The Latest: Pakistan imposes partial coronavirus lockdowns

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani authorities on Monday imposed a partial lockdown in several more high-risk areas in the capital, Islamabad, and elsewhere in the country after the positivity rate from coronavirus infections jumped to over 11%.

Pakistan is facing another surge in coronavirus infections which officials say is worse than last year’s outbreak when Pakistan had to impose a nationwide lockdown.

On Monday, authorities in the eastern Punjab province also announced a two-week long partial lockdown in high-risk cities from April 1 in an effort aimed at containing the spread of the virus.

So far, Pakistan’s government has avoided a nationwide lockdown to spare the country’s ailing economy from more damage.

On Monday, Pakistan reported 41 additional deaths and 4,525 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.

Pakistan has reported 659,116 cases in total, and 14,256 deaths, since last year.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— ICU cases creep toward new peak in French virus surge

AP Exclusive: Pandemic means far fewer eyes on kids’ welfare

Merkel blames German ‘perfectionism’ for current virus woes

AP Interview: Japan urges EU to ensure stable vaccine export

Dear Normal: Were you really that great in the first place?

Happy Monday: England embarks on major easing of lockdown

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

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

PARIS — The number of patients in intensive care units in France is fast approaching a new peak.

The French government count of COVID-19 patients in ICUs and hospital surveillance units climbed to 4,872 on Sunday night. That is just short of the last peak of 4,919 ICU cases on Nov. 16, when France was also gripped by a virus surge and was locked down in response.

The inexorable latest climb in ICU cases is again putting pressure on doctors, who are sounding the alarm that they may have to start turning patients away for ICU care.

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LISBON, Portugal — Portugal is tightening its flight restrictions due to COVID-19, introducing stricter limits on arrivals from other European Union countries where the pandemic has worsened.

The Interior Ministry announced Monday that people arriving from countries with an incidence rate of more than 500 per 100,000 population over 14 days must quarantine for two weeks and can only come on essential business.

That measure covers 11 EU countries, including France and Italy.

For another 15 EU countries with a case rate of more than 150 per 100,000, only essential travel is permitted to Portugal. Those countries include Germany and the Netherlands.

All arriving passengers must show a negative PCR test from the previous 24 hours.

Flights to and from the U.K. and Brazil remain prohibited except for repatriation flights.

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BELGRADE, Serbia — Officials say around 22,000 foreign citizens have received coronavirus vaccine shots in Serbia over the weekend after authorities offered free jabs to anyone who showed up.

The vaccine seekers from neighboring Bosnia, North Macedonia, Montenegro and even Albania and Croatia received AstraZeneca shots at two vaccination centers in the Serbian capital, Belgrade.

Most of Serbia’s Balkan neighbors have been struggling with shortages and have barely started mass vaccination drives, while Serbia boasts of having ample supplies and one of Europe’s highest per capita vaccination rates.

Critics of populist Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic contend he is trying to spread his influence in the Balkans and to polish the ultranationalist image he acquired during Yugoslavia’s bloody breakup in the 1990s.

Serbian officials have denied that the invitation for vaccination of foreigners was politically motivated.

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TOKYO — The government minister tasked with overseeing Japan’s coronavirus vaccination campaign has urged the European Union to ensure stable exports of European-made vaccines, warning that any attempt to suspend shipments amid a shortage in Europe would harm relations.

Vaccine Minister Taro Kono’s comments in an interview with The Associated Press come as it looks increasingly uncertain that Japan will be able to source the number of vaccine doses it wanted before hosting the Olympics in four months.

Japan’s domestic vaccine development has lagged behind other nations, leaving it reliant on imports. But sourcing enough imported vaccines is a major concern because of supply shortages and export red tape in Europe, where many are manufactured.

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LONDON — England is embarking on a major easing of its latest coronavirus lockdown that came into force at the start of the year, with families and friends able to meet up in outdoor spaces and many sports permitted once again.

Under Monday’s easing, groups of up to six, or two households, can socialize in parks and gardens once more, while outdoor sports facilities can reopen after the stark stay-at-home order, which has seen new coronavirus cases fall dramatically over the past three months, ended.

After months of being cooped up at home, many are relishing the prospect of being able to to enjoy their outdoor sport of choice. Organized team sports, such as children’s football clubs, can start up, too.

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BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has blamed her country’s difficulties during the coronavirus pandemic on “a tendency toward perfectionism.” In a lengthy television interview late Sunday she called for greater flexibility to tackle the latest surge in cases.

Merkel acknowledged on public broadcaster ARD that mistakes were made by her government, including on plans for an Easter lockdown.

The longtime leader also expressed frustration over the actions of some of Germany’s state governors, including members of her own party, who have resisted tougher restrictions they had previously agreed to. But Merkel said she stands by her pledge to offer every adult a vaccine by the end of the summer and insisted Germany still compares well with most of its neighboring countries.

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LANSFORD, Pennsylvania — An Associated Press analysis has found that reports of child abuse plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic, as children are out of the public eye and away from usual reporters of welfare problems.

The AP analyzed more than a dozen indicators in 36 states. The findings reveal how the pandemic has ripped away systemic safety nets and showed signs in various states that officials are dealing with more urgent cases. AP found that child abuse reports, investigations, substantiated allegations and interventions dropped.

More than 400,000 fewer child-welfare concerns were reported during the pandemic compared with the same time period of 2019. There were 200,000 fewer child abuse and neglect investigations and assessments. That’s a national total decrease of 18% in each category.

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MANILA, Philippines — Philippine officials placed Metropolitan Manila and four outlying provinces, a region of more than 25 million people, back to a lockdown Monday at the height of the Lenten and Easter holiday travel season as they scrambled to control an alarming surge in coronavirus infections. Only workers, government security and health personnel and residents on urgent errands would be allowed out of homes during the weeklong restrictions, which prohibited leisure trips and religious gatherings that forced the dominant Roman Catholic church to shift all its Holy Week and Easter activities online. The renewed lockdown brought President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration under fire for what critics say was its failed handling of the pandemic.

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BRISBANE, Australia — Australia’s third-largest city Brisbane will enter a three-day lockdown Monday evening after the coronavirus was found spreading in the community.

Queensland State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters that health authorities had identified four new cases of community transmission overnight and the lockdown was necessary for them to get on top of contact tracing.

Australia has so far been largely successful in stamping out the spread of the virus. However, vaccination efforts have only just begun with less than 1% of the nation’s population vaccinated.

Authorities are requiring people in Brisbane to stay home except for essential purposes and to wear masks. Brisbane, the capital of Queensland state, is home to more than 2.5 million people.

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