January 14 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Florence Davey-Attlee, Ed Upright and Hira Humayun, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 15, 2021
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8:00 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

More than 20,000 Chinese villagers are moved to quarantine sites as a preventative measure

From CNN's Carly Walsh in Hong Kong and CNN's Beijing bureau

Buses carrying villagers from the Gaocheng district of Shijiazhuang, China, head to centralized quarantine sites on January 11.
Buses carrying villagers from the Gaocheng district of Shijiazhuang, China, head to centralized quarantine sites on January 11. VCG via Getty Images

More than 20,000 citizens from 12 villages in the Gaocheng District of the Chinese city of Shijiazhuang have been relocated to quarantine sites as a preventative measure against Covid-19, according to Chinese state media.

State broadcaster CGTN cited China's National Health Commission (NHC) official Tong Zhaohui saying the new quarantine sites aim to avoid new infections emerging from contact between people with and without the virus.

Hebei Province, of which Shijiazhuang is the capital, has been at the center of China’s most recent outbreak of the pandemic.

The NHC reported 138 new Covid-19 infections on Wednesday, including 14 imported cases. Of the 124 locally transmitted cases, 81 cases are from Hebei province.

Hebei’s vice governor Xu Jianpei announced on Tuesday that a second round of mass testing programs would begin in the cities of Shijiazhuang, Xingtai and Langfang. The province’s first round of testing of 17 million people ended on Sunday.

Construction has also started on a centralized medical center in Shijiazhuang. It’s set to cover 33 hectares and will have 3,000 makeshift wards, CGTN reported.

On Wednesday one person was reported to have died from the virus in Hebei province, the first fatality in China for 242 days.

10:20 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Jordan's King Abdullah receives coronavirus vaccine

From CNN’s Jomana Karadsheh, Mostafa Salem and Mohammed Tawfeeq

Jordan’s King Abdullah II waves prior to his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on September 8 in Paris.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II waves prior to his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on September 8 in Paris.  Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

Jordan’s King Abdullah II received the coronavirus vaccine on Thursday, as the country started rolling out inoculations to certain parts of the population, a statement from the Royal Court said on Twitter. 

The King's uncle, Prince El Hassan bin Talal and Crown Prince Al Hussein also received the vaccine, the statement added. 

On Wednesday, Jordan began its Covid-19 vaccination program in 29 centers across the kingdom. 

The government said it aims to inoculate at least 20% of the population in the coming months, free of charge, starting with people over the age of 60, those suffering from chronic illnesses and health care workers.

Jordan received its first batch of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Monday, two days after receiving its first shipment of China’s Sinopharm vaccine, state-news agency Petra said quoting Minister of Health Natheer Obeidat. 

The Royal Court did not clarify which vaccine the King was given. 

9:57 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Covid infections in Africa surpass 3 million

From Niamh Kennedy in Dublin 

Covid-19 cases in Africa have now topped 3 million and daily cases have surpassed the peak of the first wave, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

The continent is now faced with “emerging variants” of the virus, WHO Africa said in a statement on Thursday.

On average, 25,223 cases were reported each day across the continent from December 28 to January 10, according to the release. These numbers are "nearly 39% higher than the July 2020 two-week peak of 18,104 daily average cases," it added. 

The UN body cautioned that the worst may be yet to come, saying that Africa's numbers "may rise further in the coming days in the wake of travelling, gathering and festivities over Christmas and New Year holidays."

The WHO said that the new variant of the virus first discovered in South Africa is "accounting for most of the new infections during the second wave." 

"Genomic sequencing has found the variant present in Botswana, the Gambia and Zambia" the release added.

Despite no indications thus far of the presence of the another variant, first found in the UK, on the African continent, "further investigation is needed," according to the WHO.

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa commented that “even if the new variant is not more virulent, a virus that can spread more easily will put further strain on hospitals and health workers who are in many cases already overstretched." 

Moeti called on all African countries to "increase testing and sequencing of the virus to swiftly spot, track and tackle new COVID-19 variants as soon as they appear." 

"To defeat an agile, adaptive and relentless enemy, we must know and understand its every move, and double down on what we know works best against all variants of the virus."

9:31 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Are you a medical professional in the UK? Share your story with CNN

The UK is battling a new variant of the coronavirus, and officials are warning that the country's health service is on the verge of being overwhelmed in some places.

CNN wants to hear from doctors, nurses and other medical professionals in the UK about the current situation on the frontline.

9:05 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

African Union secures 270 million extra vaccine doses for the continent

From CNN's Brent Swails and Eoin McSweeney

The African Union has secured an additional 270 million Covid vaccine doses for African countries, but it still may not be enough to meet demand for the region, the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) announced Wednesday.

At least 50 million doses will be available from April to June 2021 from Pfizer, AstraZeneca (through the Serum Institute of India) and Johnson & Johnson, according to an AVATT press release.

African Union Chair and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said: "From the onset of this pandemic, our focus as a continent has been on collaboration and collective effort. We have held steadfastly to the principle that no country should be left behind.

"All 270 million vaccine doses will be made available this year with at least 50 million being available for the crucial period of April to June 2021," he added.

These vaccines have been secured alongside a vaccine program from COVAX -- a World Health Organization and Gavi Vaccine Alliance initiative to bring more vaccines to Africa on a fair basis.

