April 7 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Martin Goillandeau and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

Updated 0622 GMT (1422 HKT) April 8, 2021
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8:17 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

German government calls for a short country-wide lockdown

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Vienna

The German government is calling for a short country-wide lockdown to try and curb the spread of Covid-19. 

“Every call for a short, unified, lockdown is correct,” Ulrike Demmer, the spokeswoman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, confirmed on Wednesday.

“The variety of the current measures are not contributing to safety or to acceptance,” she added, highlighting the importance of a "common federal approach." 

Demmer went on to say the current situation was unsustainable, with too much pressure on German healthcare. “We need a stable incidence rate below 100,” she concluded.

Last week, Germany's public health authority, the Robert Koch Institute, found that the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7 -- which was first identified in the UK -- accounted for nearly 90% of new infections in the country.

8:32 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Osaka torch relay to take place in park without spectators after surge of cases in prefecture

The celebration cauldron is lit during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay in Minamisoma, Japan, on March 25.
The celebration cauldron is lit during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay in Minamisoma, Japan, on March 25. Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee says the Olympic Torch Relay leg slated to take place in Osaka next week will be relocated to the Expo ’70 Commemorative Park without spectators. 

The relay was set for next week on April 13 and 14. Earlier Wednesday, the governor of Japan's Osaka prefecture said he couldn't allow Olympic torchbearers to run on public streets as planned due to a rise in Covid-19 cases.

In a press statement released Wednesday evening, Tokyo 2020 said the change of format to the torch relay event “will implement all necessary measures to ensure a safe environment for torchbearers who wish to run there, with no spectators being admitted on either day.” 

The brief statement said other details would be announced as soon as they are decided.

Osaka prefectural government reported a record high of 878 daily new coronavirus cases on Wednesday.

7:45 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Czech PM replaces health minister for third time since pandemic started

From CNN’s Ivana Kottasova in London

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has on Wednesday fired the country’s Health Minister Jan Blatny -- the third health minister to be sacked since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Blatny had been in the post since late October.

“I believe this is a political decision, which is of course the right of the Prime Minister. I can say that my conscience is clear -- I have made decisions based purely on my expertise, and always based them on data and expert analysis. I think this move can be interpreted as the Prime Minister thinking we are out of the worst situation,” Blatny said during a news conference on Wednesday.  

Blatny has previously clashed with the Czech President Milos Zeman over the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. Blatny said the vaccine shouldn’t be used until after it is fully approved by the European Medicines Agency.

“I have always advocated for the use of only fully approved vaccines,” he said during the news conference. Zeman has pushed for the use of the vaccine regardless of its EMA approval status. 

Blatny, a physician and an academic, is being replaced by Petr Arenberger. Arenberger, also a doctor, is currently the head of the University Hospital Vinohrady in Prague. He is a well-regarded dermatology expert. 

The Czech Republic is one of the worst impacted countries in the world. The country of 10 million has reported 27,329 Covid-19 deaths and more than 1.5 million cases. 

7:42 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Russia to supply 150,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine to Pakistan

From CNN’s Sophia Saifi in Islamabad

A health worker holds a dose of Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in Karachi, Pakistan, on April 2.
A health worker holds a dose of Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in Karachi, Pakistan, on April 2. Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced that Russia will “soon” be supplying Pakistan with 150,000 doses of the Russian developed Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine. 

Lavrov is currently visiting Pakistan on an official tour, his first to the country in 9 years. 

Pakistan’s private sector has already purchased 50,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine which are currently being sold commercially.

Pakistan has recorded more than 700,000 cases of Covid-19 and more than 15,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University. 

Russia announced last week agreements with 20 manufacturers in 10 different countries to produce its Sputnik V vaccine. 

7:08 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Welsh patients first in UK to receive Moderna jabs, the country's third approved vaccine

From CNN's Zahid Mahmood, Sharon Braithwaite and Jo Shelley in London

A nurse administers an injection of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at the West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen, Wales on April 7. 
A nurse administers an injection of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at the West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen, Wales on April 7.  Jacob King/WPA Pool/Getty Images

British Health Secretary said the rollout of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine in the UK has started in Wales on Wednesday. Moderna's vaccine is the third to be approved by British authorities after Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca.

“I’m delighted we can start the UK rollout of the Moderna vaccine in west Wales today," Hancock said. The country has ordered 17 million doses from the US drug maker, according to a tweet from Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging people to get their jab as soon as they are contacted.

