April 26 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Kara Fox and Niamh Kennedy, CNN

Updated 0651 GMT (1451 HKT) April 27, 2021
15 Posts
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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.

8:32 a.m. ET, April 26, 2021

Biden will announce new US guidance for wearing masks outdoors tomorrow, sources say

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins 

Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images
Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images

President Biden is expected to announce Tuesday that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance for wearing masks outdoors, CNN has learned. 

Ahead of his first address to Congress Wednesday, the President will give remarks on the state of the pandemic Tuesday.

Three people familiar with the expected announcement said Biden will announce new CDC guidance on whether vaccinated people need to wear masks outdoors, though the final language of the expected announcement is still unclear. 

One of Biden’s top coronavirus advisers, Dr. Anthony Fauci, strongly hinted to CNN that the guidance would be updated this week, telling CNN’s Jim Acosta Sunday he didn’t want to get ahead of the CDC but they “will be coming out with updating their guidelines of what people who are vaccinated can do and even some who are not vaccinated.”

A November review in the Journal of Infectious Diseases found that the odds of viral transmission are 18.7 times greater indoors than out, and less than 10% of Covid-19 infections studied occurred outside. Despite that, several states still have outdoor mask mandates in place. 

7:51 a.m. ET, April 26, 2021

India recalls retired military medical personnel to help battle Covid-19 surge

From Esha Mitra in New Delhi

All medical personnel from the armed forces who have retired in the last two years are being recalled to work in Covid-19 facilities in India, according to a press release from the Prime Minister’s office on Monday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the measures being taken by the armed forces to aid the ongoing fight against Covid-19, the statement added.

The news comes as the country reported 352,991 new cases and 2,812 virus-related deaths on Monday, marking the world's highest daily caseload for the fifth straight day.

All medical staff deployed at various army and navy headquarters will also be re-deployed to hospitals, and oxygen cylinders available with armed forces will be released for medical use, the Prime Minister was briefed by the Chief of Defense staff.

The Indian Air Force is also helping transport oxygen tanks as a way to help reduce transport time between states, Modi said Friday.

“The CDS (Chief of the Defence Staff) also said that they are creating medical facilities in large numbers and, where possible, military medical infrastructure will be made available to civilians,” the prime minister's office statement also said on Monday.

7:42 a.m. ET, April 26, 2021

Is Europe opening up summer travel for vaccinated US citizens?

From CNN’s James Frater and Pierre Bairin

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that fully vaccinated Americans would be able to travel to the European Union this summer in a Sunday interview with the New York Times.

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,. 

For example, Greece -- who earlier this month lifted quarantine requirements for vaccinated travelers and those testing negative for Covid-19 from key tourism markets, including Europe, the UK and the United States -- is able to waive its rules because it is within Greece's powers to do so. 

But other European countries, like Belgium for example, have decided to introduce additional criteria at its external borders for all travelers. 

As it stands, if you are outside the EU and want to make a non-essential journey to an EU country that has opened, there are a few more hurdles to cross: 

  • You will need to apply for a vaccine certificate from the country you are travelling to before you travel.
  • The vaccine certificate you were given by your home country will need to be recognised by the EU country you are travelling to.
  • You will need to take a coronavirus test in-line with the rules set by the country you are travelling to.

Some countries may waive all, or some of these rules, or set stricter criteria.

Plus, while a Digital Green Certificate, or vaccine passport, has been recommended by the European Commission, they have not yet been adopted – and countries will be able to opt out. 

The proposed Digital Green Certificate would allow those with the required armfuls of approved anti-Covid pharmaceuticals or antibodies from having had the virus, to travel freely. Negative tests could also be used to qualify.

The certificates were initially recommended by the commission only for EU citizens travelling within the EU, with a plan to launch them in June. However, EU spokesperson Adalbert Jahnz told CNN that discussions with the US are underway to open the certificates up to US citizens with proof of vaccination to automatically be eligible for one.

The on-going talks are focused around how US citizens would be able to apply for the certificate.  

The question is if people will apply for an individual application with the country they intend to visit, or if they receive a EU wide pass after the EU country recognizes a non-EU country's vaccine documentation.

“In both cases, the rules for acceptance of proof of vaccination would be the same as for EU nationals: vaccines that have received EU-wide marketing authorization have to be accepted, but Member States can decide to accept other vaccines in addition,” according to the EC's proposal.

7:37 a.m. ET, April 26, 2021

The US needs to send unused AstraZeneca vaccines to India, congressman says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi speaks with CNN on Monday, April 26.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi speaks with CNN on Monday, April 26. CNN

As India faces a devastating second wave of Covid-19 cases, the United States released a statement pledging aid and much-needed medical supplies. However, Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi says it's a good first step but "not enough," adding that the Biden administration needs to send its unused stockpile of AstraZeneca to India.

"We have tens of millions of doses of unused AstraZeneca vaccines sitting in warehouses. We're not going to be using them. And we need to get those out the door to countries like India and other places," he told CNN.

"It makes no sense whatsoever for these things to be sitting on shelves unused here in the United States. Get them out the door right now so that they can save lives."

Krishnamoorthi added that it's not just the right thing to do -- but it would also in US "self-interests."

"The covid fires are raging ... and we need to put out the fires where they are or it will come back to burn us here and start another wave of Covid in the United States," he said Monday.
Of the several mutations of Covid-19 in existence, “it only takes one of them to overpower the vaccines that we have here in the United States," Krishnamoorthi said, underlining the risk of not helping India in its current Covid-19 crisis.

Some background: India's second wave of Covid-19 is killing thousands each day, with more than a million new cases recorded in just three days. On Monday, the country reported 352,991 new cases and 2,812 virus-related deaths, marking the world's highest daily caseload for the fifth straight day.

Watch the interview: