October 15 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Angela Dewan, Melissa Mahtani and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, October 16, 2020
21 Posts
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8:03 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

About 80% of European countries are seeing growth in Covid-19 cases, WHO official says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

The World Health Organization's Maria Van Kerkhove addressed the surge in coronavirus cases in Europe while speaking on CNN's "New Day" this morning.

“About 80% of countries across the European regions are seeing a growth right now. But the thing that we need to really understand…is many of the countries have brought these pandemics, these outbreaks, under control and they can do it again,” she said.

She advocated for unity in fighting the virus and for people to adhere to guidelines in hotspot areas.

 “We are in a completely different situation than we were in a few months ago. We know so much more about this virus, how to control the virus. We need to stay focused, we need to have unity across the region, across the world, in fact, to be able to apply the tools that we have at hand where we can bring these outbreaks under control,” she said. 

8:01 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

WHO epidemiologist says herd immunity strategy is "dangerous"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

The World Health Organization’s Maria Van Kerkhove underscored that herd immunity is a “dangerous” approach in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.  

“Herd immunity, as an approach, by letting the virus circulate, is dangerous. It leads to unnecessary cases and it leads to unnecessary deaths,” she said on CNN’s “New Day.”

“This is not a strategy for this virus,” Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist who is the coronavirus technical lead at the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, added.

Some background: White House senior administration officials discussed a controversial declaration written by scientists that advocates for herd immunity in a call with reporters on Monday.

Watch more:

7:49 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

London and Paris bring in strict rules as cases surge across Europe

From CNN's Emma Reynolds, Eva Tapiero and Amy Cassidy

Pedestrians pass signage displaying the current coronavirus alert level in London, on Thursday, October 15.
Pedestrians pass signage displaying the current coronavirus alert level in London, on Thursday, October 15. Simon Dawson/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Two of Europe's biggest capitals are in trouble as Paris imposed overnight curfews and London considered banning people from meeting indoors to combat the spread of coronavirus.

The French capital and the cities of Aix-Marseille, Grenoble, Montpellier, Toulouse, Saint Etienne, Lille, Rouen and Lyon will face a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew starting at midnight on Friday, President Emmanuel Macron announced.

The aim is to reduce private contacts, which are the most dangerous contacts," Macron said Wednesday.

Violating the nighttime curfew will carry a fine of 135 euros (about $160) for a first offense, and 1500 euros ($1,760) if the offense is repeated.

France reported 22,591 new cases and 95 deaths on Wednesday, bringing its total to 779,063 cases and 33,037 deaths.

London will move to the Tier 2 "high alert" level of coronavirus restrictions on Saturday, Mayor Sadiq Khan announced in a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday.

It means Londoners will be banned from mixing with other households indoors in any setting, including in pubs and restaurants. They should also avoid using public transport where possible.

Read the full story here.

6:11 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Painful winter ahead in London as new restrictions expected

From CNN's Nada Bashir and Angela Dewan

London mayor Sadiq Khan arrives at City Hall in London, after urging ministers to extend regional coronavirus restrictions over the capital, on September 21.
London mayor Sadiq Khan arrives at City Hall in London, after urging ministers to extend regional coronavirus restrictions over the capital, on September 21. Stefan Rousseau/PA Images/Getty Images

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Thursday that he expected the UK government to impose new restrictions in the British capital and warned that millions of residents in the British capital "we've got a difficult winter ahead."

Khan said he expected the UK government to move London up a level in its three-tier restrictions system from "Medium" to the "High," the second tier, which means people from different households can no longer meet indoors — including homes, pubs and restaurants.

Groups of six from different households can still meet outdoors, and pubs and restuarnats will be allowed to remain open until 10 p.m., as is currently the case.

"This is deemed to be necessary in order to protect Londoners," Khan said in a televised statement Thursday.

“I must warn Londoners that we’ve got a difficult winter ahead. But just as we’ve always done through our city’s great history, I know that we’ll get through this dark time by pulling together.”

Khan criticized the UK government's test, track and trace program as a failure.

"I believe we also need action on a national scale, just as the government’s own scientific advisers have recommended. That is why I will continue to call for a short national circuit breaker." 

The British government ignored the advice of a scientific advisory team to implement a two-week lockdown, known as a circuit breaker, to slow the spread of the virus and prevent thousands of deaths.

5:57 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Russia reports record number of daily deaths

From CNN's Mary Ilyushina

A member of the medical staff works in an intensive care unit for COVID-19 patients at the Clinical Research Center of the Russian Federal Biomedical Agency (FMBA) in Moscow, on October 14.
A member of the medical staff works in an intensive care unit for COVID-19 patients at the Clinical Research Center of the Russian Federal Biomedical Agency (FMBA) in Moscow, on October 14. Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS/Getty Images

Russia has reported a record daily death count as the country battles a new surge in infections.

Russia's coronavirus response center said Thursday that 286 people had died in the past 24 hours and confirmed 13,754 new cases.

Russia is experiencing a streak of record-high daily infection increases, with health officials reporting totals at around 2,000 cases a day more than it did during the spring peak.

More than 1.3 million people in Russia have had confirmed infections.

4:56 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Hong Kong and Singapore to set up a "travel bubble" as Covid cases fall

From CNN's Jessie Yeung in Hong Kong

Hong Kong and Singapore plan to open an "air travel bubble" that allows residents to travel between the two Asian hubs without requiring quarantine or restrictive control measures, authorities announced on Thursday.

Open travel in both the Chinese city and the Southeast Asian country has been suspended for months. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, both governments shut borders and denied entry to most non-residents and short-term visitors. In Hong Kong, returning residents are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine and wear an electronic bracelet to track their location.

But both cities have managed to get their Covid outbreaks under control, and reported low numbers of local infections in the past few months -- which is why they agreed in principle to the travel bubble plan during discussions on Wednesday, according to the statement.

"This is a milestone in our efforts to resume normalcy while fighting against the long-drawn battle of Covid-19," said Edward Yau, Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, in the statement.

Ong Ye Kung, Singapore's Minister for Transport, called it a "significant" move forward.

"It is a safe, careful but significant step forward to revive air travel, and provide a model for future collaboration with other parts of the world," he added.

There isn't yet a launch date for the travel bubble, but details will be fleshed out in the coming weeks, they said.

Read the full story:

7:15 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Herd immunity is not the way out of the coronavirus pandemic, experts say

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

A vaccine is still the best way to bring an end to the Covid-19 pandemic, health experts say, adding that pursuing herd immunity would be dangerous.

The idea of letting the virus run unchecked through communities "misses the basic point that we're all connected," former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Thomas Frieden told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

Frieden was responding to recent efforts to promote herd immunity as an answer to Covid-19. The idea is being pushed by those eager to stop the economic damage the pandemic has caused.

The virus has infected more than 7.9 million people and killed at least 216,872, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

A vaccine could be available to some groups by the end of the year. But some politicians hoping to reverse the economic havoc from the pandemic have embraced the idea of letting the virus spread until enough people have been infected and developed immunity that there is no where for it to spread next.

White House senior administration officials, in a call with reporters Monday, discussed a controversial declaration written by scientists that advocates for such an approach.

But the idea is "a dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence" that risks "significant morbidity and mortality across the whole population," 80 scientists from around the world wrote in an open letter.

"Any infection anywhere is potentially a threat somewhere else because even if you feel fine and get over it with no problems, no long-term consequences, you might spread it to someone who dies from it. And that's what we're seeing all over the country," Frieden said.

It is impossible to keep just the vulnerable protected from the spread, Frieden said. And letting the virus run rampant would likely lead to recurring epidemics because there is no evidence that people are protected long-term after they have been infected, according to the letter.

The best way to achieve widespread immunity, Frieden said, will be through a vaccine.

Read the full story:

Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains herd immunity:

4:20 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

"The prognosis is not good," Czech Prime Minister says as the country battles a new wave of Covid-19

From Tomas Etzler in Prague, Czech Republic

Czech Prime minister Andrej Babis speaks during a news conference at the Austrian chancellery in Vienna, Austria, on September 9.
Czech Prime minister Andrej Babis speaks during a news conference at the Austrian chancellery in Vienna, Austria, on September 9. Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

The Czech Republic identified 9,544 coronavirus cases on Wednesday -- a single-day high -- as countries across Europe struggle to contain new outbreaks of Covid-19.

The Czech Ministry of Health said there are now 77,217 active cases across the country. Czech authorities have identified nearly 140,000 Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began.

"The prognosis is not good, the numbers are very catastrophic," Prime Minister Andrej Babis said Thursday before leaving for the European Summit in Brussels.  

Another 35 coronavirus-related fatalities were registered on Wednesday, bringing the total death toll to 1,172, according to the latest government data. Some 2,678 people remain hospitalized with coronavirus. 

In a video shared on Twitter on Wednesday, the Czech Minister of Health, Roman Prymula, warned that hospitals across the country are nearing their limits. 

"We have to mobilize various stadiums, sport halls, so we can establish beds there. The situation is becoming very serious,” Prymula said. 

4:15 a.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Germany just recorded a daily high number of new Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Fred Pleitgen in Berlin and Martin Goillandeau in London 

A health official manipulates a swab sample at a Covid-19 testing station in Stuttgart, Germany, on October 13.
A health official manipulates a swab sample at a Covid-19 testing station in Stuttgart, Germany, on October 13. Thomas Kienzle/AFP/Getty Images

German authorities identified a single-day high of 6,638 new coronavirus cases, according to data published Thursday by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the country's disease control and prevention agency.

To date, more than 341,000 Covid-19 infections have been identified in Germany since the pandemic began, killing at least 9,710 people. Another 33 Covid-19 deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours, according to the RKI.

A spike in Europe: Thursday marked the highest number of cases identified in a day in Germany since March 28. It is just one of many countries in Europe fighting to contain new outbreaks of Covid-19.

Thousands of cases are being identified in France, where authorities in several cities have begun enacting curfews in an attempt to limit the virus' spread. Numbers are also soaring in the United Kingdom and Italy.