TEHRAN, Iran — The police chief for Iran’s capital says a gang of thieves has robbed scores of COVID-19 vaccines after attacking a hired car carrying the doses, media reported.

The robbery comes as Iran, with over 106,000 virus-related deaths, has the highest death toll in the Mideast but only 8% of its people are fully vaccinated.

Tehran police chief Hossein Rahimi said robbers attacked and seized 300 vaccines after a courier service left a Health Ministry medical storage facility south of the capital.

He did not say which vaccine was stolen. Iran generally uses the Chinese-made Sinopharm, although it also has used some Russian made Sputnik-V, AstraZeneca and its own domestic CovBarekat vaccine.

On Sunday, Iran registered 581 daily deaths and more than 31,000 new cases. Last week on Tuesday, Iran hit a record of 709 patients dying in a single day.

The country is struggling through a fifth wave of the disease driven by the highly contagious delta variant.


NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana hospitals already packed with patients from the latest coronavirus surge are now bracing for a powerful Category 4 hurricane, which is expected to crash ashore later Sunday.

“Once again we find ourselves dealing with a natural disaster in the midst of a pandemic,” said Jennifer Avegno, the top health official for New Orleans. She called on residents to “prepare for both.”

Hurricane Ida is forecast to slam into the state late Sunday along the Louisiana coast. It is expected to be at Category 4 strength at landfall with fierce winds up to 150 mph (240 kph).

The storm comes as hospitals and their intensive care units are already filled with patients from the fourth surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, this one sparked by the highly contagious delta variant and low vaccination rates statewide.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said evacuation of hospitals in threatened areas is something that would normally be considered under other scenarios, but it’s impractical as COVID-19 patients fill beds in Louisiana and elsewhere.

“That isn’t possible. We don’t have any place to bring those patients. Not in state, not out of state,” Edwards explained.

DUBROVNIK, Croatia — Summer tourism has exceeded even the most optimistic expectations in Croatia this year. Beaches along the country’s Adriatic Sea coastline are swarming with people.

Guided tours are fully booked, restaurants are packed and sailboats were chartered well in advance.

Croatia’s tourism industry was caught by surprise. There had been fear that the coronavirus pandemic would discourage people from traveling.

A tour guide in the southern city of Dubrovnik that is known for its Old Town and nightlife and is Croatia’s most popular destination said this week that “it’s almost like 2020 never happened.”

The success of the summer season is essential to Croatia’s economy, which is among the weakest in the European Union.

TOKYO — Japan’s minister in charge of the vaccine rollout has promise a timely administering of booster shots for the coronavirus as the nation aims to fully vaccinate its population by October or November.

Taro Kono said Pfizer and Moderna booster shots will arrive early next year in time for medical workers and the elderly, who were prioritized and mostly got their second shots by July.

“Japan is aiming for 80% vaccination levels,” Kono said on a nationally broadcast Fuji TV show.

A digital system for proof of vaccination will be available later this year, he added.

Japan has lagged among developed nations on vaccinations, with its fully vaccinated now at about 43%.