By The Associated Press
BERLIN — German politicians were deeply divided Sunday over a warning by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff that restrictions for unvaccinated people may be necessary if COVID-19 infection numbers reach new heights in the coming months.
Chief of staff Helge Braun told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag that he doesn’t expect another coronavirus-related lockdown in Germany. But Braun said that unvaccinated people may be barred from entering venues like restaurants, movie theaters or sports stadiums “because the residual risk is too high.”
Braun said getting vaccinated is important to protect against severe disease and because “vaccinated people will definitely have more freedoms than unvaccinated people.” He said such policies would be legal because “the state has the responsibility to protect the health of its citizens.”
His comments fueled a debate in German politics about potential vaccination requirements. The issue has proven divisive, even within Merkel’s own Christian Democrats party. Its candidate to replace Merkel as Germany’s leader, Armin Laschet, said he opposes any formal or informal vaccine requirements for the time being.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Europe’s summer tourism outlook dimmed by variants, rules
— Two COVID-19 patients dead after power outage at Jordan hospital
— Spaniards put their faith in COVID-19 vaccines even as new cases surge
— French President Macron appeals for national unity and vaccinations to fight virus, criticizes anti-vaccination protests
— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ISTANBUL— Turkey’s daily COVID-19 infections have increased, reaching 14,230 new cases in the past 24 hours.
Health ministry statistics show that the 7-day average is now 10,269, a significant increase from the average of the previous week at 6,880.
With nearly all restrictions lifted in July, Turks are arriving back in the cities after a 9-day holiday when they and international tourists flocked to seaside towns where masking and distancing rules were widely ignored. The COVID-19 density map on the government’s contact tracing app marked nearly all of Antalya’s city center, a popular tourist destination, in red, meaning high risk for COVID-19.
Fifty-five new deaths were also recorded Sunday, bringing the reported death toll to 50,934.
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are weighing revising their COVID-19 guidelines to recommend that even fully vaccinated individuals wear masks in public.
Fauci, the nation’s top government infectious disease official, told CNN’s “State of the Union” TV show that he’s taken part in conversations about altering the guidelines, something he described as being “under active consideration.”
He noted that some local areas where infection rates are surging are already urging individuals to wear masks in public regardless of their vaccination status. Fauci said those local rules are not incompatible with the CDC’s recommendation that the vaccinated don’t need to wear masks in public.
TOKYO — Known for their towering drives, golfers Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm won’t make it to the tee box at the Olympics.
The last two U.S. Open champions became the best-known athletes to drop out of the Tokyo Games on Sunday after testing positive for COVID-19.
DeChambeau’s positive came before he left the United States for Tokyo. The musclebound American famous for his game-changing swing speed will replaced by Patrick Reed.
“I am deeply disappointed not to be able to compete in the Olympics for Team USA,” DeChambeau said. “Representing my country means the world to me and it is was a tremendous honor to make this team.”
Rahm was flagged for COVID-19 for the second time in two months — he had a six-shot lead at the Memorial in early June when he was forced to withdraw because of a positive test. The Spaniard said he had gotten his final vaccine shot fewer than 14 days before that positive test.
Both players recently became first-time major champions. DeChambeau won the U.S. Open in 2020 at Winged Foot last fall, and Rahm took this year’s title at Torrey Pines in June, two weeks after the positive test at Muirfield Village.
Several dozen Olympic athletes have tested positive either before leaving for Tokyo or after they arrived.
PAPEETE, French Polynesia — French President Emmanuel Macron has appealed for national unity and vaccination to fight the resurgent virus, and lashed out at those fueling anti-vaccination sentiment and protests.
About 160,000 people protested around France on Saturday against a special COVID-19 pass for restaurants and mandatory vaccinations for health workers. Many marchers shouted “liberty!” and said the government shouldn’t tell them what to do.
Macron visited a hospital in French Polynesia on Saturday night Tahiti time. He asked “what is your freedom worth if you say to me ‘I don’t want to be vaccinated,’ but tomorrow you infect your father, your mother or myself?”
He said protesters are “free to express themselves in a calm and respectful manner.” But Macron said demonstrations won’t make the coronavirus go away.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia has reported a new daily high of 17,045 infections.
That pushes the country’s total confirmed cases above the 1 million mark. Daily cases in Malaysia rose above 10,000 on July 13 and have stayed there since despite a national lockdown.
The health ministry said Sunday that total infections have now reached 1,013,438. This represented a 77% rise since the lockdown began June 1.
The country’s richest and most populated state Selangor and neighboring Kuala Lumpur accounted for the majority of infections.
Total deaths in the country have also risen to nearly 8,000. Critics have slammed Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government over what they say was inconsistent policies and half-baked lockdowns that failed to curb the pandemic.
BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff says restrictions for unvaccinated people may be necessary if case numbers reach new heights in the coming months.
But Helge Braun said in an interview with the newspaper Bild am Sonntag that he doesn’t expect another coronavirus-related lockdown in Germany.
Braun said that unvaccinated people may be barred from entering venues like restaurants, movie theaters and stadiums “because the residual risk is too high.”
Braun said getting vaccinated is important to protect against severe disease and because “vaccinated people will definitely have more freedoms than unvaccinated people.”
Braun said that such policies would be legal because “the state has the responsibility to protect the health of its citizens.”
Germany’s vaccine efforts have slowed in recent weeks and that has led to discussions about how to encourage those who haven’t yet received a vaccine to do so. More than 60% of the German population has received at least one dose while over 49% are fully vaccinated.
AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan’s health minister says two coronavirus patients have died at a hospital in Amman after a short circuit knocked out power at the facility’s intensive care unit.
Health Minister Firas Al-Hawari told state media that two people were confirmed dead at the hospital.
Investigators were working to determine the cause and whether the power outage was responsible for the deaths. Former Health Minister Nathir Obeidat resigned earlier this year after several COVID-19 patients died at a government hospital in Salt when their oxygen supply ran out.
LONDON — Chaos and confusion over travel rules and measures to contain fresh virus outbreaks are contributing to another cruel summer for Europe’s battered tourism industry.
Popular destination countries are grappling with surging COVID-19 variants.
But the patchwork and last-minute nature of the efforts as the peak season gets underway threatens to derail another summer.
Visitors to cultural and tourist sites in France were confronted this week with a new requirement for a special COVID-19 pass.
Italy has said that people will need a similar pass to access museums and movie theaters and dine inside restaurants and cafes.
BEIJING — China has reported 32 new confirmed coronavirus infections.
Those include 27 believed to have been acquired abroad. No deaths were reported.
The National Health Commission reported that six of the cases believed to have come from abroad were in Yunnan on China’s southwestern border with Myanmar. Five were adjacent to Hong Kong in Guangdong. And four each were in Shanghai and Fujian province in the southeast.
Everyone in a county in Yunnan near the Myanmar border is due to be tested Monday and Tuesday for the virus following a spike in infections. China has tightened border controls.
China’s death toll stands at 4,636 out of a total of 92,529 confirmed cases.
BARCELONA, Spain — Spain is working to stamp out a wave of COVID-19 infections and is relying on widespread public trust in COVID-19 vaccines.
Spain was like its fellow European Union members at first. The country got off to a slow start in administering shots compared to Britain and the United States.
But Spain quickly made up ground once vaccine deliveries started flowing to meet demand. More than 24 million Spaniards are fully vaccinated. That represents 53% of the adult population.
Amós García, president of the Spanish Association of Vaccinology, told The Associated Press that “our professionals have always believed strongly in the benefits of vaccines. We have always strongly encouraged children from a very young age to get their vaccines.”
He said general non-COVID-19 vaccination rates for children in Spain were over 95%.