COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan authorities have decided to inoculate schoolchildren for COVID-19 starting next week.
According to the Health Ministry, inoculations will begin on Oct. 21 and initially, the vaccine will be given to students in the age group of 18 and 19 years. They will be given only the Pfizer vaccine.
The ministry says everyone over 20 years old has been given a first dose while 82% have received both doses.
Sri Lanka lifted a six-week lockdown on Oct. 1 after COVID-19 cases and deaths showed a rapid decline. The government still maintains strict restrictions. Public gatherings are banned and trains halted.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— New Zealand’s doctors and teachers must soon be vaccinated
— Sydney opens to vaccinated after 100-plus days of lockdown
— Calls rise in Italy to ban pro-fascism groups after rampage
— A Brazilian medical chain has been accused of enlisting participants to test unproven drugs without proper consent and forcing doctors to toe the line on prescribing unproven drugs touted by President Jair Bolsonaro.
— Russians are flocking to Serbia to receive Western-approved COVID-19 shots.
See all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
WASHINGTON — The government’s top infectious diseases expert says families can feel safe trick-or-treating outdoors this year for Halloween as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. decline, especially for those who are vaccinated.
Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that it’s an important time of year for children, so “go out there” and “enjoy it.”
He added that people wanting to enjoy Halloween on Oct. 31 should consider getting the shots for that “extra degree of protection” if they are not yet vaccinated.
COVID-19 vaccines so far have been approved for people 12 years and older. The Food and Drug Administration plans a meeting in late October to consider Pfizer’s request for emergency use authorization of its vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.
Nationwide, there are about 95,000 new COVID-19 cases a day. Fauci called the downward trend “good news” but cautioned against declaring a premature victory since cases have bounced back in the past.
He said he’d like to see cases drop to less than 10,000 a day before dropping COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, such as shedding masks indoors in public places.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia’s leader says state borders will be reopened after a months-long ban in a move expected to rejuvenate tourism and the economy.
With over 90% of the country’s adults now fully vaccinated. Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob says a ban on interstate travel will be lifted from Monday. He says fully vaccinated Malaysians can now travel to other states for holidays and return to their hometown.
Ismail says Malaysians are also now free to travel abroad without requiring approval but they still need to undergo virus tests and quarantine upon return. He said in a national broadcast Sunday that the government is still assessing the situation to decide whether it’s safe to reopen the country’s borders to foreigners.
PLANO, Texas — Tea party firebrand Allen West, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor of Texas, was hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sunday but said he’s “doing great.”
“No complaints. I’m just relaxing,” West told The Associated Press during a brief phone interview from a hospital in the Dallas suburb of Plano. He said he got a good night’s rest and was awaiting the results of an early morning chest X-ray.
West and his wife, Angela West, were diagnosed with the virus after attending a “packed house” fundraising event in Seabrook, Texas, last week. He said Saturday that he is “suspending in-person events until receiving an all-clear indication.”
Both Wests received monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 and Angela, who was vaccinated against the virus, was released to go home, Allen West said on Twitter. The Republican candidate said he has not gotten a coronavirus vaccination and that doctors were worried Saturday about the lowered level of oxygen saturation in his blood.
CLAYTON, Mo. — The acting head of St. Louis County police has issued an order saying that all officers must follow a county mandate to either get the COVID-19 vaccine or submit to weekly testing.
The order was issued even though an officer has filed a lawsuit challenging whether the county’s mandate should apply to the police department, which is primarily governed by its chief and the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners.
Officer Jared Lindeman’s request for a temporary restraining order argued that the County Council and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page don’t have the authority alone to place requirements on officers, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
A planned Friday hearing on Lindeman’s request was cancelled after acting St. Louis County police Chief Kenneth Gregory issued his order. Lindeman’s attorney, Christopher Graville, said he is weighing how to proceed with Lindeman’s lawsuit after the order.