Live updates: Brazil reports 1st case of omnicron variant


FILE - A medical worker prepares a shot of Russia's Sputnik Lite coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination center in the GUM, State Department store, in Red Square with the St. Basil Cathedral in the background, in Moscow, Russia, Oct. 26, 2021. The developer of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine said Monday Nov. 29, 2021, that it will immediately start working on adapting that COVID-19 vaccine to counter the omicron variant. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)

FILE – A medical worker prepares a shot of Russia’s Sputnik Lite coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination center in the GUM, State Department store, in Red Square with the St. Basil Cathedral in the background, in Moscow, Russia, Oct. 26, 2021. The developer of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine said Monday Nov. 29, 2021, that it will immediately start working on adapting that COVID-19 vaccine to counter the omicron variant. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)

AP

SAO PAULO — Health officials in Brazil have reported the country’s first confirmed cases of the omicron variant in two travelers arriving from South Africa, the first such cases in Latin America.

The Sao Paulo state health secretariat said Tuesday a 41-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman are in isolation. The two Brazilians had their tests taken on Nov. 25 and showed light symptoms of the disease at the time.

The secretariat statement said both travelers arrived in Brazil on Nov. 23 and took a PCR test before a trip scheduled for two days later. Their positive test results were collected at the Guarulhos international airport, outside Sao Paulo, before a return flight to South Africa.

“After the positive result, the couple was instructed to remain in isolation at home. Both are being monitored by state and municipal (authorities), as well as their respective family members,” said the Sao Paulo health secretariat. It said neither of the two are registered in the state’s vaccination platform.

Another potential case of omicron has been under investigation by Brazilian authorities since Sunday.

The two Brazilians are the first confirmed cases in Latin America, which has suffered heavily from the coronavirus pandemic. Brazil alone has reported more than 600,000 deaths, a figure that analysts believe to be undercounted.

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Canada is banning foreign nationals from three more countries because of concerns with the omicron COVID-19 variant and all air travelers coming to the country apart from the United States will have to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival and will have to isolate themselves until they get the results of their test.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says Canada is banning all foreign nationals who have travelled through Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt because of concerns with the omicron COVID-19 variant.

Canada already announced a ban on foreign nationals from seven countries in southern Africa. Canadians who have visited the 10 countries will have to be tested and quarantine.

The Canadian province of Alberta also confirmed its first case of omicron in an individual who travelled from Nigeria and the Netherlands. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, says the person is asymptomatic.

Alberta is the third province in Canada to report the presence of the Omicron variant. Ontario announced its first cases on Sunday and Quebec reported its first case on Monday.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— New information shows omicron spread wider earlier than thought

— The EU’s medical agency says it will take two weeks to have an indication whether the current COVID-19 vaccines will be able to deal with the new omicron variant

— U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell says new COVID-19 variant could slow the economy and hiring, while also raising uncertainty about inflation.

— Face masks are again mandatory in England in shops and on public transport due to the new variant

— See all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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LISBON, Portugal — A hospital in central Portugal says it’s closing its pediatric services after finding out that a health worker who had contact with members of a soccer club affected by an omicron coronavirus variant outbreak was also infected with the same strain.

The Hospital Garcia de Orta in Almada, a town neighboring the Portuguese capital has tested 28 other workers who came into close contact with the positive case and all of them returned as negative, according to a statement released late on Tuesday.

An additional group of 28 hospital users have been identified as at possible risk and authorities were following up with them, it said.

The hospital said it will close both emergency and outpatient pediatric service for two weeks.

Portuguese authorities on Monday reported what appeared to be the first confirmed cases of local omicron transmission in Europe after recording 13 positives among members of the Belenenses SAD professional soccer club, including a player who had returned from South Africa where the strain was first identified.

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BERLIN — German vaccine-maker BioNTech said Tuesday that it should be able to begin shipping doses of its coronavirus shot for children under 12 in the European Union a week earlier than previously announced.

BioNTech, which developed the first widely approved COVID-19 vaccine together with U.S. partner Pfizer, said the lower-dosage vials will be delivered to EU countries from Dec. 13.

The 27-nation bloc had previously expected the shipments to begin Dec. 20, causing some concern that the start of the vaccine campaign for younger children might be disrupted by the festive period.

BioNTech will provide up to 13 million such doses to EU countries in December.

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GENEVA — Switzerland is putting off a planned party for its next president and considering enhanced restrictive measures amid rising coronavirus case counts and concerns about the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant.

Health Minister Alain Berset told reporters Tuesday that the omicron variant that was brought to international attention last week “appears contagious — very contagious — and potentially could evade the immunity that we have seen in the pandemic up to now.”

The country of about 8.5 million people recorded more than 7,200 new coronavirus cases per day based on the latest 7-day average of daily cases, up from fewer than 900 in mid-October. The all-time high count was just over 8,000 per day, recorded in late October 2020. Hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 have been rising, but remain far below peak levels about a year ago.

The Swiss government said it was considering a new tightening of anti-COVID restrictions such as by requiring all attendees of indoor public gatherings to show a COVID certificate that shows vaccination or recovery from the virus, or a recent negative test, up from gatherings of more than 30 people now.

Other options include requiring people who have not been vaccinated or haven’t recovered from the illness to work from home, or wear a mask at all times in common workspaces.

Meanwhile, the government, citing “the evolution of the health situation,” announced the postponement of a planned Dec. 16 “party” for Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis before he takes up the Swiss presidency next year. It was to take place in his native region of Ticino along the Italian border.

The Swiss presidency rotates every year among the seven members of the executive Federal Council, and Cassis is set to take over from current president Guy Parmelin.

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GENEVA — The World Health Organization says “blanket travel bans” will not prevent the spread of a new coronavirus variant, while acknowledging that countries could order quarantines and take screening measures like testing travelers before or after arrival, or both.

The updated travel guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic comes as dozens of countries have barred flights from southern African countries where the omicron variant was brought to international attention last week. WHO says the move unfairly punishes Botswana and South Africa for doing the right thing and being transparent about the emergence of a new variant.

Some health experts have countered that travel restrictions are effective, and many countries have bucked with WHO’s traditional recommendation against travel bans. WHO said that as of Sunday, 56 countries were reportedly implementing travel measures aimed at curbing the spread of omicron.

“Blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread, and they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods,” WHO said, while acknowledging the use of screening measures to help stem the spread of omicron.

In its statement, WHO said that so far, current PCR tests continue to be effective in detecting the variant.

The U.N. health agency also said “essential travel” for emergencies, humanitarian missions and transport of essential supplies “should continue to be prioritized.”

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MADRID — Health authorities in the Spanish capital have confirmed a second case of the omicron variant in a 61-year-old woman who had returned from a trip to South Africa on Monday.

The woman, who shows no COVID-19 compatible symptoms and was double-vaccinated, had arrived in a different flight to the first case of omicron recorded in Spain, a 51-year-old man with two doses of coronavirus vaccine who traveled over the weekend.

Both patients remain in isolation, the Madrid region’s health department said Tuesday.

Authorities in northeastern Catalonia said they couldn’t establish yet if two suspected cases of coronavirus were related to the new variant, saying the sequencing of samples would not likely be conclusive until Friday.

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BUCHAREST, Romania — A Romanian state-owned aircraft brought 70 passengers from South Africa to Bucharest after concerns about the omicron variant of the coronavirus led to flight cancellations that left people stranded.

Romania’s foreign ministry said 46 of the passengers on the flight that landed Tuesday afternoon were Romanians and included a professional Romanian rugby team.

“European solidarity is a tangible reality,” Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu wrote online after the aircraft landed, noting that 18 EU citizens not from Romania were on the flight.

Seven Romanian citizens in Cape Town failed to board the repatriation flight due to logistical reasons or lack of a PCR test, authorities said.

The national champion rugby team, from Baia Mare in northern Romania, said authorities had undertaken “sustained efforts” to repatriate 31 team members who had been participating in a tournament in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Romanian authorities said Tuesday that 72 Romanian citizens stranded in Morocco after the North African country canceled almost all flights in response to the omicron variant are to be flown home later this week.

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LISBON, Portugal — All air passengers coming to Portugal must board their planes with a negative coronavirus test if they want to enter the country beginning on Wednesday, when Portugal enacts its second state of emergency this year as it tries to stop a surge in new infections, authorities said Tuesday.

The director of Lisbon’s airport, Rui Alves, told reporters that travelers will be given different wristbands depending on where their trip originated to ease their identification during the airport screening process. The new entry rules were drafted before the first cases of the omicron variant were reported in the country in the last few days.

Those who fail to show a negative test face fines ranging from 300 to 800 euros ($340 to $910). Airlines that transport untested passengers could also be fined 20,000 euros ($22,600) per person and, if they persist, could even lose their license.

PCR or antigen test results will be required for those arriving by land from outside of the European Union and from most EU countries considered at high or medium-high risk.

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RIGA, Latvia — U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken had nothing but praise for South Africa on how it has alerted the world to the new omicron variant of COVID-19.

“I really want to applaud and express gratitude to South Africa and its government for its extraordinary transparency and also the very important work it did in detecting this new variant and in making it known to the world,” he said. “That’s exactly I think, a model of responsibility that South Africa has exhibited that we would hope everyone in the world would show, because we are all in this together.”

