Vaccinated Americans don't need a mask most of the time, CDC says

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 0225 GMT (1025 HKT) May 14, 2021
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7:11 a.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Covid-19 pandemic "could have been prevented" if world had acted sooner, WHO-commissioned report finds

From Sharon Braithwaite in London

The Covid-19 pandemic "could have been prevented" if the world had acted sooner, an independent panel appointed by the World Health Organization and headed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf found on Wednesday.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Sirleaf said:

This is an ongoing disaster that we believe could have been prevented. The evidence shows that an outbreak became a pandemic because of failures, gaps and delays in preparedness and response. This was partly due to a failure to learn from the past."

The panel found that WHO should have declared an emergency sooner and that urgent actions are now needed to prevent another pandemic. The report also said the current national and international systems in place were "not adequate to protect people from COVID-19" and that February 2020 was "a lost month."

It added:

The time it took from the reporting of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown origin in mid-late December 2019 to a Public Health Emergency of International Concern being declared was too long."

The panel urged the international community to prepare for a future outbreak and prevent it from becoming a pandemic. It recommended reforms such as: 

  • A new global system for surveillance based on full transparency should be established.
  • This system would provide the WHO with the authority to publish information about outbreaks with pandemic potential on an immediate basis without needing to seek approval and to dispatch experts to investigate at the shortest possible notice.
  • All governments to invest in national preparedness now as it will be too late when the next public health crisis hits.
6:31 a.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Delhi is seeing a decline in Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

A health worker collects a swab sample for a Covid-19 test at a community center in New Delhi, India, on April 28.
A health worker collects a swab sample for a Covid-19 test at a community center in New Delhi, India, on April 28. Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images

India's union territory of Delhi, which includes the capital New Delhi, is seeing a decrease in its daily new Covid-19 cases, according to according to Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

About 15 days ago, coronavirus cases were rising in Delhi like an incoming “flood” and the positivity rate was up at 35%, Sisodia told reporters at a press conference on Thursday, adding that Delhi was testing between 80,000 to 100,000 people daily and an estimate of 27,000 people were testing positive.

“That has decreased now. As of today, positivity rate is at 14% and the daily number of Covid-19 patients has come down to 10,400,” Sisodia said.

Daily figures from Delhi's health department show a decrease in daily cases since May 7. On May 7, Delhi reported 19,832 new cases and the numbers have decreased every day since. On May 13, Delhi reported 10,400 new cases.

As cases have declined, Sisodia says the demand for oxygen in Delhi has also dropped.

“We have written to the center now and told them that the surplus can be given to other states in need,” he added.

In the past 24-48 hours, Sisodia said that the Delhi government has only received an SOS call for oxygen from "one hospital or so" and it was instantly arranged.

Sisodia also thanked the central government, the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court.

“With their help, Delhi got sufficient amount of oxygen, although 700 MT was only received one day,” he said. “They came forward to help the people of Delhi and that saved thousands of lives in time.”

4:26 a.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Indian authorities cast net in Ganges River after bodies of suspected Covid-19 victims wash ashore

From CNN’s Manveena Suri in New Delhi 

Authorities in India's eastern Bihar state have set up a net across the Ganges River after the bodies of dozens of suspected Covid-19 victims washed ashore.

Dozens of bodies had washed up on the banks of the river in the state's Buxar district on Monday, as a second Covid-19 wave ravages the country and engulfs its health care system.

The following day, authorities recovered a total of 71 bodies but were unable to determine the cause of death due to heavy decomposition.

“A net has been placed in Ganges in Ranighat, bordering UP (Uttar Pradesh) and Bihar. We've advised UP administration to be vigilant; our district admin is keeping vigil too. Advise all to give all respect to those dead, and Maa Ganges (Mother Ganges)," Bihar's Minister for Water Resources, Sanjay Kumar Jha, said in a series of tweets on Tuesday.

He added that the last rites of the 71 bodies had been performed in line with Covid-19 protocols. Authorities have yet to determine why or how the bodies ended up in the river. 

Jha said a postmortem report confirmed the bodies had been in the water for four to five days.

Bihar’s chief minister, Nitish Kumar, has asked officials to “intensify patrolling to ensure this is not repeated," according to Jha. 

Buxar borders India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh. According to district officials, based on the condition of the bodies, it is believed they washed downstream from Uttar Pradesh or Uttarakhand.

The Ganges River flows through the northern states of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh and turns east into the states of Bihar, Jharkhand and finally into West Bengal where it empties out into the Bay of Bengal.

3:58 a.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Thailand reports surge of Covid-19 cases with outbreak from prison clusters

From CNN’s Kocha Olarn in Bangkok

Thailand reported 2,052 community cases of Covid-19 and 32 deaths in the past 24 hours, according to the Ministry of Public Health on Thursday. 

An additional 2,835 people have tested positive at two main prisons in the capital -- the Bangkok Remand Prison and Central Women’s Correctional Institute, according to Thailand’s Corrections Department.

The combined number of 4,887 infections announced by the health ministry on Thursday -- more than half of which are from the Bangkok prisons -- is the largest number of reported infections for Thailand so far. 

CNN cannot yet confirm when the prison cases emerged.

International rights group Human Rights Watch released a statement on Thursday warning Thailand’s “overcrowded prisons and detention facilities are at grave risk from Covid-19 outbreaks.”  

“The Thai government needs to be forthright about the Covid-19 outbreaks in its prison system and how it intends to avoid disastrous consequences for those held,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“Many people warned the Thai authorities that they needed to act proactively to avoid such a situation, but it seems they got caught sleeping at the switch.”  

More than 300,000 inmates are held in prisons across Thailand. 

3:30 a.m. ET, May 13, 2021

New Zealand mulls entry for vaccinated travelers

From CNN’s Angus Watson

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses business leaders who gathered for the Business NZ pre budget lunch in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 13.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses business leaders who gathered for the Business NZ pre budget lunch in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 13. Greg Bowker/Getty Images

New Zealand may open its borders to vaccinated travelers before it has completed its own vaccine rollout, according to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

"Will people who've been vaccinated in other countries be able to come in even if we haven't finished our vaccine rollout? The answer is possibly,” Ardern said in a pre-budget speech on Thursday.

The Prime Minister did not give a date for the decision but she said it would be built on emerging evidence on how effective vaccines are at stemming transmission as well as symptoms of Covid-19.

New Zealand has fully vaccinated 2.5% of its population so far, according to figures from Our World in Data. The government plans to offer the vaccine to adults of all ages from July.

Currently, only New Zealand citizens, permanent residents and travelers from Australia may enter the country, with few exceptions.

On Monday, New Zealand will open a travel bubble with the Cook Islands, before extending the bubble to the Pacific nation of Niue, Ardern said.

“Beyond that we are relatively open-minded, and I do anticipate there will be other countries we can explore opportunities with,” Ardern said.
3:03 a.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Shortages force Indian states to suspend vaccinations for 18 to 44 age group

From CNN’s Manveena Suri in New Delhi

Two Indian states and the union territory of Delhi have suspended Covid-19 vaccinations for people aged 18 to 44 due to shortages.

In Delhi, which encompasses the Indian capital of New Delhi, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Wednesday tweeted: “We are forced to shut down 100 Covaxin vaccination sites in 17 schools due to no supply.”

He blamed the shortages on “vaccine mismanagement” by the central government, adding that India’s decision to export vaccines was its “biggest mistake.”

Alongside the tweet, Sisodia posted a copy of a letter from Bharat Biotech, the manufacturers of the homegrown Covaxin vaccine, which stated due to “an unprecedented demand for our vaccine and in spite of increasing production every month, we are unable to keep up with the demand.”

In southern India, the state of Karnataka suspended vaccinations for the 18 to 44 age group until May 14.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday, the state’s health department said it would use its current supplies to vaccinate those due for a second dose. 

The same decision has been made in western Maharashtra state until it receives more vaccines from the central government or can independently procure more vaccines, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope told CNN on Wednesday.

India launched its vaccination drive on January 16, first prioritizing heath care and frontline workers, followed by people above the age of 60 and those over 45 with existing health conditions. 

On May 1, the drive was extended to include everyone above the age of 18. However, several states failed to do so due to inadequate vaccine supplies.

2:35 a.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Taiwan sees vaccination rush as local Covid cases rise to single-day high of 16

From CNN's Sophie Jeong and Yong Xiong

Taiwan reported 16 new local Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest daily rise since the pandemic began, Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) reported.

Three of the cases are linked to an arcade in northeastern Yilan County, while 10 others are contacts of a case confirmed Tuesday involving a Taiwanese man in his 60s, CNA reported, citing Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung.

The recent spike in cases -- while a drop in the bucket compared to much of the world -- has caused some alarm in Taiwan, with many residents rushing to get vaccinated, according to CNA. 

Taiwan has been hailed for its effective and early response to the virus, becoming one of the first places to record no new cases and going months at a time without infections, which has allowed life on the island to proceed much as normal, albeit with limited overseas travel. 

Vaccination rush: Chen said 11,018 people were vaccinated Tuesday, the highest daily number so far. The figure pushed the total number of residents who have received a vaccine to 112,543, with around 180,000 doses currently remaining. 

Taiwan has a population of more than 23 million. After weeks of concern over low vaccination uptake, Chen said he was now worried stocks may run out, CNA reported. 

The elderly, medical personnel and other emergency or high-risk workers, as well as diplomats, police, care workers and some other professions are currently eligible for vaccination under the government program.

However, anyone not covered who is traveling abroad and wishes to get inoculated can do so by paying 600 New Taiwan dollars ($21) at certain clinics -- around three times the price of government-provided shots. 

Wednesday could prove to be another record vaccination day, with CNA reporting paid slots for hospitals in metropolitan areas were already full as of midday, and some through to near the end of the month. 

Pilot quarantine: On Monday, Chen said Taiwan will quarantine all active pilots working for Taiwanese carrier China Airlines for 14 days amid a recent outbreak of Covid-19 among flight crews and hotel workers. 

Taiwan has reported a total 1,231 Covid-19 cases and 12 related deaths, according to the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control.

6:25 a.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Singapore airport and passenger terminals closed to public after Covid cluster

From CNN’s Sophie Jeong

The Changi Airport in Singapore.
The Changi Airport in Singapore. Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

Singapore airport is closing its passenger terminal buildings to the general public for two weeks following a rising number of Covid-19 cases linked to the facility.

In a joint statement, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and Changi Airport Group said all workers in Changi Airport’s Terminals 1 and 3, and Jewel Changi Airport are undergoing mandatory Covid-19 tests as of May 9.

"This is to quickly detect, isolate and treat any potential Covid-19 cases in the airport community," the statement said, adding the closures were "a precaution."

The closures -- which include the Jewel shopping mall and entertainment complex -- will start from Thursday. The facilities will reopen on May 27.

During this time, the airport will remain open for air travel and passengers can still be dropped off and picked up from the terminals.

"Access to the Passenger Terminal Buildings will be restricted to only passengers with air tickets and essential airport workers. Some essential services and food & beverage outlets will remain open to serve them," CAAS and CAG said.
"For clarity, members of the public will not be allowed to enter the Passenger Terminal Buildings."   

Singapore reported 10 new locally transmitted Covid-19 infections on Wednesday, of which seven cases are linked to an 88-year-old cleaner at Changi Airport Terminal 3, Singapore’s Ministry of Health said. His case was confirmed on May 5, the ministry added.

The country has reported 61,419 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 31 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

1:36 a.m. ET, May 13, 2021

India reports more than 362,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Manveena Suri in New Delhi

India reported 362,727 Covid-19 cases on Thursday, bringing its total infections to 23,703,665, according to figures released by the health ministry.

The country also reported 4,120 fatalities, with the total death toll now at 258,317.

Here's a breakdown of India's recent wave:

  • For over two weeks, the number of deaths recorded per day has exceeded 3,000.
  • On April 22, India recorded what was then the highest daily increase of Covid-19 cases in the world since the start of the pandemic, with 314,835 new infections.
  • Since then, the country has added more than 300,000 cases a day.
  • That includes a record 414,188 new cases on May 7 alone.

Here's how India's vaccination drive is going, according to a news release issued by the health ministry on Wednesday evening:

  • Since January, 177,085,371 vaccine doses have been administered in India.
  • A total of 39,490,489 people have received their second dose.
  • That means just 3% of India’s 1.3 billion population is fully vaccinated.