The Latest: Australian capital locks down after 1 infection
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s capital will go into lockdown for a week from Thursday after a single case of COVID-19 was detected and the virus was found in wastewater.
Canberra joins Sydney, Melbourne and several cities in New South Wales state that are locked down due to the delta variant.
Canberra residents can only leave home for essential reasons from 5 p.m. on Thursday, general retail stores will be closed and hospitality venues will only to able to sell takeout, an Australian Capital Territory government statement said.
Schools will be open to students who cannot stay at home.
The infection is the first locally-acquired case in the city of 460,000 since July 10 last year.
A Canberra resident, a man aged in his 20s, had been infectious in Canberra since Sunday and tested positive on Thursday, Australian Capital Territory Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman said.
The source of the infection was unknown, she said. Coronavirus was detected in wastewater late Wednesday, she said.
The lockdown starts on the final day of a two-week sitting of the Federal Parliament.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— U.S. Republicans take to mask wars as virus surges in red states
— California 1st state to require COVID-19 vaccine or test for teachers, staff
— New Zealand plans to start reopening borders early next year
— CDC urges COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy as delta surges
— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ISLAMABAD– Pakistan on Thursday reported 102 deaths from coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the highest single-day toll from COVID-19 since April.
The National Command and Operations Center says 4,934 new infections were reported across the country in the past 24 hours amid continued violations of social distancing rules.
Most infections and fatalities are being reported in southern Sindh and eastern Punjab provinces.
The spike has added pressure on the country’s fragile healthcare system and authorities.
The government is requesting people to get vaccinated against coronavirus as soon as possible to return to a normal life.
Pakistan has reduced the maximum duration for the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccines from 48 to 28 days after importing millions of doses of vaccines from China. Pakistan is also expected to get more vaccine under the COVAX scheme this month.
Pakistan has reported 1,085,294 confirmed cases and 24,187 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
ATLANTA — Four tiny Georgia public school districts have temporarily shut down in-person instruction within days of starting school, saying high COVID-19 case counts among students and staff makes it unsafe to continue.
Other districts have closed individual schools or sent hundreds of students into quarantine after exposure to people with COVID-19.
The 1,100-student Macon County district on Wednesday became the fourth district to suspend in-person classes, following the smaller Taliaferro, Glascock and Talbot counties in recent days. The four districts combined serve a fraction of 1% of Georgia’s 1.7 million students.
“The difference now in this outbreak that we see than the outbreak that happened last school year is that this seems to be more centered on kids…rather than adults so that scares me to death,” Talbot County Superintendent Jack Catrett told WTVM-TV.
The moves show the difficulty of keeping schools open as COVID-19 surges in Georgia’s broader society, despite the determination of local school leaders to focus on in-person classes this year.
HOUSTON — Defiance of Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates continued on Wednesday as another Texas school district announced plans to require students to wear face coverings and another county scored a legal victory in its efforts to issue such mandates amid a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations throughout the state.
The Houston suburb of Spring became the latest to require its students, teachers and staff to wear masks. School districts in Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and Fort Worth have also issued mask mandates. The superintendent of Houston’s school district, the state’s largest, planned to ask his school board to approve a mask mandate during a Thursday meeting.
The mandates go against an executive order Abbott repeated last month banning mask mandates by any state, county or local government entity.
On Wednesday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins signed an executive order requiring that masks be worn inside schools, county buildings and businesses. The action by Jenkins, the top elected official in Dallas County, came after a state district judge on Tuesday granted a temporary restraining order against Abbott’s executive order, allowing Jenkins to issue the mask mandate.
The legal ruling from Dallas County follows one from earlier Tuesday when another judge issued a different temporary restraining order, allowing officials in San Antonio and Bexar County to mandate masks in public schools.
Officials in Fort County, located just southwest of Houston, announced Wednesday afternoon they would also file a lawsuit seeking to override Abbott’s ban on mask mandates.
Renae Eze, a spokeswoman for Abbott, said in a statement that violating the governor’s executive orders “and violating parental rights — is not the way to do it.”
OTTAWA — Canada’s immigration minister says fully vaccinated Canadians will soon be able to get a government document that will certify their COVID-19 vaccine history for the purpose of international travel.
The document, expected to be ready by the fall, will be digital, with an option for those who cannot or do not want a digital certificate. Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino says it will include data on the type of vaccines received, the dates and the location.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc says the program has to be done in cooperation with provinces and territories because they have the data that is needed. He says if provinces want to use the same passport within their province that could be an option.
Quebec is introducing a provincial passport next month that will be required for people who want to attend public events, go to the gym or frequent a restaurant or bar.
OKLAHOMA CITY — The superintendent of a public charter school in Oklahoma City said students and staff must begin wearing masks indoors, defying a state law that prohibits such mandates.
Superintendent Chris Brewster at Santa Fe South Schools, a 3,500-student, pre-K through 12 district in south Oklahoma City, also said in a letter on the district’s website that he is exploring whether to require vaccinations for school employees.
Brewster did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a law earlier this year prohibiting public schools, technology centers and colleges and universities from requiring vaccinations or masks unless there is a declared state of emergency. Stitt ended Oklahoma’s emergency declaration in May.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said she plans to meet with Stitt to discuss reinstating the emergency declaration. Stitt’s office didn’t immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment on whether he’s reconsidering a declaration.
While many districts have indicated they expect students and staff to wear masks, Santa Fe South is the first in Oklahoma to require them. Tulsa Public Schools planned a meeting Wednesday to consider possible litigation against Stitt over the mask prohibition.
Similar defiance to mask laws is occurring in other states that have imposed such bans.
PHOENIX — Arizona State University on Wednesday announced the school will require masks in certain indoor settings, such as classrooms and labs, regardless of vaccination status to help fight the spread of COVID-19.
A university policy statement posted Wednesday said other settings where masks will be required include “close-quarter environments where physical distancing may not be possible.” Those include facilities that serve the public, meeting rooms, workshops and any indoor areas designated by posted signage.
Arizona on Wednesday reported 1,970 new COVID-19 cases and six additional deaths. There were 1,513 hospitalized COVID-19 patients as of Tuesday.
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