February 8 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Kara Fox and Christopher Johnson, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, February 9, 2021
15 Posts
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3:16 a.m. ET, February 8, 2021

Seoul announces plan to test pets for Covid-19

From CNN's Gawon Bae in Seoul, South Korea

The South Korean capital of Seoul will start testing pet dogs and cats for Covid-19 if their owners test positive and the animals themselves are symptomatic, according to the city’s top health official Park Yoo-mi.

Park said the city’s animal sample collection team will visit the home of quarantined Covid-19 patient to test the pets.

The testing is being done out of an abundance of caution -- Covid-19 pet-to-human infection has not been reported since the pandemic began. Any dogs or cats testing positive will be required to quarantine for 14 days.

South Korea reported its first case of an animal Covid-19 infection after a household cat tested positive for the virus on January 21, according to the country's Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA.)

3:11 a.m. ET, February 8, 2021

Crowds gather in Melbourne on first day of Australian Open

Play has begun at the Australian Open in Melbourne, tennis' first grand slam of the year -- and fans are there to take in the action.

The start of the event was delayed three weeks due to Covid-19, but spectators came out in force today for the first day of the tournament -- many relishing the fact that they are some of the few people on the planet able to attend live sports during the pandemic.

A view of Court 3 is seen during day one of the 2021 Australian Open, on February 8.
A view of Court 3 is seen during day one of the 2021 Australian Open, on February 8. Mackenzie Sweetnam/Getty Images

Authorities are allowing fans to attend because regional authorities have been able to bring the local coronavirus epidemic under control thanks to strict public health measures.

Australia's government quickly closed its borders in March at the start of the pandemic, banning non-residents from entering the country, and put in place mandatory hotel quarantine of 14 days for incoming travelers.

Socially distanced spectators watch a match on Court 3.
Socially distanced spectators watch a match on Court 3. Mackenzie Sweetnam/Getty Images

When Melbourne, where the Open is being held, had a coronavirus outbreak in mid-2020, Victoria's government put the entire state into mandatory lockdown for almost four months, one of the longest measures of its kind in the world.

Things are a bit more lax now. At Melbourne Park, it's only mandatory to wear a mask indoors at the event, but many milling around outside were also seen with face coverings.

Attendees are seen practicing social distancing.
Attendees are seen practicing social distancing. Mackenzie Sweetnam/Getty Images

2:27 a.m. ET, February 8, 2021

Peru just received its first 300,000 doses of China's Sinopharm vaccine

From CNN's Jose Armijo and Sharif Paget

A health worker prepares a syringe to inoculate a volunteer with the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine during its trial at the Clinical Studies Center in Lima, Peru on December 9, 2020.
A health worker prepares a syringe to inoculate a volunteer with the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine during its trial at the Clinical Studies Center in Lima, Peru on December 9, 2020. Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images

Peru plans to start vaccinating healthcare workers this week after receiving its first shipment of the coronavirus vaccine developed by China's Sinopharm, President Francisco Sagasti said Sunday.

"We will begin the first phase of vaccination protecting the first line of Peruvians who risk their lives for us,” he added.

Sagasti said 300,000 doses of the vaccine arrived in the coastal city of Callao aboard an Air France plane. The rest of the country's 1 million-dose order is scheduled to arrive on February 14.  

In a message posted to his Twitter account, Sagasti thanked Peru's civil society along with the country's public and private sector for making "this achievement possible."  

2:11 a.m. ET, February 8, 2021

US reports nearly 87,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Alta Spells in Atlanta

The United States reported 86,928 new Covid-19 infections and 1,268 additional virus-related fatalities on Sunday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The national tally now stands at 27,006,413 coronavirus cases and 463,470 deaths.

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

Vaccines: At least 59,307,800 vaccine doses have been distributed and at least 41,210,937 shots administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

See CNN's live tracker here.

1:55 a.m. ET, February 8, 2021

Heartbreak and anger as China discourages travel for Lunar New Year

From CNN's Nectar Gan, Lily Lee and David Culver

A traveler wearing a protective mask walks toward Beijing Capital International Airport ahead of the Lunar New Year in Beijing, on February 2.
A traveler wearing a protective mask walks toward Beijing Capital International Airport ahead of the Lunar New Year in Beijing, on February 2. Yan Cong/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Normally at this time of year, hundreds of millions of Chinese people would be packing highways, trains and planes on homebound trips to celebrate the Lunar New Year with their family.

But this year, the largest annual human migration on Earth has been put on hold, following the Chinese government's call to avoid "nonessential" trips during the holiday period to prevent a resurgence of the coronavirus.

That is a lot to ask: The Lunar New Year, also known as Spring Festival in China, is the most important holiday in the Chinese calendar -- the equivalent of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve combined.

For many Chinese who left their hometowns for better job opportunities in big cities, it is the only chance they may get to see their families this year. Parents who left children behind in villages so they could work may face another 12 months without them.

