April 8 coronavirus news

By Adam Renton, Martin Goillandeau, Luke McGee, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 0719 GMT (1519 HKT) April 9, 2021
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12:01 p.m. ET, April 8, 2021

Man held in custody after failed bomb attempt on Netherlands vaccine center

From CNN’s Chloe Adams and Vasco Cotovio

A man is being held in custody in the Netherlands after plotting to blow up a vaccine center, a spokesperson for the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (OM) told CNN on Thursday. 

Police arrested the 37-year-old man on March 18 on suspicion of preparing a terrorist attack on the former town hall of Den Helder on the Drs. F. Bijlweg. The building has been in use as a coronavirus vaccination center since March 8.

The police investigation so far has revealed the suspect, from Den Helder in North Holland, intended to cause an explosion with a firework bomb, according to the Public Prosecution Service, which classified the actions as an act of terror.

Speaking to CNN on Thursday, OM said the suspect tried to sabotage a crucial government process, namely the nationally coordinated vaccination program, in an "extremely violent way." 

"This has also put public health at risk, the fewer people that can be vaccinated, the more victims the virus will make."
"With his actions, the suspect intended to terrify the population and to disrupt the economic and social structures of the country." OM said, adding “To sabotage the country’s coordinated vaccination program is a very severe crime.” 

The man has been detained since his arrest and will be remanded in custody for at least 90 days while police gathered more information, the spokesperson said. He will appear later for trial.

An investigation is also being carried out into possible co-suspects.

Correction: A previous version of this post stated the man had been found guilty. A verdict has not yet been made in the case.

12:26 p.m. ET, April 8, 2021

EU on track for herd immunity by mid-July, EU vaccine chief says

From CNN's Rob North

The European Union's vaccine chief Thierry Breton speaks during a press conference in Brussels, Belgium, on March 17.
The European Union's vaccine chief Thierry Breton speaks during a press conference in Brussels, Belgium, on March 17. John Thys/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The European Union is on track for herd immunity by mid-July, the EU’s vaccine chief Thierry Breton told CNN.

“We now have 53 factories, seven days a week, and I will tell you today, that we will deliver the number of doses which will be necessary to achieve 70% of the population being vaccinated by mid-July.”

He insisted the EU was working extremely hard to make this happen and said it was possible. Once the doses are produced, it is up to each member state to administer the vaccines, Breton said, adding that he was in contact with all EU countries who are “doing the right things” to make sure people will get vaccinated.

Breton said he had confidence in the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying it is a “good vaccine,” adding, it’s “extremely important that all of our fellow citizens understand that we are extremely cautious…and when we give it (a vaccine) the green light, we can go.”

Asked whether the EU would use Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, he said approval was in the hands of European medical regulators. But he said even if it was approved, it wouldn’t change the situation in Europe immediately.

“Our citizens believed maybe at the beginning that you order and you get, the following day, the vaccine. No it doesn’t happen like that, you need at least 10 to 12 months to transform the facility to adapt to the vaccine. When it will be approved, you will need maybe another 10 months,” he explained.

Watch Thierry Breton's full interview on CNN's First Move with Julia Chatterley here:

10:00 a.m. ET, April 8, 2021

Chile authorizes 1.8 million doses of CanSino vaccine 

From CNN's Florencia Trucco and Jaide Garcia

Chile's Institute of Public Health authorized the emergency use of the new CanSino Biologics vaccine on Wednesday, according to a statement from the Health Ministry.

President Sebastián Piñera highlighted the need for the acquisition of 1.8 million single doses from the Chinese-Canadian laboratory CanSino, and said the vaccinations would take place between April and May.   

"If we all give the best of ourselves and act with a united spirit, a willingness to collaborate and a sense of urgency, we can avoid this tragic dilemma," the President said. 

Chile already uses vaccines from Sinovac, Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca. It has vaccinated 7,111,354 people so far, of which 4,192,320 have received the complete dosage.

There have been 1,043,022 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 23,796 deaths associated with the disease, according to the latest figures by Chilean health authorities. 

9:52 a.m. ET, April 8, 2021

French government seeing "encouraging signs" after partial lockdown, but hospitalizations still on the rise

CNN’s Antonella Francini in Paris

A person walks through an empty street after curfew in Marseille, France, on April 2.
A person walks through an empty street after curfew in Marseille, France, on April 2. Daniel Cole/AP

France is beginning to see encouraging signs after the latest lockdown measures aimed at curbing the surge in Covid-19 infections, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Thursday during his weekly press conference.  

“We have encouraging signs in the 16 departments where we had imposed restrictive measures,” Attal said. “The measures seem to be working.”

The restrictions — extended to the rest of France since Saturday — allow individuals to go outdoors to walk or exercise, but they cannot go further than 10km from their home or travel between regions without a valid reason. There’s also a nationwide curfew at 7 p.m. CET.  

“The virus still circulates strongly”, Attal said. “There are 400 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the country”.
“More than 31,000 patients are currently hospitalized, including 5,746 in ICU units”, he added. “This figure should continue to increase in the coming days.”

The number of hospitalizations is still on the rise. On Wednesday, the number of people in intensive care units (ICU) with Covid-19 in France reached a new 2021 record of 5,729 people, according to official data. 

The last time France had seen a higher number of patients in ICUs was nearly a year ago on April 19, 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic.

According to the Health Ministry, 3,362,472 people have been fully vaccinated in France and 9,797,957 have received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. 

10:09 a.m. ET, April 8, 2021

Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar leaves hospital following Covid-19 treatment

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok in London

Sachin Tendulkar in Berlin in February 2020.
Sachin Tendulkar in Berlin in February 2020. Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar been released from hospital but will remain in isolation at home following treatment for Covid-19, according to a statement posted on his official Twitter account on Thursday.

In the tweet, Tendulkar wrote: “I have just come home from the hospital and will remain isolated while continuing to rest and recuperate."

 

The 47-year-old was admitted to hospital last week after testing positive for the coronavirus. He was previously quarantining at home after experiencing “mild” symptoms.

Tendulkar retired from professional cricket in 2013 but remains the highest run scorer in Test cricket history and the only player to have scored one hundred international centuries.

 

9:00 a.m. ET, April 8, 2021

Belgian health minister says "no doubt" AstraZenca is a "good vaccine"

From CNN's James Frater

Belgian Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke in Brussels, Belgium, on February 26.
Belgian Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke in Brussels, Belgium, on February 26. Isopix/Shutterstock

Belgian Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke sought to reassure the country about the AstraZeneca vaccine, following a decision to temporarily pause administering it to those aged 18 to 55.

“There is no doubt about that it is a good vaccine. It protects against the disease,” he said.  But he cautioned that it does have side effects, “like any vaccine.” 

The decision by Belgium to suspend using AstraZeneca came after a finding by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that there was a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and “very rare cases of blood clots” but that the benefits of the vaccine continue to out weigh the risks.

"There is no doubt that if you have the choice between vaccination with AstraZeneca or no vaccination, you should get vaccinated immediately with AstraZeneca,” Vandenbroucke emphasized during an interview on VRT Radio 1 Wednesday.

Following the advice of Belgium’s Superior Health Council, Vandenbroucke said the country would now, “use AstraZeneca for the somewhat older people and use the other vaccines earlier for the younger people.”

He added that this was only possible, "Because we have the luxury of choosing from a variety of vaccines and we can spread the risk without impacting our vaccination strategy.”

On the data presented by the EMA to a virtual meeting of European Health Ministers Vandenbroucke said, “We found that EMA actually still had homework,” adding he was not the only Minister to have raised this concern.

“We are not so happy that the EMA has not taken the analysis a little further, namely what is the best choice between the different vaccines for the different age groups

Last month Belgium had decided to continue its vaccination campaign for all people aged over 18 with the AstraZeneca vaccine, while other European countries suspended using the vaccine over blood-clotting concerns pending an investigation by the EMA.

Asked why Belgium had continued when others hadn’t, Vandenbroucke said: "If we had then decided not to use the vaccine anymore, we would have had to turn the campaign upside down. Fortunately we did not do that then, because that would certainly have cost lives.”

9:56 a.m. ET, April 8, 2021

Uruguay's president extends restrictions as country registers record daily Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Florencia Trucco 

Uruguay's President Luis Lacalle Pou arrives for a press conference in Montevideo, Uruguay, on April 7.
Uruguay's President Luis Lacalle Pou arrives for a press conference in Montevideo, Uruguay, on April 7. Matilde Campodonico/AP

Uruguay recorded 3,935 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday – the highest number of new cases since the start of the pandemic. That brings the number of total cases for the country to 126,987, according to the health ministry. 

The country also recorded 40 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total to 1,231. On Monday, Uruguay registered a daily record of 45 deaths. 

"We are going through the worst times of the pandemic these days," Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou said at a news conference Wednesday, in which he extended current measures to control the spread of the virus. 

Lacalle Pou said the measures implemented on March 23, that include the closure of public offices, clubs, gyms, amateur sports practices, as well as public shows, will be extended untl April 30. 

He said the current intensive care unit occupancy rate for the country stands at 74%.

9:14 a.m. ET, April 8, 2021

Requiring vaccinations on cruises can break "logjam" with CDC, Norwegian Cruise Line CEO says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

The Norwegian Jewel cruise ship, operated by Norwegian Cruise Line, is moored near the Port of Long Beach in California on January 29.
The Norwegian Jewel cruise ship, operated by Norwegian Cruise Line, is moored near the Port of Long Beach in California on January 29. Bing Guan/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Norwegian Cruise Line President and CEO Frank Del Rio said that the company is proposing that all passengers and staff be vaccinated in order to start cruises again on July 4. 

“The [US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] has shut us down for over a year now,” he said. “… There are many — if not all — travel, tourism and hospitality venues that are open throughout the country that never shut down or are certainly open today. We want to be treated fairly, we want to be treated just like every other industry. And the CDC is not cooperating up until now.”

CDC guidance on Friday did not give a date by which the agency planned to allow US sailings again for the first time since March 2020. Norwegian, Carnival and Royal Caribbean all suffered massive losses last year, totaling $6.8 billion between them.

“If it takes vaccines to break that logjam with the CDC, that's what we're prepared to do,” Del Rio said to CNN’s Erica Hill.

The cruise line would also require passengers to have a negative coronavirus test before boarding, mandate the wearing of masks indoors and would limit capacity to 60%. The return-to-service proposal was submitted to the CDC on Monday, Del Rio said, but the company has not heard back from the agency yet. 

“If people are not vaccinated, they're not getting on board a Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings vessel. … So we will source vaccines for our crew or else we won't sail,” Del Rio said. 

In the CDC’s technical instructions for Covid-19 mitigation for cruises, there’s a requirement for cruise lines to submit daily reports.

“Do hotels report daily? Do airlines report daily? No one does. Why should the cruise industry be exposed to that kind of draconian requirements? It's just not fair. It's discriminatory, and we hope the CDC comes to the table soon to discuss all these issues because up to now, they haven’t,” Del Rio said. 

Watch more:

8:39 a.m. ET, April 8, 2021

Peru says Brazilian variant has been detected in almost all regions 

From CNN’s Claudia Rebaza

Peru’s Health Ministry reported 314 new deaths due to Covid-19 on Wednesday evening, the highest number since the pandemic started. The country’s death toll reached 53,725. 

At least 9,305 new coronavirus cases were also reported, bringing the total number in the country to 1,607,898. The South American country has averaged over 8,000 cases for the last two weeks, with 12,916 cases being reported on April 1, its highest daily total since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Earlier this week, Health Minister Oscar Ugarte told CNN’s affiliate TV Peru that the Brazilian variant P1 has been identified in almost all regions in the country, particularly in the areas bordering with Brazil. The same variant has been also been detected in almost 40% of the cases in the capital Lima, the Minister reiterated.

The UK variant has been detected but in very few cases, the minister added. 

Peruvians will go to the polls on April 11 to choose a new President as well as 130 members of Congress. 

Voting is mandatory and authorities have increased the number of polling stations, extended voting hours and encouraged voters to cast their votes according to a staggered schedule in order to avoid risks while the country struggles fighting a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Peru has the fifth highest Covid-19 case count in Latin America, after Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Mexico according to data from Johns Hopkins University.