“Three out of every five people across the whole United Kingdom have received at least one dose, and today we start with the third approved vaccine. Wherever you live, when you get the call, get the jab," Hancock said in a statement. 

The announcement expanding the UK's vaccination program comes amid growing concerns over a possible link between the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots.

On Tuesday, Oxford University paused trials of its coronavirus vaccine in children, pending investigation by the UK's medicines regulator. 

7:00 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Bolsonaro dismisses criticism he is "genocidal" as Brazil reports record 4,000 daily deaths

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Angela Dewan in London, Tatiana Arias in Atlanta and Journalist Marcia Reverdosa in Sao Paulo

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks during a news conference at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on March 31. 
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks during a news conference at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on March 31.  Andressa Anholete/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has shrugged off criticisms that he is "genocidal" in his opposition to Covid-19 restrictions, as the nation recorded its deadliest 24 hours of the pandemic so far.

Brazil reported a record 4,195 new Covid-19 deaths, the latest health ministry data on Tuesday showed. The new figures increased the country’s total pandemic death toll to 336,947.

Bolsonaro, who has continued to downplay the seriousness of his country's health crisis, brushed off claims he was to blame for the country's spiraling death toll. The President has repeatedly opposed lockdowns and restrictive measures, and criticized governors and mayors with insulting language for implementing them.

“They called me homophobic, racist, fascist, a torturer and now … what is it now? Now I am… someone who kills a lot of people? Genocidal! Now, I’m genocidal,” he said to supporters outside the Presidential Palace in Brasilia on Tuesday evening, according to video posted on YouTube.

Several of Bolsonaro's political opponents have accused him of "genocide," using the term loosely to characterize the consequences of his Covid-19 response.

“What am I not blamed for here in Brazil?” he asked rhetorically in the video.

The Brazilian leader also seemed to suggest the pandemic was an invention of the media that could be solved by providing outlets with government subsidies.

"I can solve the problem with the virus in a few minutes. I just have to pay what governments paid in the past to Globo, to Folha [de São Paulo], O Estado de São Paulo," he said, referring to a nationwide broadcaster and two São Paulo-based newspapers"Now, that money is not for the press, it's for other things."

Bolsonaro then reiterated his anti-restrictions stance, arguing -- incorrectly -- that the states where tougher measures have been imposed are experiencing higher death tolls.

“What’s the state that has locked down the most? São Paulo. Which one has the highest death toll, proportionally? São Paulo,” he falsely claimed.

Although São Paulo has the highest absolute death toll, it ranks 10th in deaths per capita. 

Bolsonaro also said locking down would be counterproductive, as people would be more vulnerable to the virus. 

“I saw some recent research that those who have a healthy lifestyle are eight times less likely to have problems with Covid,” he said. “You lock people at home… what does he do at home? I doubt they haven’t increased their weight a little, from last year to this year.”

“Even I grew my belly a little bit,” he joked.

Cases continue to spiral in Brazil: Tuesday saw Brazil record its deadliest day of the pandemic so far. Additionally, 86,979 new Covid-19 cases were reported across the country, raising the tally of infections to 13,100,580, according to the health ministry.

Global Covid-19 cases have risen for the sixth consecutive week, according to the World Health Organization’s Weekly Epidemiological Update on Tuesday.

Brazil, along with the US, Turkey and France followed India in the highest number of new Covid-19 cases reported globally. 

Read the full story here:

6:35 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Philippines man allegedly dies after "pumping exercises" punishment for breaking Covid-19 rules

From CNN's Pauline Lockwood in Hong Kong

A map shows the location of General Trias in the Philippines.
A map shows the location of General Trias in the Philippines. Google

An investigation has been launched in the Philippines following the death of a man who is said to have been forced to do “pumping exercises” as a punishment for breaking Covid-19 curfew rules, CNN affiliate CNN Philippines reports. 

According to his family, those exercises -- a pumping motion similar to squats -- were performed by 28-year-old Darren Manaog Peñaredondo after he went out on April 1 to buy water during curfew hours in Cavite, under lockdown due to a surge of coronavirus infections.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the mayor of General Trias town have ordered an investigation into his death, according to CNN Philippines.

He said they were told to do pumping 100 times. They needed to be synchronized so they kept repeating it and ended up doing 300,” CNN Philippines reports his family as saying.

Peñaredondo's family said that he "started to convulse on Saturday," but that they were able to revive him at home. "Then his body failed so we revived him again, but he was already comatose. He died at 10 p.m. He also said he fell several times while they were asked to do pumping exercises.”

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, who is leading the investigation, told CNN Philippines that all police officers who are proven to have violated the law "will be prosecuted and meted with appropriate [administrative] and criminal penalties."

Some context: Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report in March calling on Philippine authorities to “respect the basic rights of people detained for violating the government’s Covid-19 regulations.” 

HRW says some local officials in Santa Cruz town in Laguna province, “admitted locking up five youths inside a dog cage on March 20," while other officials in Parañaque, a city within Metro Manila, forced curfew violators “to sit in the intense midday sun after their arrest." The rights group added that the officials claimed they only put them there temporarily because they had no place to hold them.

Hundreds of people have been arrested in Manila since President Rodrigo Duterte put the main Philippine island of Luzon under lockdown on March 16, according to HRW. Most of the arrests were for violating curfew but some are for violating “social distancing” and quarantine regulations.

Millions of people in the Philippines were forced to spend Easter at home this year, with all religious gatherings banned in the capital and nearby provinces of the majority Catholic country.

Read more here:

6:01 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

South Korea greenlights Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine as health officials warn of possibility of fourth wave 

From CNN’s Gawon Bae in Seoul

South Korea granted a conditional approval for Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday, according to the country's Food and Drug Safety Ministry.

One round of 0.5ml of the Johnson & Johnson's vaccine can be administered to people aged 18 or older.

Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is the third Covid-19 vaccine to be approved in South Korea, after AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech.

Food and Drug Safety Minister Kim Ganglip said the approval came after the ministry’s thorough verification process of the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness, and added that it will cooperate with the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) to strictly monitor and response to adverse reactions.

Earlier, a Senior Health Ministry official warned of the increasing possibility the country was heading into a fourth Covid-19 wave after the nation reported 668 new cases from Tuesday, the biggest daily jump since January 8.

During a briefing Wednesday, Yoon Tae-ho cited South Koreans' exhaustion from the third wave as a factor for the recent surge in new cases. 

The health official urged people to cancel unnecessary meetings, comply with the fundamental virus control measures and actively receive a Covid-19 vaccine to help prevent a fourth wave.

Yoon added that South Korea has sufficient hospital beds to respond to around 1,000 Covid-19 patients for about 20 days and is preparing additional beds.

Numbers rise once more: South Korea saw 653 new local transmissions and 15 imported cases from Tuesday, according to a KDCA press release. Of the new cases, 413 were from Seoul Metropolitan area, 61 from Daejeon and 38 from Busan.

South Korea's total confirmed Covid-19 cases stands at 106,898 and the death toll at 1,756.

As of Wednesday, a total of 1,039,066 people have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and 33,414 people got the second dose, the KDCA press release said.

5:17 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Osaka cancels Olympic Torch Relay on public roads

From CNN’s Junko Ogura in Tokyo

Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura meets the press at the prefectural government office in Japan, on April 7.
Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura meets the press at the prefectural government office in Japan, on April 7. Kyodo News/Getty Images

The governor of Japan's Osaka prefecture has said he will not allow Olympic torchbearers to run on public streets as planned next week after a surge in Covid-19 infections prompts officials to declare a state of medical emergency.

Osaka prefectural government reported a record high of 878 daily new coronavirus cases on Wednesday. Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said the speed of infection is “very fast” and the infection rate “very high.” 

The number of daily new cases increased four times faster this week than before. The medical system is at a very severe level,” he said in a news conference on Wednesday. 

Yoshimura said that due to the rise in cases, the Olympic Torch Relay in the prefecture could not go ahead as planned. He said the prefecture is discussing holding the event at an alternative location -- at the Expo ’70 Commemorative park in Suita city without spectators -- with the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee.

Osaka prefecture was set to hold the Tokyo Olympic torch relay on April 14. 

Yoshimura also warned that Osaka Prefecture’s hospital bed occupancy rate could soon surpass 70% and asked residents in the prefecture to avoid non-essential outings. 

Some background: At the Osaka COVID-19 task force, data shows more contagious variants of the coronavirus make up around half of infections since the end of March.

This is not the first medical emergency announced in Osaka. Japan's central government declared a state of emergency due to the pandemic for several prefectures including Osaka on December 3. It was lifted at the end of February.

Japan’s capital Tokyo also reported 555 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday.

Read more about the challenges Japan has faced holding the Olympic Torch Relay here: