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Monday April 19th, 2021 8:36AM

The Latest: Macron: 'Doing well' after positive virus test

By The Associated Press
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PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron is blaming his positive coronavirus test on negligence and bad luck.

He’s urging citizens to stay safe as critics called out slip-ups in his virus-prevention behavior, including a close handshake and repeated group meals in the past week.

Macron spent two days in negotiations at the EU summit in Brussels with the leaders of the other 26 member countries. Macron and most EU leaders were not masked at various times.

In a video from the presidential retreat where he is isolating, Macron promised Friday to give daily updates on his illness. His symptoms include headaches, fatigue and a dry cough.

“I am doing well,” he says. “Normally, there is no reason for it to evolve in a bad way.”

The 42-year-old French leader says his infection “shows that the virus really can touch everyone, because I am very protected and am very careful.”

He added: “Despite everything I caught this virus -- perhaps, doubtless, a moment of negligence, a moment of bad luck, too.”

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— VP Pence, surgeon general get COVID-19 vaccines at White House

— The FDA plans to approve second vaccine after panel endorsement

— WHO: International vaccine program will get 2 billion doses

— Snags on U.S. coronavirus relief package may force weekend sessions

— 1 in 5 prisoners in US has had cornavirus, 1,700 have died

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Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

MILAN — The Italian government is deliberating new restrictions during the Christmas holidays after the coronavirus death toll rose by 674 and nearly 18,000 people tested positive on Friday.

The death toll remains high weeks after Italy imposed a tiered system of restrictions to stop the surge, including a nationwide 10 p.m. curfew.

The northern region of Veneto, which had enjoyed the lowest level of restrictions, has been among the hardest-hit regions in recent days. It reported 4,211 cases on Friday.

The regional governor Luca Zaia signed an ordinance banning residents from leaving the towns or cities of residence after 2 p.m. starting Saturday through Jan. 6 to ease pressure on hospitals.

Italy has 1.9 million cases and the highest death toll in Europe at 67,894 confirmed deaths.

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan’s information minister says the coronavirus vaccination program likely will start in March.

Shibli Faraz told The Associated Press that Pakistan the budget for vaccines increased from $150 million to $250 million to ensure free vaccinations in his impoverished Islamic nation. The initial vaccines will be for frontline health workers and people over 60.

His comments came shortly after Pakistan reported 2,972 confirmed new coronavirus cases and 83 confirmed deaths in the last 24 hours.

Faraz blamed the increases partly on the opposition holding anti-government rallies across Pakistan in recent despite repeated requests from the government and experts to avoid large gatherings.

Pakistan has reported more than 450,000 confirmed cases and 9,164 confirmed deaths since February.

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NICOSIA, Cyprus — The president of Cyprus says he’ll be among the first vaccinated against COVID-19 later this month.

A statement released on Friday says 74 year-old Nicos Anastasiades will get the shot in accordance with the first phase of the Health Ministry’s vaccination schedule.

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou announced this week that Cyprus would begin its vaccination program in line with other European Union member countries on Dec. 27.

Officials say an initial batch of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech will be administered to nursing home residents and staff. That’s followed by the elderly with chronic ailments and doctors treating COVID-19 patients and other frontline medical staff.

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GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization says its program to help get COVID-19 vaccines to all countries in need, whether rich or poor, has gained access to nearly 2 billion doses of several vaccine candidates.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the agreements mean that some 190 countries and economies participating in the COVAX program will have access to vaccines “during the first half of next year.”

The arrangements bring together pharmaceutical makers including AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and the Serum Institute of India.

He says the message is “vaccines will complement, not replace, the existing effective tools we have for suppressing transmission and saving lives.”

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BERLIN — The German government says the country faces difficult months ahead, despite the upcoming arrival of a coronavirus vaccine.

Official figures Friday show 33,777 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus and 813 additional deaths in the past day.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert says the expected regulatory approval of a vaccine “naturally gives us hope, but obviously it won’t solve the problem.”

He says January and February will be the “hardest that we have in this pandemic.”

Germany had contained the coronavirus early in the pandemic before a recent surge. There have been 1.4 million confirmed cases (12th highest in the world) and more than 25,000 confirmed deaths (14th), according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

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BERN — The Swiss government is ordering the closure of restaurants, bars, cultural venues and sports facilities next week because of increasing coronavirus cases.

The government says the closures, which start Tuesday, are necessary as “hospitals and health care workers have been under extreme pressure for weeks and the festive period increases the risk of an even more rapid rise in cases.”

The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in Switzerland has risen over the past two weeks from 43 cases per 100,000 people on Dec. 3 to 50 on Thursday.

The government is restricting the number of people who can be in stores, which must close after 7 p.m. and on Sundays and public holidays.

The federal government left it to Switzerland’s 26 cantons (states) to decide whether to close ski facilities. Their operation has raised concerns in some of Switzerland’s neighboring countries.

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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia’s Prime Minister Igor Matovic has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The announcement Friday came a day after French President Emmanuel Macron tested positive. Both leaders attended an EU summit in Brussels last week.

The prime minister’s office says Matovic was tested on Thursday and has cancelled all his events. Members of Matovic’s coalition government are in quarantine after he led the government’s last session on Wednesday.

Slovakia is imposing an around the clock curfew on Saturday to response to a recent surge of coronavirus infections, which reached a record 3,991 cases on Thursday.

The government has urged people to isolate at least seven days or get tested before they see relatives during Christmas holidays.

The country of 5.4 million had 146,124 confirmed cases with 1,440 confirmed deaths.

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WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence is getting vaccinated for the coronavirus during a White House event aimed at convincing skeptical Americans the vaccines are safe.

Pence’s wife, Karen, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams also got the vaccine on Friday. The pandemic enters it 10th month and has killed more than 310,000 people in the United States.

Pence rolled up his sleeve, received the shot and told the medical personnel “That’s great. Great job.”

He says with hospitalizations rising, the nation still has a way to go to get past the pandemic. He says the second vaccine, made by Moderna, is expected to receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration later today.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also are going to be vaccinated in public. It’s unclear when President Donald Trump will be administered the shot.

Since losing the election, Trump has been relatively quiet about the rollout of the vaccines even though he has claimed credit for helping oversee the speedy development and deployment of the vaccine. Pence toured a vaccine production facility earlier this week.

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WASHINGTON — Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says shipments of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine will begin this weekend if the FDA grants emergency use authorization as expected on Friday.

“Trucks will roll, planes will fly this weekend, 5.9 million doses of Moderna vaccine allocated for next week,” Azar told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday.

Azar says the Moderna vaccine is “shockingly effective” and he expected to get vaccinated next week, if the White House doctor cleared him to do so. Azar’s wife has tested positive for the coronavirus and he is in quarantine.

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams are getting vaccinated on live TV Friday morning.

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WASHINGTON — The congressional negotiators are working on a must-pass, almost $1 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package.

A weekend session appears necessary as it hits some snags, and a top lawmaker warned that a government shutdown this weekend can’t be ruled out. All sides appear hopeful the wrangling won’t derail the legislation.

The central elements of the hard-fought aid compromise appear in place: more than $300 billion in aid to businesses; a $300-per-week bonus federal jobless benefit and renewal of soon-to-expire state benefits; $600 direct payments to individuals; vaccine distribution funds; and money for renters, schools, the Postal Service and people needing food aid.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — One in every five state and federal prisoners in the United States has tested positive for the coronavirus, a rate more than four times higher than the general population.

In some states, more than half of prisoners have been infected, according to data collected by The Associated Press and The Marshall Project.

As the pandemic enters its 10th month — and as the first Americans begin to receive a long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine — at least 275,000 prisoners have been infected and more than 1,700 have died.

New cases in prisons this week reached their highest level since testing began in the spring, far outstripping previous peaks in April and August.

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BERLIN — Germany’s health minister urged for patience as the country prepares to start vaccinating people against COVID-19, saying those most at risk should be immunized first.

Jens Spahn says people in nursing homes would be the first to receive shots on Dec. 27, when Germany expects to roll out the vaccine. About half of all Germany’s nearly 25,000 COVID-19 deaths were in people over 80 years of age, many in nursing homes.

Medical staff working in critical care are next in line. Others, including police officers and teachers, won’t receive the vaccine until later.

Spahn says Germany, a country of 83 million, expects to receive 11 to 13 million vaccine doses during the first quarter of 2021. That number may rise if more vaccines are approved by regulators.

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MADRID — Spain's health minster says the country will begin vaccinating for COVID-19 on Dec. 27.

Salvador Illa says the Pfizer vaccines are due to arrive in Spain on Dec. 26. He didn't say how many doses Spain will receive initially. The country has said it will receive 140 million doses overall.

Spain says it hopes to vaccinate 2.5 million people in the first three months of 2021, starting with elderly people and health workers.

After declining substantially in recent weeks, Spain’s infections numbers are starting to rise again although they are still among the lowest in the European Union.

Illa says the “situation is worrying” and reiterated the need to abide by restrictions over Christmas.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norway says it will receive around 50,000 coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech between Christmas and New Year.

The Norwegian government says it will receive a first batch of 10,000 vaccines on Dec. 26 and not Dec. 24 as first announced.

The European Medicines Agency has moved up the assessment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to Dec. 21 and non-European Union member Norway is synchronizing the rollout with the rest of the bloc.

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BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia’s state television says health authorities have given the go-ahead to import the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

It says the Medicines and Medical Devices Agency of Serbia has approved the vaccine's importation after reviewing the documentation from the U.S. and German companies.

Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar says an initial 5,000 doses will start arriving early next week and that vaccination will begin in nursing homes.

President Aleksandar Vucic has said Serbia ordered 340,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The Balkan country has also received 20 doses of the Russian vaccine for testing. Officials have said citizens can chose which vaccine to receive.

Serbia has faced soaring infections with thousands of new cases daily placing a huge burden on the country’s health system.

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BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban says the country plans to begin vaccinating 35,000 health care workers on Dec. 27 or 28, under an expected European Union plan to begin delivering vaccines to its member states.

Orban says vaccinations will begin with health workers in the capital Budapest, followed by medics in regional hospitals. He says the vaccination will be free and voluntary and urged health care workers to be vaccinated.

The country’s mass vaccination program is expected to begin early next year.

Hungary recorded 4,428 coronavirus infections in the past day and 187 deaths. That brings the total number of infections in the nation of nearly 10 million people to nearly 296,000 confirmed deaths and 7,725 confirmed deaths.

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ZAGREB, Croatia — Croatia has banned travel between various parts of the country ahead of Christmas and New Years in a bid to curb down soaring coronavirus infections.

Authorities say from Dec. 23 to Jan. 8 only essential services employees, such as health workers and road maintenance crews, will be allowed to move from one region to another. Special permits will be issued in exceptional cases.

Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic says the virus situation doesn't allow for any easing of measures for the upcoming holidays. Croatia has reported thousands of new coronavirus infections daily for weeks, which has overwhelmed the country’s health system.

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