SEOUL, South Korea — The number of infected sailors on a South Korean destroyer on an anti-piracy mission off East Africa has soared to 247, the largest cluster for the country’s military during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Defense Ministry said Monday two military aircraft have been sent to bring back all 301 sailors aboard the destroyer Munmu the Great.
Authorities suspect the outbreak may have started when the destroyer docked in the region to load goods in late June. None of the crew has been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Health officials have said the crew are all in relatively good condition.
On Monday, South Korea reported 1,252 new coronavirus cases. It was the 13th straight day for South Korea to register more than 1,000 new cases.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Vaccine inequity: Inside the cutthroat race to secure doses
— In U-turn, Boris Johnson to quarantine after COVID-19 contact
— Tunisia puts military on vaccination duty as cases soar
— Vietnam puts southern region in lockdown as surge grows
— Nightclubs elated, but doubts cloud England’s ‘Freedom Day’
— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MADRID — The head of the Catalan regional health service says a new peak of COVID-19 infections at the end of this month could place hospitals under severe pressure, just as some staff go on their summer vacation.
Gemma Craywinckel told RAC1 radio in an interview Sunday that the northeastern Spanish region could within two weeks see as many as 500 people in intensive care, up from the current almost 300.
She said the Catalan public health system is already “under a lot of strain” due to a surge in infections blamed on the Delta variant.
Craywinckel said authorities had failed to convey to local people the danger that the Delta variant represented. She also criticized people who have confronted police officers enforcing a night-time curfew.
PARIS — The European Union’s vaccination campaign is catching up with the United States.
European officials vaunted figures from Our World in Data showing that 55.6% of EU citizens have had at least one dose, compared to 55.4% in the U.S. It was the first time the EU figures outpaced those across the Atlantic.
Our World in Data says the U.S. still has a higher proportion of fully vaccinated people. The figures are 48% in the U.S. versus 42% in the EU. Britain and some other countries are moving faster than either.
The EU took a more cautious approach to vaccines initially and got off to a slower start than the U.S.
EU markets commissioner Thierry Breton noted that half of vaccines made in the bloc have been exported to more than 100 countries overall. But extreme global vaccine inequalities remain. Only a small fraction of vaccines reaching the poorest populations in Africa and elsewhere.
ROME — Daily new caseloads of confirmed COVID-19 infections are surging in Italy.
Health experts say it’s clear that nationwide celebrations by Italian fans after European Championship soccer matches are a significant factor.
Thousands of fans jammed Rome’s streets on July 12 to cheer an open-topped bus tour by Italy’s national team, which won Euro 2020 by beating England the night before.
The number of newly confirmed cases in the Lazio region that includes Rome more in the last three days. The region had the highest daily new caseload on Saturday.
A pediatric specialist who advises Italy’s government on anti-pandemic health measures told La Repubblica daily in an interview Sunday that “the gatherings and the crowding favored the viral circulation.”
Dr. Franco Locatelli said the average age of infected people in Italy is now 28.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will spend 10 days self-isolating after contact with a confirmed coronavirus case.
The announcement by his office on Sunday reverses an earlier statement that unlike most people, he would not face quarantine. Johnson met Friday with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who later tested positive for COVID-19. Contacts of positive cases usually have to self-isolate for 10 days.
Johnson’s office initially said the prime minister would instead take a daily coronavirus test as part of a pilot project. And the same would apply to Treasury chief Rishi Sunak who also was contacted. But Johnson’s office said later after an outcry that both men would self-isolate and “will not be taking part in the testing pilot.”
LONDON — Thousands of young people across England plan to dance the night away at “Freedom Day” parties as soon as it turns Monday.
The country’s nightclubs are reopening for the first time in 17 months as almost all coronavirus rules are set to be scrapped. Sparkling wine and full dance floors are anticipated. But not masks or proof of a COVID-19 vaccine, negative test or recent recovery from the disease.
Businesses and ravers are jubilant. But many others are deeply worried about the U.K. government’s decision to go ahead with shelving social distancing at a time when virus cases are on another rapid upswing.
Many health experts fear the government is overly confident in its vaccine rollout.
BARGNY, Senegal — Health officials warn that COVID-19 cases are surging in Senegal as millions in the West African nation prepare for the Tabaski holiday.
New confirmed cases have risen in just weeks from dozens a day to a record of 738 on Friday. And the health ministry says they then nearly doubled overnight to 1,366 on Saturday.
President Macky Sall and his Cabinet are limiting public gatherings and travel and urging the public to continue wearing masks and frequently sanitize their hands.
Tabaski is celebrated on July 21 in Senegal and sees thousands of people come together in large family gatherings to celebrate. Many health officials are worried. People throng marketplaces and gather at auctions to buy sheep in the runup to the holiday.
KESRA, Tunisia — Tunisian authorities have deployed military personnel to vaccinate remote populations as coronavirus infections mount and hospitals struggle to cope.
The North African country is facing its worst coronavirus virus of the pandemic. The infections forced some regions back into lockdown and prompted donations of vaccines or medical aid from China, France, the United Arab Emirates and other countries.
Tunisia’s government decided to deploy the armed forces to vaccinate people in the regions with the worst infection rates and in areas with particularly low vaccination rates.
Tunisia is currently recording one of the world’s highest daily per-capita infection rates and has reported Africa’s highest per-capita pandemic death toll.
PARIS — Global health experts say they expected vaccine distribution to be unequal between rich countries and poor countries.
But no one thought it would get to this point. Less than 1% of the world’s poorest citizens have received a dose.
And experts say it could be 2023 until vaccines are widely available everywhere. That’s fueling more infections and variants that could keep the pandemic around longer.
The African Union’s envoy for vaccine acquisition compared the inequity of distribution to a famine in which “the richest guys grab the baker.”
HONOLULU — Advocates in Hawaii say the pandemic has underscored the importance of collecting and reporting racial data.
Honolulu City Councilwoman Esther Kiaʻāina says the pandemic’s toll on Pacific Islanders who are not Native Hawaiian inspired her to introduce a resolution urging Hawaii government agencies to collect more specific data about Pacific Islanders.
Kiaʻāina worked at the federal level to separate Native Hawaiian data from Asian data in the 1990s. That was prompted by concerns that Native Hawaiian students were considered overrepresented in colleges when counted as Asian.
But all other Pacific Islanders have remained in one category since then.
HANOI, Vietnam — The Vietnamese government has put the entire southern region in a two-week lockdown starting at midnight.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases exceeded 3,000 for the third day in a row. The lockdown order includes the Mekong Delta and Ho Chi Minh City metropolis. There are more than 35 million people in the country’s financial and economic hub. That's nearly a third of Vietnam’s population.
Officials say they have to act as the number of infections reached nearly 50,000 since the outbreak reemerged at the end of April after several months of no cases being recorded. Ho Chi Minh City is the epicenter of the surge.