MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine president has threatened to order the arrest of Filipinos who refuse COVID-19 vaccination and told them to leave the country if they would not cooperate with the efforts to contain the pandemic.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who is known for his public outbursts and brash rhetoric, said in televised remarks Monday night that he has become exasperated with people who refuse to get immunized then help spread the coronavirus.
“Don’t get me wrong. There is a crisis being faced in this country. There is a national emergency. If you don’t want to get vaccinated, I’ll have you arrested and I’ll inject the vaccine in your butt,” Duterte said.
“If you will not agree to be vaccinated, leave the Philippines. Go to India if you want or somewhere, to America,” he said, adding he would order village leaders to compile a list of defiant residents.
A human rights lawyer, Edre Olalia, raised concerns over Duterte’s threat, saying the president could not order the arrest of anybody who has not clearly committed any crime.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— US finds deaths among Medicare patients in nursing homes soared by 32% last year
— WHOplans technology transfer hub for coronavirus vaccines in South Africa
— Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A coronavirus outbreak in Fiji is rapidly growing, with 180 new cases reported on Tuesday.
The current outbreak began in April and has resulted in seven deaths and numerous restrictions, although so far the island nation has resisted a nationwide lockdown.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said this week it was providing an additional 10 million New Zealand dollars ($7 million) for COVID-19 operations and food supplies in Fiji. New Zealand and Australia have also sent medical teams.
Located north of New Zealand, Fiji is home to 940,000 people. Its tourism-dependent economy had already been hard-hit by the pandemic before the latest outbreak. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Fiji has reported more than 2,200 cases and nine deaths.
HAVANA — Cuba’s government announced on Monday that its three-shot Abdala vaccine has proven to be 92% effective against the coronavirus.
It provided no details of the clinical testing. The Abdala is one of the vaccines Cuba is testing. It recently said its Soberana 2 vaccine has shown a 62% efficacy. The announcement came as Cuba faces its worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic with record new infections.
Dr. Francisco Durán, the island’s director of epidemiology, on Monday reported 1,561 new coronavirus cases for a total of 169,365 confirmed cases and 1,170 deaths.
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has told the World Health Organization it tested more than 30,000 people for the coronavirus through June 10 but has yet to find a single infection.
The WHO said in a monitoring report Tuesday that North Korea’s testing figures included 733 people who were tested during June 4-10, of which 149 were with influenza-like illnesses or severe respiratory infections.
Experts widely doubt North Korea’s claim that it has not had a single case of the virus, given its poor health infrastructure and porous border with China, its major ally and economic lifeline.
Describing its anti-virus efforts as a “matter of national existence,” the North has banned tourists, jetted out diplomats and severely restricted cross-border traffic and trade. The self-imposed lockdown has caused further strain on an economy already battered by decades of mismanagement and crippling U.S.-led sanctions over the country’s nuclear weapons program.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a political conference last week called for officials to brace for prolonged COVID-19 restrictions, indicating that the country won’t open its borders anytime soon.
ROME — Mask-wearing outdoors in Italy will no longer be required in virtually all of the country starting on June 28.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza tweeted Monday night that the mask requirement for outdoors will be eliminated in those parts of Italy in designated “white zone” regions, where COVID-19 case incidence is low and ICU admissions of the illness are below thresholds considered at risk for overwhelming hospitals.
Currently all but one small region, in northwest Italy, have “white-zone” designations.
Masks will still be required to be worn on public transport and well as indoors. Nearly 30 percent of people in Italy 12 or older have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.