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Wednesday July 15th, 2020 1:13AM

The Latest: FDA head offers guidelines for vaccine to Senate

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON — The head of the Food and Drug Administration says vaccine developers will be expected to study COVID-19 shots in racial minorities, the elderly, pregnant women and those with other health conditions.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn outlined the guidelines for potential vaccines at a Senate hearing on reopening schools and workplaces.

Hahn says “while the FDA is committed to help expedite this work, we will not cut corners in our decision-making.”

The agency has come under criticism for granting emergency authorization to a malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump as a treatment for coronavirus. The agency revoked that designation earlier this month after studies found the drug was ineffective against the virus.

The U.S. is set to begin a 30,000-person trial of a government-created shot starting next month. Under the Trump administration’s program dubbed “Operation Warp Speed,” health officials aim to have 300 million doses on hand by January.

About 15 experimental COVID-19 vaccines are in various stages of testing worldwide. There is no guarantee that any will prove effective.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Experts say the pandemic is wreaking havoc in poor and war-torn nations.

— Virus cases worldwide hit 10 million and deaths have surpassed 500,000.

— UK PM Boris Johnson says the pandemic “has been a disaster” for Britain.

— Hunger stalks Yemen's children as pandemic hits Arab world's poorest nation.

— Nurses, doctors feel strain as virus races through Arizona.

— The pandemic means millions of women in Africa and other developing regions could lose years of success in contributing to household incomes and asserting their independence.

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Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

WASHINGTON — A leading Republican senator says President Donald Trump should start wearing a mask at least some of the time because politics is getting in the way of protecting the American people from COVID-19.

“The stakes are too high for the political debate about pro-Trump, anti-Trump masks to continue,” says Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

Alexander is chairing a hearing of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee that’s focused on ways to safely reopen schools and workplaces.

Alexander had to self-quarantine after he was exposed to a staff member who tested positive. But the senator says he was protected because the staffer was wearing a mask.

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PARIS — The European Union announced it will reopen its borders to travelers from 14 countries, and possibly China soon, but most Americans have been refused entry for at least another two weeks due to soaring coronavirus infections in the U.S.

Travelers from other countries like Russia, Brazil and India will also miss out.

For tourist sites and stores in Paris that are already feeling the pinch of losing clients from around the world, the EU’s decision not to readmit most American travelers is another blow.

“Americans were 50% of my clientele,” said Paola Pellizzari, who owns a mask and jewelry shop on the Saint-Louis island and heads its business association. “We can’t substitute that clientele with another.”

He says when returned after lockdown, five businesses had closed.

The continued absence of Americans also hurts the Louvre. The world’s most-visited museum plans its reopening on July 6. Americans used to be the largest single group of visitors.

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GENEVA — The U.N. labor agency says the coronavirus pandemic had a more severe impact on jobs than previously estimated, reflecting increasing fallout in many regions and particularly in developing economies.

The International Labor Organization estimated 14% of working hours were lost worldwide in the year’s second quarter, ending Tuesday, compared with the fourth quarter of 2019. It says that’s equivalent to the loss of 400 million full-time jobs.

A month ago, the ILO estimated the loss at 10.7% of working hours, equivalent to 305 million full-time jobs.

The agency says 93% of the world’s workers are still living in countries with workplace closures of some kind, with the greatest restrictions in the Americas. That region also had the steepest projected fall in working hours, with an estimated fall of 18.3% in the second quarter.

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TOKYO — Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike announced a new set of criteria to monitor coronavirus infections.

The revised guideline comes as Tokyo’s daily new cases have risen to around 50, their highest levels since early May.

“I believe our task now is to balance measures against the further spread of the infections and social and economic activities,” Koike said. “Instead of relying on specific numbers to switch on and off (caution levels), we will look at the whole picture and make a comprehensive decision,”

Koike and doctors on a panel of experts say their evaluation will be based on seven factors, including the number of new cases, details of untraceable cases, number of emergency calls and consultations, capacity at emergency hospitals, ratio of patients per test takers and the state of medical systems.

Koike says Tokyo set three caution scales for hospitals, requiring them to secure up to 4,000 beds at level three. She says she designated Tokyo hospitals to be on “level two” preparedness on Monday, asking to secure up to 3,000 beds in case the current rise in infections worsens.

Tokyo reported 54 new cases Tuesday, exceeding an earlier threshold of 50 for a fifth day in a row for a confirmed total of 6,225. Officials say half of the cases are linked to group testing among employees in nightclubs in downtown Tokyo.

Tokyo accounts to about one-third of the Japanese national total of 18,593 confirmed cases and 972 deaths.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Los Angeles will close beaches and ban fireworks displays over the holiday weekend. California officials are warning further restrictions may be necessary to curb a troubling spike in coronavirus cases in much of the state.

Gov. Gavin Newsom says he’s prepared to impose targeted shutdowns of counties or businesses. Newsom’s remarks came a day after he mandated bars close in seven counties.

Newsom says the state will step up enforcement of its mask order. At the same time, new guidance allows some nursing home visitation to resume. The state is considering releasing more prisoners early amid prison outbreaks.

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TORONTO — The mayor of Canada’s largest city is asking the Toronto city council to make masks mandatory in public indoor spaces.

Mayor John Tory says he’s heard from citizens and they don’t want to see what’s happening in the United States happen in Toronto. Tory believes most councilors will support it. The bylaw will take effect July 7, if passed.

Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa says there is growing evidence that shows non-medical masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. She says many cities in the U.S. are seeing a resurgence in cases since reopening.

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BELGRADE, Serbia — A group of medical workers in a southwestern Serbian town hit hard by the coronavirus have turned their back to top government officials during a visit.

