January 14 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Florence Davey-Attlee, Ed Upright and Hira Humayun, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 15, 2021
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1:29 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Human Rights Watch accuses Brazil's President Bolsonaro of sabotaging efforts to slow spread of Covid-19

From CNN’s Tatiana Arias

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro arrives for the opening ceremony of the forum "The Control in Combating Corruption" at Planalto Palace on December 9, 2020 in Brasilia. 
President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro arrives for the opening ceremony of the forum "The Control in Combating Corruption" at Planalto Palace on December 9, 2020 in Brasilia.  Andre Borges/Getty Images

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has "tried to sabotage efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19 in Brazil and pursued other policies that undermine human rights,” according to a Human Rights Watch report.

In its World Report 2021 published Wednesday, the NGO said Bolsonaro repeatedly downplayed the coronavirus by calling it “a little flu” and by spreading misleading information about the pandemic.

Bolsonaro “refused to take measures to protect himself and the people around him; disseminated misleading information; and tried to block states from imposing social distancing rules. His administration attempted to withhold Covid-19 data from the public. He fired his health minister for defending World Health Organization recommendations, and the replacement health minister quit in opposition to the president’s advocacy of an unproven drug to treat Covid-19,” the report said.

Anna Livia Arida, Brazil associate director at Human Rights Watch, recognized the role of other government institutions such as Brazil's Supreme Court and Congress to help “block many, although not all, of Bolsonaro’s anti-rights policies.”

“The Supreme Court ruled against the Bolsonaro administration’s attempts to strip states of the authority to restrict people’s movements to contain the spread of Covid-19, to effectively suspend the access to information law, and to withhold Covid-19 data from the public," the report said.

"Congress passed a bill forcing the government to provide emergency health care to Indigenous people, and the Supreme Court ordered the Bolsonaro administration to draft a plan to fight the spread of Covid-19 in Indigenous territories,” it continued.

Government response: According to CNN Brasil, the country’s Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights issued a statement Wednesday arguing that the report "ignores measures taken by the government to protect human rights during the pandemic.” 

Numerous projects aimed to help children, adolescents, women and the elderly were mentioned in the statement, saying those were “a form of government aid to the socioeconomic developments that occurred in the pandemic,” CNN Brasil reported.

CNN has reached out to Bolsonaro's office for comment.

Brazil has the third highest count of Covid-19 cases worldwide, following the US and India. As of Wednesday, Brazil has reported 8,256,536 Covid-19 cases and 205,964 virus-related deaths.

12:54 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Japan tops 300,000 total coronavirus cases

From CNN’s Junko Ogura in Tokyo

A nurse collects a patient's file before a nasal swab sample at a Covid-19 PCR testing center at Fujimino Emergency Hospital in Miyoshi-machi, Japan, on January 5.
A nurse collects a patient's file before a nasal swab sample at a Covid-19 PCR testing center at Fujimino Emergency Hospital in Miyoshi-machi, Japan, on January 5. Nicolas Datiche/SIPA/Shutterstock

Japan has surpassed 300,000 Covid-19 infections after it reported 5,848 new cases on Wednesday, the Health Ministry said.

The country’s total number of cases now stands at 303,335.

Japan added 100,000 cases in three weeks. It passed the 200,000 case mark on December 21.

On Wednesday, Japan reported 88 fatalities, raising its total virus death toll to 4,246.

The number of patients in serious condition across the country has also risen by 19 to a total of 900 people.

Tokyo, the hardest hit from the latest outbreak, reported 1,433 new Covid-19 cases from Wednesday, bringing the total number of infections confirmed in the capital to 78,566.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in seven additional prefectures across the nation on Wednesday.

Read more about the state of emergency:

12:21 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

16 NBA players have tested positive for Covid-19 since Jan. 6

From CNN's Jill Martin

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) jointly announced Wednesday that of the 497 players tested for Covid-19 since January 6, 16 new players have returned positive tests.

Nine NBA games have been postponed this season, including eight since Sunday, for health and safety reasons.

Anyone who has returned a confirmed positive test, or has been identified as having been in close contact to an infected person, is isolated or quarantined until they are cleared, the joint announcement said.

The league has announced that games scheduled for Friday, January 15, between the Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena and between the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns at Phoenix Suns Arena, have been postponed in accordance with the league’s health and safety protocols. 

Because of ongoing contact tracing within the Wizards and Suns, the teams will not have the league-required eight available players to proceed with Friday night’s games.

12:33 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Biden aides told congressional allies to expect Covid relief package with roughly $2 trillion price tag

From CNN's MJ Lee and Paul LeBlanc

US President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks about the storming of the US Capitol by a pro-Trump mob at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware, on January 6.
US President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks about the storming of the US Capitol by a pro-Trump mob at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware, on January 6. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

US President-elect Joe Biden is expected to unveil a major Covid-19 relief package on Thursday and his advisers have recently told allies in Congress to expect a price tag in the ballpark of $2 trillion, according to two people briefed on the deliberations.

The Biden team is taking a "shoot for the moon" approach with the package, one lawmaker in close contact with them told CNN, though they added that the price tag could still change. The proposal will include sizable direct payments to American families, significant state and local funding -- including for coronavirus vaccine distribution and other emergency spending measures -- to help those struggling during the pandemic.

Biden is set to announce the details of his plan in Wilmington, Delaware, Thursday evening.

Democrats hold only the slimmest of majorities in the House and the Senate, and Republicans have recently resisted efforts to pass Covid-19 relief on a multi-trillion dollar scale. But Biden's party believes it may have only a brief window to pass sweeping relief legislation and the President-elect has faced significant pressure from some Democrats to go big.

Brian Deese, Biden's pick to lead the National Economic Council, said Wednesday at a conference that the package will include $2,000 stimulus checks, and address other relief measures like unemployment insurance.

Biden's early focus on a sweeping relief package reflects the political reality that his first year in office will be defined by his ability to combat the virus and stave off an economic collapse.

Read more:

1:49 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

WHO team investigating origins of Covid-19 arrives in China

From CNN’s Beijing bureau

The World Health Organization team tasked with investigating the origins of the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan has arrived in China, state broadcaster CGTN announced on Thursday.

The team is undergoing Covid-19 swab testing and will have to go through quarantine before they can start their field research, CGTN added. 

The group's successful arrival comes after WHO announced last week that the team had been blocked from entering China as the necessary permissions to enter the country had not been approved. 

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week he was "very disappointed," in a rare rebuke of China from the UN agency.

For months, WHO officials had been negotiating with Beijing to allow a team of global scientists access to key sites to investigate the origin of the virus -- first detected in Wuhan in December 2019 -- and its likely jump from an unidentified host species to humans.

9:19 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

China reports first Covid-19 related death in 8 months

From CNN's Beijing bureau

China has reported its first Covid-19 related death in 242 days as daily new infections reached the highest levels since July, according to health authorities. 

The individual died on Wednesday in Hebei province, which has been at the center of China’s most recent outbreak of the coronavirus. 

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) reported 138 new Covid-19 infections for Wednesday, including 14 imported cases. Of the 124 locally transmitted cases, 81 cases are from Hebei province. 

The NHC also recorded an additional 78 asymptomatic cases detected on Wednesday. China does not include asymptomatic patients in its tally of confirmed cases.

11:07 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

CDC's ensemble forecast projects up to 477,000 US Covid-19 deaths by Feb. 6

From CNN Health's Michael Nedelman

An ensemble forecast published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects there will be 440,000 to 477,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by February 6.

Unlike some individual models, the CDC’s ensemble forecast only offers projections a few weeks into the future. The previous ensemble forecast, published January 6, projected up to 438,000 coronavirus deaths by January 30.

More than 384,600 people have already died from Covid-19 in the US, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

7:57 p.m. ET, January 13, 2021

Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine generates immune response, few side effects, in early trials

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Early stage trials of Johnson & Johnson's experimental coronavirus vaccine show it generated an immune response in nearly all volunteers, with minimal side-effects, after a single dose.

The company expects to report details of more advanced trials later this month and is hoping to apply for authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration soon after.

Researchers who tested the vaccine in a combined Phase 1-2 trial -- mostly meant to show safety -- found either one or two doses of the vaccine generated both antibody and T-cell responses against the coronavirus. The trials were not designed to show whether the vaccine protected people against either infection or symptoms of coronavirus -- that's what the ongoing Phase 3 trials are designed to do.

Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, an international team of researchers who tested the vaccine in around 800 volunteers said the early stage trials showed it was safe and probably should work.

The researchers -- in the Netherlands, the United States and Belgium -- tested the vaccine in a group of people 65 and older and a group ages 18 to 55.

Vaccination elicited neutralizing antibodies -- expected to stop the virus from infecting cells -- in 90% of all participants by the 29th day after the first dose of vaccine and in all of them by two months after the first dose. The levels of these antibodies stayed stable for at least 71 days, they reported.

Read the full story:

12:54 a.m. ET, January 14, 2021

WHO director asks wealthy nations to share vaccine with low income nations

From CNN's Gregory Lemos

In this February 19, 2020 file photo, Dr. Michael Ryan addresses a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
In this February 19, 2020 file photo, Dr. Michael Ryan addresses a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland. Xinhua/Chen Junxia via Getty Images

As Covid-19 case numbers continue rising globally, Dr. Mike Ryan, director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme, on Wednesday called upon wealthy nations to help bridge a global vaccine inequity gap.

"There are populations out there who want and who need vaccines who are not going to get them unless or until we begin to share better," Ryan said during a virtual Q&A Wednesday.

In the 36 days since countries started vaccinating, 28 million vaccine doses have been administered, he said. According to Ryan, of the 46 countries who are currently vaccinating, only one is a low income country.

"We really have to look at this in terms of equity," Ryan said.

Ryan added there have been 5 million new cases of Covid-19 and 85,000 deaths linked to the virus globally in the past week.

"Essentially, all regions apart from Southeast Asia are showing increases," Ryan said, highlighting that the Americas still account for half of all new cases and 45% of deaths globally. 

"We've seen that perfect storm of the season, the coldness, people going inside, increased social mixing, and a combination of factors that have driven increased transmission in many, many countries," Ryan said.

"It's interesting when we talk about tolerance, kindness and solidarity, that they are probably the most powerful countermeasures we have right now," he added. "You have to have the attitude that this disease ends with me."