January 12 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Ivana Kottasová, Florence Davey-Attlee and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 13, 2021
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8:24 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Dutch town to test every citizen in bid to halt new variant spread

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite and Mick Krever

People construct a Covid-19 testing facility at a sports hall in Bergschenhoek, in the municipality of Lansingerland, The Netherlands, on January 12.
People construct a Covid-19 testing facility at a sports hall in Bergschenhoek, in the municipality of Lansingerland, The Netherlands, on January 12. Robin Utrecht/ANP/AFP/Getty Images

The Dutch municipality of Lansingerland will test all of its residents from the age of two for Covid-19, following an outbreak in a primary school which included cases of the more transmissible UK variant.

Everyone living in the town, with or without symptoms, will receive an invitation on Wednesday for a test, the town said in a statement. According to the Dutch Statistics Bureau, Lansingerland had 63,267 residents as of November 2020.   

Public health authorities want to get a better picture of the spread of the new strain that was first detected in the UK, the statement added. Lansingerland is the first municipality in the Netherlands that is being asked to participate in "risk-oriented large-scale testing."

The Netherlands is currently under a national lockdown and overall case numbers and hospital admissions are declining.

8:03 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Switzerland approves the Moderna vaccine

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in Pisa

The Swiss authority for medicines and medical devices, Swissmedic, has approved the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, the regulator said Tuesday.

The Moderna vaccine is the second Covid-19 vaccine to be approved in Switzerland, after Pfizer/BioNTech’s approval in December.

7:39 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

In total number of deaths, 2020 was the deadliest year in England and Wales since 1918

Pre-dug graves for Covid-19 victims are pictured at a cemetery in Torpoint, England, in April 2020.
Pre-dug graves for Covid-19 victims are pictured at a cemetery in Torpoint, England, in April 2020. Dan Mullan/Getty Images

New data from the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows just how deadly the pandemic has been for England and Wales.

The data released on Tuesday state that 608,002 deaths were registered in England and Wales in 2020, nearly 76,000 more than what the ONS said would be expected based on the five-year average between 2015 and 2019.

According to the ONS, the number of deaths was 77,161 higher than the number registered in 2019, the biggest year-on-year increase since 1940.

The new figures also show that in terms of total number of deaths, 2020 was the deadliest year in England and Wales since 1918, the year when the First World War and the Spanish Flu pandemic coincided.

But context is also key here. The population of England and Wales increased dramatically between 1918 and 2020, by about 26 million. That means that the death rate -- or the proportion of the population that lost their lives -- was much higher in 1918.

7:29 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

China’s Hebei province expands lockdown measures and mass testing programs

The Chinese city of Langfang, which lies next to Beijing and has nearly 5 million residents, has gone into a “soft lockdown” after new Covid-19 cases were identified in Hebei province.

Residents of the city were advised not to leave home for seven days unless necessary.

Hebei province's Vice Governor Xu Jianpei announced a second round of mass testing would begin in the cities of Shijiazhuang, Xingtai, and Langfang. The first round, which saw 17 million people getting tested, wrapped up Sunday.

A resident undergoes a coronavirus test at a residential compound in Shijiazhuang, in China's Hebei province, on January 12.
A resident undergoes a coronavirus test at a residential compound in Shijiazhuang, in China's Hebei province, on January 12. Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

Hebei province detected 40 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Monday, the provincial Health Commission said in a statement. It also identified 26 asymptomatic cases. 

Of the new confirmed cases, 39 were reported in Shijiazhuang, while one was reported in Langfang, the Hebei Health Commission said. 

China reported a total of 136 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, according to the country’s National Health Commission.

6:37 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

At least two gorillas have tested positive for coronavirus at San Diego Zoo

From Cheri Mossburg and Leah Asmelash, CNN

California's surge of Covid-19 has just got even worse, after at least two gorillas at the San Diego Zoo became infected with the virus, the zoo and Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday.

Three animals are currently showing symptoms of the virus, and it is suspected that they were infected by an asymptomatic staff member, according to a press release.

This is the first known instance of coronavirus in great apes, the zoo said, though previous research has shown that some non-human primates are susceptible. The gorillas live as a family, so it is assumed that all members have been exposed, zoo officials say.

It started last Wednesday, when two zoo gorillas began coughing. A preliminary test within the group showed presence of the virus on Friday, and the US Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed the positive results Monday.

It is unknown whether the gorillas will have any serious reaction, the zoo said, but they are being closely monitored.

6:21 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

New Zealand will require virus test for all incoming travelers outside Australia and Antarctica

From CNN's Julia Hollingsworth in Hong Kong

The arrivals gate at Auckland Airport’s International Terminal is pictured in July 2020.
The arrivals gate at Auckland Airport’s International Terminal is pictured in July 2020. Brendon O'Hagan/Bloomberg/Getty Images

New Zealand has announced that all travelers, apart from those from Australia, Antarctica and some Pacific Island nations, will be required to take a Covid-19 test upon arrival in the country.

“Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that most global air routes will be of critical concern for the foreseeable future, and we must respond strongly to the evolving situation,” Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a press release on Tuesday.

New Zealand has not reported any new locally transmitted Covid-19 cases in several weeks and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been widely praised for her effective handling of the virus, from which only 25 New Zealanders have died.

The measures announced on Tuesday were previously in place for travelers from the US and UK and will go into effect for all other countries on January 18.

Hipkins also said they will add further measures to arrivals from the US and UK, requiring them to have a negative Covid-19 test result 72 hours prior to departure. 

“New Zealand already has some of the most stringent border protection measures in the world. Today’s amendments further strengthen that position in line with the Government’s overall elimination strategy,” Hipkins said.

Entry rules were already very tight, with only New Zealand citizens and residents allowed to travel into the country, with a few exceptions for partners, dependents and critical workers.

5:50 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

India prepares its mammoth vaccine rollout

From CNN’s Vedika Sud in New Delhi

Millions of doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine left the Serum Institute of India’s warehouses early Tuesday as the country of 1.3 billion people prepares to rollout the shot.

The first batches were loaded on flights in Pune and Chennai on Tuesday morning, with nine flights carrying 5.7 million doses headed to 13 cities, including Delhi and Bengaluru, according to Hardeep Singh Puri, India's civil aviation minister. 

The Serum Institute of India is the world's largest vaccine manufacturer. It has conducted trials and has manufactured the AstraZeneca vaccine for distribution across the country.

According to a source with knowledge of the deal, the Indian government has agreed to purchase each dose of the vaccine at Rs 200 ($2.72).

"Serum Institute of India has got an order of approximately 11 million vaccine doses from the Indian government,” said the source.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country expects to vaccinate 300 million people in the next few months.

“We already have a mechanism for universal immunization which has been strengthened for Covid vaccination... Covid protocols will have to be implemented during this, even a bit of looseness can cause damage," Modi said during a meeting on Monday.

India has registered a total of 10.5 million cases, including 151,327 fatalities since the start of the pandemic, the world's third-highest death toll. On Tuesday, it saw its lowest daily rise in cases in almost seven months, with 12,584 new infections.

5:29 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

WHO warns that herd immunity won't happen in 2021, even with vaccines

Commuters wear face masks as they make their way through Shinagawa Station in Tokyo, Japan, on January 8.
Commuters wear face masks as they make their way through Shinagawa Station in Tokyo, Japan, on January 8. Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that social distancing measures will need to stay in place "for the rest of this year," even as vaccination rollouts get under way globally, because it takes time to build up herd immunity.

WHO’s Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said herd immunity -- a situation where the majority of a population becomes immune to the virus either because they have become infected and recovered, or through vaccination -- won't be achieved this year. 

Speaking at a briefing on Monday, Swaminathan said:

Because even as vaccines start protecting the most vulnerable, we are not going to achieve any level of population immunity, or herd immunity in 2021 and even if it happens in a couple of pockets in a few countries, it's not going to protect people across the world."

Swaminathan added that until herd immunity is achieved, public health measures such as masks and social distancing will need to remain in place.

"The vaccines are going to come. They are going to go to all countries, but meanwhile we mustn't forget that there are measures that work and... it’s really important to remind people, both governments as well as individuals, on the responsibilities and the measures that we continue to need to practice... for the next... well for the rest of this year at least," she said.

4:23 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

The US has averaged more than 3,000 Covid-19 deaths a day over the past week

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

Health officials had warned the Covid-19 pandemic would make winter one of the most difficult times in US history. That prediction is quickly proving true.

December was devastating. And January could be deadlier. 

For the past week, the US averaged more than 3,000 Covid-19 deaths per day. And Monday marked the seventh day in a row the country reported more than 200,000 new Covid-19 infections.

The grim numbers have been fueled by last month's holiday travels and gatherings that experts had warned against. 

"This is what we were afraid of -- people letting their guard down over Christmas and New Years," New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday while announcing the spread of the virus was increasing across the state.

Arizona: Hospitalization numbers are at all-time highs due to a surge that the state's top health official said earlier this month followed the Christmas holiday.

California: In Los Angeles, which has been battered by the virus for weeks now, one health official says the aftermath of holiday get-togethers is likely still on its way, and ICUs are already full.

"It takes two to three weeks for patients to get sick enough to need the hospital after they've gotten the virus, and Christmas was only two weeks ago, and we're already full," said Dr. Anish Mahajan, chief medical officer at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. 
"We don't have any more ICU capacity," he added. "All of the hospitals in the region are putting ICU patients in unusual places in the hospital just to find room for them."

Read more about the crisis in the US: