April 27 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Kara Fox and Niamh Kennedy, CNN

Updated 0544 GMT (1344 HKT) April 28, 2021
14 Posts
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11:14 a.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Hospital in Indian city of Surat has only 3 hours worth of oxygen left and 430 Covid-19 patients

From Esha Mitra in New Delhi

The lives of 430 Covid-19 patients at Ashutosh Multi-Specialty Hospital in the city of Surat in the western Indian state of Gujarat are at risk as the hospital has only three hours’ worth of oxygen left, a senior doctor at the hospital told CNN on Tuesday.

“There is a trickle of oxygen that is coming but the rush and the queues of people who take oxygen are so huge that the distribution may take maybe six or eight hours to get supply because the shortage is tremendous,” Dr. Rajivraj Chaudhary of Ashutosh Multispeciality Hospital told CNN.

The hospital’s staff have been “moving from one supplier to another supplier since last night to try to procure additional oxygen,” Chaudhary said. “It's very worrisome," he added.

Chaudhary also told families they might want to move their relatives to another hospital because of the precariously low oxygen supplies, saying “We have told relatives that we are running low on oxygen so if you get any alternative place where oxygen is available we would be happy to help you move them.”

But the situation in Surat’s private hospitals is dire across the board and many of them, including Ashutosh Multispeciality Hospital, have started turning patients away, according to Nirmal Choraria, the chairman of the Indian Medical Association’s Covid-19 Action Committee in Surat.

The entire city has been facing a critical shortage in oxygen since Sunday and its 400 private hospitals are struggling. They require about 110 metric tons of oxygen. On Tuesday, they received 20 or 30 metric tons less than what was needed, Choraria added.

“Supply is not still guaranteed or confirmed,” Choraria said, adding that critical patients throughout the city have been unable to find a hospital bed.

“They are moving from one place to another place...if we can’t improve the situation it will definitely affect the mortality,” Choraria said.

11:16 a.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Wimbledon hopes to have a "minimum" of 25% spectator capacity this year's tournament

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok 

A tennis net is rolled up at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in west London on June 27, 2020.
A tennis net is rolled up at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in west London on June 27, 2020. Bob Martin/AELTC/AFP/Getty Images

Wimbledon organizers said they hope to have a “minimum” of 25% spectator capacity for this summer’s tennis major.

The grass-court Grand Slam was not held in 2020 – the first time since World War II – due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We very much hope 25% is a minimum position from which we can build – it is our absolute desire to enable as many people as possible to safely attend The Championships this year,” Chief Executive Sally Bolton said in a statement Tuesday.

“We will remain flexible as we await the outcome of the government’s Event Research Programme and clarity on the likelihood of restrictions relaxing beyond 21 June,” Bolton added.

All legal limits on social contact in England could be lifted by June 21, providing strict conditions are met, according to UK Prime Minster Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Organizers confirmed ticket prices will remain at 2020 levels and a decision on prize money won’t be made until June. 

This year’s tournament is due to be held from June 28 to July 11.

Organizers also confirmed the championships will become a 14-day tournament from 2022, with matches set to be played on middle Sunday – traditionally a day off at the Wimbledon Championships.

“Thanks to improved grass court technology and maintenance over the past five years or so and other measures, we are comfortable that we are able to look after the courts, most particularly Centre Court, without a full day of rest,” Chairman Ian Hewitt said.

10:13 a.m. ET, April 27, 2021

"We are definitely undercounting" Covid-19 cases and deaths in India, public health expert says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, on April 27.
Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, on April 27. CNN

India has reported more than 300,000 daily Covid-19 cases for six days in a row and yet, Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, says the country is "definitely undercounting" cases and deaths.

"It's very likely that the cases are underestimated because even if we test everybody who is to be tested, we know that the testing actually gives only 60% to 70% positivity rates. And surely, not everybody who needs to be tested is being tested at this point despite very large testing numbers overall. Unless we test much more, we'll still not be able to find how close we are to the [actual] number," he told CNN.

There is reason to believe that the deaths are also underreported, according to Reddy.

Since the surge has resulted in a lot of deaths outside hospitals, "it's difficult to certify them and therefore, the deaths, too, are being undercounted this year substantially, and that's a great cause of concern," he added.

Some background: India is home to the world's worst ongoing coronavirus outbreak. It has reported more than 17.6 million cases since the pandemic began last year. But the real number, experts fear, could be up to 30 times higher — meaning more than half a billion cases. World Health Organization chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan also told CNN she "expects" that there has been undercounting of Covid-19-related cases and deaths.

India needs a "coordinated" lockdown strategy with every state assessing whether it needs a partial or complete lockdown, Reddy said Tuesday, adding that many local governments were "a bit late" on imposing restrictions to stem the spread of the virus.

"But nevertheless, there is urgency now in several states to try and contain the pandemic, both by way of lockdowns or near lockdowns and considerable restrictions on travel as well. It is important that we get both the policy action as well as the public precautions in terms of masking into full play across the country."


9:39 a.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Biden administration expected to announce new CDC mask guidance today 

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Kate Sullivan, 

President Joe Biden walks to a motorcade vehicle after golfing in Wilmington, Delaware, on April 17.
President Joe Biden walks to a motorcade vehicle after golfing in Wilmington, Delaware, on April 17. Patrick Semansky/AP

President Biden is expected to announce Tuesday that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance for wearing masks outdoors, three people familiar with the expected announcement said.

The White House Covid task force will hold a news conference at 12:30 p.m. ET and Biden will deliver remarks at 1:15 p.m. ET on the state of the pandemic.

The 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 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."

The Biden administration is also expected to announce, as early as Tuesday, several other new recommendations for fully vaccinated people in addition to "unmasking outdoors," a federal official told CNN.

The official said the new recommendations "will provide guidelines for activities fully vaccinated people can resume," suggesting a broader list than simply guidelines on masks. The recommendations will also provide guidelines for infection control and prevention in health care settings.

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.

8:41 a.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Covid-19 cases are also surging in India's neighboring Nepal

From journalist Asha Thapa in Kathmandu

A health worker holds an oxygen cylinder inside a Covid-19 hospital ward in Kathmandu, Nepal, on April 26.
A health worker holds an oxygen cylinder inside a Covid-19 hospital ward in Kathmandu, Nepal, on April 26. Niranjan Shrestha/AP

Nepal is facing a surge in Covid-19 cases as its neighbor India is crumbling under a brutal second wave of the pandemic, according to Nepal’s department of health.

Nepal has recorded at least 4,364 new Covid-19 cases so far for Tuesday, up from 3,442 new cases on Monday, with the capital Kathmandu reporting the highest number of infections.

The border city of Nepalgunj in Lumbini province has become a Covid-19 hotspot, according to numbers posted by the Department of Health’s website.

In an effort to curb the spread of the disease, "prohibitory orders," or local lockdowns, have been imposed in cities such as Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur for 15 days, starting at 6 a.m. local time on Thursday.

There have been reports that some tourists were infected at Mount Everest’s base camp but the Nepalese government has denied such reports. 

Mira Acharya, the director of the department of mountaineering Nepal Tourism Board, told CNN that he had not received an official notice regarding potential Covid-19 infections of climbers at base camp.

8:32 a.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Dalai Lama donates to India's Covid-19 relief as a 'token of our solidarity'

From CNN’s Chandler Thornton

The Dalai Lama speaks in Mumbai, India, in December 2018.
The Dalai Lama speaks in Mumbai, India, in December 2018. Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images

The Dalai Lama has donated to the Indian Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund, which was created in March 2020.

“I have been following the continuing challenge that the Covid-19 pandemic has been posing across the world, including in India, with concern," the Dalai Lama said in a statement Tuesday.

“At this critical time, during this alarming Covid-19 surge, I have asked the Dalai Lama Trust to make a donation to the PM-CARES Fund as a token of our solidarity with fellow Indian brothers and sisters," the statement added.

The Dalai Lama also expressed his "deep appreciation" for Covid-19 frontline workers adding:

I pray that the pandemic threat will end soon."

Last May, the Dalai Lama called for a “coordinated global response” to the coronavirus pandemic, calling it the only way to “meet the unprecedented magnitude of the challenges we face."

He urged people to “reach out to each other with compassion” and focus on "what unites us as members of one human family."

This is the Dalai Lama's second donation to the PM-CARES Fund after first donating in March 2020. Neither donation amount was disclosed.

The Dalai Lama lives in exile in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala and received his first dose of a coronavirus vaccine from a local hospital on March 6. 

Dharamsala has been the home of the spiritual leader and the Tibetan government-in-exile since 1960.

8:22 a.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Provinces in Pakistan ban non-urgent surgeries as oxygen supplies run low

From CNN’s Sophia Saifi in Islamabad

A shopkeeper speaks with a customer before refilling oxygen cylinders for Covid-19 patients in Karachi, Pakistan, on April 26.
A shopkeeper speaks with a customer before refilling oxygen cylinders for Covid-19 patients in Karachi, Pakistan, on April 26. Rizwan Tabassum/AFP/Getty Images

In light of depleting oxygen supplies in Pakistan, two provinces in the country have imposed a “complete ban” on elective surgeries in order to manage supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Punjab and Sindh -- which are the two most populous provinces of the country -- released statements on Monday announcing the immediate suspension of non-urgent surgeries in hospitals so that oxygen may be conserved for critically-ill Covid-19 patients.

