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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3:35 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Two WHO scientists blocked from entering China after testing positive for Covid-19 antibodies

From CNN's Sandi Sidhu in Hong Kong and CNN's Beijing bureau

Two World Health Organization scientists en route to China to investigate the origins of the pandemic are stuck in Singapore after testing positive for Covid-19 antibodies, the UN agency said in a series of tweets Thursday.

The two members are part of the team of scientists traveling to the central Chinese city of Wuhan to conduct field research.

"Two scientists are still in Singapore completing tests for Covid-19. All team members had multiple negative PCR and antibody tests for Covid-19 in their home countries prior to traveling," the WHO said in a tweet Thursday.

The two scientists in Singapore will be retested for antibodies, WHO said. 

The other 13 scientists arrived in Wuhan Thursday, WHO said.

When asked about the two scientists in a briefing Thursday, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian did not directly comment but said, “China will strictly follow the relevant epidemic prevention regulations and requirements, and provide corresponding support and facilities for WHO experts who come to China to carry out international cooperation on tracing the origin of the virus."

CNN has reached out to China’s National Health Commission for comment.

3:18 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

African Union secures 270 million vaccine doses

From CNN’s Brent Swails in Johannesburg

A total of 270 million coronavirus vaccine doses have been secured for African countries, with at least 50 million shots available from April to June, a task force established by the African Union announced Wednesday.

The vaccines will be from Pfizer, AstraZeneca (through Serum Institute of India) and Johnson & Johnson, according to a African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) news release. 

“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," said Chair of the African Union and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

All 270 million vaccine doses will be made available this year, he added.

These vaccines have been secured alongside a vaccine program from COVAX, a World Health Organization and Gavi Vaccine Alliance initiative that aims to provide worldwide access to effective Covid-19 vaccines. 

Ramaphosa said 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.” 

6:06 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Germany reports highest single-day coronavirus death toll 

From CNN’s Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

An employee of Magdeburg University Hospital performs an antigen test for the coronavirus on a man in Magdeburg, Germany, on January 12.
An employee of Magdeburg University Hospital performs an antigen test for the coronavirus on a man in Magdeburg, Germany, on January 12. Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert/picture alliance/Getty Images

Germany has reported its highest single-day coronavirus death toll, according to the Robert Koch Institute, the country's disease control agency. 

On Thursday, Germany reported 1,244 fatalities, bringing the nationwide death toll to 43,881. It was a record daily rise in Covid-19 deaths, higher than the 1,188 recorded on January 8.

The Robert Koch Institute reported 25,164 Covid-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the national total to 1,978,590. 

On Wednesday, Germany's government signed off on a plan requiring travelers from high risk countries to get tested before entering the country. Health Minister Jens Spahn said that the curbs are needed to guard against the new, more contagious mutation of the virus. 

Spahn also said that the country's current lockdown will be extended into February. 

More than 750,000 people have been vaccinated in Germany under the country's inoculation program. 

2:22 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

California hospital fined over $40,000 after Santa Clara County says it delayed reporting Covid-19 outbreak

From CNN's Kelsie Smith

Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center in San Jose, California.
Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center in San Jose, California. KGO

A Northern California hospital was fined $43,000 after it delayed reporting a recent Covid-19 outbreak which resulted in the death of one employee.

Santa Clara County said it issued a violation notice to Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center on January 5 "as a result of Kaiser's failure to timely report 43 cases involving personnel who tested positive between December 27, 2020 and January 1, 2021." That number has since grown, according to CNN affiliate KGO.

As of Monday, a total of 92 cases of the virus have been linked to this outbreak, according to health officials. This includes 77 staff members and 15 patients.

"Kaiser is responsible for complying with all applicable public health orders and work safety regulations, including timely reporting of cases and all required follow-ups," the county said in an email statement to CNN.

The initial cause of the outbreak continues to be investigated by the public health department, officials said.

Read more:

1:47 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

US reports more than 224,000 Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Joe Sutton in Atlanta

The United States reported 224,258 new Covid-19 cases and 3,848 additional deaths on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The latest figures bring the nationwide total to 23,071,895 infections and at least 384,653 people have died from the virus in the US.

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

Vaccines: At least 29,380,125 vaccine doses have been distributed and at least 10,278,462 shots administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Track the US cases:

1:29 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Human Rights Watch accuses Brazil's President Bolsonaro of sabotaging efforts to slow spread of Covid-19

From CNN’s Tatiana Arias

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro arrives for the opening ceremony of the forum "The Control in Combating Corruption" at Planalto Palace on December 9, 2020 in Brasilia. 
President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro arrives for the opening ceremony of the forum "The Control in Combating Corruption" at Planalto Palace on December 9, 2020 in Brasilia.  Andre Borges/Getty Images

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has "tried to sabotage efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19 in Brazil and pursued other policies that undermine human rights,” according to a Human Rights Watch report.

In its World Report 2021 published Wednesday, the NGO said Bolsonaro repeatedly downplayed the coronavirus by calling it “a little flu” and by spreading misleading information about the pandemic.

