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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6:34 a.m. ET, April 26, 2021

Restrictions ease in parts of the UK as vaccine rollout gathers speed

From Amy Cassidy in Glasgow and Niamh Kennedy in Dublin

A bar worker prepares customers' drinks at a re-opened Wetherspoons pub in Glasgow on April 26, following the relaxing of some Covid-19 restrictions in Scotland.
A bar worker prepares customers' drinks at a re-opened Wetherspoons pub in Glasgow on April 26, following the relaxing of some Covid-19 restrictions in Scotland. Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images

Coronavirus restrictions have been further eased in Scotland and Wales on Monday as the vaccine rollout continues across the UK.

Friends and families will now be able to gather in larger groups across both countries. 

In Scotland:

  • People can now enjoy a meal or drink outdoors as the hospitality sector partially resumes. 
  • Up to six people from two households can meet in a cafe or a restaurant, where alcohol consumption is permitted outdoors only. 
  • Non-essential shops, gyms, libraries and visitor attractions reopened their doors.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon thanked the public for their patience over the last few months, writing on Twitter: “Best wishes to businesses opening up today. Recent months have been tough, but your sacrifices have helped save lives - thank you."

In Wales:

  • Outdoor dining and drinking has resumed as the hospitality sector partially reopens.
  • Wedding receptions and funerals may now be held outdoors for up to 30 people. 
  • Organised outdoor activities, such as sports, may take place -- up to 30 people. 
  • Outdoor visitor attractions also reopened.
  • Since Saturday, up to six people from six separate households have been allowed to meet outdoors. 

The move follows England’s much anticipated reopening of outdoor hospitality, non essential retail and personal care and indoor leisure facilities on April 12. 

Northern Ireland -- part of the UK -- reopened hairdressers and barbers last week, and will reopen non essential retail and outdoor hospitality on April 30.

More than 60% of adults in Scotland have now received their first vaccine dose as of last week, and more than 50% of adults in Wales as of Sunday.

7:25 a.m. ET, April 26, 2021

India's government asks Twitter to remove posts critical of its handling of the pandemic

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi

The Indian government has asked Twitter to remove several tweets that have criticized its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, according to a statement released on Sunday.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said it had taken the action, “in view of the misuse of social media platforms by certain users to spread fake or misleading information and create panic about the Covid-19 situation in India by using unrelated, old and out of the context images or visuals, communally sensitive posts and misinformation about Covid-19 protocols.”

The government statement said it asked Twitter to remove around 100 posts or URLs, following recommendations from the Ministry of Home Affairs, saying: 

“It is pertinent to mention that at a time, when the entire country is putting up a brave and honest effort to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, certain people are misusing social media to create panic in society.”

“The Government welcomes criticisms, genuine requests for help, as well as suggestions in the collective fight against Covid-19, but it is necessary to take action against those users who are misusing social media during this grave humanitarian crisis for unethical purposes,” the statement said.

The move comes as India's prime minister faces mounting anger as Covid-19 cases and deaths continue to rise, creating a massive public health crisis across the nation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi only addressed the nation on the situation for the first time last week, having held political rallies and largely downplayed the second wave's urgency in the weeks before.

India reported 352,991 new cases and 2,812 virus-related deaths Monday, marking the world's highest daily caseload for the fifth straight day. 

A Twitter spokesperson told CNN on Monday in a statement that it has withheld some of those tweets, following a legal request by the Indian government.

"When we receive a valid legal request, we review it under both Twitter rules and local law," the spokesperson said, adding:

"If the content violates Twitter's rules, the content will be removed from the service. If it is determined to be illegal in a particular jurisdiction, but not in violation of the Twitter rules, we may withhold access to the content in India only.” 

“In all cases, we notify the account holder directly so they’re aware that we’ve received a legal order pertaining to the account," the Twitter statement added.

The requests to withhold content are published on the Lumen database, a Harvard University project.

5:09 a.m. ET, April 26, 2021

Malaysia to rollout AstraZeneca vaccines to people 60 and older

From Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Malaysia will roll out AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to people aged 60 and above, according to state media Bernama News Agency.

Health Minister Adham Baba announced the plan on Monday after saying that the vaccine is "safe."

His comments came after Malaysia received 268,800 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday.

A number of European countries including Spain, Germany and Ireland have limited the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people over 60 following reports of potentially fatal blood clots predominantly among younger people.

Last week, the European Medicines Agency said the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweighed the risks, and added they will continue to review the "very rare cases" of blood clots.

7:25 a.m. ET, April 26, 2021

As India breaks another global Covid-19 record, countries pledge assistance and aid

From CNN's Jessie Yeung

A relative of a person who died of COVID-19 reacts at a crematorium in Jammu, India, on April 25.
A relative of a person who died of COVID-19 reacts at a crematorium in Jammu, India, on April 25. Channi Anand/AP

As India fights a devastating second wave of Covid-19 that is killing thousands each day, international efforts to help tackle the crisis are hastening, with both Britain and the United States pledging aid and much-needed medical supplies.

The second wave, which began in March, has escalated rapidly, with India recording more than a million new cases in just three days. For the past two weeks, medical facilities have been running out of oxygen and ICU beds, with patients left to die at home and outside hospitals waiting for care.

On Monday, India reported 352,991 new cases and 2,812 virus-related deaths, marking the world's highest daily caseload for the fifth straight day.

The situation is particularly dire in the capital New Delhi, which is under lockdown until May 3. The city is facing severe oxygen shortages. Delhi does not produce its own oxygen and relies on resources supplied by the central government, according to Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Several Delhi hospitals tweeted SOS messages over the weekend appealing for oxygen supplies. On Saturday, at least 20 critically ill patients died after oxygen supply was delayed at one Delhi hospital.

In a tweet Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his administration will set up 551 oxygen generation plants "in every district to ensure adequate oxygen availability."

The central government has come under fierce criticism within the country for its handling of the outbreak, which has seen overwhelmed hospitals and residents post pleas on social media for more supplies from state and federal officials. Many have turned to the black market in a desperate attempt to save their loved ones.

Modi only addressed the nation on the situation for the first time last week, having held political rallies and largely downplayed the second wave's urgency in the weeks before.

Read the full story:

2:54 a.m. ET, April 26, 2021

Hong Kong and Singapore travel bubble set to open on May 26

From Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Travelers are seen in the departure hall of Changi International Airport in Singapore, on March 15.
Travelers are seen in the departure hall of Changi International Airport in Singapore, on March 15. Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images

Hong Kong and Singapore are set to begin an air travel bubble on May 26, Hong Kong authorities said in a news release on Monday. 

The scheme will allow visitors to travel between the two cities on dedicated flights without the need for quarantine. 

The plan was first proposed last year but was postponed in November following a rise in Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong. 

“The re-launch of the Air Travel Bubble not only meets the aspirations of the people and business communities on cross-border travel, but also signifies that gradual resumption of cross-border travel is achievable through mutual collaborations among different places,” said Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development. 

To be eligible for the scheme, visitors must not have travel history outside of Hong Kong or Singapore in the past 14 days, and are required to download the destination city's official contact tracing app. Hongkongers wishing to travel to Singapore must also take two doses of Covid-19 vaccines, or submit medical proof they are not suitable to take the vaccines.

The travel bubble will automatically be suspended if the number of untraceable local Covid-19 cases in either city reaches more than five in a seven-day period. A more stringent threshold will also be implemented to ensure the scheme can only resume when the number of untraceable cases in either city remains low. 

"Both sides will need to stay very vigilant in the next one month, so that we can launch the first flights smoothly. It is a significant Air Travel Bubble between two aviation and financial services hubs in Asia," said Ong Ye Kung, Singapore’s Minister for Transport. 

Singapore and Hong Kong are not the only two governments to have had trouble implementing an air travel bubble. Australia and New Zealand finally began their two-way quarantine-free travel bubble on April 19 after multiple attempts were hit by minor coronavirus outbreaks.

7:25 a.m. ET, April 26, 2021

India breaks daily global Covid-19 case record for fifth consecutive day

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi

Members of medical staff wearing protective gear carry the dead body of a Covid-19 victim at a hospital in Amritsar, India on April 24.
Members of medical staff wearing protective gear carry the dead body of a Covid-19 victim at a hospital in Amritsar, India on April 24. Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Iages

India reported 352,991 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, bringing its total to more than 17.3 million infections, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health.

The country’s death toll is also growing quickly, with 2,812 fatalities reported Monday -- marking the tenth straight day of rising figures.

Monday’s tally represents the highest number of cases recorded in a single day anywhere in the world since the pandemic began, according to a CNN tally of figures from John Hopkins University.

This is the fifth day running that India, with a 1.3 billion population, has added more than 300,000 cases a day and topped the global record of new cases.

India has recorded a total of 17,313,163 cases as of Monday, including 195,123 deaths.

Call for help at medical centers: As cases grow, hospitals in the capital region of Delhi have begun tweeting out SOS messages in the face of severe oxygen shortages.

On Sunday, the Park Group of Hospitals, a private hospital group, tweeted, “Gurugram’s Metro Hospital tweets SOS on oxygen shortage, seeks urgent help. Metro Hospital, Palam Vihar by Park Group of Hospitals is on its last leg.”

“INOX (INOX Air Products) commitment to replenish liquid medical oxygen remain unfulfilled. Only 1.5 hours to go. Please help us urgently,” a second tweet read.