April 23 coronavirus news

By Sophie Jeong, Aditi Sangal and Kara Fox, Nicholas Pearce and Philip Wang

Updated 0702 GMT (1502 HKT) April 26, 2021
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9:14 a.m. ET, April 23, 2021

Pakistan calls in army to enforce Covid-19 guidelines as oxygen supplies run low

From CNN’s Sophia Saifi in Islamabad

A worker prepares to fill oxygen cylinders for hospital treatment of Covid-19 patients, at a factory in Peshawar, Pakistan, on April 12.
A worker prepares to fill oxygen cylinders for hospital treatment of Covid-19 patients, at a factory in Peshawar, Pakistan, on April 12. Abdul Majeed/AFP/Getty Images

Pakistan is going to be calling in its army to help the police in “enforcing” Covid-19 guidelines in the country, Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a televised address to the nation on Friday.

Khan said he doesn’t want to lock down the country “to save the livelihoods of the poorest in the country” but due to “a very few number” of people following coronavirus safety guidelines, there could soon be a situation where there will be “no other option” than to enforce a lockdown. 

A fresh series of restrictions will include closing outdoor dining and gyms and changing market opening hours. Schools up to grade 12 will remain closed until after Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, in mid-May.

The announcement comes as Pakistan faces an oxygen shortage, with the national health system facing mounting pressure.

Speaking alongside Khan on Friday, Asad Umar, the head of the National Command Operation Center on coronavirus (NCOC) said that 90% of the country’s oxygen supply has now been used and that an “emergency” situation is pending.

According to the Ministry of Health, the positivity rate of infection acr has been, on average, consistently above 10 percent on average across the country and the health system is currently under pressure. 

Pakistan currently has 101,818 active cases, which is higher than the peak reached in the summer of 2020.

7:30 a.m. ET, April 23, 2021

Germany's controversial 'emergency brake' law will close most of the country from Saturday

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

German Health Minister Jens Spahn takes off his face mask before addressing a press conference in Berlin, Germany, on April 23.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn takes off his face mask before addressing a press conference in Berlin, Germany, on April 23. Tobias Schwarz/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Germany's new “emergency brake” rules to curb the spread of coronavirus for areas with high infection rates will come into force Saturday, Health Minister Jens Spahn said Friday.

The controversial new law gives the national government power to impose lockdowns on states for the first time, ending the patchwork of state-by-state measures. 

The federally imposed shutdown will affect almost all of Germany, with only a few municipalities having low enough levels of transmission to avoid the restrictions.

Demonstrators rally against the German government's proposed coronavirus measures in Berlin, on Wednesday, April 21.
Demonstrators rally against the German government's proposed coronavirus measures in Berlin, on Wednesday, April 21. Markus Schreiber/AP

Spahn’s announcement comes a day after the bill passed the upper house of Parliament.  

The law includes curfews between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. local time, as well as limiting private gatherings, sports and shop openings, in all areas registering more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents in one week. 
Schools will close and return to online lessons if the virus incidence exceeds 165 cases per 100,000 residents.

At the moment Germany's new infection rate is 164 per 100,000 residents.

Speaking at the same press conference as Spahn, Lars Schaade, Deputy Head of Germany's health agency the Robert Koch Institute, said that “infection numbers are still too high,” however “coronavirus case numbers do not appear to be rising as fast.”

But Spahn said Germany's vaccination campaign is gathering pace. 

“One in four Germans will have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by early May,” Spahn said at a Health Ministry press conference in Berlin. 

As of Friday, 18.5 million people have been vaccinated, Spahn said.

Around 22% of Germans have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine and nearly 7% received their second coronavirus vaccine shot.

On Friday, Germany recorded 27,543 new coronavirus infections – a rise of 1,712 cases compared to the same day last week, according to RKI data.

The country's coronavirus deaths stood at 265 within the last 24 hours, bringing the total tally of deaths to 81,158.

6:57 a.m. ET, April 23, 2021

At least 13 Covid-19 patients die in hospital fire in India's Maharashtra state

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

A policeman inspects a burnt-out room at the Vijay Vallabh Hospital in Virar, on the outskirts of Mumbai, after a fire broke out in the hospital's ICU, on Friday, April 23.
A policeman inspects a burnt-out room at the Vijay Vallabh Hospital in Virar, on the outskirts of Mumbai, after a fire broke out in the hospital's ICU, on Friday, April 23. Vinamra Acharekar/AFP/Getty Images

At least 13 patients died after a fire broke out at 3 a.m. local time in a hospital dedicated to Covid-19 patients in Virar, a city north of Mumbai in Maharashtra state, a hospital official said on Friday.

"Suddenly sparks fell from the AC (Air Conditioner) and within two minutes it was on fire," said Dr. Dilip Shah, CEO of Vijay Vallabh hospital.

A short-circuit in an air conditioning unit of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ward caused the fire, initial reports showed, according to Maharashtra State Government Cabinet Minister Eknath Shinde, who visited the hospital Friday.

