe is ramping up its financial recovery plan, with Germany, France and Italy expected to use billions from a recovery fund.
Finance officials say the continent trails the U.S. and China in recovering from the recession brought on by the pandemic.
German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and French couterpart Bruno Le Maire laid out plans Tuesday for spending on digitalization and fighting climate change. France should get about 40 billion euros ($48 billion) from the EU’s 750 billion euro recovery fund, and Germany around 30 billion euros ($36 billion).
Last year, France’s economy shrank by 8.3% amid the virus crisis, the worst slump since World War II, according to national statistics institute INSEE.
Country leaders are being asked to fix longstanding problems in their economies in return for the money, which leaders hope will start arriving as early as July.
Italy lawmakers on Tuesday approved its 222.1 billion euro ($267.3 billion) spending plan. It includes steps to reduce its backlog of court cases, considered a drag on businesses that can’t get commercial disputes quickly resolved.
KENILWORTH, New Jersey — Merck announced a deal with five makers of generic drugs in India to produce molnupiravir, an experimental antiviral similar to the COVID-19 medicine remdesivir but in a more convenient pill form.
Late-stage testing of the drug just started in the United States, and it’s unclear when the medicine might be used in India or elsewhere. A mid-stage study gave encouraging results, suggesting the drug quickly reduced virus levels when used early after infection.
Remdesivir is widely used for certain hospitalized patients but must be given as an infusion, which limits its use.
Molnupiravir, a pill that Merck is developing with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, has shown wide activity against many types of respiratory viruses, according to Dr. George Painter, an Emory University professor who helped discover it.
“It’s my assumption that those generic drug manufacturers who have enormous capacity either have this on hand or will make it quickly,” he said.