The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 10:08 a.m. ET, January 9, 2021
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12:37 a.m. ET, January 8, 2021

Here's what's happening in Brisbane as the city prepares for its first lockdown in months

From CNN's Hilary Whiteman, in Brisbane, Australia

Shoppers in Brisbane rush to buy supplies ahead of a three-day lockdown.
Shoppers in Brisbane rush to buy supplies ahead of a three-day lockdown. Hilary Whiteman/CNN

People in Brisbane rushed to stores to buy supplies as Australia's third most populous city prepares to enter a three-day lockdown.

Greater Brisbane -- home to more than 2.2 million people -- will begin a three-day lockdown from Friday night, local time, after a cleaner from a quarantine hotel tested positive for the UK coronavirus variant. The cleaner was unknowingly infectious for days before testing positive.

After the government's announcement on Friday morning, frantic shoppers rushed to the city's supermarkets -- despite authorities announcing that essential shopping would still be allowed under lockdown.

In one shopping mall, a store manager announced over the intercom that the queues were longer than those in March -- the last time the city went into lockdown.

"These lines are huge," he said. "We didn't get any warning about this ... we've now stopped people entering the store."
Many shoppers bought bread ahead of Brisbane's three-day lockdown.
Many shoppers bought bread ahead of Brisbane's three-day lockdown. Hilary Whiteman/CNN

Within an hour of that announcement, hundreds of people could be seen lining up outside the supermarket. Security guards laid traffic cones to organize the queues, only allowing a few shoppers into the store at a time.

Annastacia Palaszczuk, the premier of Queensland state where Brisbane is located, said groceries and essentials such as medicine would still be available under lockdown.

"There is no need to rush out and panic buy," she said in a tweet. "Make sure you wear a mask and observe social distancing."

12:25 a.m. ET, January 8, 2021

Shellfish allergies no reason to skip Covid-19 vaccine, FDA official says 

From CNN Health’s Lauren Mascarenhas

People with shellfish allergies should not necessarily skip the Covid-19 vaccine, according to the director of the US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

“Shellfish allergies are not a reason not to get vaccinated,” Dr. Peter Marks said Thursday during an event hosted by BlackDoctor.org, an online health resource for African Americans.

Marks advised people to let their providers know that they have a history of allergic reactions before getting vaccinated.

“All the providers that are giving the vaccine right now are prepared to deal with allergic reactions, and you should tell them, so that they might take a little bit more precaution,” he said.

He said a provider may monitor someone with a shellfish allergy for 30 minutes instead of the typical 15 after administering the vaccine.

“Right now, the only things that would prevent you from getting vaccinated is if you had a known allergy to one of the things that are in the vaccines or if you had ... a bad allergic reaction to the first shot,” Marks said.

Allergic reactions: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Wednesday that it had received reports of 29 cases of a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis out of the first 1.9 million coronavirus vaccine doses administered.

That adds up to a rate of 11.1 cases of anaphylaxis per 1 million doses administered. Many people with various allergies have received doses with no reactions, the CDC said.

12:03 a.m. ET, January 8, 2021

Japan reports record Covid-19 infections for third straight day

From CNN's Junko Ogura in Tokyo

Japan’s Health Ministry has reported a record number of new Covid-19 infections for the third day in a row as Tokyo and surrounding prefectures go into a state of emergency on Friday. 

A record 7,548 new cases were recorded Thursday, the first time infections have surpassed 7,000 since the pandemic began. 

The central government declared on Thursday that Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures -- Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa -- would go into a state of emergency from Friday.

It's Japan's second state of emergency since the pandemic began.

What's happening in Japan? The country's Health Ministry also reported 66 deaths on Thursday. The overall total of confirmed cases nationwide now stands at 266,011, including 3,870 fatalities.

Health Ministry data showed the number of patients in serious condition across Japan rose to 796, up 12 from the previous day. There are 43,573 patients in hospital as of Thursday.

What about Tokyo? The capital reported 2,447 new cases for Thursday, a fresh high for a second consecutive day. The daily figure in the city also surpassed 2,000 for the first time. 

The number of patients in serious condition rose to 121, up eight from the previous day. There are currently 3,154 patients in hospital. The total number of cases confirmed in Tokyo now stands at 68,790.

12:07 a.m. ET, January 8, 2021

US reports more than 4,000 new Covid-19 deaths for first time during the pandemic

From CNN's Alta Spells

More than 4,000 Covid-19 deaths were recorded in a single day in the United States for the first time on Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

At least 4,051 deaths tied to Covid-19 have been reported, according to the university.

Note: The number is part of an ongoing tally, so it could rise before the end of the day.

9:56 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Australia's Greater Brisbane to go under 3-day lockdown to stop spread of UK Covid-19 strain

From CNN’s Sophie Jeong

Australia’s Greater Brisbane will enter a three-day lockdown to stop the spread of the United Kingdom strain of Covid-19 after a cleaner from a quarantine hotel tested positive for the UK variant, according to a statement from the Queensland government.

The cleaner was unknowingly infectious from last Saturday and tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday, according to a media release from Queensland’s Department of Health.

From 6 p.m. Friday, January 8, until 6 p.m. Monday, January 11, people in areas of Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Ipswich, Redlands and Logan will be required to stay at home, with some exceptions. More than 2.2 million people live in Greater Brisbane, with many of them living in Brisbane city, one of the country's most populous cities.