People inspect an ICU ward after a fire broke out in Vijay Vallabh Covid-19 hospital at Virar, near Mumbai, India, on Friday, April 23.
People inspect an ICU ward after a fire broke out in Vijay Vallabh Covid-19 hospital at Virar, near Mumbai, India, on Friday, April 23. AP

There were a total of 70 patients at the hospital -- of which 17 were in the ICU. The four surviving patients have been moved to another hospital.

"We are making arrangements to shift all patients immediately, we need to save their lives," Minister Shinde said.

The incident comes two days after 24 Covid-19 patients died waiting for oxygen at Zakir Hussain Hospital in the Nashik district of Maharashtra after an accidental oxygen leakage, according to Suraj Mandhare, a senior Nashik district official. 

A high-level committee has been set up to probe the incident and experts are being consulted to ensure such accidents are not repeated, Maharashtra's Health Minister Rajesh Tope told reporters Thursday. 

6:57 a.m. ET, April 23, 2021

More than 50 vaccination sites down in Mumbai due to vaccine shortage

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

More than 50 vaccination centers in Mumbai are not operating on Friday due to a "limited supply of vaccine," the Mumbai Municipal Corporation, BMC, announced on Twitter.

Another 18 sites would be functional until supplies last, it added.

The corporation released a list of vaccination sites in the city, marking those that were not functional.

Some background: As the second wave of Covid-19 cases sweeps India, this is not the first time that Mumbai has had to suspend vaccination drives.

India produces more than 60% of all vaccines sold globally, and is home to the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world's largest vaccine maker. However, as vaccine shortage becomes a problem in the face of this crisis, the Indian government and SII have shifted focus to prioritizing their own citizens.

6:57 a.m. ET, April 23, 2021

Two Indian hospitals receive emergency supplies of oxygen -- but it will only last two hours

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

After writing on Twitter that it had less than an hour's worth of oxygen left for its Covid-19 patients on Friday morning, Max Healthcare, a prominent Indian hospital group, said two of its hospitals in the capital received emergency supplies, but that they would only last two hours.

Public and health officials in New Delhi have been raising the alarm about the acute shortage of oxygen supplies at hospitals, despite the increased allocation of those supplies amid the devastating second wave of the pandemic.

Max Healthcare is one of the medical groups that successfully petitioned the Delhi High Court to divert oxygen supplies to hospitals on Wednesday. The central government has since placed a temporary ban on the use of oxygen for industrial activities and diverted the supplies for medical care. 

Sunil Saggar, CEO of the Shanti Mukand hospital in New Delhi, told local media that six private hospitals in Delhi ran out of oxygen on Thursday, including the Shanti Mukand.

We are a hospital -- we are supposed to give life. If we cannot give oxygen...if the patient comes to the hospital, the patient will die," Saggar said.

A Thursday press statement from the prime minister’s office said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting on Thursday to review oxygen supplies, noting that the demands of 20 Indian states had been met.

The statement added that the government was able to allocate 6,822 metric tons of oxygen, when only 6,785 metric tons had been requested.

The government had been warned of the country’s oxygen shortages back in November when consumption quickly increased during the first phase of the pandemic. 

A parliamentary committee highlighted that oxygen use for medical purposes had increased from 1000 metric tons a day to 3000 metric tons during the pandemic’s previous peak.

Industrial use of oxygen counted for 6000 metric tons before the pandemic, according to the committee's report.

6:57 a.m. ET, April 23, 2021

Images of New Delhi’s mass cremation sites illustrate the brutality of India’s second wave

As India's second deadly wave continues to surge, crematorium grounds in Delhi have been overwhelmed -- with families turning to makeshift mass cremation sites.

The scenes underscore the severity of India's second wave, acutely felt in the capital.

In total, Delhi has recorded a total of 956,348 cases of coronavirus and 13,193 deaths, according to the city's health authority.

On Thursday, Delhi recorded 306 new Covid-19 deaths, according to the Delhi Health Department's evening bulletin. 

With a shortage of hospital and ICU beds, oxygen supply and testing, India’s healthcare system is buckling. Cities across the country are reporting far larger numbers of cremations and burials under coronavirus protocols than official Covid-19 death tolls, according to crematorium and cemetery workers, media and a Reuters review of government data.

A mass cremation of victims who died from coronavirus is seen at a crematorium ground in New Delhi, on April 22.
A mass cremation of victims who died from coronavirus is seen at a crematorium ground in New Delhi, on April 22. Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
A man performs the last rites for his wife who died of Covid-19 during a mass cremation at a crematorium in New Delhi, India on April 20.
A man performs the last rites for his wife who died of Covid-19 during a mass cremation at a crematorium in New Delhi, India on April 20. Anindito Mukherjee/Getty Images
A body waiting for cremation is seen among funeral pyres of Covid-19 victims at a ground that has been converted into a mass crematorium in New Delhi, on April 21.
A body waiting for cremation is seen among funeral pyres of Covid-19 victims at a ground that has been converted into a mass crematorium in New Delhi, on April 21. AP

Nationwide, 332,730 new cases of coronavirus were reported on Friday, bringing the total to more than 16 million cases, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health.

6:56 a.m. ET, April 23, 2021

India's second wave is devastating communities and hospitals across the country. Here's the latest.

Relatives of a patient who died of Covid-19 mourn outside a hospital in Ahmedabad, India, on April 17.
Relatives of a patient who died of Covid-19 mourn outside a hospital in Ahmedabad, India, on April 17. Ajit Solanki/AP

The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in India has devastated lives and completely overwhelmed hospitals and medical resources.

A new global record: India reported 332,730 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, the highest number of daily cases globally for the second day in a row. This brings India's total to more than 16 million cases, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health. The country has added over 1 million cases in four days.

India also reported its highest single-day death toll since the pandemic began, with 2,263 deaths Friday. 

Shortage of oxygen: At least six private hospitals in the Indian capital New Delhi ran out of oxygen Thursday, according to the city's deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia. He added that supplies had not reached New Delhi, even after the central government allocated 480 metric tonnes of oxygen for the capital.

Workers prepare to fill oxygen cylinders for hospital treatment of Covid-19 patients, on the outskirts of Jabalpur, India, on April 18.
Workers prepare to fill oxygen cylinders for hospital treatment of Covid-19 patients, on the outskirts of Jabalpur, India, on April 18. Uma Shankar Mishra/AFP/Getty Images

Health care infrastructure strained: As of Friday morning, there were only 25 ICU beds available in the capital, a Delhi government dashboard showed. The Delhi High Court also revoked a government order on Thursday that required Covid-19 testing labs to provide results in less than 36 hours. The court noted that labs are "refusing and turning away people" due to this and stated that "there is no reason to now require generation of reports positively within 36 hours, particularly when the pandemic is four times larger than what it was last year." 

A black market for medicines has emerged: With Covid-19 cases soaring in India, demand has spiked for Remdesivir. But as hospitals face shortages, black market traders are charging up to 10 times the recommended retail price for for the antiviral drug, despite no clarity on its effectiveness in treating the virus.

Vaccinations are carried out at an indoor stadium in Guwahati, India, on April 22.
Vaccinations are carried out at an indoor stadium in Guwahati, India, on April 22. Biju Boro/AFP/Getty Images

Vaccinations: India has administered 135 millions doses of the Covid-19 vaccine as of Thursday, according to Indian health minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan. Currently, India is only vaccinating its health care workers, front line workers and people aged 45 and above. Starting May 1, it will open up vaccination to everyone 18 and older, which will be its biggest cohort. It is indicated that either this age group will have to get vaccines from state government or buy them from private providers.

6:56 a.m. ET, April 23, 2021

Six New Delhi hospitals run out of oxygen as supplies failed to reach Indian capital

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

A public notice hangs outside Shanti Mukund Hospital on April 22 in New Delhi, India.
A public notice hangs outside Shanti Mukund Hospital on April 22 in New Delhi, India. Amal KS/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

At least six private hospitals in the Indian capital New Delhi ran out of oxygen Thursday, the city's deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said in a letter to the union health minister on Thursday.

Even after the central government allocated 480 metric tonnes of oxygen for the capital on Wednesday, Delhi's advocate informed the Delhi high court on Thursday that the supplies had still not reached the capital. 

"Police and senior officials of administration in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are taking oxygen tankers intended for other states into their custody due to which the oxygen allocated by the central government is unable to reach Delhi," Sisodia said in a letter to union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday. 

On Thursday, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order asking states to not restrict the movement of medical oxygen and the high court also asked for a special corridor to be created for the movement of oxygen, adding that non-compliance with the orders for allocation of oxygen would result in a "grave loss of life."

Delhi recorded 306 deaths from Covid-19 on Thursday, according to the Delhi Health Department's evening bulletin. Delhi has recorded a total of 956,348 cases of coronavirus and 13,193 deaths according to the Delhi Health Department on Thursday evening.

6:56 a.m. ET, April 23, 2021

India tops global daily record for new Covid-19 cases second day in a row

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

A health worker prepares a Covid-19 test sample at a testing centre in Srinagar, India on April 21.
A health worker prepares a Covid-19 test sample at a testing centre in Srinagar, India on April 21. Muzamil Mattoo/NurPhoto/Getty Images

India has reported the highest number of daily coronavirus cases globally for the second day in a row, as the country grapples with a worsening crisis.

On Friday, 332,730 new cases were recorded, bringing India's total to more than 16 million cases, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health. The country has added over 1 million cases in four days.

India also reported its highest single-day death toll since the pandemic began, with 2,263 deaths Friday.

In the capital New Delhi, at least six private hospitals ran out of oxygen Thursday, Delhi's deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said in a letter to union health ministers.

Even after the central government allocated 480 metric tons of oxygen for Delhi Wednesday, Delhi's advocate informed the city's high court Thursday that the supplies had still not reached the capital.

The Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order asking states not to restrict the movement of medical oxygen. The high court also asked for a special corridor to be created for the movement of oxygen.

As of Friday morning, there were only 25 available ICU beds in the capital, a Delhi government dashboard showed.

Later today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be chairing high-level meetings to review the Covid-19 situation in the country.