February 6 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Steve George and Tara John, CNN

Updated 0458 GMT (1258 HKT) February 7, 2021
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2:24 a.m. ET, February 6, 2021

At least 26,808,328 cases in US and at least 459,403 deaths

According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been at least 26,808,328 cases of coronavirus and at least 459,403 deaths in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic.

On Friday, Johns Hopkins University reported 128,114 new cases and 3,522 new deaths.

At least 58,380,300 vaccine doses have been distributed and at least 36,819,212 doses of vaccine have been administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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

1:38 a.m. ET, February 6, 2021

South Korea to maintain social distancing rules through Lunar New Year

From CNN’ Jake Kwon in Seoul

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk through a park in Goyang, South Korea, on February 2.
People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk through a park in Goyang, South Korea, on February 2. Ahn Young-joon/AP

South Korea will maintain its current social distancing levels until the end of February 14, health officials announced Saturday.

Some adjustments will be made to business opening hours due to economic hardships, South Korean Vice Health Minister Kang Do-tae said.

Last week, the ministry said it would review easing the restrictions for the coming holiday week. The measures in the Seoul Metropolitan Area are at the second highest level and third highest for the rest of the country.

Kang said previous social distancing rules, including the ban of gathering of 5 people or more, will remain in place during the Lunar New Year holiday.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Saturday that restaurants, gyms, karaoke rooms and cafes outside of greater Seoul will be allowed to open for an extra hour until 10 p.m. local time, staring next week.

The decision was made because "small business owners have reached their limit", and not because the Covid-19 situation is in submission. This measure would affect 580,000 businesses, he said.

South Korea reported 366 local and 27 imported cases Friday. Five patients died Friday, raising the national death toll to 1,464.

There has been 70,505 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country.

12:03 a.m. ET, February 6, 2021

Coronavirus surge in US from variants is possible, but not inevitable, Fauci says

From CNN Health’s Christopher Rios

By following public health guidelines and getting vaccinated as soon as possible, we can avoid a surge in dangerous Covid-19 variants, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

Speaking on MSNBC’s “The Beat” about the likelihood of variants becoming dominant strains in the US, Fauci said the surge might be “a possibility, but not necessarily an inevitability.” 

The virus can only mutate, if it is able to replicate, Fauci explained. 

“When you have a lot of infection in your country, when you’re getting three to 400,000 new infections a day, the virus has an open playing field to replicate so much that it starts to mutate. That’s when you get the dangerous mutations.”

To prevent the variants from replicating and mutating, Fauci charged the public with continuing to follow evidence-based public health measures.

“One of the best ways to prevent that from happening in this country is to double down on public health measures to prevent the virus from going from one person to another: the masking, the distancing, the avoiding congregate settings,” Fauci said.  

 And, most importantly, Fauci urged the public to get vaccinated. 

“As soon as the vaccine becomes available, please go out and get vaccinated, because the combination of vaccination and public health measures will bring the level of virus down so low you won’t give it a chance to mutate. That’s what we need to do.”
12:03 a.m. ET, February 6, 2021

WHO will release its recommendation for two AstraZeneca vaccines on Feb. 15 

From CNN’s Ashley Ahn

The World Health Organization said it would release its recommendations for versions of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine made in India and South Korea on Feb. 15.

WHO Assistant Director-General Mariângela Simão said WHO received the information it needs from the Serum Institute of India on Jan. 15, and the last data from South Korea's SK Bioscience on Jan. 29, for assessment under WHO's Emergency Use Listing (EUL).

“This data only came to WHO a few weeks ago just to make this very clear. What we had was the AstraZeneca coordinator, because AstraZeneca has eight manufacturing sites,” Simão said Friday.

Simão also called on the vaccine manufactures that have more advanced vaccine candidates finalized in Phase 2b or Phase 3 trials to participate in WHO's Emergency Use Listing, so that countries lacking experience in assessing vaccines can rely on WHO’s assessment to issue an emergency use authorization. 

