April 8 coronavirus news

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12:28 a.m. ET, April 8, 2020

How China is using color-coded QR codes to control the spread of coronavirus

A passenger shows a green QR code on his phone to a security guard to indicate his health status at Wenzhou railway station in China on February 28.
A passenger shows a green QR code on his phone to a security guard to indicate his health status at Wenzhou railway station in China on February 28. Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

In China, authorities are using technology to track who is likely to be healthy -- and who poses a risk.

Residents are each assigned a color-coded QR code on their phones -- and that color correlates to what they're able to do. In Wuhan, even now the lockdown is lifted, residents still need to produce a green QR code to leave their compounds. For those returning to work, they also need to produce a letter from their employer.

To get into places such as restaurants, people need to show that QR code -- and only people with a green code will gain entry.

But if your code is yellow or red, it means you've been flagged for some reason. If, for instance, you had been on a plane with a person infected with coronavirus, you would be flagged and your code might change color.

Those with a yellow or red code might be asked to self-isolate -- or even have to go into state quarantine.

The whole thing relies on big data, and means local governments have a database of people's travel history, their health history, and whether they've been in close contact with anyone who has coronavirus.

There's another potential problem -- different provinces have their own health QR codes, and sometimes they have issues recognizing codes from another region.

Watch how the codes work here:

12:20 a.m. ET, April 8, 2020

New York City reports a record 800-plus coronavirus deaths in one day

A record high of more than 800 fatalities were reported in just one day on Tuesday in New York City, according to city health officials.

The national daily total of 1,909 new deaths was also a record high, according to Johns Hopkins University. It is unclear whether the New York City figure was used in compiling the US total.

Still, the distressing numbers came as some officials expressed hope that some areas of the country were reaching the peak of the curves of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Earlier, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had said the numbers of hospitalizations in his state was reaching a plateau but residents still needed to be disciplined.

"We have to be smart. We have to be safe. ... We do that by staying at home," he told reporters.

US coronavirus cases are nearing 400,000 and the death toll has reached at least 12,895. However, health officials say parts of the country that leaned in heavily to social distancing measures may be seeing a slowdown in the growth of cases.

Read more here:

12:10 a.m. ET, April 8, 2020

There are at least 398,809 coronavirus cases in the United States, including 12,895 deaths

There are at least 398,809 cases of coronavirus in the United States, including at least 12,895 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

On Tuesday, 30,613 new cases and 1,909 deaths were reported, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins. According to the university, this is a record for the most new US coronavirus deaths added in a single day.

The total includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as all repatriated cases. Wyoming is the only state not reporting a death from coronavirus.

Check out CNN’s map, which refreshes every 10 minutes.

11:50 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

Chinese health experts are urging caution as Wuhan comes out of a two-month lockdown

After more than two months, Wuhan is finally reopening its borders. But while easing of restrictions in the city where the pandemic began can be seen as a positive sign, Chinese health experts have also urged the public to continue to practice caution.

Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told the state-run Health Times on Thursday that the epidemic in China was far from over.

"China is not near the end, but has entered a new stage. With the global epidemic raging, China has not reached the end," he said.

With global infections continuing to surge, a growing number of cases have been imported to China -- many of them Chinese students and workers eager to return home.

As of Tuesday, 698 imported coronavirus cases have been reported by Chinese authorities.

Concerns grow over asymptomatic carriers: In China, only patients showing symptoms and positive results in nucleic tests are included in the official tally of confirmed cases. Asymptomatic patients who have tested positive are monitored and placed under quarantine until they develop symptoms or turn negative in later tests.

Amid mounting public concerns, China started to announce a separate daily number of asymptomatic carriers last week. Since then, dozens of new asymptomatic carriers have been found in Wuhan every day, with 673 currently under medical observation.

"Although for now, it seems that the infectiousness of asymptomatic cases are relatively low, they are still infectious and we should be vigilant," Yang Jiong, a respiratory expert at the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, told the Health Times on Monday.

Read the full story here:

11:41 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

US state of Georgia secures 200,000 doses of malaria drug touted by Trump as possible coronavirus therapy

Pharmaceutical company Amneal has donated 200,000 doses of hydroxychloroquine to the Georgia Department of Public Health, US Representative from Georgia Doug Collins said.

