April 28 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Jessie Yeung, Brett McKeehan, Kara Fox, Melissa Mahtani and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0408 GMT (1208 HKT) April 29, 2021
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9:01 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

US send supplies and aid to India to help with "horrifying" Covid-19 situation

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is pictured during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on April 15, in Washington, DC.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is pictured during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on April 15, in Washington, DC. Susan Walsh/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday that the US and CDC are working to send supplies and assistance to India as it faces a “horrifying” situation with Covid-19.

“The situation there is horrifying,” Walensky told said on ABC’s Good Morning America. “Our hearts go out to the entire country as they’re battling this. We’ve been there before.” 

Walensky said that CDC has had a very close relationship with infectious disease experts with the Ministry of Health in India and that CDC is deploying a strike team this week to assist.

They are also working to send over around 500 canisters of oxygen as a start and working to send supplies as soon as possible. 

8:55 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

England study suggests single dose of coronavirus vaccines can cut household transmission in half

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz in London

A man receives a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary vaccination center set up at the East London Mosque, in London, on April 14.
A man receives a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary vaccination center set up at the East London Mosque, in London, on April 14. Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

A new study by Public Health England (PHE) suggests that a single dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine can reduce transmission by up to half. 

The PHE study, posted Wednesday, looked at more than half a million households and found that contacts had “lower odds of being secondary cases if the index case was vaccinated 14 days or more before testing positive.” 

The study from the PHE — an executive agency of the UK Department of Health tasked with protecting and improving health — has not been peer-reviewed or published.

The study says that, compared to no vaccination, the likelihood of household transmission was 40% to 50% lower for households in which the index cases are vaccinated 21 days or more before testing positive.

The effects were similar for both the AstraZeneca vaccine and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, it said.

However, the protective effect sharply decreases if the vaccination date was closer to the positive test date, the study says.

In all the households, the majority of the initial Covid-19 cases were under the age of 60; in unvaccinated households, there was a high proportion of people age younger than 40.

The PHE study also reported that:

  • In households where the index case was not vaccinated before testing positive, there were 96,898 secondary cases out of 960,765 household contacts (10.1%).
  • There were 196 secondary cases in 3,424 contacts (5.72%) where the index case received the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine 21 days or more before testing positive
  • There were 371 secondary cases in 5,939 contacts (6.25%) where the index case received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine 21 days or more before testing positive.

The study intended to look at transmission among people in the same households, but could also apply to other, similar circumstances.

In a statement on the PHE website, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:

This is terrific news – we already know vaccines save lives and this study is the most comprehensive real-world data showing they also cut transmission of this deadly virus. It further reinforces that vaccines are the best way out of this pandemic as they protect you and they may prevent you from unknowingly infecting someone in your household.”

Prof Deborah Dunn-Walters, chair of the British Society for Immunology Covid-19 Taskforce and professor of immunology at the University of Surrey, told the Science Media Center that the PHE data was "very promising," saying that it "provides further evidence that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccines are effective in reducing transmission of the virus between individuals as well as preventing people getting very ill with disease."

Public health authorities continue to recommend that people do not skip their second dose. Getting two doses of the vaccine will provide the best long-term protection from the virus, according to the UK's national health service.

8:27 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Prince Charles 'deeply saddened' by India's 'tragic' crisis, urges public support

From CNN’s Max Foster and Sharon Braithwaite

Britain's Prince Charles is pictured during a visit to a temporary NHS Covid-19 vaccine clinic in London, on March 9.
Britain's Prince Charles is pictured during a visit to a temporary NHS Covid-19 vaccine clinic in London, on March 9. Ian Vogler/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The Prince of Wales expressed his sadness over the "horrific" Covid-19 situation in India on Wednesday.

"This week, I have been deeply saddened by the tragic images we have all seen as Covid-19 takes its horrific toll in India," Prince Charles said in a message sent to the people of India, in which he urged the public to support the country.

As India has helped others, so now must we help India," he said.

"With support from the Indian diaspora, the British Asian Trust has launched an Emergency Appeal for India to channel this desire to do something about this terrible situation and help save lives. Many members of the diaspora, and others including businesses, trusts and foundations, have already come together behind this appeal. I do hope that even more of us might be able to provide support to help those in India in their time of need," he added.

On Tuesday, India reported its highest daily death toll since the beginning of the pandemic, with 3,293 deaths. India’s coronavirus death toll has now surpassed 200,000 people.

For seven consecutive days, the country has reported more than 300,000 new daily cases.

On Tuesday, a record 360,960 new cases were recorded by health authorities.

8:22 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Delhi mayor requests steady supply of firewood as cremations continue to rise

From Swati Gupta in New Delhi

Workers sort logs of wood to be used on funeral pyres for people who died of Covid-19, at a crematorium on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, on April 22.
Workers sort logs of wood to be used on funeral pyres for people who died of Covid-19, at a crematorium on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, on April 22. Anindito Mukherjee/Getty Images

An increase in cremations following India’s second wave of Covid-19 has prompted the North Delhi mayor to issue a request for a steady supply of firewood.

In a letter, North Delhi Mayor Jai Prakash asked Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to direct the forest department to ensure a steady supply.

 "Kindly give appropriate directions to the forest department so that the crematoriums can continue doing their work uninterrupted and the bereaved families are not put into any kind of trouble," Prakash wrote on Tuesday.

Delhi has been dealing with an unprecedented wave of Covid-19 the past few weeks, with the local government recording 381 deaths in the capital alone on Tuesday. 

Nationwide, India marked the grim milestone of 200,000 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, after reporting a further 3,293 deaths -- a daily record -- on Tuesday.

360,960 new cases were also recorded by the Indian Department of Health on Tuesday, marking the seventh consecutive day of more than 300,000 new cases.

8:19 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

India’s election candidates and officials required to test negative or be vaccinated ahead of vote count

From CNN’s Manveena Suri in New Delhi

People queue to caste their votes during the 6th phase of the legislative assembly election at Boknabandha village, in India's Dinajpur district, on April 22.
People queue to caste their votes during the 6th phase of the legislative assembly election at Boknabandha village, in India's Dinajpur district, on April 22. Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images

India’s Election Commission (IEC) have issued guidelines ordering all polling officials and candidates to provide negative Covid-19 test reports or to be fully vaccinated ahead of the of the counting of state election ballots on May 2.

The move is the latest effort by authorities to control the country's devastating coronavirus outbreak, currently the world's worst.

“No candidates/agents will be allowed inside the counting hall without undergoing RT-PCR/RAT test or without having 2 doses of vaccination against Covid-19 and will have to produce negative RT-PCR report or RAT report or vaccination reports within 48 hours of start of counting,” read the (IEC) guidelines issued Thursday.

In addition, public gatherings have been banned outside counting venues, which must be large enough to maintain social distancing and have proper ventilation, the IEC said . Counting centers must also be disinfected before, during and after the counting.

The temperatures of everyone entering will be checked, and those showing symptoms will not be allowed in, the IEC's guidelines said.

The Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Assam, as well as the union territory of Puducherry, went to the polls on March 27 -- with voting taking place across eight phases and ending on April 29.

All votes are to be counted on May 2, with the results announced on the same day.

On Wednesday, India’s Election Commission banned all victory processions during the day of, and after the counting of votes.

7:17 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

The EU's legal case against AstraZeneca begins

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz and Pierre Bairin

 

Hakim Boularbah, lawyer for the Swedish-British AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company, left, and lawyers of the European Commission attend the hearing concerning the legal action by the European Commission against AstraZeneca at a Brussels courthouse, on April 28.
Hakim Boularbah, lawyer for the Swedish-British AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company, left, and lawyers of the European Commission attend the hearing concerning the legal action by the European Commission against AstraZeneca at a Brussels courthouse, on April 28. François Walschaerts/AFP/Getty Images

A European Union legal case against British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca began in a Belgian court on Wednesday.

The European Union announced Monday that it is suing AstraZeneca over an alleged breach of its vaccine supply contract in a dramatic escalation of a months-long dispute over delivery delays that hampered the rollout of shots across the continent.

The 27 nations of the European Union had ordered 300 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from the drugmaker to be delivered by the end of June, with an option to purchase an additional 100 million. But deliveries of the vaccine repeatedly fell short, sparking a bitter public fight over the terms of the contract.

AstraZeneca said in March it was aiming to send 100 million doses in total to the union in the first half of the year -- just a third of what was expected.

The Belgian court told CNN on Wednesday that the EU's legal case asks whether the company can take measures to catch up on delayed production and delivery to the bloc, as per the contract.

The court is tasked with looking at that request and whether AstraZeneca should be fined if they are unable to comply, a spokeswoman of the Belgian Court of First Instance in Brussels told CNN.

Speaking outside the court on Wednesday, lawyer Hakim Boularbah, who is representing AstraZeneca, said: "The only statement I can make is that AstraZeneca deeply regrets the decision of the European Commission to take this action to court. They hope the dispute will be resolved as soon as possible.”

A lawyer for the commission, Rafaël Jafferali, told cameras outside court that "We made our case in court. We explained the situation. Our comments are for the court.” 

The next court hearing is scheduled for May 26.

The judge, who has not been named, is expected to take three to six weeks to come back with a ruling. 

8:33 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Bangladesh diverts industry oxygen supplies to hospitals for Covid-19 patients

From Salman Saeed in Dhaka and CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

A worker refills cylinders at an oxygen plant in Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 23.
A worker refills cylinders at an oxygen plant in Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 23. Piyas Biswas/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Bangladesh has announced that the country’s oxygen supplies should only be provided to hospitals and clinics as a precautionary measure due to an overall increase in Covid-19 infections across the country, according to the Department of Explosives.

Monira Yesmine, an official from the department, told CNN that the government had sent a notice to various oxygen companies on Friday requiring them to suspend oxygen supply for industrial use and provide it only to hospitals and clinics instead “due to increased cases of Covid-19 patients in the nation and fear of oxygen shortage.”

The move comes as hospitals in neighboring India have been plagued by oxygen shortages as cases continue to surge on the subcontinent.

India has taken a similar approach to commercial oxygen supply, with its government temporarily banning the supply of oxygen for industrial use from April 22.

Dr. Supriyo Sarker, Program Manager of Bangladesh's Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) told CNN that Bangladesh received its last oxygen supply shipment from India on April 21. 

Sarker said that currently, the main challenges in the country's health system "are shortage of manpower, bed and ICU capacity and the oxygen supply for Covid-19 patients.”

He noted however, that over the last few days, a drop in case numbers had been reported, and that oxygen was still in reserve.

"If the infection doesn’t increase any further, we won’t face a big problem," he said, underscoring the government's precautionary stance.

The country’s Health Minister Zahid Maleque said the country is unlikely to face a crisis of medical oxygen given the current number of coronavirus patients receiving treatment in hospitals.

On vaccines, Bangladesh is currently seeking more doses amid a current shortage after the Indian government’s decision to halt its exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the midst of its own crisis dealt a blow to the country's rollout plans.

Bangladesh recorded 3,031 additional daily cases on Tuesday, according to the DGHS, raising the national confirmed cases to 751,659.

The country's death toll stood at 11,228 on Tuesday.

6:11 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Indian prime minister’s aunt dies from Covid-19

From Manveena Suri and Diksha Madhok in New Delhi and CNN's Chandler Thornton

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public rally in North 24 Parganas, India, on April 12.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public rally in North 24 Parganas, India, on April 12. Samir Jana/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's aunt has become the latest casualty of the country’s devastating coronavirus outbreak.  

Narmadaben Modi, died Tuesday after contracting Covid-19, according to the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency, attributing family members.

The 80-year-old was undergoing treatment for the virus when she died in hospital, PTI said.

"Our aunt Narmadaben was admitted to the civil hospital some ten days ago after her condition deteriorated following coronavirus infection," said Modi's younger brother, Prahlad Modi, according to PTI. "She breathed her last at the hospital today," he added.

The prime minister, who has yet to publicly comment on his aunt's death, has been heavily criticized in recent weeks over his handling of India’s coronavirus crisis -- currently the world's worst outbreak.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has continued to hold rallies for municipal elections in spite of surging coronavirus cases across India. Campaigning for municipal elections is underway in southern Telangana state, with images posted by the official BJP Telangana account on Monday showing crowds of people gathered at rallies in Greater Warangal Municipal Corporation -- with many of them not wearing masks or adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Earlier this month, the Indian government attempted to assuage criticism of Modi by asking social media networks including Twitter and Facebook to remove around 100 posts critical of Modi's Covid-19 response.  

India’s coronavirus death toll has now surpassed 200,000 people after the country reported a further 3,293 deaths on Tuesday -- its highest daily death toll thus far.

A record 360,960 new cases were recorded by health authorities on Tuesday, making it the seventh consecutive day of more than 300,000 new cases being recorded.

5:58 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

People in the UK might be able to travel internationally from mid-May using the NHS app

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite and Lindsay Isaac in London

Passengers are escorted through an arrivals area towards buses destined for quarantine hotels, after landing at Heathrow airport in London, on April 23, as travel restrictions remain in place.
Passengers are escorted through an arrivals area towards buses destined for quarantine hotels, after landing at Heathrow airport in London, on April 23, as travel restrictions remain in place. Leon Neal/Getty Images

The UK transport secretary said Wednesday that the country's National Health Service (NHS) app will be used as a certificate for international travel, noting that the earliest possible date to "unlock" international travel would be in mid-May.

Under current coronavirus restrictions, it is currently illegal to travel abroad from the UK for holidays.

The existing NHS app is being “re-deployed” to be able to “show you've had a vaccine or you've had testing,” Grant Shapps told UK broadcaster SKY.  

The UK government is expected to set out this week which countries people in the UK can travel to this summer.

Shapps said he will set out "towards the beginning of May" which countries fall into the various different categories of a "traffic light" system recently announced by the UK government.

Under the "cautious" plan, countries will be classified as red, amber or green -- depending on their pandemic situation.

Countries included in the green list will be ones "where you'll be able to go to without needing to quarantine on your return," Shapps said.

He added that travelers will still need to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test and another one on return.

The earliest possible date to "unlock" international travel is May 17, Shapps said, and that "so far the data does continue to look good from a UK perspective, notwithstanding those concerns about where people might be travelling to and making sure we're protected from the disease being reimported."

The transport secretary added that he is working with "partners across the world to make sure that [the NHS] system can be internationally recognized, as that's the way forward," and that at an upcoming meeting of the G7 secretaries of state for transport, he would be discussing the subject with his counterparts, including transport secretaries from the US and Canada.