COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark’s high vaccination rate has enabled the Scandinavian country to become one of the first European Union nations to lift all domestic restrictions.
The return to normality has been gradual, but as of Friday, the digital pass — a proof of having been vaccinated — is no longer required when entering night clubs, making it the last virus safeguard to fall.
More than 80% of people above the age of 12 have had the two shots. As of midnight, the Danish government no longer considers COVID-19 “a socially critical disease.”
Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said last month that “the epidemic is under control” but warned: “we are not out of the epidemic” and the government will act as needed if necessary.
Jens Lundgren, a professor of viral diseases at the Copenhagen University Hospital, said the government would be “quite willing” to reintroduce restrictions if infections spike again. ___
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Sweeping new vaccine mandatesfor 100 million Americans
— Federal mandate takes vaccine decision off employers ’ hands
— Analysis:Biden’s war on virus becomes war on unvaccinated
— Key parts of Biden’s plan to confront delta variant surge
— Los Angelesschools mandate vaccines for 630,000 students
— Virus claims Black morticians, leaving holes in communities
— See AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BERLIN — Germany’s standing committee on vaccination is recommending that pregnant women get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The committee said on Friday that after evaluating of the available evidence, it is issuing a draft recommendation that women from the second trimester of pregnancy onward and breastfeeding mothers get two doses of an mRNA vaccine.
It also recommended that all those of child-bearing age who haven’t yet been vaccinated get inoculated so they are protected from the coronavirus before any pregnancy.
About two-thirds of Germany’s population has received at least one vaccine dose and 61.9% have been fully vaccinated. The pace of vaccinations has slowed to a crawl recently and officials are keen to encourage more people to get the shots before the winter.
LONDON — A leading scientist behind the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine says booster shots may be unnecessary for many people.
Oxford University Professor Sarah Gilbert told The Telegraph newspaper on Friday that immunity from the vaccine was holding up well — even against the delta variant.
While the elderly and those who are immune-compromised may need boosters, the standard two-dose regimen should protect most people, she said.
Gilbert said the world’s priority should be to get more vaccines to countries that have received limited supplies.
The comments come as the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, a panel of experts that advises the British government, is expected to make recommendations in the coming days on the scale of any booster program.
CAIRO — Egypt’s daily reported cases of coronavirus have surpassed 400 for the first time in months.
The Health Ministry on Friday reported 413 cases and 12 fatalities for the past 24 hours. Daily cases have been spiking in recent weeks since the more contagious delta variant was detected in the country in July.
The latest increase is alarming for Egyptian authorities as schools are scheduled to open their doors for face-to-face classes next week.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country with 100 million people, has reported 291,585 cases including 16,836 fatalities from the pandemic. However, the actual numbers are believed to be much higher since health authorities have done limited testing.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. is doubling the fine for people who break the rule requiring masks on planes, trains and other forms of public transit to slow the spread of COVID-19, with President Joe Biden warning Thursday that violators should “be prepared to pay.”
First-time offenders would face a potential fine of $500 to $1,000 and second-time offenders could pay $1,000 to $3,000 under rules that the Transportation Security Administration said will go into effect Friday.
The fine currently starts at $250 and can go up to $1,500 for repeat offenders.
“If you break the rules, be prepared to pay,” Biden said as he announced the increase during a speech outlining federal vaccine requirements.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka is extending a lockdown for another week as it struggles against a COVID-19 surge.
The COVID-19 committee chaired by President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa decided Friday to extend the lockdown that was to end Monday until Sept. 21, presidential spokesman Kingsly Rathnayaka said.
The lockdown was first imposed on Aug. 20. During that period, the government has allowed export-related factories to operate and for agriculture work to be done, in addition to essential services such as health, food distribution, communication and power.
Doctors and trade unions have warned that hospitals and morgues have reached their maximum capacities during the ongoing surge caused by the delta variant of the coronavirus.
Sri Lanka has confirmed 474,870 cases and 10,689 deaths from the pandemic.
SANTA FE, N.M. — The New Mexico Department of Health says people who got a COVID-19 vaccine shot between Aug. 2-31 must sign up by 5 p.m. Friday if they want to claim the $100 incentive being offered to entice people to get inoculated.
New Mexico residents who got one of the two-shots of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible. To claim the money you must register at vaccineNM.org.
About 54% of residents ages 12 and older who are eligible have been vaccinated. The state has seen more than 239,000 COVID-19 cases and 4,585 deaths.
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that starting next week, the state’s indoor mask mandate will be expanded to include outdoor events with 500 or more attendees, regardless of vaccination status.
The new requirement — which takes effect Monday — comes days after a similar outdoor mask mandates took effect in the state’s two most populous counties, King and Pierce, due to rising COVID-19 cases.
An indoor mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status, has been in place in Washington since Aug. 23. Last month, Oregon was the first state to reinstitute a statewide mask requirement for outdoor public areas where people are close together.