“WHO can only progress if it receives the information it needs from the companies,” Simão said. “That’s the call that we have.” 

12:03 a.m. ET, February 6, 2021

Madrid detects first case of Brazilian coronavirus variant

From CNN’s Al Goodman in Spain and Duarte Mendonça in Portugal 

The first case of the Brazilian coronavirus variant has been detected in the Madrid region, Madrid's health officials confirmed in a statement on Friday.

“This is a 44-year-old man from Brazil, who has entered Spain through the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport,” the statement said.

“The man had a negative PCR at origin, but upon arrival at the airport from Madrid, an antigen test was performed with a positive result. Subsequently, he was transferred to the Gregorio Marañón General University Hospital where he underwent a PCR with positive results,” the statement added.

The confirmed case comes two days after Spain introduced restrictions on flights from Brazil and South Africa, in an effort to control the spread of new variants of the virus.

12:03 a.m. ET, February 6, 2021

Greece tightens Covid-19 restrictions in parts of the country following case increase

From CNN’s Chris Liakos and Duarte Mendonça

Greece will tighten Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in parts of the country, including the capital Athens and the country’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, the Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias announced on Friday. 

The new measures will begin on Saturday and last until Feb. 15, following an increase in daily cases in both regions this week.

The new measures include a strict weekend curfew starting at 6 p.m. local time, and the closing of high schools, sending students back to e-learning, Hardalias said.

He added that only grocery stores, supermarkets, pharmacies and bakeries will remain open during the weekend.

12:03 a.m. ET, February 6, 2021

Belgium extends lockdown to April 1

From CNN's James Frater

Belgium's lockdown measures have been extended to April 1, but some restrictions will be relaxed from Feb. 13, the prime minister announced at a news conference today.

Hairdressers will be allowed to reopen on Feb. 13 under strict conditions, and other non-medical contact professions such as beauticians and tattoo artists can reopen from March 1. Bars and restaurants, which have been closed since last October, will remain closed, as well as other communal facilities.

“The coronavirus situation in our country has been fairly stable since the beginning of December, we have seen that hospital admissions are decreasing, and the number of deaths is decreasing, but on the other hand, we see that the number of confirmed infections remains approximately at the same level,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said.

De Croo attributed the stability in cases to people following the rules, and said they will have to be "particularly careful with the situation" if measures are relaxed.

"We have asked the experts to lay out a clear path, taking into account not only the number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths, but also the state of the vaccinations, in particular of vulnerable groups,” De Croo added. 

Belgian authorities clarified in a statement that while the extension could be in place until April 1, it “does not mean that no interim decisions or revisions are possible.”

12:03 a.m. ET, February 6, 2021

South Dakota approves dentists to administer Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN’s Chris Boyette

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed an executive order Friday allowing dentists with experience giving injections to administer vaccines for Covid-19.

The order temporarily suspends state rules stipulating dentists can only prescribe or administer drugs for dental-related conditions and specifies dentists who wish to administer the Covid-19 vaccine can only do so as a volunteer at a Department of Health vaccination site.

A report released by the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and National Governors Association in December cited 20 states that are considering recruiting non-traditional providers, including students, dentists, veterinarians, and paramedics.

The American Dental Association says dentists are cleared to give the vaccine in multiple states, including Oregon, where the first dentist in the US to administer a Covid-19 vaccine did so in December. Last month, California approved an emergency waiver allowing dentists to administer Covid-19 vaccines.

12:03 a.m. ET, February 6, 2021

Here's the latest on the number of vaccines administered in the US

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

A total of 36,819,212 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the US, about 63% of the 58,380,300 doses distributed, according to data published Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The seven-day average of about 1.3 million doses per day. 

Nearly 29 million people have now received at least one dose of the vaccine and about 7.5 million people have been fully vaccinated, CDC data showed. 

To note: Data published by the CDC may be delayed, and doses may not have been given on the day reported.