March 18 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Brett McKeehan and Kara Fox, CNN

Updated 0748 GMT (1548 HKT) March 19, 2021
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10:03 a.m. ET, March 18, 2021

More than 500 people in UK put on 'Do Not Resuscitate' orders without consent, study says 

From CNN's Duarte Mendonça

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

More than 500 people in the United Kingdom were put on “do not resuscitate” orders without their consent or their carers’ consent during the coronavirus pandemic, a study released by the country’s Care Quality Commission (CQC) reported Thursday.

“From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were concerns that ‘do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation’ (DNACPR) decisions were being made without involving people, or their families and/or carers if so wished, and were being applied to groups of people, rather than taking into account each person’s individual circumstances,” according to the study from the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

Out of 2,048 adult social care providers who responded to the CQC's information request, 5.2% (508 out of 9,679) of DNACPR decisions put in place since March 17, 2020 "had not been agreed in discussion with the person, their relative or carer,” the study said.

The report includes at least one case study of a man whose death may have involved an involuntary order not to resuscitate. 

“Jim, who was in his 80s, was taken to hospital at the beginning of the pandemic after becoming unwell with a chest infection. Jim, who still worked, had normally been fit, well and active and went out most weeks in his car to visit friends or go to the cinema,” the report said.
“About 12 hours after being admitted to hospital Jim called [his daughter] Melanie. He was upset and confused, and told her he had signed away his life and was going to die. He told her that a doctor had put an order in place that they wouldn’t restart his heart if it stopped. He was upset that he had agreed to it because he didn’t want to die.”
The daughter told the commission she had tried to speak to medical and nursing staff about the decision. 
“Because Jim was able to make decisions about his care, no one had discussed the decision with her,” she said, according to the report. “However, she was concerned that her dad was vulnerable because he was ill, likely to be confused as he had a bad infection, and he was all alone. She felt he would have just gone with what they told him.”
“Jim died while in hospital,” the report said.

The report is a result of a request from the Department of Health and Social Care to the CQC to conduct a “rapid review of how DNACPR decisions were used during the coronavirus pandemic, building on concerns that they were being inappropriately applied to groups of people without their knowledge.”

“It is unacceptable for any DNACPR decisions to be made without proper conversations with the individual, or an appropriate representative, taking into account their wishes and needs,” the report said. 

An interim report from the CQC in November 2020 revealed “a combination of unprecedented pressure on care providers and rapidly developing guidance may have led to decisions concerning DNACPR being incorrectly conflated with other clinical assessments around critical care,” CQC said. 

Despite positive feedback from most care providers, CQC revealed some concerns regarding the use of “blanket” DNACPR decisions proposed at a local level. 

“Across the review process, whilst inspectors did find some examples of good practice, they also found a worrying picture of poor involvement of people using services, poor record keeping, and a lack of oversight and scrutiny of the decisions being made,” the study said.

The CQC called for government action to address a "worrying variation" in people's experiences of DNACPR decisions and “to take responsibility for delivering improvements in this vital and sensitive area.”

The CQC’s goal with the plea to ministers is to have a bigger focus on “information, training and support,” as well as a “consistent national approach to advance care planning” and “improved oversight and assurance,” it said.

Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated the date the CQC interim report was released.

6:23 a.m. ET, March 18, 2021

Tanzania's President, who told citizens to 'pray coronavirus away,' is dead

From CNN's Bethlehem Feleke, Linus Kaikai and Amy Woodyatt

Tanzanian President John Magafuli, whose Covid-19 policies were widely criticized by health authorities across the globe, has died.

Magafuli died at a hospital in Dar es Salaam, the country's vice president announced in a televised address on Wednesday. He was 61.

"President John Magufuli died of a heart ailment that he has battled for over 10 years," Samia Suluhu Hassan said.

She added that the president had been receiving treatment at Mzena hospital since Sunday, and announced 14 days of national mourning.

Magufuli, who usually made weekly public appearances at Sunday church services, had not been seen since February 27, fueling speculation that he was ill and was being treated abroad.

The late leader of the East African nation was a polarizing figure.

Early on in the pandemic, Magufuli downplayed the coronavirus and urged his citizens to "pray coronavirus away," believing the "satanic virus can't live in the body of Jesus Christ," and blaming the growing number of positive cases on faulty test kits.

In June, he claimed his country had eradicated coronavirus "by the grace of God," questioned the safety of foreign Covid-19 vaccines and made no plan to procure any shots for his country, instead pushing for the use of herbal medicine and steam treatments.

Tanzania hasn't reported Covid-19 figures since April 2020, prompting the World Health Organization to call for Tanzania to publish data on the coronavirus and ramp up public health measures.

Last month, the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam warned that Covid-19 cases had been surging since January.

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6:41 a.m. ET, March 18, 2021

Korean Air to begin trialing travel pass with flights to LA in April

From CNN's Gawon Bae in Seoul

A Korean Air plane arrives at Los Angeles International Airport in California on September 15, 2020.
A Korean Air plane arrives at Los Angeles International Airport in California on September 15, 2020. AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Korean Air announced that its customers will be among the first in the world to gain access to International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s travel pass, an app that proves a passenger’s Covid-19 testing result as well as its vaccination status, according to the airline’s communication team.

Billing itself as "a global and standardized solution to validate and authenticate all country regulations regarding Covid-19 passenger travel requirements," the IATA Travel Pass  works in four ways.

  • There's a global registry of health requirements, so passengers can check what's needed in order to enter the destinations they hope to visit.
  • Then, travelers can check out the global registry of testing and vaccination centers so they can set up appointments before their departure.
  • Authorized labs and test centers can then securely share test and vaccination certificates with passengers through the app.
  • Finally, travelers can manage their digital identity for contactless travel: creating a digital version of their passport on their phone, receiving and sharing Covid-19 testing or vaccination certificates, and managing other travel documentation, too.

Korean Air said that it is testing the IATA Travel Pass in preparations for a safe and convenient air travel in the post-Covid era. 

The airline will conduct an internal test in April and do a trial for the Incheon-Los Angeles KE011 flight scheduled in May. 

The passengers will be able to take Covid-19 antigen test at the Incheon Airport’s testing center and receive the result on the Travel Pass within an hour, according to Korean Air.

4:20 a.m. ET, March 18, 2021

Turkey records its highest daily coronavirus caseload this year

From CNN's Isil Sariyuce in Istanbul  

Health care workers help Covid-19 patients in the intensive treatment unit of Health Sciences University Kanuni Training and Research Hospital in Trabzon, Turkey, on March 15.
Health care workers help Covid-19 patients in the intensive treatment unit of Health Sciences University Kanuni Training and Research Hospital in Trabzon, Turkey, on March 15. Hakan Burak Altunoz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Turkey on Wednesday reported 18,912 new coronavirus cases in the previous 24 hours -- the country's highest daily caseload this year, according to its health ministry.

Turkey has so far reported more than 2.9 million cases and a total of 29,696 related deaths, with 73 new fatalities announced on Wednesday, the ministry said.  

Turkey's highest single-day increase in infections since the pandemic began was in early December, when it recorded more than 33,000 daily infections. 

The country is facing a resurge in infections following the easing of its Covid-19 restrictions earlier this month, including reopening restaurants and partially reopening schools.  

About 12 million doses of the Chinese-made Sinovac coronavirus vaccine have so far been administered in Turkey, with frontline health workers and people over 65 years old prioritized.

4:01 a.m. ET, March 18, 2021

Covid-19 reinfections are rare, but more common in people 65 and older, study finds

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Coronavirus reinfections are relatively rare, but it's more common for people 65 and older to get infected more than once, according to a study published Wednesday in the Lancet medical journal.

A team of scientists, including some from Denmark's Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, noted that most people who have had Covid-19 seemed to have protection from reinfection that remained stable for more than six months. In the follow-up after six months, the study didn't find evidence that protection was waning.

But a check of the demographics of who was getting infected again showed it was mostly people age 65 and older.

Researchers looked at the reinfection rate among 4 million people during the second surge of Covid-19 from September through December 31, and compared this to the infection rate during the first surge between March and May. Of the 11,068 people who tested positive during the first surge, only 72 tested positive again during the second.

The older age group had only about 47% protection against repeat infection, compared to younger people who seemed to have about 80% protection from reinfection, the team wrote.

The finding is not completely unexpected, since immune systems weaken as people age.

"Given what is at stake, the results emphasize how important it is that people adhere to measures implemented to keep themselves and others safe, even if they have already had Covid-19," study co-author Dr. Steen Ethelberg of the Statens Serum Institut in Denmark said in a statement.

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3:56 a.m. ET, March 18, 2021

Brazil reports its highest daily surge in Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began

From CNN's Rodrigo Pedroso in Sao Paulo

Covid-19 patients in the intensive care unit of Emilio Ribas Hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 17.
Covid-19 patients in the intensive care unit of Emilio Ribas Hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 17. Miguel Schincariol/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil reported 90,303 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday -- its highest daily surge in infections since the beginning of the pandemic.

The country's total caseload now stands at 11,693,838, according to its health ministry. Brazil has registered a total of 284,775 virus-related deaths, with 2,648 new fatalities reported Wednesday.

The new high in daily infections came after Brazil reported its highest daily coronavirus death toll of 2,841 on Tuesday, with ICU occupancy rates surging past 80% in 25 of the country's 26 states and its federal district.

On Tuesday, Brazilian research institute Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FioCruz) warned the coronavirus crisis in the country is "the greatest health and hospital collapse in the history of Brazil."

3:52 a.m. ET, March 18, 2021

Biden administration is considering sending some AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Canada and Mexico

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

The Biden administration is considering sending some AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses stockpiled and waiting for official usage approval in the US over the border to Mexico and Canada, according to a senior administration official.

Intense discussions are taking place following a request for doses from both countries and, for Mexico at least, an agreement could be announced as soon as Friday, according to Mexican officials.

"I'd say we've made good progress, but the details, figures, provisions, won't be known until Friday," Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told reporters on Tuesday morning, according to Reuters. "We requested as many (AstraZeneca doses) as possible."

The Biden administration has committed to having enough vaccines for all Americans before sharing doses, and if this agreement comes together it would be the first time the US has shared vaccines directly with another country. It would also likely give a major boost to vaccination efforts in Canada and Mexico, which are struggling with their vaccine rollouts in comparison to the US.

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed requests have been received from both Mexico and Canada, and they are being considered carefully. She provided no details on when a decision would be reached.

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