"Proud to have worked with Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Inc. to help secure 200,000 doses of hydroxychloroquine for (the Georgia Department of Public Health)," he tweeted.

"This medication could potentially save thousands of lives across our state. Thank you, Amneal, for this incredible donation!"

President Donald Trump has promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine --usually used to treat malaria -- in the fight against coronavirus, even though it has not been proven safe for that purpose.  

Read more about Hydroxychloroquine and Covid-19 here:

11:30 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

A second US coronavirus vaccine trial has administered its first dose

The biotechnology company Inovio began a Phase 1 clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine this week, with its first dose given to a subject at the University of Pennsylvania on Monday.

The Phase 1 trial is estimated to be completed by late summer of 2020, a spokesperson for Inovio told CNN in an email. It will enroll up to 40 healthy adult volunteers in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Missouri, according to a news release.

The Phase 1 trial is meant to establish that the vaccine is safe and induces a desired response from participants' immune systems. Proving that the vaccine is effective in preventing Covid-19 infection requires follow-up studies involving many more participants, which will take many more months.

“We anticipate rapid enrolment of this initial study,” Dr Pablo Tebas, an infectious disease specialist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the study’s principal investigator, said in the news release. “There has been tremendous interest in this vaccine among people who want to do what they can do to help protect the greater public from this pandemic as soon as possible.”

Similar to Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, which began Phase 1 testing in March, Inovio’s vaccine is also derived from genetic material. However, Inovio’s vaccine -- named INO-4800 -- is derived from DNA, not messenger RNA, which makes up Moderna’s vaccine.

Inovio received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

“In ten weeks from funding, INOVIO manufactured thousands of doses of INO-4800 to support on-going Phase 1 and planned Phase 2 clinical trials,” the news release said.

 

11:21 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

The US FDA commissioner is warning against false claims by antibody test manufacturers

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on Saturday, April 4, in Washington.
Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on Saturday, April 4, in Washington. Patrick Semansky/AP

The US Food and Drug Administration will take “appropriate action against firms making false claims or marketing” coronavirus tests, according to a news release from FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn. 

As of Tuesday, only one Emergency Use Authorization has been issued by the FDA for a serological test for coronavirus. The test is intended only for clinical laboratory use.

A serology test would be able to identify past coronavirus infections, although it may be less effective at identifying recent ones.

More than 70 test developers have notified the agency that they have serological tests available for use, according to Hahn’s statement.

"However, some firms are falsely claiming that their serological tests are FDA approved or authorized, or falsely claiming that they can diagnose COVID-19."

In March, the FDA issued a new policy which allows companies to market serological tests for coronavirus without FDA review so long as they met certain conditions. The new policy was an effort to identify individuals who have overcome an infection and have developed an immune response to coronavirus, according to Hahn.

11:12 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

New Zealand reports third consecutive day of decline in new virus numbers

A house fence has been chalked up with messages relating to the coronavirus lockdown on April 3 in Auckland, New Zealand.
A house fence has been chalked up with messages relating to the coronavirus lockdown on April 3 in Auckland, New Zealand. Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand reported 50 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday -- the third consecutive day that the country has reported a decline in new cases compared with the day before.

The country's director-general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, announced the new cases at a news conference on Wednesday. They include 26 confirmed cases and 24 probable cases.

New Zealand is half way through a month-long lockdown.

The total of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand to 1,210. Some 282 patients have recovered from the virus.

11:02 p.m. ET, April 7, 2020

California governor announces deals to acquire 200 million masks per month

Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at the Governor's Office of Emergency Services in Rancho Cordova, California on March 30.
Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at the Governor's Office of Emergency Services in Rancho Cordova, California on March 30. Rich Pedroncelli/AP

California has secured deals to acquire more than 200 million protective masks each month for medical workers combating the coronavirus, the state's Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday. 

Newsom made the announcement during an appearance on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, saying when it comes to states competing against one another for masks, “enough is enough.”

"In the past 48 hours, we have secured through a consortium of nonprofits and manufacturers here in the state of California upwards of 200 million masks on a monthly basis that we're confident we can supply the needs of the state of California and potentially the needs of other western states,” said Newsom. 
“We inked a number of contracts in the last few days that give me confidence in being able to say that."

Newsom says the state is expecting more than 150 million N95 masks and more than 50 million surgical masks per month.

The masks will be manufactured overseas, and will begin to arrive in the next few weeks.