Ramaphosa cautioned that while the initiative was "vital" it may "not extend beyond the needs of frontline health care workers, and may thus not be enough to contain the ever-increasing toll of the pandemic in Africa."

Read more on this story:

8:28 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Covid increased US death rate significantly in second quarter of 2020, according to new CDC data

From CNN Health's Jessica Firger

A Covid-19 disaster morgue made up of refrigerated trailers stands at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in New York, on December 14, 2020.
A Covid-19 disaster morgue made up of refrigerated trailers stands at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in New York, on December 14, 2020. Michael Nagle/Xinhua/Getty Images

Covid-19 caused a significant jump in the US death rate in the second quarter of 2020according to early estimates released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

The age-adjusted all-cause mortality rate was 769 per 100,000 in the first quarter of 2020 and rose to 840 in the second quarter of the year. Comparatively, the death rate for the second quarter of 2019 was 702 per 100,000. 

The report shows that mortality rose significantly in 2020, but it’s an incomplete snapshot of the pandemic since data for only the first two quarters of 2020 are currently available. 

The first US case of the coronavirus was identified on January 21, 2020, and the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic on March 11. 

The CDC did not introduce the death certificate coding for Covid-19 until late March 2020. This explains why the Covid-19 death rate increased from 7 per 100,000 in the first quarter of 2020 to 109 in the second quarter, according to NCHS data.

By comparison, the age-adjusted death rate for heart disease -- the top killer in the United States -- for the second quarter of 2020 was 166 per 100,000. For cancer, the second leading cause of death in the country, that figure was 139. 

Last week, statisticians for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told CNN that Covid-19 was likely the third leading cause of death in the US in 2020.

As of Thursday morning, there have been at least 23,077,437 cases of the coronavirus in the United States and at least 384,784 deaths.

7:59 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Sixth Premier League football game postponed due to virus

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok in London

Villa Park, home of Aston Villa, before a match on January 8, in Birmingham, England.
Villa Park, home of Aston Villa, before a match on January 8, in Birmingham, England. Neville Williams/Aston Villa FCImages

England's Premier League announced on Thursday that Aston Villa’s home game against Everton has been postponed due to the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak at the Midlands club.

It takes the total number of Premier League matches postponed due to the pandemic this season to six.

The fixture had been scheduled to take place on Sunday with kick-off at 12pm.

Aston Villa said in a statement that they expect members of the first-team squad and staff who are healthy and safe to return to training on Sunday once isolation protocols have been observed.

While lockdown restrictions have been imposed across the UK amid record high confirmed cases, elite sport has been allowed to continue, though organizers have urged clubs to abide by a strict set of rules.

The Premier League this week reminded teams that "unnecessary contact, particularly between opposition clubs including handshakes, high fives and hugs must be avoided," and that swapping of shirts after the game is now prohibited.

7:32 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Germany's record death toll is "very worrying," says infectious disease institute chief

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin 

Employees move coffins at a crematorium in Meissen, Germany on January 13.
Employees move coffins at a crematorium in Meissen, Germany on January 13. Jens Schlueter/AFP/Getty Images

The number of coronavirus fatalities in Germany is "very worrying," the head of the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases (RKI) said Thursday, as the country reported its highest single-day pandemic death toll of 1,244.

New Covid-19 infections ''must reduce massively,'' Lothar Wieler told journalists in Berlin, adding that ''intensive care units have never been as exhausted as in recent days.” There are now 5,200 patients being treated in German ICUs with 90% on ventilation.

The average age of patients in intensive care units is around 60 years, the RKI chief said. 

Germany is on high alert for new, more contagious mutations of the virus, Wieler said. Sixteen new coronavirus cases associated with the variant from the UK and four new coronavirus cases associated with the variant from South Africa have been detected in the country.

On Thursday, Germany recorded 25,164 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total tally to 1,978,590, according to the latest RKI data.

The RKI chief said the current lockdown in place is "not as effective as in spring," calling on German citizens to ''stay at home whenever possible," and urging employers to also allow employees to work from home.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Jens Spahn dashed hopes that Germany would be able to lift all coronavirus lockdown measures at the beginning of February.

7:10 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

South Korea links recent outbreak to another religious gathering

From CNN's Gawon Bae in Seoul

A recent Covid-19 cluster in South Korea has been linked to a religious group gathering in North Gyeongsang Province, according to the country's Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

KDCA Deputy Director Kwon Joon-wook said a total of 713 people linked to the gathering at the BTJ Center for All Nations have tested positive for Covid-19. The agency added that more than 1,300 people who attended the event have not yet been tested. 

The KDCA has urged people who visited the center after November 27 to get tested immediately.

South Korean churches have become a battleground in the country's fight against the coronavirus, with several outbreaks last year being traced back to religious gatherings.

The Shincheonji religious group, an offshoot of Christianity, has been held responsible for thousands of infections during the pandemic. It was at the heart of South Korea's outbreak in February and March last year, when that was one of the worst epidemics outside China.

The government of President Moon Jae-in has faced criticism for curbing religious freedoms after they banned religious gatherings in churches in Seoul last year and encouraged worshippers to move online. Thousands took to the streets in protest.

South Korea has recorded a total of 70,728 Covid-19 cases as of Thursday, according to the KDCA.