January 7 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Zamira Rahim and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:05 a.m. ET, January 8, 2021
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8:19 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

China bans 11 million people from leaving city in Hebei province as health officials try to contain virus outbreak

Police officers wearing protective suits stand guard at the entrance of an expressway on January 6 in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, China.
Police officers wearing protective suits stand guard at the entrance of an expressway on January 6 in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, China. VCG/Getty Images

China has banned 11 million people from leaving the city of Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province in the country's north. The ban came into effect Thursday.

Over 100 new cases were reported Wednesday in the province, which neighbors China's capital Beijing. 

​At a press conference Thursday, Meng Xianghong, deputy mayor of Shijiazhuang, announced a ban on outbound travel for all people and vehicles in the city, except for emergencies.

Gaocheng district in Shijiazhuang had been declared a high-risk area on Wednesday. 

As of noon on Thursday, samples had been collected from a total of 6,109,685 people for mass testing in the city.

Shijiazhuang reported 50 confirmed cases and 67 asymptomatic cases on Wednesday, according to a Thursday update.

7:37 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

South Africa will receive 1.5 million vaccines from January

From CNN’s David McKenzie in Johannesburg 

South Africa will receive 1.5 million Covid-19 vaccines from the Serum Institute of India, the country's health minister Zweli Mkhize announced Thursday.

Mkhize said the first million doses will arrive this month, with the remainder delivered in February.

Vaccination priority in the first round of inoculations will be given to the nation's more than 1 million health care workers, in both the public and private sector.

The Serum Institute is under contract to produce the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. The deal comes after considerable public pressure in South Africa for the government to speed up its vaccine rollout plan as the country suffers through a dramatic second wave of infection driven, in part, by a more infectious variant of the virus. 

One Wednesday, South Africa reported a record of more than 20,000 new confirmed cases. It continues to be the hardest-hit country on the continent, with more than 30,000 Covid-19 deaths. 

“We urge the public to be patient with us as we continue to engage manufacturers. Our commitment remains to save and protect the lives of our people. We will not neglect our responsibility to protect lives and also fight this pandemic,” Mkhize said in a statement Thursday. 

South Africa will rely on the preexisting regulatory approval given to the vaccine by other countries, according to Mkhize. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was approved by the UK drug regulator on December 30.

The South African government has also signed up to the COVAX vaccine facility, which aims to provide global access to effective Covid-19 vaccines.

COVAX is expected to begin its first distribution in the second quarter of this year.

7:10 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Seniors in the US state of Florida face long lines and a haphazard registration system to get vaccines

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

Seniors and first responders wait in line to receive a Covid-19 vaccine at the Lakes Regional Library on December 30, 2020 in Fort Myers, Florida.
Seniors and first responders wait in line to receive a Covid-19 vaccine at the Lakes Regional Library on December 30, 2020 in Fort Myers, Florida. Octavio Jones/Getty Images

The US state of Florida has put health centers in charge of rolling out Covid-19 vaccines, and with some opting for less well-organized plans, it's left seniors to deal with crashing websites, jammed phone lines and nights spent waiting in line.

"The state is not dictating to hospitals," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told CNN's Rosa Flores on Monday.
"These guys are much more competent to deliver health care services than a state government could ever be."

While Florida does have a structure in place for deciding the priority groups to be vaccinated, it is up to the healthcare facilities to organize getting vaccines to patients.

Some hospitals have forgone a registration system and instead have a first-come, first-served strategy to administer vaccines distributed by the state, DeSantis said. Demand has been high among seniors, who are among those most at risk for severe illness from Covid-19.

Read more:

7:03 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Here's what Tokyo's state of emergency means

From CNN's Helen Regan and Junko Ogura

A large screen broadcasts Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's press conference where he declares a state of emergency for the greater Tokyo area amid the Covid-19 pandemic, in Tokyo on January 7.
A large screen broadcasts Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's press conference where he declares a state of emergency for the greater Tokyo area amid the Covid-19 pandemic, in Tokyo on January 7. Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has declared a state of emergency for the nation's capital and surrounding areas as Covid-19 cases surge to the highest levels since the beginning of the pandemic.

The emergency declaration will be in place from Friday until February 2 and applies to Tokyo and the three neighboring prefectures of Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa.

Here's what the state of emergency means:

  • Residents of the affected areas are encouraged to work from home. Their employers have been urged to cut office populations by 70%.
  • Restaurants have been ordered to close at 8 p.m. Suga said at a Thursday news conference that the government will provide up to 1.8 million yen ($17,400) per month to each restaurant that shortens its operating hours.
  • Sporting events will limit the number of spectators present.
  • Residents are urged to avoid non-essential outings.
  • Schools will remain open.

Read more about the situation in Japan:

6:28 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Open letter from US physicians calls on Biden administration to mail masks to all American homes

From CNN's Keri Enriquez

An N95 mask hangs next to a hand sanitizer dispenser on a reception's desk at a clinic in Lansing, Michigan on October 18, 2020.
An N95 mask hangs next to a hand sanitizer dispenser on a reception's desk at a clinic in Lansing, Michigan on October 18, 2020. Emily Elconin/Bloomberg/Getty Images

A group of US physicians has written an open letter calling on the incoming Biden administration to manufacture and mail high-filtration masks to homes across America.

The letter, which was first published on the STAT health news website Thursday, also calls for a national mask initiative, as transmission of the coronavirus surges in the US.

The group argues that while cloth and surgical masks provide some level of protection, high filtration (hi-fi) masks, like the N95, ensure a higher level of filtration and are considered the gold-standard in protection against small virus carrying particles.

Ideally, a set of masks would be mailed to each household every month -- the costs of doing so pale in comparison to the pandemic's toll on lives and the economy,” the authors write.

The authors of the letter include Drs. Abraar Karan and Ranu Dhillon of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, along with Devabhaktuni Srikrishna, founder of Patient Knowhow, a patient education platform.

It encourages the incoming Biden team to use the Defense Production Act to immediately scale up manufacturing of high-filtration masks for distribution to the American public.

Hi-fi masks such as N95s substantially reduce the chance of spread while in direct close contact with those who are infected,” the letter states.

Dr. Karan told CNN that masks are more critical than ever, as newly discovered variants of the coronavirus appear to be more transmissible.

“Masks aren’t affected by change in variants,” he said.

The US reported 253,145 new Covid-19 cases and 3,865 new deaths on Wednesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

CNN is tracking coronavirus' spread across the country here:

5:56 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

South Korea extends ban on flights from Britain after reporting new cases of UK Covid-19 variant

from CNN's Jake Kwon in Seoul

Health workers wait to screen passengers at Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea on December 29, 2020.
Health workers wait to screen passengers at Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea on December 29, 2020. Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

South Korea has extended its restrictions on flights from the UK after it reported three new cases of the new Covid-19 strain that was first discovered in southeast England.

The variant was detected on Wednesday in family members of an infected person who had traveled from the UK in December, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said Thursday.

The KDCA added that it does not believe the three new cases had contact with others in the community.

There are now 14 confirmed cases of the UK Covid-19 variant in South Korea and one case of the South African variant.

South Korea originally introduced the flight ban on December 23 and had previously been extended until January 7.

The KDCA said Thursday it will extend the restrictions from the UK for another two weeks until January 21 to block further entry of the variant.

On December 29 South Korea said it would restrict new visas for travelers from the UK and South Africa, after recording its first cases of the UK variant from travelers from London on December 22.

5:09 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Oxford/AstraZeneca shot rolled out to doctors in England, after UK tops 1,000 daily deaths

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

Doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca are checked at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, England on January 2.
Doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca are checked at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, England on January 2. Gareth Fuller/Pool/AP

English health authorities will roll out the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to primary care centers today, the country's National Health Service (NHS) said in a statement.

Authorities hope that the arrival of the shot at General Practice (GP) surgeries will mark a new phase in the UK's struggle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

NHS England said hundreds of new vaccination sites are opening at English hospitals and in the community, "on top of the 700 which were already open and vaccinating."

“GPs, nurses, pharmacists and countless other staff and volunteers have been working around the clock to be able to launch almost 200 more sites this week," said Dr. Nikki Kanani, GP and NHS medical director for primary care.
“Combined with the arrival of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, we will now be able to protect many more vulnerable people against the virus and faster.”

The UK is currently grappling with a devastating wave of the pandemic. On Wednesday, it recorded its highest daily increase in coronavirus-related deaths since April, with a total of 1,041 fatalities registered. 

Seven vaccination centres will be among many more sites coming online next week, along with more hospitals, GP-led services and a number of pilot pharmacy vaccine services, the NHS England statement added.

More than 1.3 million people have so far been vaccinated in the UK, the British government said this week.

“We are aiming to offer vaccinations to all 13 million people in the top four priority cohorts by mid-February. This will ensure the most vulnerable are protected and will save lives," UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in the NHS England press release.

Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, the Oxford vaccine does not need to be stored at ultra-low temperatures and is much easier to distribute.

The UK health minister responsible for the vaccine program's deployment, Nadhim Zahawi, told Sky News Wednesday that the task to vaccinate all 13 million people was a "Herculean" one but was achievable.

4:01 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

State of emergency announced for Japan's capital Tokyo

From CNN's Junko Ogura in Tokyo

People walk past a public service display promoting social distancing at a concourse leading to the terminal station in Tokyo's Shinjuku district on January 6.
People walk past a public service display promoting social distancing at a concourse leading to the terminal station in Tokyo's Shinjuku district on January 6. Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency for the country's capital Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures at a government task force meeting Thursday. 

The state of emergency will go into effect for Tokyo and the prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa from Friday until February 2, Suga said.

This comes after Japan reported its highest daily increase of Covid-19 cases from Wednesday.

3:47 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

US congressman announces positive Covid-19 test results 4 hours after voting

From CNN's Kristin Wilson and Daniella Diaz

Jake LaTurner talks with members of the 2nd congressional district during a meeting at the annual GOP convention in Topeka, Kansas on February 16, 2019.
Jake LaTurner talks with members of the 2nd congressional district during a meeting at the annual GOP convention in Topeka, Kansas on February 16, 2019. Mark Reinstein/Corbis/Getty Images

US Rep. Jake LaTurner has tested positive for Covid-19, the Kansas Republican said in a tweet. He is not experiencing any symptoms.

LaTurner voted in person four hours ago on the House floor, per the clerk of the House of Representative's vote tally.

LaTurner is following the advice of the House physician and CDC guidelines and, therefore, does not plan to return to the House floor for votes until he is cleared to do so.