SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s president says it’ll offer COVID-19 vaccinations to all its people free of charge in phases.

President Moon Jae-in made the comments in his New Year’s address on Monday. He has maintained an earlier government announcement that the inoculation will start from February.

South Korean officials have said they’ll have vaccines for 56 million people, an amount seemingly enough for the country’s 52 million people.

Who will get vaccinated first has not yet been decided but is likely to be people at long-term care centers and nurses and doctors.

After weeks of a resurgence, South Korea’s virus caseload has gradually slowed amid tough distancing rules that include a ban on social gatherings of five or more people. Earlier Monday, South Korea reported 451 new virus cases, the first time for its daily tally to come below 500 in 41 days. The country’s total stands at 69,114 with 1,140 deaths.

Moon says that “the end of a dark tunnel is finally coming in sight.” He says the government will make best efforts to further curb the ongoing outbreak.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— President-elect Joe Biden faces challenge in guiding America past the Trump era, but success on virus, economy may help

— China says experts from the World Health Organization are due to arrive Thursday for an investigation into the origins of the pandemic

— Doctor using a horse-drawn cart to reach patients in mountain villages worries lockdown in Ukraine came too late to help

— India took a regulatory shortcut for a homegrown vaccine, though there’s scant evidence of its effectiveness

— Follow AP’s 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:

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Schools have reopened partially in Sri Lanka after being closed for nearly three months.

The move is seen as an attempt to return to normalcy from the months of lockdowns imposed to contain the coronavirus.

But the government decided not to reopen schools in the capital Colombo and its suburbs as the majority of recent COVID-19 cases are reported from those areas.

The schools that reopened were under strict health guidelines such wearing masks, bringing home-cooked food, washing hands regularly and maintaining social distancing.

Sri Lanka closed schools in October when two COVID-19 clusters emerged, one centered on a garment factory and the other on the fish market. Some reopened in November but closed again for holidays in December.

Sri Lanka has also banned public gatherings and imposed restrictions on public transport.

The confirmed cases from the two clusters have grown to 44,596 on Monday, accounting for most of the 48,000 cases reported in the country since the pandemic began.

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BEIJING — Chinese health authorities say scores more people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Hebei province bordering on the capital Beijing.

The outbreak focused on the Hebei cities of Shijiazhuang and Xingtai is one of China’s most serious in recent months and comes amid measures to curb the further spread during next month’s Lunar New Year holiday. Authorities have called on citizens …read more

Source:: News Headlines

      

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