The Latest: Russia counts 29,900 new cases, a daily high

MOSCOW — Russian authorities reported 29,935 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest daily spike in the pandemic.

This is nearly 2,700 infections more than was registered the previous day. Russia’s total of over 2.9 million remains the fourth largest coronavirus caseload in the world. The government’s coronavirus task force has also registered more than 53,000 deaths in all.

Russia has been swept by a rapid resurgence of the outbreak this fall, with numbers of confirmed COVID-19 infections and deaths significantly exceeding those reported in the spring. The country’s authorities have resisted imposing a second nationwide lockdown or a widespread closure of businesses.

Earlier this month, mass vaccination against COVID-19 started in Russia with Sputnik V — a domestically developed coronavirus vaccine that is still undergoing advanced studies among tens of thousands of people needed to ensure its safety and effectiveness. Russia has been widely criticized for giving Sputnik V regulatory approval in August after it had only been tested on a few dozen people.



— Nurses fear what’s to come: ‘Walk down our unit for a day’

— Politicians and vaccines: Set an example or cut in line?

— Studies find having COVID-19 may protect against reinfection

— Russia’s Health Ministry has agreed to cut the size of a study of a domestically developed coronavirus vaccine and to stop the enrollment of volunteers.

— France is springing elderly residents from care homes for the holiday season. The aim is to alleviate some of the mental suffering of the coronavirus pandemic by letting care-home residents spend time with family members over Christmas and New Year’s.

— Gridlock at an English port is keeping thousands of truckers and travelers stranded despite a deal with France to lift a two-day blockade imposed because of a new variant of the coronavirus.

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BEIJING — China will suspend flights to and from the UK, joining a growing list of countries who have instituted travel bans, in light of a new variant of the coronavirus, its Foreign Ministry announced Thursday.

It did not offer details on when flights would stop. On Tuesday, the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre in London said it will suspend its operation until further notice.

Non-Chinese passport holders from the UK were already banned from traveling to China in November.


KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s tally of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 1 million on Thursday.

Ukrainian health officials reported 11,490 new infections Thursday, which brought the country’s total to 1,001,132. Ukraine has also reported 17,395 deaths in the pandemic.

The rapid rise in virus cases in Ukraine has started in September and put a strain on the country’s health care system.

In a bid to curb the spread of contagions, Ukrainian authorities decided to impose tight lockdown restrictions in January. Restaurants, bars, malls, gyms, theaters, cinemas and other non-essential businesses will be closed between Jan. 8 and Jan. 24.

Mass public events will be banned, and schools and other educational facilities — with the exception of day care centers — will be on vacation. Only grocery shops, pharmacies, banks, post offices, hotels and public transport will operate during this period of time.


TOKYO — The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has reported 888 newly confirmed coronavirus cases as of Thursday, an all time daily high. The previous highest number of newly confirmed cases was 821.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike reiterated calls for residents to stay home unless absolutely necessary, wear masks, wash hands often and avoid crowds. She noted a growing number of people were becoming infected in their homes or in offices.

The city government has urged Japanese to wear masks even inside their own homes and to open windows once every two hours to improve ventilation.

Authorities are especially concerned about an increase in severe COVID-19 cases, especially among older Japanese, which is straining medical facilities. Japan has the world’s oldest population.


RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil has become the latest country to bar flights from the United Kingdom in a bid to prevent contagion from a new strain of the coronavirus.

The government announced in an extra edition of the country’s official gazette released late Wednesday that it is temporarily prohibiting flights either originating in the U.K. or passing through.

The government also is suspending authorization for foreigners who have been in the U.K. in the preceding 14 days from boarding Brazil-bound flights.

The new rules take effect Friday.


MEXICO CITY — Mexico now has more people hospitalized for COVID-19 than it saw at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic in late July.

The Health Department says 18,301 people are in hospitals across Mexico being treated for the disease that can be caused by the coronavirus. That is 0.4% more than in July.

Mexico City is the epicenter of the current wave of infections and 85% of its hospital beds are in use.

The state of Morelos, just south of the capital, became the fourth of Mexico’s 32 states to declare a “red” alert, which will lead to a partial lockdown and the closure of non-essential businesses starting Thursday.

Medical personnel will be first in line Thursday when vaccinations with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine begin Thursday in Mexico City.


DENVER — Colorado’s prison system has begun vaccinating its workers as the coronavirus continues to spread in its facilities.

Corrections department spokesperson Annie Skinner said Wednesday that frontline health care workers are the focus of the vaccination effort in state prisons. But she adds that other prison workers have also received shots to avoid wasting any doses whenever there is some left over.

Skinner says other prison workers to be vaccinated so far include those who guard prisoners who are hospitalized and those who transport inmates.

She did not immediately have a tally of how many prison workers have received the shots so far.


WASHINGTON — U.S. officials say they are on track to deliver 20 million vaccine doses by the first week of January, but how quickly those shots will get into arms isn’t clear.

In a briefing with reporters Wednesday, Operation Warp Speed official Gen. Gus Perna said states are administering doses at a “good pace” and are “immunizing quite a bit of people.” But the chief science adviser for the U.S. vaccine push added that vaccinating people is going “slower than we thought it would be.”

Data from the CDC says about 1 million doses had been administered as of Wednesday morning out of the 9.5 million doses delivered. However, Perna says there is a lag time in reporting the administration of shots.

The shipments are for vaccines made by Pfizer and partner BioNTech and Moderna.


BELLINGHAM, Wash. — U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen says he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is quarantining in accordance with federal guidelines.

In a Tweet Wednesday the Democrat said he received word of the positive test the day before and is not experiencing any symptoms.

Larsen said he is “prepared to vote by proxy in the coming days if the House schedules votes.”

He represents Washington’s 2nd Congressional District, which is on the northwestern portion of the state and includes the San Juan Islands, Bellingham and Everett.


DENVER — Colorado has started vaccinating correctional workers as the state sees a surge of coronavirus cases in its prisons.

Department of Corrections spokesperson Annie Skinner says facility workers received COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday, with more staffers scheduled to receive initial doses on Wednesday. It wasn’t clear whether guards were among the workers being vaccinated yet or if medical workers were getting the shots.

Scott Bookman, COVID-19 incident commander, says the doctors and nurses providing clinical care in correctional settings would be part of first phase of vaccine distribution. Bookman said distribution among phase 1A and 1B would be “fluid” as they update the plan with public health guidance.