To discourage people from traveling, China's National Health Commission has imposed new rules that require people returning to rural areas to produce a negative Covid-19 test taken within the previous seven days, and to spend 14 days in "home observation" upon arrival.

Some local governments have added their own, stricter rules: For example, in some places, returnees need to spend two weeks in a government-approved quarantine hotel, instead of remaining under observation at home with their families.

The new restrictions have provoked fury on social media, with some questioning the government's policy at a time when many people had hoped to go home.

"I would like to ask, did you seriously think about it and look into it before making this policy?" one person posted on Weibo, China's Twitter-like service.
"Do medical conditions in the vast rural areas allow everyone to have a coronavirus test every 7 days? Doesn't the gathering for coronavirus tests bring a bigger risk of infection? In addition, the state only gives us 7 days of statutory holiday, and now you ask returnees to be isolated for 14 days. What are your brains made of?"

Read the full story:

1:33 a.m. ET, February 8, 2021

Quarantine hotel worker tests positive for Covid-19 in Australia's Melbourne

From CNN's Chandler Thornton

A quarantine hotel worker in the Australian city of Melbourne tested positive for Covid-19, according to Victoria State's health department.

The employee worked at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport and tested positive for the virus on Sunday, a news release from the department said.

Authorities did not indicate whether the quarantine hotel was connected to any of the Australian Open players or staff.

This comes after a single Covid-19 case at a quarantine hotel in Melbourne forced organizers of the Australian Open to quarantine 507 players, officials and support staff, just four days before the start of the tennis tournament. The Open began Monday after all players returned negative Covid-19 results.

1:06 a.m. ET, February 8, 2021

China reports no new local Covid-19 cases for first time since December

From CNN's Beijing bureau 

A medical staff member takes a throat swab sample for nucleic acid detection in Xinle City, China, on February 5.
A medical staff member takes a throat swab sample for nucleic acid detection in Xinle City, China, on February 5. Sipa USA

China recorded zero new locally-transmitted Covid-19 cases from Sunday, according to the country's National Health Commission (NHC.) This is the first time since December 16 the country saw no new local cases.

The NHC reported 14 new total cases from Sunday, all of which were imported.

Some context: Last month, China saw a rise in locally-transmitted cases from an outbreak in Hebei province.

Following the outbreak, China imposed some of the toughest restrictions in the province since the country largely contained the spread of the coronavirus in March, with mass testing and lockdown measures to suppress the outbreak.

12:44 a.m. ET, February 8, 2021

After weeks of drama and setbacks, the Australian Open kicks off

From CNN's Angus Watson and Ben Westcott

Naomi Osaka of Japan plays a forehand in her women's singles first round match against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia during day one of the 2021 Australian Open, on February 8.
Naomi Osaka of Japan plays a forehand in her women's singles first round match against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia during day one of the 2021 Australian Open, on February 8. Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Thousands of tennis fans descended on Melbourne Park to watch stars including Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams kick off the Australian Open on Monday, after a three-week postponement and high drama over the quarantine of players.

Spectators came out in force on an unusually overcast and chilly summer morning, relishing in the fact that they are some of the few people on the planet able to attend live sports during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is only mandatory to wear a mask indoors at the event, but many milling around outside were also seen with face coverings.

Many sporting events around the world have been forced to either postpone or suspend competitions due to the virus and enact strict limits on attendance or ban fans altogether.

The Australian Open organizers expect up to 400,000 fans to attend the tournament this year in a socially distanced manner, around half the number that were at last year's competition.

"It's quite phenomenal it's actually happening" said Australia's Pat Cash, a two-time runner-up in the Australian Open men's singles, who now coaches China's Qiang Wang.

The presence of fans at Melbourne Park wouldn't have been possible if Australia hadn't brought its local coronavirus epidemic under control in 2020 with strict public health measures. Australia's government quickly closed its borders in March at the start of the pandemic, banning non-residents from entering the country, and put in place mandatory hotel quarantine of 14 days for incoming travelers.

Read the full story:

12:16 a.m. ET, February 8, 2021

Australia's New South Wales reports positive Covid-19 case in person released from 14-day quarantine

From CNN's Chandler Thornton

A person tested positive for Covid-19 two days after being released from 14 days of hotel quarantine in Australia's New South Wales, according to state health officials.

"The person from the Wollongong area returned two negative tests during their quarantine period, and the source of the infection is under investigation," New South Wales Health Department announced in a news release Monday. "The person did not have any symptoms but underwent testing as part of the recently enhanced day-16 follow-up."

NSW Health said there is no indication the person was infected in the "hotel quarantine setting" and said preliminary investigations indicate the virus was likely acquired overseas.

NSW recorded no new local Covid-19 cases two new imported cases from Sunday.

The state has recorded 4,934 cases since the start of the pandemic.