Blinken spoke Tuesday at a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Riga, Latvia.

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LONDON — New measures to combat the new omicron variant of coronavirus took effect in England on Tuesday, with face coverings again compulsory in shops and on public transportation, as the government said it would offer all adults a booster dose of vaccine within two months to bolster the nation’s immunity.

From Tuesday morning, all travelers returning to the U.K. must also take a PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

The reintroduction of mandatory face masks brings England closer in line with the rest of the U.K. — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — which had kept some restrictions in place after England lifted all mandatory measures in the summer.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new measures will “buy us time in the face” of the new variant. He said that while many people felt an understandable “sense of exhaustion” at the prospect of renewed restrictions, the U.K.’s position is “immeasurably better than it was a year ago.”

The government said Tuesday that 22 cases of the omicron variant have been identified, a number that is expected to rise.

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ATHENS — Residents in Greece over 60 years old will have to undergo mandatory vaccinations against coronavirus or face monthly 100-euro ($114) fines beginning next year, the prime minister announced Tuesday, declaring the country’s first general inoculation mandate.

The Greek government decided upon the measure in response to a surge in new daily infections and the emergence of the omicron variant. It will take effect on Jan. 16 and the fines will be added to tax bills, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised statement.

Greece’s overall COVID-19 death toll exceeded 18,000 this week with confirmed new infections at high levels. Roughly a quarter of the country’s adult population remains unvaccinated.

Vaccination mandates were introduced over the summer for health care workers and fire service rescuers in Greece, with those failing to comply being suspended from their jobs indefinitely without pay.

The government has ruled out imposing new lockdowns but says it is targeting the elderly with tougher restrictions to protect the public health service as ICU occupancy is near capacity nationwide.

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BERLIN — Germany’s national and state leaders will decide Thursday on new measures to tackle a sharp rise in coronavirus infections, officials said after the country’s outgoing and incoming chancellors conferred with governors.

The measures are likely to include restrictions on shopping for unvaccinated people and limiting crowds at soccer matches, along with possible moves toward a vaccine mandate for all.

Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel and her designated successor, Olaf Scholz, held talks with Germany’s 16 state governors on Tuesday, hours after the country’s top court strengthened politicians’ hand by rejecting complaints against curfews and other restrictions imposed earlier this year.

Many states have tightened rules of their own accord, but experts and politicians have called for more coordinated national action as infection rates hit new highs.

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MOSCOW — Russian authorities on Tuesday tightened coronavirus restrictions because of the omicron variant, even though the country has yet to report its first confirmed case.

Anna Popova, head of Russia’s public health agency Rospotrebnadzor, announced Tuesday that travelers arriving from countries where the risk of contracting the omicron variant of coronavirus is high will have to quarantine for two weeks. She didn’t specify which countries were on the list.

Popova also said that results of PCR tests for coronavirus, used in many Russian regions to gain access to public places, will remain valid for only 48 hours instead of 72 hours.

“The new variant indeed elicits serious concerns and demands immediate, comprehensive study,” Popova said.

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GENEVA — The Swiss government says travelers arriving from Canada, Japan, Niger and Portugal will be required starting Wednesday to present both a negative COVID-19 test and undergo a 10-day quarantine.

The new measures were announced on Tuesday after cases of the newly identified coronavirus variant omicron turned up in those countries.

On Friday, the Swiss government initiated a similar requirement for travelers from Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel, and banned all flights from seven countries in southern Africa where cases of the variant were first detected.

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WASHINGTON — Drugmaker Regeneron says that its COVID-19 antibody cocktail may be less effective against the omicron variant, though the company says more testing is needed to gauge the effect.

Regeneron’s cocktail is one of three antibody treatments that have become the standard U.S. treatments for COVID-19 patients who do not yet require hospitalization. The federal government has purchased and distributed millions of doses of the drugs, which are infused or injected by health professionals.

Because of mutations in the omicron variant, health authorities have warned that some vaccines and antibodies may lose their potency.

Regeneron says it is doing more analysis to define the variant’s impact on its drug’s effectiveness.

The company also says it is testing alternate antibodies that may be more effective against the new variant.

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MADRID — Spain’s government has banned flights connecting air routes from South Africa and six neighboring countries to the European country due to fears of the new omicron coronavirus variant.

The order affects any connecting flights from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Spain has no direct flights to southern Africa. The order will take effect on Thursday.

Spanish health authorities have reported one confirmed case of the omicron strain in a 51-year-old man who flew from South Africa to Madrid via Amsterdam. He was fully vaccinated and is showing mild symptoms. Three more possible cases are under investigation.

Much remains unknown about the new variant, though the World Health Organization warned that the global risk from the variant is “very high” and early evidence suggests it could be more contagious.

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RIGA, Latvia — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the new omicron variant of the coronavirus, which was discovered in South Africa, underscores the point that “none of us will be fully safe until everyone is.”

Speaking in Riga, Latvia, during a two-day meeting of the NATO foreign ministers, Blinken also noted “a real disparity” between vaccinations in Africa and the United States and Europe.

“We have vaccination rates in the United States, in Europe of 50, 60, 70%, depending on exactly who you’re counting. And in Africa, it’s more like 14, 15% or less.”

He noted that sometimes the supply of vaccines may actually be sufficient to meet the needs, but the ability to get shots in arms is lacking.

He said the United States was working on a solution that “brings the private sector into the game to help solve these last-mile problems of getting shots and arms. We’re putting that into into motion now.”

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BRUSSELS — The omicron variant was already in the Netherlands when South Africa alerted the World Health Organization about it last week, Dutch health authorities said Tuesday, adding to fear and confusion over the new version of the coronavirus.

The Netherlands’ RIVM health institute found omicron in samples dating from Nov. 19 and 23. The WHO said South Africa first reported the the variant to the U.N. healthy agency on Nov. 24.

It remains unclear where or when the variant first emerged — but that hasn’t stopped nations from rushing to impose travel restrictions, especially on visitors coming from southern Africa.

Much is still not known about the variant — though the WHO warned that the global risk from the variant is “very high” and early evidence suggests it could be more contagious.





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Summer travel expected to surge as Americans take 1st trips since pandemic’s start


As vaccination numbers continue to rise, Americans are expected to travel this summer — taking their first big trip since the start of the pandemic.

“I think folks are really eager to make their first trip back, they’ve been vaccinated and feel safe and comfortable traveling, they want to make their first trip a big one,” Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights and author of “Take More Vacations,” told ABC News.

More and more travelers are taking to the skies

Despite Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance against non-essential travel, more than a million people have passed through U.S. airports each day since early March, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration.

American Airlines said it expects to fly approximately 90% of its 2019 system seat capacity this summer. United Airlines said bookings for summer 2021 are “far outpacing bookings for summer 2020.”

“They really want to take advantage of that spike in interest to visit those places after they announced that they’re open for tourism again,” Keyes said.

Delta announced Friday that it will debut new service to Croatia this summer. United said its flying more than 100% of its pre-pandemic schedule to Latin America compared to 2019. American also said its Latin American network is expected to be the same size as it was in 2019.

Travelers are booking hotels last minute

According to Hopper, a travel-booking app, 51% of all hotel bookings made on their platform are last-minute, meaning they were booked within 48 hours of check-in. The most popular cities among those bookings are Las Vegas, Chicago and Los Angeles, the company said.

Hopper also said “staycations” are popular among their users, with more than half of all hotel bookings made through their site being less than 200 miles from a customer’s origin. The company launched its “Stay the Night” feature Tuesday in an attempt to help consumers find the best fares at the last minute.

“I think initially there was a little bit of an apprehension about traveling,” Adit Damodarn, economist at Hopper, said in an interview with ABC News. “But I think there is a little bit more comfort as you kind of get into this new travel period with like dipping your toes in the water exploring some local markets, and getting a feel for what it’s like to be traveling again. I think that’s kind of why vacations are so popular now.”

Road trips are on the rise, but car rentals are hard to come by

Once travelers arrive to their destination, car rentals are becoming harder to find. In the past week, car rental searches on KAYAK were up 115%, with prices up 92% compared to the same dates in 2019, the company said.

“We’ve seen a huge surge in rental car searches compared to 2019, particularly in outdoorsy spots like Montana, Hawaii, Alaska and Florida,” Matt Clarke, vice president of NA Marketing at KAYAK said. “Supply-and-demand logistics are playing a big role and likely leading to the volatile prices we’re seeing across the U.S.”

Hertz said it’s seeing a spike in demand for leisure travel in cities and regions across the country.

“We anticipate strong demand for car rental to last several months and throughout the summer and encourage customers to book as early as possible and at the same time they’re making other travel arrangements,” the company said in a statement to ABC News. “Another tip is to consider booking at a neighborhood car rental location which may have more availability when airport volumes are high.”

Enterprise Holdings, the parent company of Enterprise-Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and others, said it is also seeing the same increased demand for vehicles and similarly recommended people make their reservations early.

“Providing flexible travel dates and branch pick up locations in your search may also help increase your options,” the company said in a statement to ABC News.

ABC News’ Sam Sweeney contributed to this report.



