April 26 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Kara Fox and Niamh Kennedy, CNN

Updated 0651 GMT (1451 HKT) April 27, 2021
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11:47 a.m. ET, April 26, 2021

EU seeks to resume transatlantic travel "as soon as it is safe"

 From CNN’s James Frater, Livia Borghese and Lindsay Isaac

The European Union is seeking to resume “transatlantic travel as soon as it is safe to do so,” and is urging member nations to take a unified approach to opening borders to US citizens. 

EU officials have been “following very closely the progress of vaccination in the United States,” Adalbert Jahnz, spokesperson for the European Commission said at a news conference on Monday, adding that the speedy rollout there is promising in terms of lifting travel restrictions to Americans,

Talks are underway between the EU and the US regarding a possible ‘vaccine passport’ with the European Commission preparing a proposal for member states to “amend the recommendation on the external travel restriction, in order to take into account, the recent developments.”

Jahnz stressed that the lifting of travel restrictions depends on the epidemiological situation in the countries involved. 

“The spread of variants remains a concern which is why from our perspective a coordinated approach on a European level remains essential,” he said. However, the final decision on whether to allow travel to an EU member state will come from each country individually, as decisions about borders are made by the member state, and not the European Commission, according to EU guidelines. 

“This coordinated approach is set out in a Council recommendation, which was agreed by all Member States and it should be followed, which is in the interest of all Member States and of the EU in general, and Member States themselves have underlined the need to have such a common approach,” he said. “Unilateral approaches from our perspective should be avoided.”

Italy welcomed the proposal to open up to non-EU travelers and the tourism minister said in a statement to CNN that it already has plans to start lifting restrictions. Non-EU tourists “will not be obliged to follow the quarantine if they are vaccinated, or immune or with negative swab test, carried out 48 hours prior entry. This rule will become effective very soon,” Massimo Garavaglia said.

12:01 p.m. ET, April 26, 2021

India's Kerala state announces additional restrictions following "alarming surge in Covid-19 cases"

From Esha Mitra in New Delhi

A policeman speaks with commuters during weekend restrictions imposed to curb of coronavirus in Kochi, India, on Sunday, April 25.
A policeman speaks with commuters during weekend restrictions imposed to curb of coronavirus in Kochi, India, on Sunday, April 25. R S Iyer/AP

The Indian state of Kerala, where the country’s first case of coronavirus was found, announced additional restrictions for curtailing the spread of cases on Monday.

“The state is witnessing an alarming surge in Covid-19 cases in all the districts as part of the second wave of the pandemic,” an order from the government of Kerala said.

As part of the restrictions, movie theaters, malls, gymnasiums, swimming pools and bars, among other venues, will remain shut. Only 50 people will be allowed at weddings and religious places as part of orders that will come into force on Tuesday until further notice.

Kerala is one of the five states currently holding elections in India. Officials on election duty will have to provide either a “final vaccination certificate,” that certifies having received both doses, or a negative RTPCR test report, no older than 72 hours.

The Election Commission last week “noted with anguish that many political parties/candidates are still not adhering to prescribed safety norms,” it said in an order that banned public meetings beyond 500 people.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) limited its rallies to "small public gatherings" of 500 people in the state of West Bengal which is also holding elections. Meanwhile opposition party leader Rahul Gandhi of the Indian National Congress had cancelled rallies in the state. 

Kerala has recorded at least 1,405,655 cases of coronavirus including 5,110 deaths, according to Kerala Health Department’s bulletin on Monday.

11:57 a.m. ET, April 26, 2021

Mexico tells India to keep scheduled vaccine shipment to help the spiraling Covid-19 crisis 

From CNN's Karol Suarez

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador speaks during a news conference on April 26, in Mexico City.
Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador speaks during a news conference on April 26, in Mexico City. Berenice Fregoso/GDA/AP

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the country is canceling an upcoming vaccine shipment from India so that India can instead keep the doses.

He said it's a show of solidarity with the South Asian nation amid a spiraling coronavirus crisis there, as seen by record cases, a severe oxygen supply shortage, over-extended intensive care units and inadequate vaccine supply.