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar on Tuesday traveled to Novi Pazar where a local hospital has been overwhelmed by a surge of new cases in recent days.

About two dozen people shouted booed and jeered during a press conference the two officials held outside the Novi Pazar hospital. Brnabic described the gathering as political.

Authorities in Novi Pazar have introduced emergency measures to cope with dozens of new cases. Reports in some Serbian media have alleged the situation was more serious that officially presented, including the number of dead. Government officials have said the situation is under control.

Serbia has seen a spike in infections after loosening of lockdown rules. The country on Tuesday reported 276 new cases and three deaths in the past 24 hours. The total number of confirmed cases is 14,564 and 277 deaths.

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ISLAMABAD — The U.S. peace envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, will not be going to the Afghan capital, Kabul, while in the region on his latest peace mission because of the dangers presented by the coronavirus and instead will video conference with Afghan leaders, the U.S. State Department said.

Afghanistan’s dilapidated health system is grappling with the pandemic, with the number of infections thought to far outnumber the official tally of over 31,000 cases, including 733 deaths.

Khalilzad, who was in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, on Tuesday, will be traveling to Pakistan later in the day or early Wednesday before meeting with Taliban officials in Qatar, where they have a political office.

The coronavirus infection rate in Pakistan has been climbing steadily, with 209,336 cases recorded as of Tuesday and more than 4,300 deaths.

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LONDON — Britain’s medical regulatory agency has approved the resumption of a trial testing whether hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug favored by U.S. President Donald Trump, might help prevent health workers from contracting the coronavirus.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency had suspended enrollment into the trial after a paper was published in the journal Lancet last month that suggested there was an increased death risk linked to the drug. The paper was found to be based on fraudulent data and was retracted.

A large British trial previously found that hydroxychloroquine did not prevent deaths among people hospitalized with COVID-19 compared to people who didn’t get the drug. The World Health Organization suspended its own trial into the drug, citing data from Britain and elsewhere, but said it was still unknown whether or not hydroxychloroquine might work to prevent coronavirus infections.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said it had approved the resumption of an ongoing clinical trial testing the use of the drug in health workers. Oxford University’s tropical research center in Bangkok is leading a trial aiming to include more than 40,000 health workers and other staff at risk to determine if hydroxychloroquine can stop infections of the coronavirus.

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MADRID — Spanish official statistics show that the country’s gross domestic product contracted 5.2% during the first three months of the year compared to the previous quarter, the biggest drop in at least half a century.

The National Institute of Statistics, or INE, said Tuesday that the economic freeze imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus impacted the economy like never before since quarterly records began to be kept in 1970. From January to March 2009, following a global financial meltdown, the country’s GDP shrank by 2.6%.

If the figures for the second quarter are also negative compared to the first — and nobody doubts that since the impact of a strict lockdown was felt especially in April and May, and recovery of economic activity since then has been slow — the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy will officially enter in recession.

That’s a sharp contrast from GDP growth averaging 0.4% in the second, third and fourth quarters of 2019. Year on year, the drop on the first quarter of 2020 was of 4.1% compared to the same period in 2019.

Spain has recorded some 249,000 coronavirus infections confirmed by lab tests and at least 28,300 deaths.

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TOKYO — Online services Yahoo Japan and Line Corp. says the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is causing delays that will push back their merger to later than the scheduled October date.

Z Holdings Corp., which operates Yahoo Japan, and Naver Corp. of South Korea, which owns a majority stake in Line, announced last year the merger as equal partners that will form a joint venture through a tender offer.

Both sides said procedures required under law were getting delayed because of the outbreak.

“Due in part to the impact of the global spread of COVID19, the procedures and measures under the competition laws of some of the countries have not been completed,” their statement said.

A new schedule will be announced as soon as possible, it said.

Z Holdings includes Yahoo Japan, Japan Net Bank, Gyao video content distributor, BuzzFeed Japan and ZoZo fashion e-commerce under its wing. It’s also part of Japanese technology giant SoftBank Group., which includes solar power and robotics.

The planned combination will create one of the largest Japanese net businesses in combined sales, with retail services, advertising and mobile messaging. The move is designed to boost competitiveness in an evolving market, with potential expansion in various sectors focused on the Japanese market.

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s second-largest city will lock down dozens of suburbs for a month in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said Tuesday that 233 positive tests for COVID-19 in Melbourne since Thursday was unacceptably high.

Andrews announced 10 zip codes covering 36 suburbs in which residents will be required to stay at home from Wednesday night until July 29 except for four permitted reasons.

Residents will face fines if they leave home for reasons other than to give or receive care, to exercise, to buy essentials or to go to work or school. People who live outside those suburbs will only be allowed to enter them for the same reasons.

Andrews also announced there would be no international flights allowed into Melbourne for the next two weeks to help curb infections.

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s professional baseball league says it will require fans to wear masks, sit at least a seat apart and prohibit them from eating food in the stands as it prepares to bring back spectators in the coming weeks amid the coronavirus epidemic.

The Korea Baseball Organization said Tuesday that teams will be initially allowed to sell only 30% of the seats for each game. It said attendance could be expanded to as much as 50% depending on the progress in the country’s anti-virus efforts.

Fans will also be screened for fevers and discouraged from shouting, singing and cheering during the game. They will be able to buy tickets only with credit cards so that health authorities could easily locate them when needed. South Korea has been actively tracing the contacts of virus carriers using credit card information, cellphone location data and surveillance camera footage.

The KBO became one of the world’s first major sports competitions to return to action in May, but without fans in the stands. Seats have been covered with cheering banners, dolls or pictures of fans as teams tried to mimic a festive atmosphere.

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