January 20 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Sharon Braithwaite and Hannah Strange, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 21, 2021
11 Posts
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1:40 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

US reports more than 168,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Joe Sutton in Atlanta

The United States reported 168,058 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, bringing the total to at least 24,246,830 since the epidemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

There were 2,550 virus-related deaths also reported Tuesday. The total number of US Covid-19 fatalities now stands at 401,553.

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

Track US cases:  

1:38 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

China builds massive Covid-19 quarantine camp for 4,000 people as outbreak continues

From CNN's Jessie Yeung

An aerial view of the construction site of the quarantine camp in Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China, on January 19.
An aerial view of the construction site of the quarantine camp in Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China, on January 19. Ren Quanjun/VCG/Getty Images

China is rushing to build a massive quarantine camp that can house more than 4,000 people, after an outbreak of Covid-19 this month that has left tens of millions of people under strict lockdown.

The quarantine camp is located on the outskirts of Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital of Hebei province, which surrounds the country's capital, Beijing.

China has largely contained the spread of the virus, with much of the country returning to normal. However, a sudden rise in cases has alarmed officials and raised concerns ahead of the Lunar New Year, the county's most important annual festival, during which hundreds of millions of people are expected to travel to visit family members.

Officials in Shijiazhuang, where the outbreak is centered, have initiated mass testing and strict lockdowns, moving entire villages into centralized quarantine facilities in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

The new quarantine camp will house close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 patients, as authorities continue an extensive contact tracing and testing program.

Quick build: The camp was originally planned to house 3,000 people, but has since been expanded to a capacity of 4,160. More than 4,000 construction workers performed "six days' and nights' work" to complete the first phase, said Shijiazhuang Deputy Mayor Meng Xianghong on Tuesday.

Authorities began construction on January 13 and the first section of the camp is now complete and ready for use, while construction continues on the second phase, according to state-owned broadcaster CCTV.

Each prefabricated room is expected to measure 18 square meters (around 194 square feet), and will come with an en-suite bathroom and shower, desks, chairs, beds, Wi-Fi, and a television set, according to CCTV.

Read the full story here.

1:14 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Pfizer vaccine supply a big headache for Canada as death toll surges

From CNN's Paula Newton

The first doses of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine are brought in a cooler to Trillium Health Partners in Ontario, Canada on December 21, 2020.
The first doses of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine are brought in a cooler to Trillium Health Partners in Ontario, Canada on December 21, 2020. Steve Russell/Toronto Star/Getty Images

Frustration visibly boiled over with some Canadian leaders Tuesday as Pfizer told Canada that it would not receive any vaccine doses next week due to the continuing manufacturing disruptions at its facility in Belgium.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to reassure Canadians that the vaccine deliveries would pick up again in a few weeks and that the overall goal, to have every willing citizen vaccinated by September, would remain on track. 

But it was Ontario’s Premier, Doug Ford, who bluntly voiced the frustration of many provincial leaders as Pfizer continues to cut its vaccine delivery schedule to Canada.

“We got to be on these guys like a blanket. I’d be outside that guy’s house. Every time he moved, I’d be saying, ‘Where’s our vaccines?.' Other people are getting them, the European Union is getting them, why not Canada? That’s my question to Pfizer, we need your support,” said Ford during a news conference Tuesday. 

Ford's plea to US President-elect Biden: Canada’s supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine comes from the European allotment and not from nearby manufacturing facilities in the United States after the Trump administration made it clear vaccines would not be exported. 

“There’s a plant, a Pfizer plant, six hours away in Kalamazoo, Michigan with the Americans. My American friends help us out, we need help once again as we did with the PPE. You have a new President, no more excuses we need your support, and we look forward to your support and that’s a direct message to President Biden, “help out your neighbor’,” said Ford. 

Ford made a direct plea to President-elect Biden for a million vaccines for Canada.

12:48 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

UK Covid-19 strain detected in at least 60 countries, WHO says

From CNN's Maggie Fox

A medical worker handles samples at an express Covid-19 testing lab at Vnukovo International Airport on January 12.
A medical worker handles samples at an express Covid-19 testing lab at Vnukovo International Airport on January 12. Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS/Getty Images

To date, 60 countries across all six World Health Organization regions have reported either imported cases or community transmission of the UK coronavirus strain -- 10 more than a week ago, WHO said in a news release Wednesday.

Among the countries which have reported cases of the variant first identified in the United Kingdom are the United States, Russia, Brazil, India and Spain.

US cases: On Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that at least 122 cases of a the UK variant have been identified in 20 US states.

This includes at least 46 cases in Florida; 40 in California; six in Colorado; five in Minnesota; four each in Indiana and New York; two each in Connecticut, Maryland, and Texas; and one each in Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

CDC said this does not represent the total number of cases circulating in the US, but rather those that have been found by analyzing positive samples. The agency cautions that its numbers may not immediately match those of state and local health departments.

While the variant, known as B.1.1.7, appears to spread more easily, there's no evidence that it's any more deadly or causes more severe disease, according to CDC.

12:41 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Beijing steps up Covid-19 measures after reporting biggest case jump in 3 weeks

From CNN’s Beijing bureau and Sophie Jeong in Hong Kong

People line up for a coronavirus test at a hospital in Beijing on January 17.
People line up for a coronavirus test at a hospital in Beijing on January 17. Andy Wong/AP

Authorities in China’s capital Beijing said they will investigate everyone entering the city from overseas and shut down two subway stations after reporting the biggest daily rise in new Covid-19 cases in more than three weeks.

