Ashley Westerman

Clarisa Andres, a petite 22-year-old, hasn't been home in over a month. She's homesick, but she says she can cope.

She's an emergency medical technician with the San Juan Early Response Network – one of the few women on the 63-member team – and the pandemic has amped up their work of responding to medical emergencies. They work 24-hour shifts, 7 days a week and when they're on call, they live in a dorm with other health-care workers.

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The Philippines' Health Department says it will no longer allow local governments to announce which brand of coronavirus vaccines will be available at inoculation sites.

The move comes after hundreds of people this week lined up at a site in Manila when they found out the Pfizer vaccine would be given out there.

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On Monday, Australia and New Zealand launched their long-anticipated travel bubble that will allow residents of each country to visit the other without having to quarantine upon arrival.

Emotional videos capturing long-awaited reunions in arrival halls in various airports across Australia and New Zealand have been circulating online since the first passengers touched down. Thousands are reported to have made the journey across the Tasman Sea in the bubble's opening first day.

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On Thursday, Palau and Taiwan launched what is being touted as "Asia's first travel bubble," with an inaugural flight from Taipei landing at Palau International Airport just after 7:30 p.m. local time.

Palau has recorded zero cases of coronavirus infection, and Taiwan has kept the virus largely in check since the start of the pandemic.

Bethany Long Newman says she saw herself in the victims of last week's shooting outside of Atlanta, when a gunman rampaged through three spas and killed eight people. Of the eight victims, six were women of Asian descent.

"When I first heard about it, I was immediately scared," says Newman, 32, of Chicago. "You kind of put yourself in their shoes a bit and think: This would happen to me — or my daughter."

For the first time in over two decades, the Pacific island territory of New Caledonia has a government made up mostly of pro-independence politicians, a historic turnover that analysts say could edge it toward becoming independent from France.

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