March 3 coronavirus news

By Zamira Rahim, Kareem Khadder, Hannah Strange and Jessie Yeung, CNN

Updated 0717 GMT (1517 HKT) March 4, 2021
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6:29 a.m. ET, March 3, 2021

German Chancellor and state premiers to discuss extending Covid-19 lockdown

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

German Chancellor Angela Merkel takes part in a weekly cabinet meeting on March 3, in Berlin, Germany.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel takes part in a weekly cabinet meeting on March 3, in Berlin, Germany. Omer Messinger/Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet with 16 state premiers on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the next steps in combating the coronavirus crisis.

Under discussion will be whether to extend the current lockdown till March 28, as well as the possibility of loosening regional restrictions in areas where the incidence of Covid-19 infections allow it, according to CNN’s affiliate n-tv. 

The German Government has to “regionalize more, to enable more freedoms,” Merkel was quoted as saying by n-tv online.

Merkel will meet the state premiers via video conference at 2 p.m., and a press conference will follow later in the day.

According to the latest numbers from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the German agency for disease control and prevention, another 9,019 related coronavirus infections were recorded in the past 24 hours, which brings the total number of cases to 2,460,030.

The Covid-19 death toll stands at 70,881, including 418 in the last 24 hours.

So far, 6,394,364 vaccinations have been administered in the country, a combination of first and second doses, according to the RKI.

5:04 a.m. ET, March 3, 2021

Explosion reported near Covid-19 test center in the Netherlands

From CNN’s Mick Krever in London

Police officers stand in a street after an explosion occurred near a Covid-19 test center in Bovenkarspel, the Netherlands, on March 3.
Police officers stand in a street after an explosion occurred near a Covid-19 test center in Bovenkarspel, the Netherlands, on March 3. Koen van Weel/ANP/AFP/Getty Images

An explosion has been reported near a Covid-19 testing center in the Netherlands, police officers said Wednesday. No injuries resulted from the incident, which took place in the northwestern province of North Holland.

The blast comes in the wake of several anti-lockdown demonstrations in the country.

“On the street of the Municipal Health Service’s Covid-19 test center in Bovenkarspel, an explosion went off at 6:55am this morning," police said in a tweet Wednesday.
"Windows destroyed, no injuries. Police are investigating. Area is cordoned off.”

The police force later said the blast appeared to have been caused by a metal cylinder the size of a paint can.

“An improvised explosive device went off, a metal cylinder of about 10cm high and diameter, I think in the form of a paint can.” a police spokesperson said in a statement.
“Damage [is] limited to five windows, façade does not appear to be damaged.”

Last month, police in the Netherlands arrested two people after they allegedly caused a fire near a different Covid-19 test center in the town of Urk on January 23.

The Netherlands is slowly easing its Covid-19 lockdown but a controversial night curfew remains in place until at least March 15.

January saw several nights of riots over the restrictions. CNN affiliate RTL Netherlands described the unrest as the country's worst in 40 years.

4:01 a.m. ET, March 3, 2021

Kenya receives more than 1 million vaccines through COVAX

From CNN’s Ingrid Formanek and Heather Yamour

Oxford/AstaZeneca Covid-19 vaccines are unloaded after arriving at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 3. 
Oxford/AstaZeneca Covid-19 vaccines are unloaded after arriving at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 3.  Daniel Irungu/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Kenya has received more than 1 million Covid-19 vaccines as part of the global COVAX program, according to a news release from the country’s Ministry of Health on Tuesday.

A plane carrying 1.02 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine touched down just before midnight Tuesday in Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

It is part of an initial allocation to Kenya of 3.5 million doses, according to the joint statement from Kenya’s Health Ministry, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

According to the Ministry of Health, the first beneficiaries of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will include frontline workers such as health care professionals, teachers and security personnel. 

The COVAX program, led jointly by WHO along with health non-profit organizations, aims to supply vaccines to developing countries in the first 100 days of 2021 and to deploy at least 2 billion doses by year’s end.

“We know that this pandemic will not end in one country until it has ended in all countries,” said Thabani Maphosa, managing director for country programs at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
“The first arrivals of Covid-19 vaccine doses in Kenya represents the start of equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines worldwide. These first doses are for the vaccination of frontline health workers which are critical to the Covid-19 response and the maintenance of all health services."

In addition to the vaccines, UNICEF is providing syringes and safety boxes to Kenya, via a global stockpile funded and supported by Gavi. 

4:00 a.m. ET, March 3, 2021

Brazil records highest daily number of Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Marcia Reverdosa in Sao Paulo and Tatiana Arias in Atlanta

Workers wearing protective suits walk past the graves of Covid-19 victims at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus, Brazil, on February 25.
Workers wearing protective suits walk past the graves of Covid-19 victims at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus, Brazil, on February 25. Michael Dantas/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil reported 1,641 Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday -- the highest single-day total of the pandemic, according to data from the country’s Health Ministry.

The country has now recorded a total of 10,646,926 cases and 257,361 deaths, according to official data.

Brazil has the second highest death toll worldwide, following the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Amid the crippling figures and an alarming lack of Covid-19 vaccines, Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourão defended the government’s position against a national lockdown to help curve the spread of the deadly virus.

Mourão said the country is “not a dictatorship,” and that the best way to fight the pandemic is to accelerate the vaccination rollout, which is “going well.”

Brazil has vaccinated a little over 3% of its population, and 19 of its 26 states have an ICU occupation of over 80%, according to Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), a Brazilian Ministry of Health research institution.

Read more about the situation in Brazil's hospitals:

4:01 a.m. ET, March 3, 2021

Italy closes schools in worst-hit areas amid concerns over new variants

From CNN’s Nicola Ruotolo in Rome 

A closed school is seen in Brescia, Italy, on March 1.
A closed school is seen in Brescia, Italy, on March 1. Stefano Nicoli/NurPhoto/Getty Images

The Italian government has ordered all schools in the country’s worst-hit coronavirus hotspots to close from March 6 until April 6. 

“As we know, the British variant has a particular ability to affect the younger population,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said at a news briefing on Tuesday. 
“This has led us to determine that in red zones, all schools will move to distance learning, as well as in areas where the infection rate across seven days is equal to or greater than 250 per 100,000 inhabitants."

Italy continues to classify regions under a color-coded system (white, yellow, orange and red), with measures adjusted to reflect infection levels in the region. Red zones are the most stringent classification of coronavirus restrictions in the country, with severe limitations on movement.

According to Speranza, the coronavirus variant first identified in the UK has now “become prevalent” in Italy, while cases of the variants first identified in Brazil and South Africa have also been confirmed in the country.