Live updates: Israel allows boosters after 3 months

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A medical worker in a cabin takes a nasal sample from a man at a makeshift testing site in Seoul, South Korea on Monday, December 27, 2021. (AP Photo / Ahn Young-joon)

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JERUSALEM – Israel’s health ministry has said it will allow people who have received two doses of the coronavirus vaccine to be boosted after three months, rather than the five-month waiting period it previously allowed.

The government said in a statement on Monday that it was shortening the deadline to strengthen immunity as the omicron variant rapidly spread around the world.

The new rule would apply to vaccines manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

There was still no decision on whether to roll out a second tranche of boosters to its people as the country grapples with a rise in infections.

Israel began trials of a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Monday in what is believed to be the first such study.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC:

– Omicron spreads global gloom over New Year’s celebrations

– Delta flight to Shanghai has been turned around due to COVID rules.

– The variant disrupts vacation travel but not shopping

– France records for the first time more than 100,000 daily contaminations

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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HERE’S WHAT HAPPENS TODAY:

CHICAGO – Illinois is helping local health departments recruit staff at local health department mass immunization sites. The move comes as the state experiences its largest increase in COVID-19 cases during the entire pandemic.

Gov. JB Pritzker announced Monday that Illinois is adding at least 100 people to help local health service mass vaccination sites to meet growing demand.

Starting next week, the state will also open its community testing sites six days a week.

The state is averaging 500 new hospital admissions per day for COVID-19, double from about a month ago.

Illinois Director of Public Health Dr Ngozi Ezike said the majority of people hospitalized are not vaccinated.

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JACKSON, Mississippi – The Mississippi State Department of Health is reporting more than 7,000 new cases of COVID-19 over a five-day period.

The department released new figures on Monday, covering confirmed cases from Wednesday to Sunday.

The state is seeing a significant increase in cases compared to just a few weeks ago. During the two weeks of November 23 to December 6, Mississippi confirmed 5,185 new cases of COVID-19.

On Monday, in the Jackson area, parking lots were full at medical clinics that offer COVID-19 testing. A long line of cars waited at a church in North Jackson with a mobile test site in the parking lot.

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ATLANTA – The omicron wave of COVID-19 is rapidly increasing the number of patients infected with the virus in hospitals in Georgia.

The most significant impacts in terms of infections and hospitalizations are observed in the Atlanta area.

The number of patients hospitalized statewide with the virus climbed more than 50% in one week, to around 1,900 on Monday. The State Department of Public Health said the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in Georgia rose to nearly 8,700 per day on Monday. This is approaching the peaks Georgia saw in the number of infections in early January and late August and early September.

The crush is seen in Atlanta-area emergency rooms. As of mid-afternoon Monday, at the Atlanta-area hospitals that treat all adults, 18 emergency rooms were refusing ambulances, while only 10 were accepting ambulances, state data showed.

Katherine Watson, spokesperson for the system at five Northside hospitals, said COVID-19 patients made up 25% of the system’s total adult inpatient population on Monday.

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PARIS – French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced new COVID-19 measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus, but without imposing strict restrictions before New Year’s Eve.

From next week, major events will be limited to 2,000 people indoors and 5,000 people outdoors. People will be invited to sit during concerts and patrons will not be allowed to stand in bars, Castex detailed.

Eating and drinking will be prohibited in cinemas, theaters, sports facilities and public transport, including on long-distance lines. Teleworking will be compulsory at least three days a week for employees whose work allows it, he added.

Castex said schools will open as scheduled on Jan.3 and political rallies will not be affected by the new rules for democratic reasons ahead of the April presidential election.

The measures come after France recorded more than 100,000 viral infections in a single day for the first time in the pandemic.

Castex stressed that hospital intensive care units are not saturated as more than 90% of French adults are fully vaccinated, which is in stark contrast to the situation last year.

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LONDON – UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Monday that no further coronavirus restrictions would be introduced in England before the new year, but urged people to remain cautious and celebrate outside if possible .

COVID-19 data was spotty over the Christmas holidays, but the latest official figures showed 98,515 new infections were recorded in England on Monday and 143 people have died with the virus. The National Health Service in England reported that there were 1,281 hospital admissions for coronavirus on Christmas Day, up more than 70% from the previous week.

The four parts of the UK have taken different approaches to coronavirus restrictions as the omicron variant is spreading rapidly in the country. As nightclubs have been closed and limits on gatherings have been imposed in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, authorities have resisted tightening restrictions in England.

Javid said around 90% of cases across England were the omicron variant.

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WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Monday pledged the federal government’s full support for states facing an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases due to the more transmissible omicron variant and a series of home tests.

Joining a regular meeting between his coronavirus response team and the National Governors Association, Biden said, “My message is, if you need anything, say something, and we’ll stand by you. every possible way. “

Biden acknowledged the long lines and chaotic scenes as Americans sought testing amid the upsurge in cases and sought to safely reunite with family and friends over the holidays.

He referred to his administration’s plan to make 500 million rapid tests available to Americans starting next month through a yet-to-be-developed website.

A White House official said the new tests would come from new manufacturing capacity and not interfere with existing supply chains.

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WASHINGTON – Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, said on Monday that the United States should “seriously” consider a vaccination mandate for domestic travel.

Speaking to MSNBC, Fauci, who is President Joe Biden’s chief scientific adviser on the COVID-19 response, said: “When you make vaccination a requirement, it’s another incentive to get more vaccinated. of people. “

The United States currently requires that most foreign nationals traveling to the United States be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, but has not instituted one for domestic travel.

The administration has at times considered a requirement for a nationwide vaccination, or requiring either vaccination or proof of negative testing, but two officials said Biden’s science advisers have yet to formally make the recommendation to the president. Officials noted that they were unwilling to impose vaccination for domestic air travel, as they expected it to immediately face legal challenges, mitigating its potential effectiveness as a tool. to increase vaccinations.

Biden’s employer’s vaccination demands were mired in legal wrangling, with the Supreme Court hearing arguments in early January in cases to overturn them.

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ATHENS – In Greece, authorities announced further restrictions after announcing the highest number of daily confirmed infections, at 9,284, since the start of the pandemic.

Health Minister Thanos Plevris announced that from January 3: the compulsory use of high protection or double masks will be imposed in supermarkets and on public transport, entertainment venues will close at midnight, capacity will be reduced to 10% in football stadiums, distant work and schedule changes will be extended in the public sector and visits to nursing homes will only be allowed for people with a negative PCR test result.

“The omicron variant is now apparent across the country, particularly in greater Athens where there has been a huge increase in cases,” Plevris said.

He added that the new restrictions would take effect after the New Year amid fears that if imposed sooner they would lead to an increase in private gatherings.

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HELSINKI – Denmark has recorded the highest number of daily cases of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic with 16,164 new cases of infection in the past 24 hours.

The figure released on Monday by Danish health authorities did not break the previous daily record set in the Scandinavian country until Sunday when 14,844 new infections were documented.

Seven people infected with COVID-19 have died in the past 24 hours. This brings the total death toll in Denmark to 3,217, officials said.

The number of coronavirus infections in Denmark started to rise sharply in early December, but last week the pace appeared to have stabilized. But health officials said the number of infections had started to rise again dramatically in the past few days.

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