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COVID-19: Italy goes into new lockdown, France approves Johnson & Johnson shot

French medical workers prepare to receive vials of Covid-19 vaccines at the town hall of the 5th district in Paris Jan. 18. The French government approved use of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine Friday. Photo by David Silpa/UPI
French medical workers prepare to receive vials of Covid-19 vaccines at the town hall of the 5th district in Paris Jan. 18. The French government approved use of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine Friday. Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

March 13 (UPI) -- Italy is entering another lockdown amid a surge of coronavirus cases, France has approved Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine and Jordan's health minister has resigned after six people died due to lack of oxygen at a hospital treating coronavirus patients.

Half of Italy's 20 regions, including the cities of Rome, Milan and Venice, will enter new COVID-19 restrictions beginning Monday and continuing through April 6.

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People in regions demarcated as "red zones" will be unable to leave their houses except for work or health reasons and all non-essential shops will be closed.

In "orange zones." people will also be banned from leaving their town and their region, except for work or health reasons, and bars and restaurants can only do delivery and takeaway service.

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Regions that report more than 250 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents per week will automatically go into lockdown.

Italy reported 26,790 new cases of COVID-19 as of Saturday, with a seven-day average of 21,811 -- an upward spike from mid-February, when the country reported a seven-day average of 12,246 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 tracker

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On Friday, the World Health Organization reported 458,159 new cases, a 2.16% increase from the day before.

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The agency reported 9,302 new deaths Friday, a decrease of about half a percent from the day before.

Those daily case and death counts are similar to the ones the WHO was reporting a month ago, representing a flattening of the case counts after the January surge.

As of Saturday 119,469,346 coronavirus cases have been reported around the world, according to JHU. Of those, 2,647,229 have died.

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The United States still leads the world in both cases and deaths, with 29,397,804 cases and 534,275 deaths.

On Saturday Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh asked Health Minister Nathir Obeidat to step down after six people died at a hospital in the town of Salt, which is about 14 miles from the country's capital, Amman.

The oxygen shortage lasted for about an hour and also affected intensive care and maternity units in the hospital, though no fatalities were reported in those parts of the facility.

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Obeidat said he felt a "moral responsibility" for what happened, but that it is not clear what caused the shortage and the matter is being investigated.

The French National Authority for Health approved Johnson & Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine Friday, just a day after the vaccine received conditional marketing authorization from the European Medicines Agency.

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It is the fourth vaccine to be approved by the health authority, with Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca's vaccines already in use.

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As of Thursday, more than 4 million people in France have received at least a first vaccine injection and more than 2 million have been fully vaccinated.

Globally, more than 300 million vaccine doses had been administered by Wednesday, according to the WHO.

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