Included in that suspension are surgeries for tonsillitis, kidney stones, fractures, and hernias as well as cosmetic and eye surgeries. 

Speaking at a press conference, the spokesperson of the army Major General Babar Ifitkhar said that “over 75% of the total oxygen” produced in the country has been allocated for the health sector.

He also stated that oxygen reserved for industrial uses “might have to be reallocated” to the health sector if the present coronavirus situation persisted. 

Pakistan currently has 90,000 active cases of the virus of these active cases, Iftikhar said, with 4,300 patients in critical condition and 570 people on ventilators.

On Monday, Pakistan called in its army to assist police in “enforcing” Covid-19 guidelines amid fears of poor compliance in the population.

There are 51 cities where the virus positivity rate is above 5%, according to the military. 

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a televised address to the nation that he wanted to avoid a lockdown as “to save the livelihoods of the poorest in the country” but that he may be left with “no other option.”

7:19 a.m. ET, April 27, 2021

4,000 Indian patients at risk if oxygen supply in Gujarat city does not increase, senior doctor says

From Esha Mitra in New Delhi

The Indian city of Surat in the western state of Gujarat is rapidly running out of oxygen, Hiral Shah, a senior doctor in the city told CNN Tuesday.

“There are about 4,000 patients in the city who need oxygen, said Shah, president of the Indian Medical Association in Surat. 
"If the supply is not increased, we are afraid it could lead to deaths,” he said.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) in Surat appealed to the Chief Minister of Gujarat on Monday, requesting that oxygen supply to the city be increased. On Tuesday they held a meeting with the city’s administrative officials in an attempt to resolve the crisis, Shah said. 

“If oxygen supply is not restored regularly within next 12 hours then private Covid hospitals will be forced to shut down treating patients,” the IMA said its letter on Monday.

Since then, about 30% of the total oxygen supply has been restored to the city, according to Shah.

Surat requires 230 metric tonnes of oxygen, Shah said, adding that a majority of its supply comes from Jamanagar district in Gujarat, more than 330 miles from Surat.

“The problem is transportation -- it does not reach the city in time,” Shah explained, adding that if the situation persists, hospitals will have to stop taking in patients.

In Ahmedabad, another city in Gujarat, smaller hospitals are struggling to procure enough oxygen for their patients who were quickly turning critical, while bigger, corporate hospitals still have enough oxygen for their patients.

Mona Desai, president of the Ahmedabad Medical Association said:

“Patients are losing their lives because... they are not getting admitted in the ICU, they are waiting in the ambulances, waiting to get admitted, there are no ICUs admitted in any private hospitals...things are bad, really bad...we doctors we feel helpless and frustrated, we want to help but we are helpless."

The state of Gujarat recorded 510,373 cases of coronavirus and 6,486 deaths on Tuesday, according to the Indian Ministry of Health.

According to Desai, however, the death toll in the state is “much higher” than what is being officially reported.

6:59 a.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Australia to vaccinate its Olympic athletes ahead of Tokyo Olympic Games

From CNN’s Sarah Faidell

A person rides by the Olympic symbol in Tokyo on January 25.
A person rides by the Olympic symbol in Tokyo on January 25. Viola Kam/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Australian Olympic athletes and staff heading to Japan for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in July will be granted access to Covid-19 vaccines, Australia’s National Cabinet agreed Tuesday. 

Approximately 2,050 Australians identified by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and Paralympics Australia will be able to take the vaccinations, comprised of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the AstraZeneca vaccine, for those over 50. 

“We want to see our athletes head to Tokyo to compete and then return to Australia safely,” said Greg Hunt, Minister for Health and Aged Care.

Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services and Minister for Sport, said vulnerable Australians remain “an absolute priority” as vaccine rollout continues. 

“This will be a very different Olympics and Paralympics, but our athletes deserve the opportunity to compete,” Colbeck said. 

The vaccine rollout in Australia has been hit with delays, with around 1.78 million doses administered to a population of more than 25 million as of last week.

The AOC welcomed the decision, saying in a media release Tuesday that the move provides comfort for athletes and officials. 

“There will be hundreds of very grateful athletes, coaches and their families relieved to know that their hard work over five years has been worth it. This added layer of assurance is what they were seeking,” AOC CEO Matt Carroll said. 

The Opening Ceremony for the postponed Tokyo 2020 games is set for July 23, 2021.