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VanVleet scores 26, Raptors beat Pacers for 1st home win


TORONTO (AP) — Fred VanVleet had a season-high 26 points and a career-high 10 rebounds, OG Anunoby scored a season-high 25 points, and the Toronto Raptors won at home for the first time in 20 months, beating the Indiana Pacers 118-100 on Wednesday night.

Scottie Barnes had 18 points and seven assists, and fellow rookie Dalano Banton came off the bench to score 10 points as the Raptors won in Toronto for the first time in four tries this season.

The Raptors’ previous win in their home arena was Feb. 23, 2020 — also against Indiana. Travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic forced the team to play home games in Florida at the end of the 2019-20 season and throughout 2020-21.

VanVleet shot 6 for 7 from 3-point range and had six assists.

Indiana’s Malcolm Brogdon scored 18 points in 22 minutes but injured his left hamstring early in the third quarter and did not return.

Chris Duarte scored 14 points, Jeremy Lamb had 12 and Myles Turner had 10 for the Pacers, who are 0-3 on the road.

Indiana went 21-15 away from home last season, the best road record in the Eastern Conference.

Domantas Sabonis had nine points and eight rebounds but had four of the Pacers’ 23 turnovers. The Raptors scored 31 points off Indiana miscues.

Toronto led 57-48 at halftime. VanVleet made all three of his 3-point attempts in the third quarter and Banton scored seven points as the Raptors took an 87-71 lead to the fourth.

Anunoby had 16 points in the first quarter.

TIP-INS

Pacers: Indiana has scored at least 100 points in all four games so far. … G Caris LeVert (sore lower back) missed his fifth straight game. … Indiana had won its previous two meetings with Toronto. … T.J. McConnell had four turnovers.

Raptors: Toronto’s 14 3-pointers were a season high. … F Yuta Watanabe (left calf) is practicing with Toronto’s G Legaue team this week and is expected to join the Raptors on their upcoming trip. … VanVleet set career-highs in assists (17) and turnovers (8) in Monday’s home loss to Chicago.

UP NEXT

Pacers: Visit Brooklyn on Friday night.

Raptors: Host Orlando on Friday night.

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More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports





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Mobley has double-double, Cavs beat Hawks 101-95 for 1st win


CLEVELAND (AP) — Rookie Evan Mobley collected 17 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots, helping the Cleveland Cavaliers rally for their first win of the season, 101-95 over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.

Ricky Rubio had 23 points and eight assists, and Jarrett Allen added 11 points and 14 rebounds for Cleveland, which trailed by 13 points in the second quarter. The Cavaliers had lost their first two games, both by 11.

“We’re definitely really happy about our first win, it felt great,” Mobley said. “But we don’t want to just settle on it. We want to keep winning and growing from here.”

Mobley, the No. 3 overall selection from USC, scored seven points during a 21-0 run that put Cleveland ahead 67-58 in the third. Atlanta went scoreless for 4:28 after Trae Young made a layup with 46 seconds left in the second quarter.

“As Evan kept making plays, we kept giving him the ball,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “He’s got that straight face, but his skill set is diverse and versatile. Evan has earned our trust because of how quickly he’s picked things up.”

Young paced the Hawks with 24 points and seven assists, while Cam Reddish scored 19 points off the bench and Clint Capela had 10 points and 14 rebounds. Atlanta was not credited with a fast-break point in the second half.

The Hawks, who lost to NBA champion Milwaukee in the East finals last season, won their opener 113-87 over Dallas two days earlier.

“They outworked us and were the aggressive team throughout the second half,” Atlanta coach Nate McMillan said. “We weren’t getting stops, so we couldn’t get out in transition like we have to.”

The Hawks pulled within 99-95 in the final minute, but missed a pair of shots before Lauri Markkanen sealed the win by making two free throws with 15 seconds remaining. Young finished 8 of 22 shooting and didn’t make a 3-pointer after the first quarter.

“I’ve got to do better,” Young said. “I will do better. I’ve just got to find the rhythm.”

Collin Sexton, Markkanen and Kevin Love each scored 12 points for Cleveland, which committed a season-low 10 turnovers. The Cavaliers’ 21-point run was their longest since Dec. 11, 2019 against Houston, when they scored 24 in a row.

Mobley played 35 minutes in his third straight start. The 7-foot power forward is averaging 15.7 points and 8.3 rebounds with a .563 field goal percentage.

“Evan is going to be a guy who can get a double-double every night,” Love said. “He’s got a huge future and he’s going to make a number of All-Defensive teams in his career.”

A 3-pointer by Bogdan Bogdanovic gave Atlanta its largest lead at 43-30, but Rubio answered with six points in the final 3:03 of the second quarter to pull the Cavaliers within 55-53 at intermission.

Young scored nine points in the first quarter and Reddish had five off the bench as Atlanta held a 27-24 lead after the first.

LOVE IN THE AIR

Love looked comfortable for the first time in his new role coming off the bench. The five-time All-Star had 12 points, six rebounds and three assists in 24 minutes. “Kevin knows who he is and what is important to us,” Bickerstaff said. “He played to win.” In Cleveland’s first two games, Love had 10 total points and missed 11 of his 14 field goal attempts.

TIP-INS

Hawks: G Lou Williams (left hip soreness) was active and available, but the 17th-year pro did not play. … F Danilo Gallinari (left shoulder soreness) and F Onyeka Okongwu (right shoulder recovery) remain out and have not made their regular season debuts.

Cavaliers: Starting G Darius Garland (left ankle sprain) missed his second straight game after being hurt in the opener at Memphis. … G Dylan Windler (right hip strain) has been inactive for each game. He will travel with the team on its five-game road trip.

UP NEXT

Hawks: Host Detroit on Monday. Atlanta is in the midst of four road games in a five-game stretch that ends Oct. 30.

Cavaliers: Visit Denver on Monday. Cleveland will not return home again until Nov. 3 against Portland.

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More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports





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Airbnb lost $1.2 billion in 1st quarter, blames European lockdowns



Associated Press

Published 7:40 a.m. ET May 14, 2021

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Thirteen years after its founders first rented air mattresses in their San Francisco apartment, Airbnb is making its long-awaited stock market debut. Airbnb raised $3.7 billion in the initial public offering.  (Dec. 5)

AP Domestic

Airbnb reported Thursday that its first-quarter loss more than tripled, to $1.2 billion, as travel remained depressed by the pandemic and the company was weighed down by costs from past borrowing.

However, revenue topped the same period in 2019, and Airbnb recorded billions in new bookings as the rollout of vaccines against COVID-19 raised hopes for a travel boom.

The home-sharing business said in a letter to shareholders that travel is starting to return, “and we expect a travel rebound unlike anything we have seen before.”

Still, Airbnb expressed concern about travel restrictions and lockdowns in Europe, a key market for summer rentals. The San Francisco-based company said it is too early to predict whether the pace of the travel recovery will continue in the second half of the year.

Pandemic-related restrictions are cutting into Airbnb revenue, particularly in Europe. The company has seen growing demand for travel in the U.S., however, with particular interest in rentals in beach and mountain locations. Bookings in cities, which were a strength before the pandemic, have not recovered.

Cancellations have eased from 2020 but remain higher than before the pandemic, although company officials gave no figures.

CEO Brian Chesky predicted that even after the pandemic more people will work outside central offices, providing a ready supply of future guests. He said 24% of Airbnb customers now book stays of at least 28 days, compared with 14% before the pandemic, which he suggested would give home-sharing an advantage over hotels.

“The longer you stay somewhere, the more you are inclined to stay in a home,” he said on a call with analysts.

Airbnb’s first-quarter results were hurt by losses related to debt repayment and an adjustment in the value of stock warrants issued in connection with money it borrowed last year during the depths of the pandemic downturn in travel.

The loss equaled $1.95 per share. Wall Street expected a loss of $717 million, or $1.07 per share, according to a FactSet survey of 27 analysts.

Airbnb’s revenue rose 5% from a year ago and 6% over the same quarter in 2019, to $887 million. That topped the analysts’ forecast of $721 million.

The value of new bookings recorded in the quarter jumped to $10.3 billion, up from $6.8 billion a year earlier and more than $4 billion higher than in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Airbnb released the results after a day in which the shares fell 3.2% in regular trading. They fell less than 1% in extended trading.

The shares have fallen 37% since their Feb. 11 peak, dropping below where they closed after their stock market debut on Dec. 10.

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California 1st state to record 2M COVID-19 cases


LOS ANGELES — California has become the first U.S. state to record 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases.

A tally by Johns Hopkins University on Thursday morning showed the nation’s most populous state has a total of 2,010,157 infections. There have been more than 23,000 deaths.

The grim milestone comes as the COVID-19 crisis that health officials say stems from Thanksgiving gatherings strains California’s medical system. More than 18,000 people are hospitalized and many of the state’s intensive care units are filled.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

Coronavirus dampens Christmas joy in Bethlehem and elsewhere

— No Christmas Eve joy for truckers stuck in UK virus gridlock

— Africa CDC: New virus variant appears to emerge in Nigeria

— Nurses fear what’s to come: ‘Walk down our unit for a day’

— Politicians and vaccines: Set an example or cut in line?

— Studies find having COVID-19 may protect against reinfection

— Worried Morocco bans parties to stem holiday virus spread

— Russia’s Health Ministry has agreed to cut the size of a study of a domestically developed coronavirus vaccine and to stop the enrollment of volunteers.

— Santa’s ‘grandchildren’ spread joy in Italian nursing homes

— 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:

MEXICO CITY — A Mexican nurse on Thursday became the first person in Latin America to receive a COVID-19 shot as part of an official vaccination campaign.

María Irene Ramírez, chief of intensive care nursing at the Ruben Lenero Hospital in Mexico City, received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in a ceremony broadcast live across the country.

Mexico received an initial batch of 3.000 doses of the vaccine on Wednesday even as other countries around the region prepared to start similar programs following approval of some vaccines following months of testing of several versions that involved tens of thousands of volunteers across the region.

Chile said it was receiving 10,000 doses on Thursday and Argentina, which has run into problems obtaining the Pfizer vaccine, received a flight carrying 300,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, though it cannot yet be given to people older than 60 due to a lack of testing data.

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BERLIN — Christmas Eve in Germany is shaping up as an all-too-silent night as COVID-19 cases hovered near record highs, police threatened fines for violating restrictions on gatherings and people lined up outside a shuttered nightclub to get tested for the coronavirus.

A few people were out on Thursday for last-minute shopping, but streets in Berlin were emptier than usual on a day when most shops close early for the country’s biggest family holiday. Berlin’s Kitkat Club nightclub may be closed because of the nationwide lockdown, but a few people lined up outside its doors for a virus test.

Medical association president Klaus Reinhardt cautioned that testing can miss new infections with deadly results for others and warned against “a false sense of security,” the dpa news agency reported. Police in the southern Bavaria region, which has been hard hit by the winter upsurge in infections and deaths, warned of 500 euro ($610) fines for violating a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

Germany’s national disease control center on Thursday reported 32,195 new cases and 802 deaths, just below the peak of 33,777 cases from Dec. 18 and 962 deaths from Wednesday. The high level of infections comes ahead of the expected start of vaccinations on Sunday.

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JAKARTA, Indonesia — Christmas celebrations in Indonesia will be a low-key affair amid surging coronavirus cases in the world’s fourth most populous nation.

Earlier this month, the Indonesian government imposed a ban a large gatherings during Christmas and New Year’s eve. Churches are limited to only 50 worshippers.

Most major churches across the mostly Muslim country of 270 million obeyed the restriction on Thursday. About 10% of the population are Christians.

Church Unity General-Secretary Prist Jacklevyn Frits Manuputy said many churches in the capital Jakarta, and other cities have set up online services, as well as midnight masses. “We did all we can do to keep people connected with God during this Christmas eve,” he said.

Indonesia has reported nearly 700,000 COVID-19 cases, the largest caseload in Southeast Asia and second in Asia only to India’s 10.1 million confirmed cases. It has recorded more than 20,000 deaths.

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ROME — Police in Italy are out in force to implement new COVID-19 travel restrictions aimed at preventing far-flung families from gathering for Christmas as public health officials appeal for common sense to protect the elderly from infection.

Italy went into a modified nationwide lockdown Thursday for the Christmas and New Year period. Restrictions on personal movement and commercial activity mirror those during the 10 weeks of hard lockdown Italy imposed from March to May when the country became the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe.

Italy is on track Thursday to pass the 2 million mark in confirmed infections since the first domestic case was registered Feb. 20-21. On Wednesday, the country crossed another psychological threshold when its confirmed death toll passed 70,000, the highest in Europe.

Of particular concern is the traditional Christmas Eve dinner, usually a multi-course, multi-generational affair that is a staple of Italian family life over the holidays.

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BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic was the first to get vaccinated against the coronavirus in a show to the generally skeptical population in the Balkan country that the vaccine is safe.

She and another Serbian government minister received the first shots of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in a live TV broadcast on Thursday in what marked the start of the vaccination campaign in the country of 7 million people.

Those older than 70 in nursing homes are to follow.

Serbia on Tuesday received the first batch of 4,800 vaccines against the new coronavirus developed by BioNTech and Pfizer. Serbia is also testing the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.

Polls show that a large segment of Serbia’s population is prone to different conspiracy theories and is reluctant to get vaccinated. Serbian officials have said that an unspecified number of different vaccines will arrive in the weeks and months to come and that mass vaccination should start early next year.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Kuwait has started its vaccine rollout, with the first Pfizer shots given to healthcare and essential workers, older adults and those with chronic health conditions.

Kuwait’s minister of health announced Thursday that batches of the coronavirus vaccine created by American drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech would arrive each month until all residents of the oil-rich Persian Gulf sheikhdom had been vaccinated. Kuwait’s prime minister received the first jab that marked the official opening of the mass inoculation drive.

The first shipment of 150,000 Pfizer doses arrived in industrial freezers on Wednesday, with a total of 450,000 doses expected to be delivered in the first quarter of 2021.

Kuwait has recorded more than 148,770 coronavirus infections and 920 deaths, a relatively high confirmed infection rate per population in the tiny state of 4.2 million.

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NAIROBI, Kenya — Africa’s top public health official says another new variant of the coronavirus appears to have emerged in Nigeria, but further investigation is needed.

John Nkengasong, the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters on Thursday that “it’s a separate lineage from the UK and South Africa.” He said the Nigeria CDC and the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases will analyze more samples.

The new variant in South Africa is now the predominant one there, Nkengasong said, as confirmed infections in the country approach 1 million. While the variant transmits quickly and viral loads are higher, it is not yet clear whether it leads to a more severe disease, he said.

He said health authorities believe the the South Africa variant “will not have an effect” on the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines to the continent.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. The new variant in South Africa now makes up most of the country’s rapidly rising new cases. South Africa’s health minister says there is an “alarming rate of spread.”

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PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron no longer has virus symptoms and is leaving isolation after a week with COVID-19, but is urging the French public to limit contacts and remain vigilant to keep infections under control during the Christmas holiday season.

Macron’s office said in a statement on Thursday that he is finishing a week of isolation at a presidential retreat in Versailles based on French health protocols, which recommend seven days of confinement following a positive virus test.

French authorities lifted virus restrictions for the holidays but infections remain high, and some doctors are urging new lockdown measures.

France recorded nearly 15,000 new infections Wednesday and a total of 61,978 virus-related deaths throughout the pandemic, among the world’s highest official death tolls.

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PARIS — France’s High Authority for Health has released its vaccination guidelines for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine based on European Union approval of the drug. Vaccinations are scheduled to start on Sunday, at the same time as several other EU countries.

France will prioritize the elderly, based on the high impact on older populations in previous virus surges in France. The French medical safety agency will monitor for eventual problems.

France will not make the vaccine obligatory, and will require authorities to register consent from those vaccinated.

The agency says more study must be done to determine if it is effective against new variants.

It says anyone over 16 can get vaccinated except for pregnant women or people with severe allergies. People who have already had the virus should wait three months to get vaccinated.

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan authorities have imposed lockdown on three towns on the outskirt of the capital Colombo, in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19 during holiday period.

Kosgama, Awissawella and Ruwanwella towns which are located about 60 kilometers east of Colombo went under lockdown from Thursday noon.

Dozens of towns and villages in different parts of the country have been kept under lockdown since a resurgence of the coronavirus appeared in the Indian ocean island nation in October.

Sri Lanka’s total number of positive cases since March reached 38,639 on Thursday with 184 fatalities.

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MOSCOW — Russian authorities reported 29,935 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest daily spike in the pandemic.

This is nearly 2,700 infections more than was registered the previous day. Russia’s total of over 2.9 million remains the fourth largest coronavirus caseload in the world. The government’s coronavirus task force has also registered more than 53,000 deaths in all.

Russia has been swept by a rapid resurgence of the outbreak this fall, with numbers of confirmed COVID-19 infections and deaths significantly exceeding those reported in the spring. The country’s authorities have resisted imposing a second nationwide lockdown or a widespread closure of businesses.

Earlier this month, mass vaccination against COVID-19 started in Russia with Sputnik V — a domestically developed coronavirus vaccine that is still undergoing advanced studies among tens of thousands of people needed to ensure its safety and effectiveness. Russia has been widely criticized for giving Sputnik V regulatory approval in August after it had only been tested on a few dozen people.

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BEIJING — China will suspend flights to and from the UK, joining a growing list of countries who have instituted travel bans, in light of a new variant of the coronavirus, its Foreign Ministry announced Thursday.

It did not offer details on when flights would stop. On Tuesday, the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre in London said it will suspend its operation until further notice.

Non-Chinese passport holders from the UK were already banned from traveling to China in November.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s tally of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 1 million on Thursday.

Ukrainian health officials reported 11,490 new infections Thursday, which brought the country’s total to 1,001,132. Ukraine has also reported 17,395 deaths in the pandemic.

The rapid rise in virus cases in Ukraine has started in September and put a strain on the country’s health care system.

In a bid to curb the spread of contagions, Ukrainian authorities decided to impose tight lockdown restrictions in January. Restaurants, bars, malls, gyms, theaters, cinemas and other non-essential businesses will be closed between Jan. 8 and Jan. 24.

Mass public events will be banned, and schools and other educational facilities — with the exception of day care centers — will be on vacation. Only grocery shops, pharmacies, banks, post offices, hotels and public transport will operate during this period of time.

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