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Some countries try a new virus approach, as jobless claims in the US rise, plus more COVID news

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Almost two years later, Spain is preparing to adopt a different COVID-19 playbook. With one of Europe's highest vaccination rates and its most pandemic-battered economies, the government is laying the groundwork to treat the next infection surge not as an emergency but an illness that is here to stay. Similar steps are under consideration in neighboring Portugal and in Britain.

The idea is to move from crisis mode to control mode, approaching the virus in much the same way countries deal with flu or measles. That means accepting that infections will occur and providing extra care for at-risk people and patients with complications.

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose to the highest level in three months as the fast-spreading omicron variant disrupted the job market.

Jobless claims rose for the third straight week — by 55,000 to 286,000, highest since mid-October, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The four-week average of claims, which smooths out weekly volatility, rose by 20,000 to 231,000, highest since late November.

Meanwhile, an American Airlines passenger plane bound for London turned around mid-flight due to a mask-related disruption on Wednesday.

"American Airlines flight 38 with service from Miami (MIA) to London (LHR) returned to MIA due to a disruptive customer refusing to comply with the federal mask requirement," American Airlines said in a statement.

Local law enforcement met the flight at Miami International Airport, the airline said.

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