Exceptions include essential education and work, providing care to an immediate family member, essential shopping and exercising with no more than one other person. Masks will also need to be worn in those areas except if people are at home.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said there are no second chances with this pandemic.

“I’m asking people to have a long weekend at home,” she said. “We have learned from Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales that a short, sharp lockdown is better than a long one.” She added “Three days is better than 30.”

12:37 a.m. ET, January 8, 2021

UK introduces mandatory Covid-19 testing for all arrivals

From CNN's Zahid Mahmood and Sarah Dean

A view of signage leading to one of the testing centers at Heathrow Airport in London, on December 22.
A view of signage leading to one of the testing centers at Heathrow Airport in London, on December 22. Joseph Okpako/Getty Images

The United Kingdom has introduced mandatory Covid-19 testing for all international arrivals into the country, including British nationals, according to a statement by the UK’s Department of Transport on Friday.

In the statement, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes would take place from “next week.” Passengers will be required to present a negative Covid-19 test result 72 hours prior to departure for entry into the UK, along with a “passenger locator form.”

Passengers who fail to comply with pre-departure testing will be subject to a £500 ($680) fine and those arrivals not from countries on the government’s travel corridor list will still have to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of test result.

The measures are intended to protect the country against emerging new variants of the coronavirus.

One new variant first identified in the UK prompted a wave of travel restrictions from other countries in December, and has been linked to a recent surge in cases in England.

Travel ban: The UK government announced on Thursday it will extend its travel ban to include southern African countries, in an attempt to protect itself against the spread of a new coronavirus variant.

In a statement, the government said from 4 a.m. GMT on Saturday, January 9, entry into England will be banned from countries including Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Lesotho, Mozambique, the Seychelles and Mauritius.

“The government has responded swiftly to new evidence showing an urgent need to halt travel from all southern African countries to help prevent the spread of a new coronavirus (COVID-19) variant identified in South Africa,” the statement said.

The ban does not apply to British and Irish nationals, long-term visa holders or permanent residents, who will be able to enter but will have to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival.

The restriction adds to an ongoing travel ban on visitors who have been in or transited through South Africa in the past 10 days. 

8:47 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

More than half of Covid-19 transmission comes from people with no symptoms, study suggests

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

More than half of Covid-19 cases might have been transmitted by people not showing symptoms, according to a new study from researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s a model, not a real-life study, but based on data from eight studies done in China, about 59% of all transmission came from people without symptoms, the CDC team found.

"Across a range of plausible scenarios, at least 50% of transmission was estimated to have occurred from persons without symptoms," the team wrote in the journal JAMA Network Open on Thursday.

The model showed that about 59% of all transmission came from people without symptoms, which broke down to 35% from those who have not developed symptoms yet -- are presymptomatic -- and 24% from people who never develop symptoms.

Of course, the model provides only estimates about the spread of Covid-19 and more research is needed to determine whether the findings would be similar in the real world.

In the real world, the researchers wrote, "Measures such as mask wearing and social distancing empower individuals to protect themselves and, if infected, to reduce risk to their communities."

9:38 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Every Israeli citizen over age 16 will be vaccinated by the end of March, PM says

From CNN's Amir Tal and Andrew Carey

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he needs just 12 more weeks to vaccinate the entire country, after reaching an agreement with Pfizer that will speed up deliveries into Israel of the US company’s coronavirus vaccine.

"We will be the first country to emerge from the coronavirus. The agreement I reached with Pfizer allows us to vaccinate all Israeli citizens over the age of 16 by the end of March, and perhaps even before that. In other words, we will vaccinate the entire population; anyone who wants to be vaccinated, will be," he said in a televised statement Thursday evening.

Israel is home to nearly 9.3 million people, according to Israeli government data.

Netanyahu, who is due in court Wednesday, where he is expected to enter a plea in his trial on corruption charges, is quickly making Israel’s vaccination program the key plank of his re-election campaign. He faces the voters on March 23 -- just four days before the Passover Seder, one of the most important nights in the Jewish calendar.

New tougher regulations came into effect across the country at midnight Friday in an effort to bring down what have been rapidly rising numbers of new cases. Netanyahu called on Israelis to make “one last big effort” and stick to the stricter closure rules.

9:27 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Japan's Suga declares state of emergency for Tokyo as Covid-19 cases reach highest levels

From CNN's Helen Regan and Junko Ogura

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 start of the pandemic.

The emergency declaration will be in place from Friday until February 7 and applies to Tokyo and the three neighboring prefectures of Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa. The emergency includes a number of restrictions on daily life.

Suga has ordered companies to encourage their staff to work from home and reduce office populations by 70%.

Residents of the affected areas are also urged to avoid non-essential outings. The hospitality sector has been hit, with restaurants ordered to close by 8 p.m. and sporting events have been instructed to limit the amount of spectators present.

Suga said Thursday that the government will provide up to 1.8 million yen ($17,400) per month to each restaurant that complies with a request to shorten its operating hours.

Despite the raft of new measures, schools will remain open.

"There have been few cases of school infections spreading from schools to the community, and we would like to protect the learning opportunities of children who will lead the future," Suga said Thursday at a news conference.

Olympics: Japan's leader stressed that the country still intends to hold the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games in July, despite the emergency.

"I am determined to hold safe and secure games by taking all possible measures against the infection," Suga said.

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