Beijing reported seven new cases on Tuesday -- six in the city's Daxing district. Beijing's metro operator said it will shut down the Tiangong Yuan and Biomedical Base metro stations located in Daxing as part of the city's Covid-19 prevention measures. 

Beijing authorities said during a meeting on Tuesday that residential compounds with confirmed cases in Daxing and surrounding areas will be under close management. In addition, all individuals who entered the city from abroad since December 10 will be investigated, with an increased frequency of screening.

New cases: China's National Health Commission said on Wednesday that a total of 103 new Covid-19 cases were reported from Tuesday across the country. Northeastern Jilin province reported 46 new cases, while Hebei province surrounding Beijing reported 19 new infections.

Some 58 new asymptomatic infections, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, were also reported Tuesday. The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 88,557, while the official death toll is 4,635.

12:38 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Colombia's defense minister is in intensive care due to Covid-19

From CNN's Tatiana Arias

Colombian Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo delivers a news conference in Bogota on October 26, 2020.
Colombian Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo delivers a news conference in Bogota on October 26, 2020. Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images

Colombia’s Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, who tested positive for Covid-19 on January 12, is in the ICU, sedated and on ventilator support, according to a statement from the country’s presidency released on Tuesday.

Holmes Trujillo has been diagnosed with “viral pneumonia due to SARS-CoV-2,” the statement said.

“At the moment (the minister’s) health condition is stable with a positive response” to the health treatment (being) provided, according to the statement. It did not say what treatment the minister was being given.

The Ministry of Defense first announced on January 12 that Holmes Trujillo had tested positive for the virus, saying he would continue with his duties virtually. However, a day later the minister was taken to the hospital, where he has remained since Wednesday.

On Monday, General Commander of the Military Forces Luis Fernando Navarro Jimenez was appointed acting defense minister until Holmes Trujillo is able to resume his duties.

10:20 p.m. ET, January 19, 2021

Variant might partially evade protection from vaccines or prior infection, early research suggests

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

A new study suggests someone might be able to get infected with one of the new variants of the coronavirus even if they've had Covid-19 before or have been vaccinated.

The variant was first spotted in South Africa in October and has now been found in more than a dozen countries.

"I think we should be alarmed," said Penny Moore, associate professor at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa and the senior author of the study.

"Based on Penny's data, it's likely that the vaccine is going to be somewhat less effective, but how much less effective we don't know," said David Montefiore, a virologist at Duke University Medical Center.

Montefiore added that this is the first study that gives him serious doubt about whether prior infection or a vaccine will protect against a new coronavirus variant.

"This is the first time I've been concerned about a variant partially evading the immune response and partially evading the vaccine," he said.

Both experts emphasized that people should still get the vaccine. It's extremely effective against other forms of the virus and they think it likely will still give some level of protection against the new variant as well.

The study was posted on a pre-print server and has not been peer-reviewed and published in a medical journal.

This is one of the first reports to look at the variant's effect on antibody potency. Labs around the world are furiously studying the issue and expect to report results within the next few weeks.

Read the full story:

10:22 p.m. ET, January 19, 2021

CDC's vaccine advisers schedule emergency meeting for next week

From CNN Health's Maggie Fox

Vaccine advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have scheduled an emergency meeting for next week to discuss coronavirus vaccines.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) plans a meeting for Wednesday, January 27, to discuss progress in administering vaccine doses, safety of the vaccines, testing of the vaccines in children and studies on the effectiveness of the vaccine.

There is also a time slot for a Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer to present, but the name of the manufacturer is to be determined. Johnson & Johnson is expected to report on Phase 3 clinical trials for its experimental coronavirus vaccine by the end of the month.

ACIP members are not expected to vote during the one-day meeting, a CDC spokeswoman said.

8:06 p.m. ET, January 19, 2021

Brazilian officials were warned 6 days in advance of a looming oxygen crisis in Manaus

From CNN's Rodrigo Pedroso and Zamira Rahim

Local and federal officials in Brazil were warned of looming oxygen shortages nearly a week before crisis struck in the city of Manaus, the country's Solicitor General has revealed.

In a country already hard-hit by the coronavirus, oxygen shortages and soaring Covid-19 cases have pushed Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state, into a healthcare crisis. Nurses in the city have been quoted in local news reports as saying patients have died of asphyxiation in the city's hospitals because there is no oxygen to give them.

The Brazilian government has come under sharp criticism over its handling of the crisis. Last week, Supreme Court judge Ricardo Lewandowski ordered the government to present a response plan to solve the oxygen shortage, citing the Jair Bolsonaro administration's "omissive behavior" in addressing the emergency.

On Sunday, Bolsonaro's Solicitor General José Levi do Amaral sent a 16-page report defending the government's response to the court. The report discloses that the federal health ministry knew about the crisis six days before the situation became critical on January 14.

It also stresses that the local government in Amazonas did not inform federal authorities about the looming oxygen shortage. "The Health Ministry...became aware on (January) 8th through an e-mail sent by the product manufacturer," the report states. The provider, named in the report as White Martins, first notified the Amazonas State government, and then federal authorities, the report says.

Read the full story: