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
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5:09 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Germany tightens restrictions as death toll rises

From CNN’s Claudia Otto in Berlin and Stephanie Halasz in London

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at a press conference following a video conference with the Prime Ministers of the federal states discussing new measures to bring down the numbers of Covid-19 infections on January 19.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at a press conference following a video conference with the Prime Ministers of the federal states discussing new measures to bring down the numbers of Covid-19 infections on January 19. Filip Singer/Pool/Getty Images

Germany is extending its current national lockdown until mid-February and introducing new, tougher measures as the country’s death toll continues to rise.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and her 16 state premiers agreed on Tuesday night to the extension of the lockdown, which began in December, following a marathon eight-hour discussion. Stricter mask requirements -- including the use of FFP2/N95 masks on public transport and in shops -- have been made mandatory across the country. The enhanced measures came after the German government was warned about the danger of the new variants of the virus. 

One sticking point in the discussions was on the subject of schools. Officials ultimately decided that they will remain closed but in the end, it is up to the federal states to mandate this.

CNN affiliate n-tv spoke to German members of public about the changes to Covid-19 restrictions, with one woman telling the local television channel that she had hoped the current lockdown’s impact would be evident by now.

“The lockdown should have brought some effects already, but we are not seeing that,” she said.

Another man backed the government’s moves, saying: “They are elected officials, and will know what is best for the population.” 

The changes come as the latest coronavirus figures were released by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany's national agency for disease control and prevention, on Wednesday morning.

An additional 1,148 fatalities were recorded, bringing the total number of those having died from the disease to 48,770 -- the second highest daily jump since January 14, when the death toll stood at an additional 1,244. 

A further 15,974 new Covid-19 cases were also registered, raising the total number in the country to 2,068,002, according to RKI.

When it comes to vaccinations, RKI said 1,195,543 people have been inoculated so far, with 1,195,543 people having received the first dose and 24,741 people given the second.

4:34 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Officials call for more vaccine doses as the US death toll exceeds 400,000

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

A funeral bell tolled at the Washington National Cathedral 400 times Tuesday, once for every thousand Americans who have died of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States.

As the numbers climb, health experts and officials have turned their attention to mitigating the impacts of the new variant that has sparked alarm, and they are calling for ramped up vaccinations and preventative measures.

But some officials say they aren't seeing as many doses as the federal government reports distributing and many states say the demand for the vaccine is outpacing the supply.

The count of people in the US who have died from the virus rose rapidly over the course of the last year to reach Tuesday's grim 400,000 marker. And while the rate of new cases has dipped recently, experts warn that a variant of the virus could send cases surging once again.

"I worry desperately in the next six to 12 weeks we're going to see a situation with this pandemic unlike anything we've seen yet to date," said Michael Osterholm, a coronavirus adviser to President-elect Joe Biden and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. "This will happen, we are going to see a major increase in cases, the challenge is how many," he told CNN on Tuesday.

When Biden's administration takes office, Osterholm said it will do everything it can to bolster distribution. But, he said, "we can't make the vaccine go much faster than it is right now," adding that officials will need to plan for dramatic action to keep the variant under control.

"The difference is going to be, 'Are we going to react now or later?'" Osterholm said. "Do we put the brakes on after the car's wrapped around the tree, or we try to put the brakes on before we leave the intersection?"

Read the full story:

3:57 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

It's "far too early to speculate" about easing of lockdown, UK home secretary says

From CNN's Eleanor Pickston in London

Closed shops on London's Old Kent Road are seen on January 8 as the UK government introduced strict restrictions due to a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases.
Closed shops on London's Old Kent Road are seen on January 8 as the UK government introduced strict restrictions due to a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases. Dominika Zarzycka/NurPhoto/Getty Images

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said the high Covid-19 death toll in England and rate of hospital admissions mean that it is “far too early to speculate” about easing lockdown measures. 

Speaking to Sky News on Wednesday, Patel said the UK is in a “pivotal stage” in the vaccination effort but that the country has a “long way to go.” 

"When we still see hospitalization figures, now standing at over 38,000 people, with the number of people still dying with coronavirus, with the number of hospital admissions increasing, this is no time to speak about the relaxation of measures," she said. 
"We cannot talk about easing restrictions and measures until we are absolutely clear that we have vaccinated priority groups."

The UK recorded 1,610 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday -- the highest daily increase since the start of the pandemic. Some 33,355 new cases were also reported Tuesday. 

2:27 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

CDC says nearly 13.6 million people have been vaccinated in the US

From CNN Health's Maggie Fox

Pins for people who have been vaccinated at Gillette Stadium's vaccination site on January 15 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Pins for people who have been vaccinated at Gillette Stadium's vaccination site on January 15 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Scott Eisen/Getty Images

More than 15.7 million total coronavirus vaccine doses have been given out to nearly 13.6 million Americans, as of 6 a.m. ET Tuesday, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This breaks down to roughly 8.9 million doses from Pfizer/BioNTech and 6.8 million from Moderna.

The CDC reports that more than 2 million people have received a second shot to complete their vaccination.

New method: The CDC had last updated the vaccine data on its Covid data tracker Friday, when it said more than 12 million doses had been administered to 10.6 million people. More than 31 million doses had been distributed in total. 

The agency has not since updated the number of doses distributed -- 31,161,075 -- because “CDC is refining how the number of doses distributed is reported on CDC COVID Data Tracker to move from reporting doses shipped to doses delivered,” the CDC explained.

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.