Bolsonaro “refused to take measures to protect himself and the people around him; disseminated misleading information; and tried to block states from imposing social distancing rules. His administration attempted to withhold Covid-19 data from the public. He fired his health minister for defending World Health Organization recommendations, and the replacement health minister quit in opposition to the president’s advocacy of an unproven drug to treat Covid-19,” the report said.

Anna Livia Arida, Brazil associate director at Human Rights Watch, recognized the role of other government institutions such as Brazil's Supreme Court and Congress to help “block many, although not all, of Bolsonaro’s anti-rights policies.”

“The Supreme Court ruled against the Bolsonaro administration’s attempts to strip states of the authority to restrict people’s movements to contain the spread of Covid-19, to effectively suspend the access to information law, and to withhold Covid-19 data from the public," the report said.

"Congress passed a bill forcing the government to provide emergency health care to Indigenous people, and the Supreme Court ordered the Bolsonaro administration to draft a plan to fight the spread of Covid-19 in Indigenous territories,” it continued.

Government response: According to CNN Brasil, the country’s Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights issued a statement Wednesday arguing that the report "ignores measures taken by the government to protect human rights during the pandemic.” 

Numerous projects aimed to help children, adolescents, women and the elderly were mentioned in the statement, saying those were “a form of government aid to the socioeconomic developments that occurred in the pandemic,” CNN Brasil reported.

CNN has reached out to Bolsonaro's office for comment.

Brazil has the third highest count of Covid-19 cases worldwide, following the US and India. As of Wednesday, Brazil has reported 8,256,536 Covid-19 cases and 205,964 virus-related deaths.

12:54 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Japan tops 300,000 total coronavirus cases

From CNN’s Junko Ogura in Tokyo

A nurse collects a patient's file before a nasal swab sample at a Covid-19 PCR testing center at Fujimino Emergency Hospital in Miyoshi-machi, Japan, on January 5.
A nurse collects a patient's file before a nasal swab sample at a Covid-19 PCR testing center at Fujimino Emergency Hospital in Miyoshi-machi, Japan, on January 5. Nicolas Datiche/SIPA/Shutterstock

Japan has surpassed 300,000 Covid-19 infections after it reported 5,848 new cases on Wednesday, the Health Ministry said.

The country’s total number of cases now stands at 303,335.

Japan added 100,000 cases in three weeks. It passed the 200,000 case mark on December 21.

On Wednesday, Japan reported 88 fatalities, raising its total virus death toll to 4,246.

The number of patients in serious condition across the country has also risen by 19 to a total of 900 people.

Tokyo, the hardest hit from the latest outbreak, reported 1,433 new Covid-19 cases from Wednesday, bringing the total number of infections confirmed in the capital to 78,566.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in seven additional prefectures across the nation on Wednesday.

Read more about the state of emergency:

12:21 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

16 NBA players have tested positive for Covid-19 since Jan. 6

From CNN's Jill Martin

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) jointly announced Wednesday that of the 497 players tested for Covid-19 since January 6, 16 new players have returned positive tests.

Nine NBA games have been postponed this season, including eight since Sunday, for health and safety reasons.

Anyone who has returned a confirmed positive test, or has been identified as having been in close contact to an infected person, is isolated or quarantined until they are cleared, the joint announcement said.

The league has announced that games scheduled for Friday, January 15, between the Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena and between the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns at Phoenix Suns Arena, have been postponed in accordance with the league’s health and safety protocols. 

Because of ongoing contact tracing within the Wizards and Suns, the teams will not have the league-required eight available players to proceed with Friday night’s games.

12:33 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Biden aides told congressional allies to expect Covid relief package with roughly $2 trillion price tag

From CNN's MJ Lee and Paul LeBlanc

US President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks about the storming of the US Capitol by a pro-Trump mob at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware, on January 6.
US President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks about the storming of the US Capitol by a pro-Trump mob at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware, on January 6. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

US President-elect Joe Biden is expected to unveil a major Covid-19 relief package on Thursday and his advisers have recently told allies in Congress to expect a price tag in the ballpark of $2 trillion, according to two people briefed on the deliberations.

The Biden team is taking a "shoot for the moon" approach with the package, one lawmaker in close contact with them told CNN, though they added that the price tag could still change. The proposal will include sizable direct payments to American families, significant state and local funding -- including for coronavirus vaccine distribution and other emergency spending measures -- to help those struggling during the pandemic.

Biden is set to announce the details of his plan in Wilmington, Delaware, Thursday evening.

Democrats hold only the slimmest of majorities in the House and the Senate, and Republicans have recently resisted efforts to pass Covid-19 relief on a multi-trillion dollar scale. But Biden's party believes it may have only a brief window to pass sweeping relief legislation and the President-elect has faced significant pressure from some Democrats to go big.

Brian Deese, Biden's pick to lead the National Economic Council, said Wednesday at a conference that the package will include $2,000 stimulus checks, and address other relief measures like unemployment insurance.

Biden's early focus on a sweeping relief package reflects the political reality that his first year in office will be defined by his ability to combat the virus and stave off an economic collapse.

Read more: