January 5 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Kara Fox, Ed Upright and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, January 6, 2021
71 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
10:29 p.m. ET, January 5, 2021

Operation Warp Speed says it distributed 3 million coronavirus vaccines Tuesday

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Christopher Miller testifies at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on "Threats to the Homeland" on Capitol Hill on September 24 in Washington.
Christopher Miller testifies at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on "Threats to the Homeland" on Capitol Hill on September 24 in Washington. Joshua Roberts/Pool/Getty Images

The federal government’s Operation Warp Speed said it distributed more than 3 million coronavirus vaccines on Tuesday, meaning that the government has now distributed more than 19 million vaccines across the United States.

Officials in President Donald Trump's administration have been promising to speed up vaccine distribution. They have admitted they have fallen far short of promises to have vaccinated 20 million people by the end of 2020.

“On behalf of Operation Warp Speed, I am proud to report that today, 3,087,100 vaccines were distributed to the American people,” Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller said in a statement.
“Today’s great work brings the total number of doses distributed to 19,141,175 over the last 21 days since the first vaccine doses showed up at administration sites.” 

Earlier Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 17 million vaccine doses had been distributed and more than 4.8 million people had been given their first doses of vaccine. 

9:59 p.m. ET, January 5, 2021

North Korea just held a major political meeting with about 5,000 people — and there wasn't a mask in sight

From CNN's Joshua Berlinger in Hong Kong and Yoonjung Seo in Seoul, South Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un addressed the opening session of its 8th Workers’ Party Congress on Tuesday morning, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency. 
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un addressed the opening session of its 8th Workers’ Party Congress on Tuesday morning, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.  Source: KCNA

North Korea kicked off a rare political event that's supposed to happen every five years or so with about 5,000 people -- including leader Kim Jong Un -- gathered indoors without masks and seated close together on Tuesday.

While it's impossible to verify if face coverings were worn at any point in time, none of the images released by North Korea's state-run KCNA news Wednesday of the Workers Party Congress show people wearing masks indoors.

From a propaganda standpoint, the images make sense: North Korea claims to not have recorded a single case of Covid-19, so holding a high-level meeting without masks is a way to reinforce that narrative.

But almost no one believes North Korea has been spared from a pandemic that has infected more than 86 million people and killed nearly 2 million. In fact, Kim's regime recognizes the danger of the virus and has gone to incredible lengths to stop its spread.

Almost all travel into the country ceased shortly after the virus emerged a year ago, and internal travel is also heavily restricted. North Korean state media regularly carries articles reminding its people on the importance of its emergency anti-epidemic campaign. And the regime reportedly had two people executed for not following Covid-19 guidelines, including a customs official who did not follow virus prevention rules while importing goods from China.

Experts believe Pyongyang is enacting a vigilant response because it knows its dilapidated healthcare infrastructure likely cannot contain a major outbreak of Covid-19.

That makes the photographs from the meeting Tuesday all the more puzzling. Perhaps North Korea believes the safeguards it put in place were good enough to allow attendees not to wear masks to the meeting. This is a unique event that North Korea does not want to postpone -- it's just the eighth Party Congress in North Korea's history and the second of Kim's tenure. The last one held before Kim took power was in 1980.

But holding it is a risk. If just one of the 5,000 people who traveled from across the country to attend the meeting had Covid-19 and was infectious, it means Kim may have just kicked off an incredibly important political meeting with a super-spreader event.

9:27 p.m. ET, January 5, 2021

In Australia and Taiwan's fight against Covid, flight crews are proving to be their Achilles heel

From CNN's Julia Hollingsworth

Countries around the Asia-Pacific region have closed borders and imposed strict quarantine requirements, essentially sealing themselves off from the world.

But in many jurisdictions there's a key exception to those rules: flight crews.

For months, flight crews in a number of places -- including Taiwan and Australia -- have been able to avoid the tough quarantine rules imposed on other international travelers. But rule breaches by airline staff in both places in December have prompted questions about whether exemptions for aviation workers are creating an unnecessary risk to the public.

Taiwan has now tightened its quarantine rules for flight crews, something two Australian states did in December.

But it's a tricky predicament. While health experts say that treating flight crews differently is a loophole in an otherwise tough border approach, aviation industry officials say exemptions are needed to keep the industry operating -- and avoid jeopardizing flight crews' mental health.

What happened in Taiwan? When Taiwan reported its first locally-transmitted case in more than 250 days on December 22, authorities quickly pin-pointed a foreign pilot as the source of infection.

Authorities said a New Zealand pilot in his 60s infected a woman in her 30s after completing the required three days of quarantine required for pilots, Taiwan state media CNA reported. That pilot has now been fined by Taiwanese authorities for not disclosing his complete contact history and fired by his company.

What happened in Australia? A series of incidents in December prompted questions over quarantine exemptions for flight crews. A Sydney van driver who had transported international flight crews tested positive at the start of December.

Later that month, New South Wales Police fined 13 international air crew members 1,000 Australian dollars ($760) each for going to a number of Sydney venues when they should have been quarantining. And just before Christmas, a Qantas crew member tested positive after flying into Darwin from Paris and then boarding a domestic flight.

Read the full story:

8:36 p.m. ET, January 5, 2021

Colombia authorizes emergency use of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

From CNN's Stefano Pozzebon in Bogota, Colombia

A member of staff poses with a vial of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination health center in Cardiff, United Kingdom, on December 8, 2020.
A member of staff poses with a vial of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination health center in Cardiff, United Kingdom, on December 8, 2020. Justin Tallis/Pool/Getty Images

Medical regulators in Colombia have authorized Pfizer/BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, Colombian President Ivan Duque announced on Tuesday.

Speaking in his daily news briefing, Duque said: "This was a process completed in record time ... In less than two days, our technicians reviewed more than 22,000 pages of documents." 

This is the first coronavirus vaccine that Colombia's medical authority, INVIMA, has authorized for emergency use. Duque said discussions were ongoing with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson for future authorizations of their coronavirus vaccines.

In previous statements the Colombian government announced it had secured 10 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

8:11 p.m. ET, January 5, 2021

WHO chief "disappointed" as Covid-19 investigators' China mission stalls

From CNN's Steve George in Hong Kong

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference organized by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents amid the Covid-19 pandemic on July 3, 2020 in Geneva.
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference organized by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents amid the Covid-19 pandemic on July 3, 2020 in Geneva. Fabrice Coffrini/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that some members of the international scientific team investigating the origins of Covid-19 were told at the last minute that they did not yet have the necessary permissions to arrive in China -- including some who were already en route.

Tedros said that some members of that scientific team had already begun their travels from their home countries to China in the 24 hours prior to learning arrangements that had been agreed to between WHO, the Chinese government and countries that the team were to travel through on their way to Wuhan had not been finalized. 

“I am very disappointed with this news given that two members had already begun their journeys and others were not able to travel at the last minute," Tedros said Tuesday, according to a transcript of his remarks on the WHO website. 

The WHO Director-General went on to say he had been in contact with Chinese officials to “once again made clear that the mission is a priority for WHO and the international team.”

He added that he was given assurances that China was speeding up the internal procedure for “the earliest possible deployment.”

“We are eager to get the mission underway as soon as possible," he said.

7:16 p.m. ET, January 5, 2021

US hits record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

Clinicians care for a COVID-19 patient in the Intensive Care Unit at Providence St. Mary Medical Center on December 23, 2020 in Apple Valley, California.
Clinicians care for a COVID-19 patient in the Intensive Care Unit at Providence St. Mary Medical Center on December 23, 2020 in Apple Valley, California. Mario Tama/Getty Images

The United States reported 131,195 current Covid-19 hospitalizations on Tuesday, setting a new record high since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project (CTP).

This is the 35th consecutive day that the US has remained above 100,000 current hospitalizations.

According to CTP data, the highest hospitalization numbers were recorded on the following days:

  1. Jan. 5: 131,195 people hospitalized
  2. Jan. 4: 128,210 people hospitalized
  3. Jan. 3: 125,562 people hospitalized
  4. Dec. 31: 125,379 people hospitalized
  5. Dec. 30: 125,218 people hospitalized
7:16 p.m. ET, January 5, 2021

One commercial flight led to a Covid-19 cluster despite pre-travel testing, case study shows

From CNN's Michael Nedelman

Seven people from five countries tested positive for Covid-19 after a long-haul flight from Dubai to New Zealand in late September, despite taking pre-flight precautions, according to a case study published Tuesday in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Five of the passengers tested negative several days ahead of the 18-hour flight, including two traveling from Switzerland who likely brought the virus onboard the plane. The rest of the passengers who later tested positive for Covid-19 sat in aisle seats up to two rows away from those traveling from Switzerland, according to the study.

Five of the seven passengers reported wearing masks and gloves, which were optional during the flight. Upon arrival in New Zealand the passengers were taken to a government quarantine facility, where they later tested positive. The study says one of the cases was likely infected in the quarantine facility by a family member who was among the other six cases.

The study serves as a cautionary counterpoint to other research suggesting that viruses don’t spread easily on planes because of air circulation and filtration systems. The study authors note the system that controls the cabin air would likely be turned off for about a half-hour during a refueling stop in Malaysia.

Researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that getting tested three days before traveling reduces the risk of spreading the virus by only 5 - 9%. However, testing on the day of departure may reduce that risk by 37 - 61%, according to their paper, which was posted online in November and has not been peer-reviewed.

The November paper notes that pre-departure tests "can still miss infected travelers who are in their latent period, as they may not have enough viral shedding to be detected."

7:10 p.m. ET, January 5, 2021

US surpasses 21 million Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

There have been at least 21,007,694 total cases of coronavirus in the United States and at least 356,540 people have died from Covid-19 since the pandemic began, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins recorded the first case of coronavirus in the United States on Jan. 21, 2020. 

Seventeen other countries have reported more than 1 million total Covid-19 cases, according to Johns Hopkins.

Here's a breakdown of the countries and their total number of coronavirus cases:

  • India has more than 10 million total cases
  • Brazil has over 7 million total cases
  • Russia has more than 3 million total cases
  • France, United Kingdom, Turkey, and Italy have over 2 million total cases
  • Spain, Argentina, Colombia, Germany, Mexico, Poland, Iran, Ukraine, Peru, and South Africa all have over 1 million total cases each
7:12 p.m. ET, January 5, 2021

1 in 15 Georgia residents infected by Covid-19, data shows

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

About one in 15 Georgia residents has been infected by Covid-19 and more than one in 1,000 has died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

The state’s seven-day average of new cases reached a record high on Monday, with an average of 8,546 new cases reported each day.

Only eight other states had higher per capita rates of new cases over the same seven-day period. 

In hospitals across Georgia, 91% of intensive care unit beds are occupied and 85% of all inpatient beds are occupied, according to estimates published Sunday by the Department of Health and Human Services. 

In the Atlanta metro area, new cases rose 33% over the previous week, according to data published by the health department on Tuesday, nearly double the average increase for the 25 largest metro areas in the US.