January 12 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Ivana Kottasová, Florence Davey-Attlee and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 13, 2021
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7:29 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

China’s Hebei province expands lockdown measures and mass testing programs

The Chinese city of Langfang, which lies next to Beijing and has nearly 5 million residents, has gone into a “soft lockdown” after new Covid-19 cases were identified in Hebei province.

Residents of the city were advised not to leave home for seven days unless necessary.

Hebei province's Vice Governor Xu Jianpei announced a second round of mass testing would begin in the cities of Shijiazhuang, Xingtai, and Langfang. The first round, which saw 17 million people getting tested, wrapped up Sunday.

A resident undergoes a coronavirus test at a residential compound in Shijiazhuang, in China's Hebei province, on January 12.
A resident undergoes a coronavirus test at a residential compound in Shijiazhuang, in China's Hebei province, on January 12. Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

Hebei province detected 40 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Monday, the provincial Health Commission said in a statement. It also identified 26 asymptomatic cases. 

Of the new confirmed cases, 39 were reported in Shijiazhuang, while one was reported in Langfang, the Hebei Health Commission said. 

China reported a total of 136 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, according to the country’s National Health Commission.

6:37 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

At least two gorillas have tested positive for coronavirus at San Diego Zoo

From Cheri Mossburg and Leah Asmelash, CNN

California's surge of Covid-19 has just got even worse, after at least two gorillas at the San Diego Zoo became infected with the virus, the zoo and Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday.

Three animals are currently showing symptoms of the virus, and it is suspected that they were infected by an asymptomatic staff member, according to a press release.

This is the first known instance of coronavirus in great apes, the zoo said, though previous research has shown that some non-human primates are susceptible. The gorillas live as a family, so it is assumed that all members have been exposed, zoo officials say.

It started last Wednesday, when two zoo gorillas began coughing. A preliminary test within the group showed presence of the virus on Friday, and the US Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed the positive results Monday.

It is unknown whether the gorillas will have any serious reaction, the zoo said, but they are being closely monitored.

6:21 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

New Zealand will require virus test for all incoming travelers outside Australia and Antarctica

From CNN's Julia Hollingsworth in Hong Kong

The arrivals gate at Auckland Airport’s International Terminal is pictured in July 2020.
The arrivals gate at Auckland Airport’s International Terminal is pictured in July 2020. Brendon O'Hagan/Bloomberg/Getty Images

New Zealand has announced that all travelers, apart from those from Australia, Antarctica and some Pacific Island nations, will be required to take a Covid-19 test upon arrival in the country.

“Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that most global air routes will be of critical concern for the foreseeable future, and we must respond strongly to the evolving situation,” Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a press release on Tuesday.

New Zealand has not reported any new locally transmitted Covid-19 cases in several weeks and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been widely praised for her effective handling of the virus, from which only 25 New Zealanders have died.

The measures announced on Tuesday were previously in place for travelers from the US and UK and will go into effect for all other countries on January 18.

Hipkins also said they will add further measures to arrivals from the US and UK, requiring them to have a negative Covid-19 test result 72 hours prior to departure. 

“New Zealand already has some of the most stringent border protection measures in the world. Today’s amendments further strengthen that position in line with the Government’s overall elimination strategy,” Hipkins said.

Entry rules were already very tight, with only New Zealand citizens and residents allowed to travel into the country, with a few exceptions for partners, dependents and critical workers.

5:50 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

India prepares its mammoth vaccine rollout

From CNN’s Vedika Sud in New Delhi

Millions of doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine left the Serum Institute of India’s warehouses early Tuesday as the country of 1.3 billion people prepares to rollout the shot.

The first batches were loaded on flights in Pune and Chennai on Tuesday morning, with nine flights carrying 5.7 million doses headed to 13 cities, including Delhi and Bengaluru, according to Hardeep Singh Puri, India's civil aviation minister. 

The Serum Institute of India is the world's largest vaccine manufacturer. It has conducted trials and has manufactured the AstraZeneca vaccine for distribution across the country.

According to a source with knowledge of the deal, the Indian government has agreed to purchase each dose of the vaccine at Rs 200 ($2.72).

"Serum Institute of India has got an order of approximately 11 million vaccine doses from the Indian government,” said the source.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country expects to vaccinate 300 million people in the next few months.

“We already have a mechanism for universal immunization which has been strengthened for Covid vaccination... Covid protocols will have to be implemented during this, even a bit of looseness can cause damage," Modi said during a meeting on Monday.

India has registered a total of 10.5 million cases, including 151,327 fatalities since the start of the pandemic, the world's third-highest death toll. On Tuesday, it saw its lowest daily rise in cases in almost seven months, with 12,584 new infections.

5:29 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

WHO warns that herd immunity won't happen in 2021, even with vaccines

Commuters wear face masks as they make their way through Shinagawa Station in Tokyo, Japan, on January 8.
Commuters wear face masks as they make their way through Shinagawa Station in Tokyo, Japan, on January 8. Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that social distancing measures will need to stay in place "for the rest of this year," even as vaccination rollouts get under way globally, because it takes time to build up herd immunity.

WHO’s Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said herd immunity -- a situation where the majority of a population becomes immune to the virus either because they have become infected and recovered, or through vaccination -- won't be achieved this year. 

Speaking at a briefing on Monday, Swaminathan said:

Because even as vaccines start protecting the most vulnerable, we are not going to achieve any level of population immunity, or herd immunity in 2021 and even if it happens in a couple of pockets in a few countries, it's not going to protect people across the world."

Swaminathan added that until herd immunity is achieved, public health measures such as masks and social distancing will need to remain in place.

"The vaccines are going to come. They are going to go to all countries, but meanwhile we mustn't forget that there are measures that work and... it’s really important to remind people, both governments as well as individuals, on the responsibilities and the measures that we continue to need to practice... for the next... well for the rest of this year at least," she said.

4:23 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

The US has averaged more than 3,000 Covid-19 deaths a day over the past week

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

Health officials had warned the Covid-19 pandemic would make winter one of the most difficult times in US history. That prediction is quickly proving true.

December was devastating. And January could be deadlier. 

For the past week, the US averaged more than 3,000 Covid-19 deaths per day. And Monday marked the seventh day in a row the country reported more than 200,000 new Covid-19 infections.

The grim numbers have been fueled by last month's holiday travels and gatherings that experts had warned against. 

"This is what we were afraid of -- people letting their guard down over Christmas and New Years," New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday while announcing the spread of the virus was increasing across the state.

Arizona: Hospitalization numbers are at all-time highs due to a surge that the state's top health official said earlier this month followed the Christmas holiday.

California: In Los Angeles, which has been battered by the virus for weeks now, one health official says the aftermath of holiday get-togethers is likely still on its way, and ICUs are already full.

"It takes two to three weeks for patients to get sick enough to need the hospital after they've gotten the virus, and Christmas was only two weeks ago, and we're already full," said Dr. Anish Mahajan, chief medical officer at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. 
"We don't have any more ICU capacity," he added. "All of the hospitals in the region are putting ICU patients in unusual places in the hospital just to find room for them."

Read more about the crisis in the US:

4:03 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Olympic organizers will go ahead with Tokyo Games prep during Covid-19 state of emergency 

From CNN's Junko Ogura in Tokyo

A man wearing a face mask cycles past the Olympic Rings on January 12 in Tokyo, Japan.
A man wearing a face mask cycles past the Olympic Rings on January 12 in Tokyo, Japan. Carl Court/Getty Images

The head of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee said officials will move forward with preparations for the delayed Olympic Games amid the Covid-19 state of emergency in the Japanese capital and other prefectures.

The Games are scheduled to start on July 23 following a postponement last year due to the pandemic.

Yoshiro Mori, head of the committee, delivered a video address Tuesday to 3,500 Olympic Games staff members, assuring the committee would go ahead with their plans.

“I think everything would be affected if I scratch my head or show any indecisiveness. We will proceed with the preparations as planned,” Mori said. 
“We will emerge from this dark tunnel in cooperation with you. I would like you all to do the best until the end to bring many people joy and hope in the belief that spring comes after winter and morning always comes after a long night.” 

A state of emergency was announced for Tokyo and the neighboring Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures on January 8 for 31 days. Other local governments have called on Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to expand the state of emergency to Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures.

New cases: Japan reported 4,864 new Covid-19 infections on Monday, bringing the nationwide total to 292,924, according to the country's Health Ministry. Tokyo, which accounts for more than a quarter of Japan's total cases, added 970 new infections on Tuesday.

3:36 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

European Medicines Agency receives AstraZeneca vaccine application

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine was developed with the University of Oxford.
AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine was developed with the University of Oxford. Andrew Matthews/WPA Pool/Getty Images

The European Medicines Agency has received an application for conditional marketing authorization for the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, it said in a statement Tuesday.

The EMA said it will proceed with the assessment "under an accelerated timeline" and an opinion on whether to issue an authorization could be made by January 29.

Conditional marketing authorization (CMA) is the process used to fast-track the authorization procedure and speed up approval of treatments and vaccines during public health emergencies.

"If the EMA concludes that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh its risks in protecting against Covid‑19, it will recommend granting a conditional marketing authorization. The European Commission will then fast-track its decision-making process with a view to granting a conditional marketing authorization valid in all EU and EEA Member States within days," the EMA said in a statement.

A decision could be made, "provided that the data submitted on the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine are sufficiently robust and complete and that any additional information required to complete the assessment is promptly submitted," the EMA said.

3:15 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Russia extends UK flight suspension until Feb. 1

From CNN's Zahra Ullah

Russia has extended a ban on flights to and from the UK until February 1, the country's coronavirus task force said, according to state-run news agency TASS. 

"The anti-coronavirus crisis center has decided to keep flights to and from the United Kingdom suspended. In order to protect public health, the suspension has been extended until 11:59 p.m. on February 1, 2021," the statement said.

Russia suspended UK flights on December 22 after the country announced a new, more contagious coronavirus variant that was linked to a surge in cases in England had been identified.