September 25 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Adam Renton, Joshua Berlinger, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0458 GMT (1258 HKT) September 26, 2020
12 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
3:22 a.m. ET, September 25, 2020

The US is nearing 7 million coronavirus cases

From CNN's Alta Spells

At least 6,978,851 coronavirus cases have been identified in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University, killing at least 202,818 people.

Another 44,110 cases and 914 new deaths were reported on Thursday, according to the university.  

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

CNN is tracking cases here:

3:07 a.m. ET, September 25, 2020

South Korea announces tougher social distancing measures ahead of upcoming holiday

From CNN's Jake Kwon in Seoul, South Korea, and Sophie Jeong in Hong Kong

South Korea will implement strengthened social distancing measures around the nation’s upcoming Chuseok holidays, the government said.

Minister of Health Park Neung-hoo said in a briefing that restaurants and cafes with more than 20 seats in the Seoul metropolitan area will have to keep tables at a minimum distance of 1 meter apart unless dividers are installed. Movie theaters and internet cafes must leave one seat empty between clients.

Outside of the capital area, clubs, bars and other nightlife establishments must close during the holiday weeks.

These new measures will be implemented from Sept. 28 to Oct. 11.

Bans in place: Clubs and bars in the wider Seoul area are already closed under the current social distancing measures, as are gatherings of 50 or more people indoors and 100 or more people outdoors.

Park said the government will decide in the second week of Chuseok, after Oct. 12, how to proceed with social distancing measures.

Authorities said they had identified 114 new Covid-19 infections since Thursday, bringing the total number of cases in the nation to 23,455. At least 395 people have died.

2:48 a.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Bolsonaro signs decree for Brazil to join WHO's COVAX vaccine initiative

From CNN’s Taylor Barnes in Atlanta

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro looks on during the ceremony in which Eduardo Pazuello takes office as Minister of Health amid the coronavirus pandemic on September 16, in Brasilia.
President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro looks on during the ceremony in which Eduardo Pazuello takes office as Minister of Health amid the coronavirus pandemic on September 16, in Brasilia. Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro signed a provisional decree on Thursday for Brazil to join a global effort to develop and distribute Covid-19 vaccines led by the World Health Organization.

The decree, published in the federal government’s Official Diary, says joining COVAX will give the country access to “safe and effective vaccines against Covid-19, without hindering eventual future participation in other mechanisms or procurement of vaccines through other modes.”

According to CNN affiliate CNN Brasil, Bolsonaro also earmarked 2.5 billion reais (about $450 million) for the initiative.

Brazil’s Covid-19 death toll is the second highest in the world, behind only that of the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.

2:21 a.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Growing skepticism in potential Covid-19 vaccine is an "enormous problem," health expert says

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman

Growing skepticism about a potential Covid-19 vaccine is an “enormous” problem, Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said Thursday on CNN.

It’s a big problem, Schaffner told CNN’s Erin Burnett, “because once we do develop a vaccine, obviously we want people to accept it, but there’s growing skepticism … in the general population.”

Recent polls have shown many Americans say they won’t get a coronavirus vaccine.

“But what's not represented is the skepticism and the concern in the medical profession,” said Schaffner, a liaison to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
“They are very concerned. I hear that almost, literally, every single day.”
“So if physicians won't recommend it once it comes out, when they recommend caution, that will just a hamper the vaccination program,” he said.

Reputational damage: Schaffner also said the reputation of both the US Food and Drug Administration and the CDC are “tainted because of political interference.”

“I’m worried,” he said.

“Both the reputation of the FDA and the CDC unfortunately have been tainted because of political interference, and even just this recent FDA wishing to change the, the ground rules for the development of the vaccine has to go to the White House for approval, that's totally inappropriate,” he said.

“It's never happened before, should not happen.” 

“That's evidence of political interference with a basic scientific process,” Schaffner said.

US President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the White House could override the FDA if the agency released tougher standards for the authorization of a Covid-19 vaccine, calling such a move "political." The FDA is considering new coronavirus vaccine guidelines that would make it unlikely a Covid-19 vaccine could be authorized or approved by Election Day -- a timeline Trump has repeatedly openly pushed for.

1:43 a.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Helsinki Airport deploys sniffer dogs to detect Covid-19

From CNN's Mitch McCluskey in Atlanta

Sniffer dogs react with trainer Susanna Paavilainen at the Helsinki airport in Vantaa, Finland, on Tuesday, September 22, 2020.
Sniffer dogs react with trainer Susanna Paavilainen at the Helsinki airport in Vantaa, Finland, on Tuesday, September 22, 2020. Antti Aimo-Koivisto/Lehtikuva via AP

A group of sniffer dogs trained to detect Covid-19 have begun working at Helsinki Airport in Finland in an effort to identify those who have contracted the virus.