"We've expressed our solidarity, the Foreign Ministry did it last week; we had shown our solidarity to President Modi who has been very supportive with Mexico, even personally when I was affected by Covid, he expressed his solidarity, He's a very beloved ruler," Mexico's President said during his daily briefing Monday. 

"When we had a difficult situation, the second wave, they helped us, they sent us AstraZeneca vaccine doses," the president continued. "In the contract we signed, they were supposed to send us another amount of vaccines, and we already told that we would not need them, that we understand their situation, so it's a way to express our solidarity."

India has been badly affected by their second wave of Covid-19. The country reported 352,991 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the fifth consecutive day, registering over 300,000 cases daily, according to health ministry figures. 

10:44 a.m. ET, April 26, 2021

Ireland to send 700 oxygen concentrators to struggling India

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in Dublin

Ireland is to send 700 oxygen concentrators to India as the country continues to grapple with surging coronavirus cases. 

Irish Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announced on Twitter Monday that the “emergency donation” is being made from stocks originally purchased by the Irish health service for “use in a field hospital setting, as part of pandemic preparations.”

An onslaught of coronavirus cases have caused many Indian hospitals to run out of precious oxygen supply.

The devices “draw oxygen from the air and deliver it to the patient at over 90% concentration,” Donnelly said in a tweet.

The transportation of the concentrators is being organized through the EU Civil Protection mechanism in cooperation with Ireland’s overseas aid program, Irish Aid and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs.

Irish Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who is half Indian, said on Twitter Sunday that the Irish government was “assessing a plan to provide oxygen and ventilators to India working with the EU.”

The country is “currently facing a terrible second wave causing suffering beyond our comprehension” Varadkar added.

12:08 p.m. ET, April 26, 2021

Brazil records more Covid-19 deaths in first 4 months of 2021 than all of 2020

From CNN's Marcia Reverdosa

The graves of Covid-19 victims are seen at Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus, Brazil, on April 15.
The graves of Covid-19 victims are seen at Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus, Brazil, on April 15. Michael Dantas/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil recorded more deaths from Covid-19 in the first four months of 2021 than all of 2020. The tipping point was reached Sunday (April 25), according to data from Brazil’s health ministry.

Between Jan. 1 and April 25 of 2021, Brazil recorded 195,848 coronavirus deaths, which exceeds the 194,949 deaths Brazil recorded from March through Dec. 31 of last year. 

Additionally, April of this year is set to be the most lethal in Brazil since the start of the pandemic, with 69,282 confirmed deaths, surpassing the 66,573 in the whole of last month, which had been the deadliest to date.

The surge of new concerning variants in Brazil, the collapse of the health system, the absence of restrictive measures to curb the spread of the disease, the slow pace of vaccination, combined with the lack of coordination by Brazil’s health ministry, are among the multitude of reasons for the severity and worsening of the crisis in the country, according to multiple specialists on the ground, including Brazil’s Fiocruz biomedical research institute. 

Brazil, as of Sunday, surpassed 14.3 million cases and registered 390,797 deaths, the health ministry announced.

Relatives attend the burial of a Covid-19 victim at Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus, Brazil on April 15.
Relatives attend the burial of a Covid-19 victim at Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus, Brazil on April 15. Michael Dantas/AFP/Getty Images

10:09 a.m. ET, April 26, 2021

Italy records 2 cases of the Covid-19 variant first detected in India

From CNN's Livia Borghese

Two cases of the coronavirus variant first detected in India have been identified in Italy, a regional governor said Monday.

Luca Zaia, governor of the Northern region of Veneto, said the cases were found in the village of Bassano and are a father and daughter who recently returned from India. 

On Sunday, Italy banned travelers who were in India in the last 14 days from entering the country. 

Italian residents returning from India need to have a Covid-19 test both at departure and arrival in Italy and must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. 

9:00 a.m. ET, April 26, 2021

EU launches legal action against AstraZeneca for delays to vaccine delivery

From CNN's James Frater in London and Niamh Kennedy in Dublin

A health worker prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination site in Madrid, Spain, on April 22.
A health worker prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination site in Madrid, Spain, on April 22. Guillermo Guterrez Carrascal/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

The legislative arm of the European Union has taken legal action against AstraZeneca over delays to the delivery of its Covid-19 vaccines to the bloc.  

In its lawsuit filed on Friday, the European Commission claims the drug maker breached the “terms of the contract or some terms of the contract have not been respected, and the company has not been in a position to come up with a reliable strategy to ensure timely delivery of doses,” Stefan De Keersmaecker, Health Spokesperson of the European Commission said Monday. 

A statement from AstraZeneca Monday said that the drugmaker “regrets” the EU’s decision to take legal action and believes that “any litigation is without merit.”

AstraZeneca acknowledged the difficulties posed by “very complex negotiations, and manufacturing challenges” but maintained that they have “fully complied with the Advance Purchase Agreement with the European Commission.”

Last Friday, Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly told the Irish parliament that Ireland had joined a European Commission legal action against AstraZeneca over its “complete failure to meet its delivery and contractual agreements for April, May and June.”

Donnelly’s remarks were quickly rebuffed by De Keersmaecker, who told CNN that the “decision to take legal action has not been taken at this point in time."

Speaking Monday, De Keersmaecker changed tack, saying that the EU wants “to make sure that there is a speedy delivery of a sufficient number of doses that European citizens are entitled to, and which have been promised on the basis of the contract.”

All 27 member states are aligned “in support of this procedure” he added. 

European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides wrote on Twitter Monday that the EU’s “priority” is ensuring “COVID19 vaccine deliveries take place to protect the health of the European Union.”

8:23 a.m. ET, April 26, 2021

"The sheer number of patients is just too much," a doctor from Delhi says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Health workers tend to a Covid-19 patient at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital on April 25, in New Delhi, India.
Health workers tend to a Covid-19 patient at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital on April 25, in New Delhi, India. Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

India's capital New Delhi has been reporting acute shortage in oxygen supplies for days as as hospitals and health care infrastructure buckles under a sweeping second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. A Delhi doctor says the situation is "quite bad" due to a "surplus of patients."

"There is quite a big influx of patients from not just nearby areas but from other states as well. That's why it's just overwhelming," said Dr. Abhinav Guliani of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi. "It's the same state everywhere. There is a shortage of medical beds and there's a shortage of medical supplies — not because it's not there in plenty. It's because the sheer number of patients is just too much." 

Guliani, a pulmonologist, also explained that his hospital is about to run out of oxygen supply this weekend because "the requirement has more than doubled."

"Many hospitals do not have oxygen plants. So they have to get oxygen. So [the government] is rerouting the industrial oxygen and getting it to us but it does take a few days. So it should be there," he told CNN.

However, there are Covid-19-positive patients who are staying at home instead of admitting themselves into a hospital and they may find it hard to get an oxygen cylinder because of the spike in demand at hospitals, Dr. Guliani said. 

These patients do not want to go to the hospitals because they are afraid and because emergency rooms are full right now, he added.

Watch the interview:

8:54 a.m. ET, April 26, 2021

Iran's Covid-19 death toll exceeds 70,000 as country battles fourth wave of pandemic

From CNN’s Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran

Relatives of a Covid-19 victim cover the body with soil at Benhesht-e-Masoumeh cemetery in Qom, Iran, on April 4.
Relatives of a Covid-19 victim cover the body with soil at Benhesht-e-Masoumeh cemetery in Qom, Iran, on April 4. Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto/Getty Images

On Monday, Iran reported the highest single daily Covid-19 death toll since the beginning of the pandemic with 496 new deaths -- bringing the country's death total to 70,070. 

The Ministry of Health also reported 21,026 new daily coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the country's total case load to 2,417,230. 

At least 5,244 patients remain hospitalized in ICU, it also reported. 

Iran is suffering a 4th wave of coronavirus, according to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.  

Around 300 cities and towns across the country have been categorized as " red zones" and are in semi-lockdown, with non-essential businesses closed.