The Latest: Latvians protest mandatory vaccination


COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Thousands of people took to the streets of Latvia’s capital of Riga late Wednesday to protest mandatory COVID-19 vaccination.

The Baltic News Service, the region’s main news agency, said the number of people exceeded the maximum allowed for public protests, people did not observe distance, and many didn’t wear face masks.

Up to 3,500 people participated, BNS reported, quoting police.

On Thursday, police said it was investigating after a few minor incidents were reported, including a smashed police car window and firecrackers being used.

The protest ended around midnight.



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CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s two most populous states on Thursday recorded new highs in COVID-19 cases.

New South Wales reported a record 681 cases in the latest 24-hour period, mostly in Sydney. The previous high was 633 on Wednesday.

Neighboring Victoria reported 57 new infections in its capital Melbourne. It was the highest daily tally since the final days of a second wave of infections in early September last year.

Melbourne and the entire state of New South Wales are in lockdown as authorities attempt to stamp out coronavirus spread as Australia had successfully done throughout the pandemic before the delta variant arrived on its shores.

Melbourne is in its 6th lockdown of the pandemic and Thursday marked the 200th day that Australia’s second-most populous city has been locked down.


WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand will now allow youths aged 12 to 15 to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Previously, only those aged 16 and over were eligible.

The government announcement Thursday came as the nation remains in a strict lockdown as it deals with a new outbreak of the fast-spreading delta variant, its first virus outbreak in six months.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there were 11 new infections, bringing the total in the outbreak to 21. She said the outbreak had been linked to a passenger who returned from Sydney earlier this month.

On Tuesday, the government imposed a lockdown of at least three days across the country and of at least seven days in in Auckland and Coromandel. New Zealand health workers are using only the Pfizer vaccine in their inoculation campaign.


UNITED NATIONS — The United States is urging the more than 150 countries planning to send their leader or a government minister to New York to speak at the U.N. General Assembly next month to consider giving a video address instead to prevent the annual high-level week from becoming “a super-spreader event.”

A note from the U.S. Mission sent to the 192 other U.N. member nations also called for all other U.N.-hosted meetings and side events to be virtual, saying these parallel meetings that draw travelers to New York “needlessly increase risk to our community, New Yorkers and the other travelers.”

The U.S. note, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, said the Biden administration is particularly concerned about Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the incoming General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid hosting high-level in-person events on climate change, vaccines, the 20th anniversary of the U.N. World Conference Against Racism, food systems and energy.

“The United States is willing to make every effort to make these important events on shared priorities successful in a virtual format,” the note said.

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