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The Latest: Nepal extends lockdown for capital amid surge

KATHMANDU, Nepal — Authorities extended a lockdown in Nepal's capital Kathmandu and surrounding districts by another week on Wednesday as the Himalayan nation recorded its highest daily tolls of COVID-19 infection and death.

The Ministry of Health said Tuesday 7,660 people tested positive for the coronavirus while 55 people had died.

The lockdown notice also said neighborhood grocery stores would be allowed to open only two hours in the morning and there would be further restrictions imposed on movement of vehicles to curb the spiking number of cases.

Nepal halted all domestic flights this week and international flights would be stopped from Thursday.

Nepal has recorded 351,005 cases while 3,417 people have died.

THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— India’s virus surge is damaging Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s carefully tailored image of competence

— U.S. birth rate fell 4% last year, the largest single-year decrease in nearly 50 years, with pandemic likely a factor

— Parents, educators hopeful for pending Pfizer authorization for 12-15 age group, key to smooth school reopenings

— 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:

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s prime minister is resisting mounting pressure to lift a temporary ban on flights from India, saying any early resumption of arrivals from that pandemic hot spot would erode Australia’s quarantine capability.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday that the pause of flights that began last week will continue until May 15.

Lawyers are planning a legal challenge to the government’s ability to prevent around 9,000 citizens and permanent residents from returning home from India.

Critics of the travel pause include former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, several Australian lawmakers and leaders of the country’s Indian community.

A chartered Qantas flight is carrying medical supplies to India including 1,056 ventilators and 43 oxygen concentrators. The Australian government said the donated supplies will be distributed by the Indian Red Cross and local authorities.

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan is lifting a pandemic mandate requiring masks to be worn outdoors, except for gatherings of at least 100 people and organized contact sports.

Under an order that takes effect Thursday, the state also is easing caps on the size of outdoor events and says vaccinated people are not required to be masked at indoor residential gatherings.

The state’s rules are looser than guidance issued last week by the CDC, which said vaccinated people should wear masks at gatherings that include unvaccinated people. Michigan is only urging people to still follow the CDC guidance and be masked whenever they are around unvaccinated people not from their household.

DETROIT — Teams of canvassers from Detroit’s health department have been fanning out across city neighborhoods to educate residents on where to get free COVID-19 vaccines.

Detroit’s door-to-door campaign is the latest in its efforts to connect residents to vaccination sites across a city with predominantly Black residents.

Various campaigns also are happening in Black and other communities of color across the U.S. to persuade people that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.

Detroit has been urging people to get vaccinated against the virus, which has already killed more than 2,000 of its residents. Only about 31% of Detroit adults have received at least one dose.

WASHINGTON — The White House says President Joe Biden is setting a new vaccination goal to deliver at least one dose to 70% of adult Americans by July 4.

This comes as the administration pushes to make it easier for people to get shots and to bring the country closer to normalcy. The new goal includes fully vaccinating 160 million adults by Independence Day.

That comes as demand for vaccines has dropped off markedly nationwide, with some states leaving more than half their vaccine doses unordered. Biden will call for states to make vaccines available on a walk-in basis and will direct many pharmacies to do the same.

So far, more than 56% of American adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and nearly 105 million are fully vaccinated.

The U.S. is currently administering first doses at a rate of about 965,000 per day — half the rate of three weeks ago, but nearly twice as fast as needed to meet Biden’s target.

ROME — Italian Premier Mario Draghi says Italians will have a national green pass, allowing them to travel across regions, later this month.

Draghi was addressing the opening of a Group of 20 meeting on tourism, saying “Italy is again ready to host the world.”

Draghi didn’t offer details of the national pass, but he says it will be ready a full month before the EU’s plans to roll out a certificate making it easier for citizens to travel between countries during the summer.

The EU certificate will allow tourists to travel without quarantine if they have recovered from COVID-19, been vaccinated or present a negative test.

Italians currently can travel freely between regions under the lowest level of restrictions, which currently covers most of the country excluding tiny Aosta on the French border, and the southern regions of Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicily and Sardinia.

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s health minister has resigned over a week after a deadly fire ripped through a Baghdad hospital for coronavirus patients and killed dozens.

A statement from Iraq’s prime minister says Health Minister Hasan al-Tamimi’s resignation request was approved Tuesday. The resignation came hours after the Cabinet voted on recommendations of an investigative committee that probed the catastrophic fire at Ibn al-Khatib hospital.

It is unclear what impact al-Tamimi’s departure will have on the Health Ministry’s pandemic response policies as Iraq grapples with a severe wave of the coronavirus.