PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti does not have a single vaccine to offer its more than 11 million people over a year after the pandemic began, raising concerns among health experts that the well-being of Haitians is being pushed aside as violence and political instability across the country deepen.
So far, Haiti is slated to receive only 756,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through a United Nations program aimed at ensuring the neediest countries get COVID-19 shots. The free doses were scheduled to arrive in May at the latest, but delays are expected because Haiti missed a deadline and the key Indian manufacturer is now prioritizing an increase in domestic demand.
The country also didn't apply for a pilot program in which it would have received some of its doses early, according to the Pan American Health Organization.
Meanwhile, a human rights research center cited in a new U.S. State Department report found Haiti's government misappropriated more than $1 million worth of coronavirus aid. The report also accused government officials of spending $34 million in the “greatest opacity,” bypassing an agency charged with approving state contracts.
N. Korea won't be at Tokyo Olympics
North Korea said it will not participate in the Tokyo Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic.
A website run by the North's sports ministry said the decision was made during a national Olympic Committee meeting March 25 where members prioritized protecting athletes from the “world public health crisis caused by COVID-19.”
South Korea's Unification Ministry on Tuesday expressed regret over the North's decision, saying it had hoped that the Tokyo Olympics would provide an opportunity to improve inter-Korean relations, which have declined amid a stalemate in larger nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.
Royal tension in Jordan eased
Mediation between Jordan's King Abdullah II and his outspoken half brother, Prince Hamzah, successfully de-escalated one of the most serious political crises in the kingdom in decades, the palace and a confidant of the prince said Monday.
The apparent resolution of the unprecedented public feud capped a weekend of palace drama during which the king had placed Hamzah under house arrest for allegedly plotting with foreign supporters to destabilize Jordan, a key Western ally.
Jordanian authorities had accused the former crown prince of being involved in a “malicious plot,” along with two senior Jordanian officials. Hamzah, 41, denied the allegations, saying he was speaking out against corruption and mismanagement. The announcement of the successful mediation came after Abdullah's paternal uncle, Hassan, met with Hamzah on Monday.
Myanmar junta lists celebrities
Myanmar's ruling junta stepped up its campaign against celebrities who support nationwide protests against its seizure of power, publishing wanted lists in the state press and warning against using their work.
The lists published Sunday and Monday in the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper include actors, musicians and social media influencers charged with violating Section 505(A) of the Penal Code for “spreading news to affect state stability.” The penalty for the offense is up to three years' imprisonment.
Europe tries to halt COVID surge
European countries scrambled Monday to tamp down a surge in COVID-19 cases and ramp up vaccinations, hoping to spare hospitals from becoming overwhelmed by the latest deadly wave of infections.
The crush of coronavirus patients has been relentless for hospitals in Poland, where daily new infections hit records of over 35,000 on two recent days and the government ordered new restrictions to prevent large gatherings over the long Easter weekend. France's health minister warned that the number of intensive care unit patients could match levels from a year ago.
But in a sign of the disparities from one country to the next, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that barbers, gyms and outdoor bar and restaurant patios would be able to open next week after the country reported progress with vaccines and its recent lockdown.
Law allows Putin 2 more terms
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a law allowing him to potentially hold onto power until 2036, a move that formalizes constitutional changes endorsed in a vote last year.
The July 1 constitutional vote included a provision that reset Putin's previous term limits, allowing him to run for president two more times. The change was rubber-stamped by the Kremlin-controlled legislature and the relevant law signed by Putin was posted Monday on an official portal of legal information.
The 68-year-old Russian president, who has been in power for more than two decades – longer than any other Kremlin leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin – said he would decide later whether to run again in 2024 when his current six-year term ends.