LISBON, Portugal — British vacationers have started arriving in Portugal after the U.K. and Portuguese governments eased their COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions.
A flight from Manchester, England, arrived early Monday in Faro, the main city in Portugal’s southern Algarve tourist region. More than 5,000 British visitors were expected to arrive in Portugal on 17 flights during the day.
That has brightened the outlook for Portugal’s crucial tourism sector, which relies heavily on the U.K. market and which shut down for most of the past year.
Both Portugal and the United Kingdom have reduced their seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people to between 3 and 4.
The U.K. government has put Portugal and 11 other countries on a so-called Green List of low-risk territories. British people returning home from those areas do no need to go into quarantine.
Portugal from Monday allowed nonessential travel from all but five European countries.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— A dip in cases is bringing a glimmer of hope in India, but shortage of beds, oxygen show virus crisis isn’t over yet
— UK readies for major reopening Monday but new variant sparks worry
— Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine candidate triggered strong immune responses; production to begin soon
— 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:
HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s government says the start of a proposed quarantine-free travel bubble with Singapore has been postponed following a spike in untraceable cases in the Southeast Asian city state.
A news release Monday said the two governments had decided to defer the start of the air travel bubble originally slated for May 26 “in view of the recent COVID-19 epidemic situation in Singapore.”
It said both governments remained committed to the bubble and would continue to closely monitor developments in both places, with an emphasis on the effectiveness of the stepped-up anti-epidemic measures that took effect in Singapore from Sunday and are due to run through June 13. A further announcement would be made on or around that date with a view to “resuming air travel between the two … in a gradual and orderly manner under a set of stringent public health protocols,” the notice said.
The announcement came after Singapore restricted gatherings to just two people and limited restaurants to delivery or takeout service only.
The number of new cases has risen to 71 in the past week, from 48 the week before, as infections rise from a cluster tied to Changi Airport. Infections not linked to identified cases have risen to 15 in the last week, more than double the week before.
The health ministry said the pattern of infections not connected to known cases suggested the virus was spreading and current measures were insufficient to stop it.
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan reported 333 domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases Monday, in the island’s largest outbreak since the start of the pandemic.
Local governments ordered the closure of all schools in the capital for two weeks starting Tuesday. The largescale school closure is a first for the island, which has otherwise been a success story, keeping infections and deaths low. It has counted 2,017 confirmed cases and 12 deaths throughout the pandemic.
Of Monday’s new cases, 158 were in Taipei and 148 were found in neighboring New Taipei city, Health minister Chen Shih-chung said at a news briefing Monday afternoon.
NEW DELHI — For the first time in weeks, India’s daily cases dropped below 300,000, continuing a decline as the country battles a ferocious surge of COVID-19.
The health ministry said around 280,000 cases and 4,106 deaths were confirmed in the last 24 hours. Both numbers are almost certainly undercounts.
India’s overall vaccination efforts are also struggling. Ever since the country opened vaccinations to all adults this month, the pace of administering doses has plunged, with many states saying they don’t have enough stock to give out. Over the last month, cases have tripled and deaths have jumped by six times — but vaccinations have dropped by 40%.
The southern state of Karnataka has suspended vaccinations for the 18-44 age group in government-run centers, and a number of states are looking into directly getting shots from overseas to fill a domestic shortage. On Sunday, health officials said around 5 million doses will be sent to the states this week.
India has the second-highest caseload after the U.S. with more than 24 million confirmed infections and over 270,000 fatalities.
BEIJING — China is instituting new controls in a northeastern province where several new cases of COVID-19 are believed to have originated.
China on Monday reported five new cases of local transmission, all in Liaoning province or believed to be linked to its cases.
Checkpoints were set up at toll stations, airports and railway stations in three cities in Liaoning and travelers must have proof of a recent negative virus test, according to state media reports Monday. Mass testing was ordered in part of Yingkou, a port city with shipping connections to more than 40 countries.
China had largely stamped out domestic transmission of the coronavirus through restrictions on the public, contact tracing, mass testing and, increasingly, vaccinations. Health officials suspect the domestic cases may have spread through contacts with an imported case.
China has reported 90,872 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 4,636 deaths since the virus was detected in Wuhan in late 2019.