“We are among the pioneers. As far as we know no other airport has attempted to use canine scent detection on such a large scale against Covid-19,” airport director Ulla Lettijeff said in a statement. “This might be an additional step forward on the way to beating Covid-19.”

Finnish start-up Wise Nose has trained a total of 10 dogs, which will work in shifts of four to sniff out coronavirus.

The process involves those being tested swiping their skin with a test wipe and dropping it into a cup, which is then given to the dog that sniffs it. The dog and its handler are held in a separate booth during the test. If the test result is positive, the individual will be directed to a health information point inside the airport.

All of the tests are processed anonymously, Helsinki Airport said.

The dogs can smell the virus with almost 100% certainty and can identify the virus days before the symptoms have started, the airport said, citing preliminary tests conducted by a research group at the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Helsinki.

"We have solid experience in training disease related scent detection dogs. It was fantastic to see how fast the dogs took to the new smell," said Anna Hielm-Björkman, a University of Helsinki clinical instructor leading the research group.
12:54 a.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Countries should meet these five criteria before easing lockdowns, study says. Many aren't even close

From CNN's Emma Reynolds

Countries should not ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions until they meet five criteria -- and many nations are not even close, according to a new analysis published in The Lancet medical journal.

The research, published Thursday, said that the prerequisites for easing Covid-19 measures are:

  1. Knowledge of infection status
  2. Community engagement
  3. Adequate public health capacity
  4. Adequate health system capacity
  5. Border controls

The authors looked at nine high-income countries and territories that have started to relax restrictions -- Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Germany, Norway, Spain and the UK. They found that many governments had failed to meet the criteria necessary to avoid new waves of infection, as seen in Spain, Germany and the UK.

"The evidence is clear. If we are getting a resurgence of disease, of numbers of cases, then they opened up too early, it's sort of axiomatic," co-author Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told CNN.

The study also found that an effective find, test, trace, isolate, support system is needed to safely reopen. "No country does it perfectly, actually ... England does it particularly badly. Spain and France don't do terribly well either," said McKee.

Read the full story:

12:02 a.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Key model now projects more than 371,000 US Covid-19 deaths by Jan. 1 -- 7,000 fewer than previous prediction

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman

An influential coronavirus model has updated its projection to 371,509 deaths by Jan. 1 -- a drop of about 7,000 deaths from projections about a week ago.

The model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine is also predicting 3,000 coronavirus deaths a day by the end of the year. 

The forecast is projecting 2.5 million global deaths by Jan. 1, but that number drops to 1.8 million if 95% of the world’s population wore masks, researchers said.

When factoring in mask usage by 95% of the US population, the number of cumulative deaths drop to 275,000 by Jan. 1, saving nearly 100,000 lives between September and late December, according to the model. However, national mask use is closer to 48%, researchers said, making it doubtful the US will be able to significantly drop the death toll.

Twelve states are now seeing mask usage rates above 50% -- California, Washington, Colorado, Texas, Mississippi, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, IHME said.

9:47 p.m. ET, September 24, 2020

Mexico's Covid-19 death toll surpasses 75,000

From CNN’s Taylor Barnes and Marlon Sorto in Atlanta

Mexico’s Health Ministry reported 490 new Covid-19 deaths on Thursday, raising the country’s death toll to 75,439.

The ministry also reported 5,408 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the nationwide total to 715,457.

Mexico’s Covid-19 death toll is the second highest in Latin America, following only that of Brazil, according to Johns Hopkins University.

CNN is tracking worldwide coronavirus cases:

9:10 p.m. ET, September 24, 2020

Trump's decision to withdraw from WHO will hurt the US, director-general says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization will hurt the United States, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in an interview with Time posted Thursday.

“Withdrawing from WHO actually hurts the US, because being part of WHO is not just to help those who need support,” said Tedros. “The US also benefits from being a member of WHO.” 

Tedros told Time that when he first heard that the United States was withdrawing from WHO, he didn’t believe it. He said he had a “very cordial” conversation with US President Donald Trump on March 23, in which there was no hint that the US was planning a withdrawal. 

“Even now, I believe that the US administration doesn't have any good reason to withdraw from WHO,” said Tedros. “And that’s my strong position. No good reason.”

Tedros said the consequences of the decision are still unclear.

“I don't see the membership or the relationship with the US as a financial transaction. It's not the money which matters. It's actually the global leadership of the US,” Tedros said.

He noted that when battling the coronavirus pandemic, nations are stronger together.

“One of the impacts which may be visible is, you know, the global solidarity is weak. Major global powers are not working together,” Tedros said.