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UK’s COVID-19 study aims to vaccinate more than 10,000

RIO DE JANEIRO — The coronavirus pandemic accelerated across Latin America on Friday, bringing a surge of new infections and deaths, even as curves flattened and reopening was underway in much of Europe, Asia, and the United States.

The region’s two largest nations — Mexico and Brazil — reported record counts of new cases and deaths almost daily this week, fueling criticism of their presidents, who have slow-walked shutdowns in attempts to limit economic damage.

Brazil reported more than 20,000 deaths and 300,000 confirmed cases, making it the third worst-hit country in the world by official counts. Experts consider both numbers undercounts due to the widespread lack of testing.

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Associated Press

Incidence of virus among African nations holds steady

JOHANNESBURG — Africa’s coronavirus cases have surpassed 100,000, said the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday as the continent with many fragile health systems has not yet seen the high numbers of other parts of the world.

More than 3,100 people have died from COVID-19 across the continent of 1.3 billion people.

The African continent has seen roughly the same number of new cases in the past week as the week before, said John Nkengasong, Africa CDC director, on Thursday, adding that “we hope that trend continues.”

Associated Press

Experimental vaccine moves into advanced stage in UK

LONDON — British researchers testing an experimental vaccine against the new coronavirus are moving into advanced studies and aim to immunize more than 10,000 people to determine if the shot works.

Friday’s announcement came as Chinese scientists who are developing a similar vaccine reported promising results from their own first-step testing, seeing hoped-for immune reactions and no serious side effects in 108 vaccinated people.

Last month, Oxford University researchers began vaccinating more than 1,000 volunteers in a preliminary study designed to test the shot’s safety. Those results aren’t in yet but the Oxford team announced they’re expanding to 10,260 people across Britain, including older people and children.

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Associated Press

Immunization against other illnesses seen as lagging

LONDON — The coronavirus pandemic is interrupting immunization against diseases including measles, polio, and cholera that could put the lives of nearly 80 million children under the age of 1 at risk, according to a new analysis from the World Health Organization.

In a new report issued on Friday, health officials warned that more than half of 129 countries where immunization data were available reported moderate, severe, or total suspensions of vaccination services during March and April.

UNICEF reported a significant delay in planned vaccine deliveries due to lockdown measures and a dramatic reduction in the number of available flights. More than 40 of Africa’s 54 nations have closed their borders, though some allow cargo and emergency transport.

Officials also noted that 46 campaigns to vaccinate children against polio have been suspended in 38 countries, mostly in Africa, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Measles campaigns have been suspended in 27 countries.

Associated Press

Amid spike in virus cases, mosques reopen in Gaza

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Gaza’s Hamas rulers allowed mosques to reopen for Friday prayers for the first time since March despite a spike in coronavirus cases.

Worshipers brought their own prayer rugs, wore masks, and kept space between themselves. They were given hand sanitizer at the entrances to mosques. The opening came ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Authorities in Gaza have reported 35 new cases in recent days, bringing the total number to 55. All the new cases were detected in quarantine facilities. But they have renewed concerns about a wider outbreak that could overwhelm the depleted health care system in the impoverished territory, which is home to 2 million people.

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Hamas says it would bar the entry of returnees until the end of June to allow health workers to deal with the new cases.

Associated Press

Coronavirus cases stabilize in Russia, according to Putin

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin of Russia says the coronavirus has stabilized in the country, with the number of new infections abating.

Russia ranks second behind the United States in the number of infections, with more than 326,400 reported cases and more than 3,200 deaths.

Associated Press

Visitors to UK next month will need to quarantine

LONDON — People arriving in the UK next month will have to quarantine themselves for 14 days and could face an unlimited fine if they fail to comply, the British government announced Friday.

The quarantine plan has sparked confusion and criticism from airlines, airports, and lockdown-weary Britons.

Associated Press

Myanmar to jail journalist over report of COVID death

YANGON, Myanmar — A court in Myanmar has sentenced a journalist to two years in prison for a story that erroneously reported a death from COVID-19.

The lawyer for Zaw Ye Htet, an editor with the Karen State-based news agency Dae Pyaw, says his client was sentenced Wednesday. Myanmar deems it an offense to publish or circulate any rumor or report that can cause fear or alarm among the public that may induce unrest.

Zaw Ye Htet’s wife, Phyu Phyu Win, says her husband acknowledged the error after being summoned by police. He posted a correction online, but was arrested.

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Associated Press