ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has reported 120 deaths and 4105 new cases of COVID-19 in a single day ahead of a planned closure of all business and transport for a week starting Saturday.
Before the start of the long closure, thousands in every city and town across the country thronged to markets and malls to shop for Eid, which Muslims celebrate at the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Many did not wear face masks.
Traders associations say they intend to defy the planned closure. The commissioner of the capital, Islamabad, earlier said the administration will strictly implement the government plan.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s aide on health, Dr. Faisal Sultan, advised people to stay home and avoid rushing to markets.
Pakistan is currently in the middle of a third wave which authorities say is worse than the previous ones.
Since last year, Pakistan has reported 18,797 deaths from COVID-19 among 854,240 cases.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— India’s surge hits southern states, prompts more lockdowns
— EU says US patent waiver proposal isn’t a magic bullet
— Spain takes vaccine to the rural housebound
— WHO panel OKs emergency use of China’s Sinopharm vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
STOCKHOLM — The Swedish military says some 200 conscripts have been sent home from a major military exercise involving thousands of soldiers in southern and central Sweden due to a suspected outbreak of coronavirus infections.
The “Sydfront 21” drill with over 3,500 participants from 13 different units of the Swedish Armed Forces is the first major military exercise in the Scandinavian nation since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Exercise leader Maj. Ake Palm told Swedish broadcaster TV4 Saturday that the military made the decision to send some of the soldiers home after several conscripts with cold-like symptoms either tested positive or were suspected to have been infected with coronavirus.
Alf Johansson, head of the exercise’s communications, told the Swedish news agency TT that the affected unit had 200 soldiers and 8 positive coronavirus cases have been confirmed so far. He defended arranging the drill in the middle of the pandemic by saying that the military hasn’t burdened civilian health care.
“This is a very important exercise for the army to train together so that we can maintain our ability to defend Sweden,” Johansson told TT.
Sweden, a nation of 10 million, has recorded just over 1 million coronavirus cases, with 14,173 deaths by Friday.
HARTFORD, Conn. — Of the more than 1.4 million Connecticut residents who are now fully vaccinated, 242 later became infected with COVID-19, according to data released Friday from the state Department of Public Health.
Among the 242 so-called “vaccine breakthrough cases,” 109 people had no symptoms of the disease. DPH reported three deaths among vaccinated individuals who were confirmed to have had underlying medical conditions. They were between the ages of 55-64, 65-74, and 75 years and older.
Nationally, there have been 132 vaccine breakthrough deaths, DPH said.
“The main takeaway is that COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective and cases of infection after a person is fully vaccinated are very rare,” Dr. Deidre Gifford, the state’s acting public health commissioner, said in a statement. Cases of COVID-19 in fully vaccinated individuals in Connecticut is less than 0.1%, according to the DPH data.
HELENA, Mont. — Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced that Montana will share COVID-19 vaccines with Canadian truck drivers from neighboring Alberta.
According to a memorandum of understanding signed Friday about 2,000 truck drivers from Alberta who transport goods from Canada to the U.S. will be eligible to be vaccinated at a highway rest stop near Conrad.
The vaccines will be available between May 10 and May 23. A similar program to vaccinate truck drivers from Canada began in North Dakota last month.
The Blackfeet tribe in northern Montana has given around 1,000 vaccines to their relatives and neighbors across the border.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The owner of a Northern California bar was arrested on suspicion of selling made-to-order fake COVID-19 vaccination cards to several undercover state agents for $20 each in what officials said Friday is the first such foiled operation they are aware of nationwide.
The plainclothes agents from California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control were told to write their names and birthdates on Post-it notes. They say bar employees cut the cards, filled out the identifying information and bogus vaccination dates, then laminated the finished product.
Vaccination cards are being used in some places as a pass for people to attend large gatherings. The European Union is considering allowing in tourists who can prove they have been vaccinated.
Acting on an an anonymous tip from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s office, four undercover agents went to Old Corner Saloon in the town of Clements several times in April and bought four fake laminated vaccination cards, officials said.
They returned to the small-town bar this week and arrested the bar’s owner. Agents say they found another two completed cards and 30 additional blank cards along with a laminator and cutting device.
It wasn’t immediately known if the bar owner, Todd Anderson, has an attorney who can speak on his behalf. No one answered the phone at the bar Friday.
DENVER, Colo. — A former Amazon warehouse worker has filed a complaint with the Colorado officials against Amazon over its COVID-19 policies and allegations that her firing was retaliatory.
Linda Rodriguez alleges Amazon fired her in 2020 because she raised concerns about the company’s COVID-19 policies that she said put workers at risk. Her complaint was sent Thursday to the state’s labor department.
An Amazon spokesperson in response to the complaint says Rodriguez was fired for timecard fraud that the company says was confirmed by time records and video footage. Amazon said the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration confirmed Rodriguez withdrew a complaint filed with the agency.
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