March 29 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Joshua Berlinger, Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Christopher Johnson, CNN

Updated 7:50 p.m. ET, March 30, 2021
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9:29 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Moderna has shipped 100 million doses of vaccine to the US government

From CNN's John Bonifield

A dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is prepared in Severn, Maryland, on March 23.
A dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is prepared in Severn, Maryland, on March 23. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Covid-19 vaccine maker Moderna has shipped the 100 millionth dose of its vaccine to the US government, the company announced Monday. 

“I would like to thank the millions of people who have put their confidence in Moderna’s science and our COVID-19 vaccine. We are encouraged by the fact that more than 67 million doses have been administered in the U.S. and we are humbled to know that we are helping address this worldwide pandemic with our vaccine,” Stéphane Bancel, Moderna's CEO, said in a statement.

“I would also like to thank the Moderna team, our suppliers and our U.S. manufacturing partners including Lonza and Catalent, for their tireless and extraordinary work in completing this important milestone,” she added.

In August, the Trump administration announced an agreement with the company to manufacture and deliver 100 million doses of the vaccine. Since then, the US has ordered an additional 200 million doses from Moderna.

More than 67 million doses of the vaccine have been administered so far, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Moderna says it expected to ship 40 to 50 million doses per month to the US to fulfill its contracts. The 200 millionth dose is expected by the end of May and the 300 millionth dose by the end of July.

9:31 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

WHO plans to release report on Covid-19's origins tomorrow 

From CNN’s Chloe Adams and Bear Hutchinson

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a press conference on Monday, March 29. 
World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a press conference on Monday, March 29.  WHO

All hypotheses into the origins of the novel coronavirus are on the table and warrant complete and further study ahead of a long-awaited report that will be released on Tuesday, the World Health Organization’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news conference in Geneva on Monday.

Tedros said the WHO received the full mission report over the weekend on the origins of the SARS-Cov-2 virus from the team that visited Wuhan earlier this year and this report was sent to member states under embargo. He said the two news agencies reporting details of a leaked mission report are only a draft or near final wording of the report.

He stressed the report is not public yet and there will be a briefing on Tuesday with member states about it.

“After the briefing to the member states, it will be public, it will be on WHO’s website. As you know, the international experts are expected also to hold a press conference after the posting of the report. And we will read the report and discuss, digest its content and next steps with member states,” Tedros said.

However, he cautioned: “All hypotheses are on the table, and warrant complete and further studies from what I have seen so far.”

 

9:12 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

US airline travel just hit the highest point of the pandemic

From CNN's Gregory Wallace

Travelers are seen at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, on Friday, March 26.
Travelers are seen at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, on Friday, March 26. Angus Mordant/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Transportation Security Administration reported a new pandemic-era air travel record. It screened more than 1.57 million people at US airports on Sunday, a new record that ousted the previous record set only a week before.

Air travel figures continue to ride high during this spring break period even as health experts fret over rising coronavirus infection rates in some states.

More than 9.5 million people have flown in the last week. Sunday’s number marked the 17th straight day when more than a million people have flown by air.

The latest number is more than eight times higher than the same day a year ago, when air travel was severely depressed by the pandemic and only 180,000 people flew.

While new figures are giving hope to the battered airline industry, there’s still a long way to get back to the pre-pandemic era.

The TSA screened more than 2.5 million people on the same day in 2019, meaning the latest figure is still only 62% of pre-pandemic air travel.

7:54 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Slovenia to go into another lockdown in April

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

The Slovenian government moved to reinstate coronavirus restrictions in April due to a growing number of infections and hospitalizations.

“We’re in a race against time,” Prime Minister Janez Jansa said in a press conference Sunday, announcing that public life in the country will essentially be suspended between April 1 and 12.

According to Jansa, the country aims to reach target vaccination coverage in June. In the meantime, Jansa said it's necessary to reimpose restrictions to ease pressure on hospitals and curb the spread of a coronavirus variant first identified in the UK.

“Inaction would mean at least a few hundred additional deaths by June and could later lead to a drastic shutdown of public life due to the overburdened capacities of the Slovenian healthcare system,” the minister added, according to a readout on the government website.

Why now? Slovenia eased coronavirus restrictions in February, but the number of daily new infections has risen sharply since then, with around 943 cases reported on average each day in recent weeks. 

Slovenia's Health Ministry reported that the country has so far vaccinated 5.3% of its 2 million population.

The country has reported over 212,000 Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Over 4,000 deaths have been recorded so far, making Slovenia one of the hardest-hit countries in the European Union in correlation to the population's size.

The epidemiological situation in neighboring Balkan and central European countries has also deteriorated sharply, forcing Slovenia to further limit cross-border travel. 

7:30 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Mexico receives first shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines from the US

From CNN's Karol Suarez in Mexico City

Employees unload shipping containers of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City, on March 28.
Employees unload shipping containers of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City, on March 28. Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images

Mexico was expecting its first shipment of AstraZeneca vaccine doses from the United States on Sunday night, the country's foreign minister said.

Marcelo Ebrard said in a post on Twitter that a flight carrying 1.5 million AstraZeneca doses bound for Mexico City was due to land at 10.20 p.m. local time (12.20 a.m. ET Monday). 

"With this shipment, we'll reach 12,323,595 vaccine doses received. Four of which were shipped or delivered this week," he tweeted.

Ebrard thanked US President Joe Biden for authorizing the surplus doses for shipment, calling it "significant support at a critical moment that shows close cooperation of both countries."

