March 30 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Angela Dewan, Christopher Johnson, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 0700 GMT (1500 HKT) March 31, 2021
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8:17 a.m. ET, March 30, 2021

Biden asks leaders to keep mask mandates as CDC chief warns of "impending doom"

From CNN's Eric Levenson, Christina Maxouris and Theresa Waldrop

President Joe Biden holds up a face mask as he delivers remarks at the White House on March 29, in Washington, DC. 
President Joe Biden holds up a face mask as he delivers remarks at the White House on March 29, in Washington, DC.  Drew Angerer/Getty Images

US President Biden implored state and local officials to reinstate mask mandates, after Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shared her feelings of "impending doom" at a White House Covid-19 briefing.

The plea comes as some states have lifted requirements for face coverings, as well as guidance on restaurant capacity and other measures, and cases have again begun to rise. Last week, the Biden administration called on states to slow the relaxation of Covid-19 guidelines.

“I need the American people do their part as well. Mask up, mask up. It's a patriotic duty. It's the only way we ever get back to normal,” he said.

Biden also suggested businesses should also require the use of masks. “The failure to take this virus seriously precisely what got us to this mess in the first place, risk more cases, more deaths."

Walensky said she would be conveying Biden’s message to governors.

“With regard to the surging, we are working closely with the states. I will be speaking with the governors tomorrow to try and reinforce the need for current restrictions to not open up,” Walensky said earlier Monday.

“I think what we’ll do on masking will really depend on where we are 30 days from now.”

Experts have warned another case surge is likely on its way in the coming weeks, one that will this time be fueled by coronavirus variants. Health officials are preparing for a possible third wave that will be driven by a rapidly spreading variant that was first identified in the UK.

Data from the CDC shows 2,102 cases of the variant have been detected across the US -- but scientists have warned that number likely doesn't represent the total of cases in the country.

7:52 a.m. ET, March 30, 2021

Berlin hospital pauses AZ vaccinations of female staff under 55 out of precaution

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz in London

Charité hospital in Berlin, Germany.
Charité hospital in Berlin, Germany. Maja Hitij/Getty Images

A hospital in Berlin has temporarily stopped administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to female staff members below the age of 55 as a precaution, following reports of cerebral venous sinus thromboses -- blot clots in the vessels that drain blood from the brain -- after vaccination.

"As of today, no further [AstraZeneca] vaccinations will be carried out at Charité – University Medicine Berlin for younger female employees under the age of 55 for the time being,” the hospital said in a statement Tuesday.

“From the Charité's point of view, this step is necessary because in the meantime further cerebral venous sinus thromboses have become known in women in Germany. Although no complications have occurred at the Charité after vaccinations with AstraZeneca, the Charité wants to take precautionary action here and await final assessments."

The Charité is not a vaccination center, so the change only concerns vaccinations for their staff members.

Germany joined other EU Member countries, including Spain, France and Italy, in temporarily halting the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine over a small number of blood clot concerns in the beginning of March, going against the advice of international medical agencies.

The European Medicines Agency conducted a preliminary review earlier this month and concluded the shot was not associated with a higher overall risk of blood clots. It did find it could possibly be linked to very rare cases of clotting associated with thrombocytopenia, or low levels of blood platelets. It concluded the benefits of the vaccine still outweighed the risk in combating Covid-19, and said it would continue to investigate any possible links.

7:26 a.m. ET, March 30, 2021

Negative Covid test now needed to enter Germany

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz in London

Employees process coronavirus test swabs at a testing center in Mainz, Germany, on March 26. 
Employees process coronavirus test swabs at a testing center in Mainz, Germany, on March 26.  Boris Roessler/picture alliance/Getty Images

All travelers planning to enter Germany now require a negative coronavirus test. The new regulation, which came into effect Monday at midnight local time, says that the test has to be taken before leaving for Germany, regardless of the coronavirus situation in the country the traveler is coming from.

The regulation was publicized through an update to the German government's travel orders. and will stay in force until May 12. Those who cannot produce a negative test will not be allowed to board planes bound for Germany. The new rule is designed to also protect passengers on planes.

The test can be a PCR lab test or a quick test. The result can be presented on paper in German, English or French, but must not be more than 48 hours old.

7:09 a.m. ET, March 30, 2021

China has received WHO report on Covid origins

From CNN’s Beijing Bureau

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says “relevant departments” are studying the World Health Organization’s report on the origins of Covid-19. 

“China side has received the joint research report distributed by the WHO, and relevant departments are studying it. What I want to emphasize is that the issue of virus origin tracing is a scientific issue and [it] should be left to scientists to conduct research,” MOFA said in a fax to CNN in response to questions on China’s reaction to the findings of the upcoming report. 

The WHO is scheduled to release the final report on Tuesday, but a draft version obtained by CNN shows the report gives four possible sources for the virus, the most likely scenario being that it spread to humans via an animal host.

7:16 a.m. ET, March 30, 2021

Italian Prime Minister Draghi gets vaccinated as the country cancels Easter plans for millions

From CNNs Antonia Mortensen in Milan, Italy

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi speaks during a press conference on March 26, in Rome.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi speaks during a press conference on March 26, in Rome. Alessandra Tarantino/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and his wife, Maria Serenella Cappello, go their first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccination on Tuesday morning, the Prime MInister's Office announced.

Italy was one of many European nations that paused the use of the AstraZeneca vaccines as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) investigated very rare reports of blood clots after vaccination. The country resumed its use after EMA found no overall increase in the risk of clots after vaccination.

Like much of Europe, Italy has faced a slow vaccine rollout at a difficult moment, with a third wave of infections threatening to grip Europe one year after the pandemic began. The country has vaccinated more than 3 million people people, according to the Ministry for Health.

Millions in Italy have had their Easter plans canceled, in scenes reminiscent of last March when the country became the first European nation to restrict people's movement as the coronavirus ran rampant.

Half of Italy's 20 regions were placed under new coronavirus restrictions on March 15. The measures, which impact the cities of Rome, Milan and Venice, will be in lace until April 6.

7:48 a.m. ET, March 30, 2021

Canada halts AstraZeneca vaccine shots for people 55 and under as precautionary measure

From CNN's Rebekah Riess and Steve Almasy

A health worker administers the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at a Shoppers Drug Mart in Toronto, on March 11. 
A health worker administers the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at a Shoppers Drug Mart in Toronto, on March 11.  Steve Russell/Toronto Star/Getty Images

Canada has become the latest country to halt the AstraZeneca vaccine for certain groups while rare cases of blood clots following vaccination are being investigated.

The country's National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended a pause, as a precautionary measure, for adults 55 and under on Monday, saying that there was "substantial uncertainty" about the benefits of the vaccine in that age group.

The rare cases of serious blood clots, known as vaccine-induced prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia (VIPIT), have recently been reported in Europe following post-licensure use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, primarily in women under the age of 55.

The committee said because the AstraZeneca vaccine was expected to only make up a small proportion of the Covid-19 vaccines available for use in Canada, vaccinations "will not be significantly delayed."

The European Medicines Agency conducted a preliminary review earlier this month and concluded the AstraZeneca shot was not associated with a higher overall risk of blood clots. It did find the shot could possibly be linked to very rare cases of clotting associated with thrombocytopenia, or low levels of blood platelets. It concluded the benefits of the vaccine still outweighed the risk in combating Covid-19.

Canada has reported almost 970,000 presumed or confirmed cases of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic and has recorded more than 22,000 deaths.

6:17 a.m. ET, March 30, 2021

WHO chief brushes off absence of China and US in call for international treaty on pandemics

From CNN’s Bear Hutchison and Chloé Adams

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

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says China and the United States will be included in discussions on an international treaty on future pandemics, insisting the absence of their leaders’ signatures on a joint-letter calling for the treaty “wasn’t even a problem.”

More than 20 world leaders and the WHO signed the letter, published on Tuesday, which calls for an international treaty to protect future generations from pandemics.

Speaking to the press in Geneva, Tedros said he didn’t want the notable exceptions to the list -- including China, the US and Russia -- “to be seen as a problem.” He clarified that “when the discussion on the pandemic treaty starts, all member states will be represented.”

The WHO chief described the letter as being “opt-in, countries who were interested were flagging to join,” but emphasised that comments from states including the US and China were “actually positive.”

Tedros called for the world to “act boldly with an internationally-coordinated, all of government, all of society, one held approach to pandemic preparedness and response.”

He made his comments after a meeting with European Council President Charles Michel, who warned that no country could defeat a pandemic alone.

Michel said a lot of countries whose leaders had not signed the letter “are reacting quite positively to the idea.”

Read more here:

5:39 a.m. ET, March 30, 2021

World leaders call for international treaty on pandemics, but China and US are absent

From Amy Cassidy in Glasgow

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Getty Images

Leaders from more than 20 countries and the World Health Organization have agreed to work towards an international treaty on future pandemics, in a joint letter published in media outlets Tuesday around the world.

The treaty would “greatly” enhance international co-operation to improve research, data-sharing, distribution of vaccines, medicines and personal protective equipment to protect future generations from pandemics, the letter said, adding it would be “rooted in the constitution of the World Health Organization.”

Among signatories were leaders from the UK, Germany and France, and from Africa, leaders from Rwanda, Kenya and South Africa signed the letter. South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia were among Asian signatories, while Chile and Costa Rica were among Latin American countries making the call.

China and the United States were not part of the group.

The letter's publication comes ahead of an “extraordinary joint call” with the signatories on Tuesday to outline the treaty’s proposal.

"No single government or multilateral agency can address this threat alone. The question is not if, but when. Together, we must be better prepared to predict, prevent, detect, assess and effectively respond to pandemics in a highly co-ordinated fashion. The Covid-19 pandemic has been a stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe,” the letter reads.

It noted how political leaders united following following the devastation of two world wars, and could do so again.

“Today we hold the same hope that, as we fight to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic together, we can build a more robust international health architecture that will protect future generations."

6:58 a.m. ET, March 30, 2021

WHO report gives four possible sources for Covid

By CNN's Maggie Fox and Sandi Sidhu

A draft report by a World Health Organization team investigating the origins of Covid-19 says the virus probably came to humans through an animal, and likely started to spread no more than a month or two before it was noticed in December of 2019.

The report, by the WHO’s joint international team, gave four possible sources for the virus, saying that a laboratory leak is the least likely source.

The findings essentially dismiss claims by former US President Donald Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said they believed the virus originated in a virology lab in Wuhan.

They also weaken Beijing’s suggestions that the virus may have existed in other countries months before it was detected in Wuhan. Beijing has also said it believed the virus may have come into the country through frozen food imports.

WHO is scheduled to release the full report on its investigation later Tuesday, but a draft version obtained by CNN shows there is still no smoking gun -- and no evidence suggesting the virus was spreading any earlier than the very end of 2019.