January 31 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Jenni Marsh and Eoin McSweeney, CNN

Updated 0456 GMT (1256 HKT) February 1, 2021
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12:40 a.m. ET, January 31, 2021

Maryland reports case of Covid-19 South African variant

From CNN’s Chuck Johnston

Maryland state health officials have confirmed a case of a more contagious coronavirus strain first identified in South Africa, according to a press release from Gov. Larry Hogan’s office.

The announcement comes after South Carolina identified the first known case of the Covid-19 variant in the US earlier this week.

The Maryland case “involves an adult living in the Baltimore metro region," Hogan's office said.

"The individual has not traveled internationally, making community transmission likely. Comprehensive contact tracing efforts are underway to ensure that potential contacts are quickly identified, quarantined and tested,” Hogan’s office added in its statement.
11:40 p.m. ET, January 30, 2021

WHO team goes to wholesale market in Wuhan during investigation of Covid-19 origin

From CNN's Sandi Sidhu in Hong Kong

A team of World Health Organization (WHO) investigators examining the origins of the coronavirus pandemic visited the Baishazhou Wholesale Market in Wuhan on Sunday, said Dr. Hung Nguyen-Viet, a member of the group.

The team of 13 WHO experts were released from their 14-day quarantine on Thursday and have begun their investigations into the virus origins. The team visited the cold storage area of the market Sunday, and talked with market management about how to treat and test imported food, said Nguyen-Viet.

"In the afternoon we will visit Huanan Seafood Market," he told CNN. "I hope we will talk with market management officials and ask questions about (the outbreak's) history. We are keenly interested to go there as this is likely where the first linked cases emerged. We know there were more varieties of food there."

The investigation comes a year after the Chinese city of Wuhan went into lockdown from the pandemic -- but some experts have expressed skepticism over just how much the team will be able to uncover.

An earlier report, published in February 2020 by a WHO team in China, found that "key knowledge gaps remain" about the virus. The report endorsed previous findings that the virus appeared to have originated in animals, with the likely first outbreak at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan.

11:31 p.m. ET, January 30, 2021

Germany is already ordering Covid-19 vaccines for 2022

From CNN's AJ Davis in Atlanta

Germany is already ordering coronavirus vaccines for 2022, said German Health Minister Jens Spahn on Saturday.

“We’ll order vaccines as a precaution. If we don’t need them, good, but if we do need them then they will be available,” Spahn said, speaking at a town hall event.

At the event, Spahn acknowledged that Germany could be doing better in its distributing of the vaccine, but said the country is well on the way to immunizing the population. 

“Around 2.3 million people have been vaccinated, of which 450,000 have received their second dose. Almost 70% of care home residents, 60 to 70%, have been vaccinated," Spahn said. “Good news on a difficult start.”

Spahn also said that under the current response plan, some of Germany's lockdown restrictions could be lifted by summer, though it will depend on what experts say.

11:29 p.m. ET, January 30, 2021

US surpasses 26 million Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

There have been at least 26,012,880 total cases of coronavirus in the United States and at least 438,239 people have died from Covid-19 since the pandemic began, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University

From the first case of Covid-19 in the US in January 2020, it took the nation 311 days, until Nov. 27, 2020, to reach 13 million total Covid-19 cases.

The US took just 64 days to reach the second 13 million cases.