Thailand adds 1,500 cases, mulls new measures
BANGKOK, Thailand — Thailand’s coronavirus cases surpassed 1,500 on Thursday to set another record, sparking concerns the pandemic may spiral out of hand.
More than 8,000 cases have been recorded since April 1 in a fresh outbreak linked to nightclubs and bars in central Bangkok. The 1,543 new cases pushes the country’s tally to 37,543, with 97 deaths.
Dr. Chawetsan Namwat from the Department of Disease Control said the outbreak appeared to have spread beyond entertainment venues with new cases now linked to activities such as seminars, office meetings and student field trips.
He said the National Infection Control Committee will meet later Thursday to discuss new measures. Up to 6,000 hospital beds will be added in Bangkok to cope with the rise, he said.
Mass travel for the Thai new year holiday this week is fueling the surge, said Dr. Opas Karnkavinpong, director-general of the Disease Control Department. More worrying is that infections include a more contagious variant of the virus first found in the U.K.
The current outbreak, which has infected at least one Cabinet minister and forced a number of politicians into self-quarantine, has added pressure on the government to speed up its slow vaccination drive, with less than 1% of its population inoculated.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— J&J vaccine to remain in limbo while officials seek evidence
— With 200,000 in 1 day, India skyrockets past 14M virus cases
— Bangkok nightlife clusters expose Thailand’s virus stumbles
— Homeless Americans who have been left off priority lists for coronavirus vaccinations — or even bumped aside as states shifted eligibility to older age groups — are finally getting their shots as vaccine supplies increase.
— A look at which U.S. states are leading at vaccinating against the coronavirus and which states are struggling is beginning to resemble America’s electoral map.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
SAN FRANCISCO — California Gov. Gavin Newsom is urging all schools in the state to reopen, saying there are no health barriers to getting children back into classrooms and ending distance learning.
Speaking Wednesday, he said: “Money is not an object now. It’s an excuse.”
His wishes remain an expectation rather than a mandate because California’s decentralized education system lets the 1,200 school districts govern themselves.
Some of the largest school districts are reopening, including Los Angeles and San Diego.
Newsom says more than 9,000 of California’s 11,000 schools have reopened or have set plans to reopen, but that is misleading because there is no uniformity in what it means for a school to be open. Some are offering one or two days of in-person instruction, mixed with distance learning on other days.
HONOLULU — State lawmakers in Hawaii are moving to delay pay raises scheduled for themselves, the governor and judges because of the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.
Pay raises of 10% were scheduled to take effect for state legislators July 1 as recommended by the state Salary Commission. Instead, a bill that the House initially approved Tuesday will defer the raises until January 2023.
Gov. David Ige says he supports suspending the pay raises. Ige says he already told his Cabinet that he wouldn’t accept his raise.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The public school system in Albuquerque, N.M., is ramping up its efforts to get vaccines to students.
Operations chief Gabriella Duran Blakey says 50 students were included in a vaccine clinic Wednesday as part of a partnership between the school district and city health workers.
Next week, the school district says it will use the reach of its mailing lists and social media to encourage students to register for the vaccines being offered in New Mexico.
As soon as next Wednesday, students could be eligible for vaccine clinics aimed specifically at them. Parents are required to attend in order to sign release forms.
WASHINGTON — Ivanka Trump has received her first COVID-19 shot and is encouraging others to get vaccinated as quickly as they can.
Two people familiar with Ivanka Trump’s plans say she was eligible to get vaccinated along with other White House staff when she worked as a senior adviser, but that she chose to wait. The individuals were not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Ivanka Trump told The Associated Press in a written statement that “getting vaccinated is our best way to beat this virus and protect ourselves and others.”
She received the Pfizer vaccine in Florida, where individuals age 16 and older are eligible to be vaccinated.
The 39-year-old daughter of former President Donald Trump and her family relocated to the Miami area after her father left office in January.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey posted another record of 62,797 confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday.
The ministry also reported 279 deaths in the past 24 hours, the highest since the start of Turkey’s outbreak. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday announced a partial lockdown during the first two weeks of the Muslim month of Ramadan in a bid to curb the infection rate. He also warned of more measures to come if the number of cases fail to decrease.
The measures include bans on intercity travel, a return to online education, closing sports and leisure centers and expanding the length of night-time curfews.
The health ministry says Turkey is going through its “third peak” in infections and about 85% of the cases in the country can be traced to the variant first detected in Britain.
Turkey has registered more than 4 million cases, seventh highest in the world. Confirmed deaths stand at more than 34,000.
MISSION, Kan. — Kansas health officials say the coronavirus variant from Brazil has been detected for the first time in the state.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s announcement the P.1 variant has been detected in Sedgwick County. The agency says it is investigating how the person became infected and whether others may have been exposed. The state now has all three of the most widely spread variants.
Adrienne Byrne, Sedgwick County Health Director reiterated the importance of getting tested for the coronavirus.
This month, the South African variant was identified for the first time in Kansas in someone from Finney County. Another variant first identified in Britain was found in several Kansas counties.
Lee Norman, secretary of health and environment, urged Kansans in a statement to wear masks, physically distance and get vaccinated. About 35% of the state’s 2.9 million residents had received at least one shot by Wednesday.
DENVER — Colorado health officials say nearly 4,000 people who received COVID-19 vaccinations at a medical spa need to be re-vaccinated because they can’t verify the doses were properly stored.
The department announced Tuesday it had stopped vaccinations at Dr. Moma Health and Wellness Clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday after county health officials observed problems in vaccine storage.
The department says the shots given at the clinic are considered invalid and those who got one shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine there need to start the two-shot vaccination process over again.
It says those who got two shots should get one more.
NEW YORK — U.S. health officials are weighing next steps as they investigate a handful of unusual blood clots in women who received Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.
The reports are exceedingly rare — so far, six cases out of more than 7 million inoculations. And it’s not clear if they are linked to the J&J vaccine.
European regulators have declared such blood clots a rare but possible risk with the similarly made AstraZeneca vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. will debate in a public meeting Wednesday how to handle the J&J vaccine while authorities investigate.
“Right now, we believe these events to be extremely rare, but we are also not yet certain we have heard about all possible cases as this syndrome may not be easily recognized,” says CDC Director Rochelle Walensky before the meeting.