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Wednesday June 23rd, 2021 4:22PM

The Latest: Pakistan to start opening schools as cases fall

By The Associated Press
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ISLAMABAD — Education officials in Pakistan say authorities will start reopening schools from Sept. 15 amid a steady decline in coronavirus deaths and infections.

Schools were closed in March when the government enforced a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus. Authorities lifted curbs on most of the businesses in May, but schools remained closed across the country.

Officials said schools will reopen in Punjab and Sindh provinces from Sept. 15 and a formal announcement about opening of schools elsewhere was expected later Monday.

On Sunday, Pakistan reported three new deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, one of the lowest number of daily fatalities in more five months.

Pakistan has reported 298,903 infections and 6,345 deaths since the pandemic began.

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

— India now 2nd behind U.S. in reported virus cases amid economic pain

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

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

BUDAPEST, Hungary — The Hungarian government says it has registered 576 new cases of the coronavirus, the country's highest daily figure since the start of the pandemic.

Monday’s tally raises the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases to 8,963 since the pandemic began, with 625 deaths.

Hungary closed its borders to foreigners on Sept. 1 but has since announced a series of exceptions, including for citizens from the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, as well as allowances for cultural and sporting events.

Hungary is scheduled to host the UEFA Super Cup final on Sept. 24 between Bayern Munchen and Sevilla at the Puskas Arena in Budapest.

Schools reopened across the country last week and pandemic-related measures in the education system, such as quarantines or switching to digital learning, are being handled on a case-by-case basis.

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CANBERRA, Australia — Australia says it has struck supply and production agreements with pharmaceutical companies worth 1.7 billion Australian dollars ($1.2 billion) over two potential COVID-19 vaccines.

Under the agreement announced Monday, Britain’s University of Oxford in collaboration with AstraZeneca and Australia’s University of Queensland working with CSL will provide more than 84.8 million vaccine doses for Australia’s population of 26 million people, almost entirely manufactured in the Australian city of Melbourne, a government statement said.

Australians would have access to 3.8 million doses of the University of Oxford vaccine in January and February, it said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said both vaccines would need to be proven safe and effective and meet all necessary regulatory requirements before being made available to the public. Any vaccine would be free to all Australians.

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SEOUL, South Korea __ South Korea has added 119 more cases of the coronavirus, its lowest daily jump in more than three weeks amid a downward trend in new cases.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday the additional figures took the country’s total to 21,296 with 336 deaths.

It’s the fifth straight day the country’s daily jump has stayed under 200. The 119 additional cases are the lowest in kind since mid-August.

South Korea’s caseload had risen since early last month, with many associated with churches, restaurants and schools and an anti-government street rally in the greater Seoul area. In late August, South Korea’s daily jump once marked over 400.

But the caseload has gradually slowed down, largely thanks to toughened social distancing rules that restricts at dining at restaurants and bans gatherings at churches, night spots, after-school academics and fitness centers.

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s hot spot Victoria state has recorded its lowest count of new COVID-19 cases in more than 10 weeks.

The state on Monday reported 41 news cases and nine deaths in the latest 24-hour period. That was the lowest infection tally since 37 were recorded on June 26 in the early days of the state’s second wave of infections.

The state on Sunday announced a slight easing of restrictions in Melbourne that began in early August, but the country’s second-largest city will remain in lockdown until at least Oct. 26.

The new infections bring the 14-day average in Victoria to 96 a day. Victorian Premier Danial Andrews said the average would have to be brought below 50 before restrictions can be relaxed.

“This is not about eradicating it,” Andrews said. “We will finish up with cases and outbreaks in 2021, but they’ll be of such low numbers that we can probably put the lid on those and not have to put restrictions back on,” Andrews said.

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