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New York City enforces quarantine for U.K. travelers, rolls out vaccine to paramedics

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© Reuters. Workers of the FDNY EMS receive COVID-19 Moderna vaccine in New York

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By Gabriella Borter

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York City started requiring international visitors to quarantine on Wednesday to guard against a new variant of COVID-19 from the United Kingdom as the city’s next group of essential workers, paramedics and other first responders, lined up to get the vaccine.

Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters that all international travelers to New York City would begin receiving a city order to quarantine, delivered via certified mail to homes and hotels, and that deputies from the city Sheriff’s office would visit travelers from the U.K.

All international travelers must provide their contact information upon arriving in the city, and those found to be violating quarantine orders could be fined $1,000 per day, de Blasio said.

“There’s going to be a follow-up, direct home visit or hotel visit from the sheriff’s deputy to confirm that they are following the quarantine,” de Blasio said.

The heightened caution in New York City, a global travel hub, comes as dozens of countries have closed their borders to Britain, and New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo asked airlines to screen British travelers for COVID-19 after the discovery of a new, highly transmissible variant of virus there.

Drugmakers are racing to confirm that newly developed vaccines will still be effective against the virus variant, but they and other health officials have expressed confidence.

The vaccines developed by Pfizer (NYSE:) and BioNtech and Moderna (NASDAQ:) were approved for emergency use in the United States. The U.S. government on Wednesday said it will pay Pfizer nearly $2 billion to receive 100 million additional doses of its COVID-19 vaccine by July 2021.

‘I FEEL RELIEVED’

New York City’s vaccine rollout began on Dec. 14 with the first group of healthcare workers getting the shot. The effort expanded on Wednesday to another group of high-priority essential workers: first responders at the Fire Department of New York City (FDNY).

About 6,000 of the fire department’s 17,000 personnel have contracted the virus this year, New York City Fire Commissioner Dan Nigro told reporters.

Over 400 FDNY paramedics lined up to receive their first doses of the Moderna vaccine on Wednesday, including Verena Kansog, advanced life support coordinator for Manhattan, who got her shot at the FDNY training center on Randalls Island.

“I feel relieved,” said Kansog, who worried about bringing the disease home to her elderly mother.

“I was not one single bit nervous,” she said in a phone interview.

Nearly 30,000 COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered in New York City as of Wednesday, according to the city health department.

The department reported its first instance of a significant allergic reaction to the vaccine on Wednesday but emphasized that such reactions are rare. The affected healthcare worker was in stable condition.

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