The Latest: China gives Bangladesh 500K vaccine doses

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DHAKA, Bangladesh — China delivered 500,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine as a gift to Bangladesh on Wednesday to help it cope with a shortage.

Bangladesh, a nation of 160 million people, is in desperate need after India banned exports of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines produced by the Serum Institute of India because of its own devastating surge in infections.

Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming formally handed over the Sinopharm vaccines in Dhaka on Wednesday. Bangladesh has already approved the Chinese vaccines after the World Health Organization has recently listed the Sinopharm for emergency use globally.

Bangladesh received about 7 million doses from the Indian institute, but its deal had called for 30 million doses to be delivered by June.

Bangladesh already suspended administering the first dose of vaccines. Some few hundreds of thousands of people are due their second dose but would be left out if new doses do not arrive soon.

Bangladesh has attempted to diversify its vaccine sources, asking the United States for 4 million doses from its stock and signing a deal with Russia to produce Sputnik-V vaccines locally in Bangladesh.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

Public service jobs in the US are increasingly thankless and exhausting, a situation worsened by pandemic

Variant detected in India may spread more easily, but testing to track and understand it better has been slow

— A boom in pet ownership has veterinarians backlogged and burned out

— Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

CANBERRA, Australia — Qantas Airways has pushed back its forecast resumption of international travel to late December.

The Sydney-based airline previously said international travel would restart in late October, based on the government’s forecast on vaccine availability for Australians. However, the Australian government forecast Tuesday that international travel will remain at low levels until mid-2022 and vaccines won’t be widely available in Australia until the end of 2021.

“We will keep reviewing these plans as we move towards December and circumstances evolve,” Qantas said in a statement Wednesday .

Australia bans its citizens from leaving the country except under limited circumstances to prevent them from bringing home infections.

The only exception is New Zealand. The two countries last month introduced a quarantine-free travel bubble that recognized their success in containing the virus.

Qantas said it was optimistic more travel bubbles would open once Australia completes a vaccine rollout and other countries are in similar positions.

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NEW DELHI — India has confirmed 4,205 more deaths, setting another daily record and taking its official COVID-19 toll past 250,000 as it battles a ferocious surge in infections.

Around 370,000 new cases were added in the last 24 hours, pushing India’s total past 23 million, according to the health ministry. The figures are considered vast undercounts due to insufficient testing and records among other factors.

On Tuesday, authorities warned that nearly 90% of districts in the country are seeing a high positivity rate, sparking fears the virus is spreading fast into rural areas.

India’s recent surge has been blamed on more contagious variants as well as government decisions to allow massive crowds to gather for religious festivals and political rallies.

Even though daily cases have shown very early signs of flattening, experts have cautioned authorities to not let down their guard. With nearly 4 million cases still active, health care systems remain strained with limited hospital beds, oxygen and medicine.

Many states have imposed their own restrictions to curb infections, and the southern state of Telangana became the latest to announce a 10-day lockdown on Tuesday. Calls and pressure for a nationwide lockdown have been mounting.

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SALEM, Ore. — Oregon lawmakers have passed a bill to give tenants who are struggling with financial hardships due to the pandemic more time to pay past-due rent.

Currently tenants have until July, but the legislation will extend the deadline to next Feb. 28. The bill already passed the Senate and now goes to the governor.

The measure protects renters from the long-term impact of not making payments on time by barring such information from being reported to consumer credit agencies or being used in consideration of future rental applications. The measure also bars landlords from screening out applicants based on pandemic-era evictions.

In March, more than 17% of Oregon renters in a U.S. Census survey reported being behind on rent payments.

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COLUMBIA, South Carolina — South Carolina parents can opt their children out of wearing masks in public schools.

Gov. Henry McMaster issued the executive order, citing widespread access to coronavirus vaccines for adults across the state.

“It goes against all logic to continue to force our children — especially our youngest children — to wear masks against their parents’ wishes,” McMaster said in the statement Tuesday.

The order also bars state and local government agencies from requiring people to show proof of vaccination in order to receive government services or access public buildings and facilities.

The governor’s order also limits local governments from issuing mask ordinances based on his prior emergency declarations related to the pandemic. Those governments will have to find justification for such mask rules within their own ordinances.

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TORONTO — Canada’s largest province says it will stop giving out first doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine due to concerns over blood clots.

Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams says the decision has been made out of an abundance of caution because of increased instances of a rare blood clotting disorder linked to the shot.

AstraZeneca is restricted in some European countries because of a potential link to extremely rare blood clots. In Canada, at least 12 cases have been confirmed out of more than 2 million doses given and three women have died.

Ontario says it has 49,280 doses of the shot remaining in the province out of over 707,000 received. Health officials are awaiting results of a clinical trial in the United Kingdom looking at giving a different vaccine for the second dose. That would allow people who got AstraZeneca first to be given Pfizer or Moderna for their second dose.

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