December 9 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Eoin McSweeney, Nada Bashir, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, December 10, 2020
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10:24 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

I'll be first to take the vaccine in Israel, PM Netanyahu says

From CNN’s Oren Liebermann

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the arrival of over 100,000 of doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccines at the Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, on Wednesday, December  9.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the arrival of over 100,000 of doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccines at the Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, on Wednesday, December 9. Abir Sultan/Pool/AP

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would be the first person to take the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in the country as the first shipment of doses arrived onboard a DHL flight at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport.

“I believe in this vaccine. I expect that it will receive the appropriate permits in the coming days and I want the citizens of Israel to be vaccinated,” Netanyahu said as the doses were offloaded from the cargo flight.

“In order to do this, I want to serve as an example for them and I intend to be the first in the state of Israel to be vaccinated with this vaccine.”

However, as coronavirus cases trend upward in Israel, Netanyahu warned the pandemic is not over, and encouraged everyone to social distance. “We see the end. We still need to follow the rules regarding masks, hands and distancing, but the end is in sight. What is important to me is that millions of Israelis be vaccinated,” he said.

Oren Libermann reports:

4:22 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Nearly 1,000 South Korean schools suspend in-person classes as Covid-19 cases surge

From CNN's Gawon Bae in Seoul and Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Almost a thousand schools across South Korea have suspended in-person classes due to a recent surge in coronavirus cases, according to the country's Ministry of Education.

The vast majority -- 743 schools -- are located in the capital Seoul, while 112 are in the eastern city of Ulsan.

As of Wednesday morning, a total of 1,651 students and 316 teachers have tested positive for Covid-19 since the outbreak began, the ministry added.

Public appeal: The South Korean government has urged people to cancel all gatherings and meetings during the Christmas period to combat the recent surge in infections.

"We ask you to cancel all gatherings and events at the year-end and Christmas. We understand the immediate regret of not being able to meet may be great, but it is necessary to put (them) off for each other," Yoon Tae-ho, a senior Health Ministry official, said in a briefing Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the country reported 686 new Covid-19 cases, bringing its total to 39,432, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

3:20 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

US officials aim to have Covid-19 vaccine administered within 96 hours of authorization

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer for the Defense Department's Project Warp Speed, speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force news briefing at the White House on Nov. 19.
Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer for the Defense Department's Project Warp Speed, speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force news briefing at the White House on Nov. 19. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Covid-19 vaccines will be distributed to vulnerable populations within days of an emergency use authorization (EUA), an official said, as the United States wrestles with an all-time high of daily new cases.

"We will start to have shots in arms within 96 hours of EUA," Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, said Tuesday. "That's what I believe with all my heart."

Pfizer and Moderna both have vaccine candidates awaiting EUAs, and the US Food and Drug Administration has confirmed Pfizer's safety and efficacy ahead of a Thursday approval meeting. The anticipated approval comes as the US suffers spikes in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

The US has averaged 206,152 new cases a day over the past seven days -- the highest number of cases in the pandemic so far. And Tuesday, 104,600 people were hospitalized with the virus, according to The COVID Tracking Project, a record that has been set and broken over and over in recent weeks. In total, more than 286,000 people have died of the virus and more than 15.1 million have been infected, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The wider public will likely have to continue to grapple with spikes from the holiday season until vaccines are widely available in 2021. But officials are racing to distribute vaccines in the coming days for priority populations -- the elderly and health care workers.

While it will be a "herculean task," Perna said that he is confident that, with the planning from the CDC and collaboration from partners, "we will be able to execute this vaccine very efficiently, but more importantly, effectively."

Read the full story:

2:55 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Germany reports highest daily total of Covid-19 deaths

From CNN’s Fred Pleitgen in Berlin 

Germany recorded 590 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, its highest single-day total of the pandemic, according to the country's disease control and prevention center, the Robert Koch Institute.

Tuesday's figure represents a daily increase of 167 deaths from the day before. Germany’s previous high was 487 confirmed deaths, reported on Dec. 2, according to RKI.

Germany is struggling to contain a surge in new coronavirus infections. RKI reported 20,815 new cases on Wednesday, around 3,500 more than the same day of the previous week.

The total tally of Covid-19 infections in the country is now 1,218,524 and at least 19,932 people have died, the public health agency's data showed. 

Tougher restrictions: Several German states will tighten lockdown measures to try to get the situation under control. The southeastern state of Saxony will go into what officials there call a “hard lockdown” next week, closing most shops and moving schools to online classes.

1:57 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

US reports more than 215,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Joe Sutton

The United States reported 215,586 new coronavirus cases and 2,534 virus-related deaths on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The nationwide totals currently stand at 15,164,886 confirmed infections and at least 286,229 fatalities, per JHU's tally.

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

See CNN's tracker:

2:04 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Analysis: Yes, there's a vaccine, but not enough to go around

Analysis from CNN's Zachary B. Wolf

A phial of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is seen on a tray at the Louisa Jordan Hospital in Glasgow on Dec. 8 as the UK begins its biggest vaccination program.
A phial of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is seen on a tray at the Louisa Jordan Hospital in Glasgow on Dec. 8 as the UK begins its biggest vaccination program. Jeff J Mitchell/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

In the United Kingdom, people are getting Pfizer's Covid vaccine. The idea that we've officially entered the vaccine stage of this thing in the Western Hemisphere actually made me do a fist pump this morning. This is huge.

The process looks very organized in the UK, where they're converting sports stadiums to vaccine delivery locations for the masses. That is in part because in the UK they have the National Health Service, which means structure for everyone, ultimately, to get stuck. (Prime Minister Boris Johnson is waiting for his place in line, he said today.)

Here in the US, there is second-guessing of a Trump administration decision not to buy more vaccine from Pfizer, which is first out of the gate in the UK. It's also likely to be first in the US, but did not take part in all of Operation Warp Speed, the US vaccine effort. (Note: A former board member for Moderna, a Pfizer competitor, leads Operation Warp Speed.)

And there is no clear idea who will get the vaccine when in the US, although an executive order should be coming from President Donald Trump on that.

Here, there's a profit motive to health care and it's not clear to me that everyone will get a dose for free. It's also not clear who will want to take it. An administration official said Monday that by the end of March, 100 million Americans could have a vaccination -- everyone who wants it. There are more than 300 million people in this country.

Read the full analysis:

1:01 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Japan is sending more medical workers to coronavirus hotspots

From CNN's Junko Ogura in Tokyo

Nurses from the Japan Self-Defense Forces arrive at Yoshida Hospital in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, on Dec. 9.
Nurses from the Japan Self-Defense Forces arrive at Yoshida Hospital in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, on Dec. 9. Kyodo News/Getty Images

Japan will send doctors and nurses from other prefectures to Osaka and Hokkaido, both of which have been hit hard by Covid-19, to help with the strain on medical staff, the National Governors' Association has announced.

The association said 46 nurses from several prefectures will be sent to Osaka and Hokkaido to help fight Covid-19.

The Ministry of Health on Monday also began sending 60 medical personnel to the areas to assist and on Tuesday, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi ordered the Japan Self-Defense Forces to send nurses to the coronavirus hotspot of Asahikawa city, Hokkaido to help deal with a surge in infections.

More than 70% of hospital beds are occupied in Osaka, with 160 people in critical condition on respirators, according to Osaka's prefectural government. The prefecture reported 258 new cases on Tuesday, bringing its total to 22,993. 

Hokkaido reported 204 new cases and nine deaths from Tuesday. Asahikawa city reported a record daily increase with 50 new cases and six new deaths.

Nationwide, Japan reported 2,154 new coronavirus infections and 38 deaths from Tuesday. The country's total number of cases stands at 166,552, including 2,433 fatalities.

12:20 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

FDA warns against wearing face masks with metal parts during MRIs after patient's face is burned

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman

This graphic provided by the FDA warns mask-wearers of the potential metal parts of their masks.
This graphic provided by the FDA warns mask-wearers of the potential metal parts of their masks. Source: FDA

The US Food and Drug Administration is warning against wearing face masks with metal parts during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams after a patient experienced facial burns.

The agency issued a safety communication Tuesday alerting patients and health care providers about the potential dangers.

“The FDA recently received a report that a patient’s face was burned from the metal in a face mask worn during an MRI,” the agency said in the alert.

The injury occurred during a scan of the neck.

“The report describes burns to the patient’s face consistent with the shape of the face mask,” the FDA said.

Some face masks, such as surgical or non-surgical masks and respirators, contain metal parts and coatings. Metal parts can include nose pieces, also called nose clips or wires, nanoparticles or antimicrobial coating that might contain silver or copper.

The metals can heat up during an MRI and burn the patient.

“Burns from metal objects worn by a patient during an MRI exam are a known issue and patients should not wear any metal during an MRI,” the agency said, but given the coronavirus pandemic, the FDA is urging patients to wear masks during an MRI.

The FDA is urging health care workers to make sure patients are wearing masks that do not have metal components during MRIs. 

Magnetic resonance imaging uses strong magnets and radio waves to take internal pictures of the body. MRIs help health care providers diagnose an injury or disease and monitor medical treatment, the FDA said.

12:03 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020

China resumes cruises to disputed islands after Covid-19 suspension

CNN's Lily Lee in Hong Kong and CNN's Beijing bureau

China is resuming operations on two cruise lines to a group of disputed islands in the South China Sea following nearly a year of suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

South China Sea Dream, a ship run by Nanhai Cruises, will sail to the Paracel Islands from Sanya, Hainan on Wednesday. The trip is not open to foreign travelers.

Last month, Nanhai Cruises released a statement on its official WeChat account saying: "Long time no see! Thank you for your support for the 'South China Sea Dream' ship. After 319 days of waiting, the 'South China Sea Dream' ship will officially resume sailing on December 9, 2020."

Chang'le Princess, a Hainan Strait Shipping ship, will also start sailing again to the Paracels. It's resuming operations from Sanya with a chartered event on Thursday that will be formally open to domestic tourists from Dec. 15.

Competing claims in the South China Sea: Beijing has opened the Paracel Islands -- known as the Xisha Islands in China -- to domestic tourists since 2013, as a way to exercise its maritime claims in the disputed area. Both Vietnam and Taiwan also lay claim to the islands and have protested China's activities in the area.