For context: The US agreed to share four million excess doses of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine with Canada and Mexico. Mexico will receive 2.5 million doses and Canada 1.5 million doses.

Mexico revealed the country's death toll has increased to more than 321,000 -- nearly 60% higher than previously reported -- after the government revised its figures in a new report.

6:33 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

England takes its first cautious step out of lockdown

From CNN's Sarah Dean and Lauren Said-Moorhouse in London

People take part in an exercise class, following the easing of England's lockdown, on Monday March 29, in Rothwell, West Yorkshire.
People take part in an exercise class, following the easing of England's lockdown, on Monday March 29, in Rothwell, West Yorkshire. Danny Lawson/PA/AP

People in England are now allowed to meet outdoors in groups of up to six or two households (with social distancing), as the first of the country's coronavirus measures were eased Monday.

The country has been in full national lockdown since January 4, after a new, more transmissible variant of coronavirus was discovered in southeast England.

Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis courts, swimming pools and golf courses have been permitted to reopen, and organized outdoor sports with an unlimited number of people have been given the thumbs up.

Weddings are no longer limited to exceptional circumstances but are only allowed a maximum of six attendees.

As the 'stay at home' level of Covid restrictions ended, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged caution as cases elsewhere in Europe continue to grow.

“I know how much people have missed the camaraderie and competition of organized sport, and how difficult it has been to restrict physical activities -- especially for children,” Johnson said. 

 “I know many will welcome the increased social contact, with groups of 6 or two households now also able to meet outdoors,” he added.

 But we must remain cautious, with cases rising across Europe and new variants threatening our vaccine rollout.” 

While it is the most significant easing in England since schools returned on March 8, many businesses remain shuttered, people are still being encouraged to work from home where possible, and meeting indoors and travel abroad is still prohibited.

The rules are set to be relaxed further in coming weeks provided the UK vaccination program continues unhindered and infection rates don't surge.

The next round of easing is due to take place no sooner than April 12 when non-essential retail will be allowed to reopen. At the same time, restaurants and pubs will be able to serve people outdoors.

Johnson's government is hopeful that most of the economy will be able to open before the end of June.

5:36 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Merkel says she is considering new restrictions to bring coronavirus under control

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz in London

German leader Angela Merkel gives a press statement at the Chancellery in Berlin, on March 25.
German leader Angela Merkel gives a press statement at the Chancellery in Berlin, on March 25. Michael Kappeler/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested additional measures may be needed in the country to halt the ongoing spread of coronavirus.

In a rare interview with public broadcaster ARD on Sunday night, the long-time leader stood by her apology over proposing then scrapping Easter restrictions, admitting mistakes had been made.

Last week, Merkel walked back on her plan to impose a new hard five-day lockdown over Easter. Although there are restrictions on social contact and gatherings, businesses will now only be closed as usual on the public holidays of Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.

As Covid-19 cases rise across Germany, however, Merkel said that in addition to testing, further measures were being considered and could be introduced soon.

“For me, contact restrictions, restrictions to go out, are very important means to stop the exponential growth of the virus. Plus to increase testing in schools twice a week and the industry, where I am not yet content with the current enthusiasm, where I have said clearly that we then need to legislate, and soon,” Merkel said. 

Merkel deflected a question over whether she'd send Germany into another hard lockdown, instead suggesting that more people needed to work from home and that more testing for those going into work was needed.

She added: “We have to ensure that schools can only open if they can test twice a week, although even twice is not a lot.”

Some background: The number of coronavirus cases in the country now stands at 2,782,273 after an additional 9,872 instances were identified, the German agency for disease control and prevention said Monday.

The Robert Koch Institute said Germany's death toll stands at 75,913 -- including 43 new cases in the last 24 hours. Meanwhile the seven-day incidence rate now stands at 134.4 per 100,000 inhabitants.

3:43 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

India sees 6th day of record-high case numbers since last year

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

A health worker collects a swab sample from a person for Covid-19 testing on March 27 in Chandigarh, India.
A health worker collects a swab sample from a person for Covid-19 testing on March 27 in Chandigarh, India. Ravi Kumar/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

India recorded 68,020 new coronavirus cases Monday, another single-day record since last year and the the sixth consecutive day that India has seen a record-high in cases in 2021.

The surge comes as Indians mark the festival of Holi, a celebration of colors, on Monday. Several states have banned public gatherings and the health ministry has asked citizens to celebrate with their family as opposed to venturing outdoors. 

India has so far recorded more than 12 million cases of Covid-19. At least 161,843 people have died, according to official data.

The Indian Ministry of Health said that 60,530,435 vaccine doses have been distributed since mid-January.

3:45 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Taiwan and Palau to launch "travel bubble" this week

From CNN’s Taylor Barnes

Palau President Surangel Whipps waves after arriving at the Taoyuan International Airport on March 28.
Palau President Surangel Whipps waves after arriving at the Taoyuan International Airport on March 28. Chen Chi-chuan/AFP/Getty Images

Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. traveled to Taiwan on Sunday to kick off a “travel bubble” between the two islands, according to Taiwan’s official Central News Agency (CNA).

Whipps hailed the move as a first-of its-kind “sterile corridor," according to CNA. It will enable travellers to come and go without undergoing the strict quarantine procedures common throughout Asia.

Travellers participating in the bubble will not have to undergo quarantine at a home or a hotel, but will instead be expected to practice "enhanced self-health management” for the first five days of their trips, CNA reported.

After a five-day state visit, Whipps will return to Palau, a group of islands in the North Pacific Ocean, southeast of the Philippines, on a flight that will carry the first group of Taiwanese tourists participating the program.