February 22 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Eoin McSweeney and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 1:45 AM ET, Tue February 23, 2021
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7:10 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

WHO renews call for Tanzania to start reporting Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Hannah Ritchie and Radina Gigova 

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a news conference at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, in March 2020.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a news conference at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, in March 2020. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization (WHO) has renewed its call for Tanzania to start reporting Covid-19 cases and share information on what measures it is taking to combat the pandemic.

“WHO is yet to receive any information regarding what measures Tanzania is taking to respond to the pandemic,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement on Saturday. 

Early on in the pandemic, the country’s President John Magufuli dismissed the seriousness of coronavirus in Tanzania, urging his citizens to "pray coronavirus away." In June, he claimed his country had eradicated coronavirus "by the grace of God."

Tanzania belongs to a small list of countries that don’t publish data on Covid-19 cases or deaths. Tedros called on the country to reverse course and provide transparent data. 

“I renew my call for Tanzania to start reporting Covid-19 cases and share data. I also call on Tanzania to implement the public health measures that we know work in breaking the chains of transmission, and to prepare for vaccination,” his statement read. 

The extent to which coronavirus has spread in Tanzania remains unknown, but Tedros said cases involving infected Tanzanians traveling abroad underscored the need for “robust action.”  

“A number of Tanzanians traveling to neighbouring countries and beyond have tested positive for Covid-19. This underscores the need for Tanzania to take robust action both to safeguard their own people and protect populations in these countries and beyond,” his statement said. 

Tanzania has not updated its Covid-19 data since late April, leaving the last number of reported confirmed cases at 509 and the death toll at 21. Those are also the latest numbers that Johns Hopkins University has published on its website. 

Last month, WHO urged officials in Tanzania to follow science in the fight against coronavirus, after Magufuli suggested approved vaccines are "dangerous" and that "not all vaccines are of good intentions to our nation."

"There are some of our fellow Tanzanians who recently did travel abroad in search of corona vaccines, they are the ones who brought back corona in our country after returning," Magufuli said at an event on January 27. 

"My fellow Tanzanians, let us stand firm, some of these vaccines are not good for us." 

6:51 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

Tennis fans criticized for jeering Covid-19 vaccine announcement

From CNN's Ben Westcott

Jayne Hrdlicka the president of Tennis Australia, receives boos and heckles from the audience at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, on February 21.
Jayne Hrdlicka the president of Tennis Australia, receives boos and heckles from the audience at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, on February 21. Sydney Low/CSM/Sipa USA

Australia's government has condemned the "disgusting" behavior of spectators at the Australian Open tennis tournament Sunday, after sections of the crowd loudly booed a speech praising the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The negative reaction occurred during an awards ceremony following Novak Djokovic's victory over Daniil Medvedev in the men's singles final, which saw the Serb claim his ninth Australian Open and 18th grand slam title.

Audible boos could be heard throughout the Melbourne crowd of approximately 7,400 during a speech by Tennis Australia chief Jayne Hrdlicka, in which she suggested now was a time for "optimism and hope" with vaccinations "rolling out in many countries the world."

Hrdlicka continued to speak, only to be interrupted with more jeers after she thanked the state government. "You are a very opinionated group of people," Hrdlicka said in response to the crowd reaction.

The booing incident followed a disrupted final at the Rod Laver Arena, during which two demonstrators were ejected by security staff for shouting pro-refugee slogans, CNN affiliate Seven News reported. Play was also briefly halted when Medvedev demanded shouting and whistling fans "show some respect" as he prepared to serve, with the umpire telling the crowd to "please keep it fair."

It's not clear why the crowd booed the vaccine mention.

Read the full story here:

6:30 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

No quarantine if entering Poland with a negative Covid-19 test result

From CNN's Antonia Mortensen

There will be no requirement to quarantine when entering Poland if presenting a negative coronavirus test result, the head of the country's health ministry, Adam Niedzielski, said in a Monday interview with private broadcaster TVN24.

The new rules "will become a fact at the end of the week," said the minister. He specified that another option would be to quarantine.

Niedzielski added that the border police "needs 48 hours to reach operational capacity at individual border points." He specified that these rules would apply "on the southern and western border."

When asked about cross-border workers, Niedzielski replied that "testing will be a standard ... We will see if we allow any exceptions in this respect."

During the interview, the minister underlined the threat posed by new Covid variants appearing in Poland and predicted a rise in the number of infections in the coming months.

6:05 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

Gaza to start vaccine rollout today

From CNN's Ibrahim Dahman in Gaza and Andrew Carey in Jerusalem

Health workers unload the first shipment of Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in Gaza on February 17.
Health workers unload the first shipment of Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in Gaza on February 17. Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images

Gaza will begin its Covid-19 vaccination rollout from Monday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said Sunday, delaying original launch plans by 24 hours.

Authorities in Gaza said they expect a further shipment of 20,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik vaccine to arrive through the Rafah crossing with Egypt on Sunday. The shipment has been arranged by the UAE.

On Wednesday, the Health Ministry said 2,000 doses of the Sputnik vaccine were transferred to the coastal strip from stocks administered by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.

Gaza has recorded more than 53,800 cases of the virus since March and 538 deaths, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

5:42 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

"Evidence looks good" that vaccines will reduce virus transmission, says UK minister

From Amy Cassidy in Glasgow

There appears to be positive news that vaccinations will reduce the transmission of Covid-19, according to UK vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi.

Speaking to Sky News Monday morning, Zahawi said: “Suffice to say, the evidence looks good. The Oxford team demonstrated their own evidence of cutting transmission by two-thirds.”

He was referring to a study by the University of Oxford that suggests the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine appears to substantially reduce transmission of the virus, rather than simply preventing symptomatic infections.

Zahawi also mentioned “other evidence” on reduced transmission thanks to vaccinations, that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will outline later today as he announces England’s roadmap out of lockdown. 

England would not be in a position to ease lockdown “if we’re not confident that the vaccines program is really beginning to bear fruit,” Zahawi added.

5:35 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

The Covid incidence rate is increasing slightly in Germany

From CNN's Claudia Otto in Berlin

Medically trained staff take a mouth and nose swab for a Covid-19 rapid test in Berlin, on February 18.
Medically trained staff take a mouth and nose swab for a Covid-19 rapid test in Berlin, on February 18. Kay Nietfeld/picture alliance/Getty Images

The German Covid-19 incidence rate has risen slightly, according to the country's national agency for disease control and prevention.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) says the incidence rate -- the rate of infected inhabitants per 100,000 people -- now stands at 61 per 100,000. It had dropped down to 57 previously.

The RKI reported Monday morning that 4,369 more coronavirus cases had been added to the country's total, and the full count now stands at 2,390,928. The death toll rose by 62 and now stands at 67,903.

Some 4,869,641 vaccinations have been administered in Germany so far, either as a first or second dose, RKI reported.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has consistently pointed to an incidence rate of 50 as a number to ease the burden on the health system, and 35 to start opening up the country.

Ten federal German states will open kindergartens and primary schools again on Monday, amid widespread discussion on whether to allow teachers and educators an early vaccine.

2:35 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

UK PM to publish roadmap for easing lockdown in England  

From CNN’s Sarah Dean in London

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is scheduled to announce England's route out of lockdown on Monday.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is scheduled to announce England's route out of lockdown on Monday. Stefan Rousseau/WPA Pool/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will on Monday set out a roadmap for “cautiously easing” lockdown restrictions in England, Downing Street said in a statement.  

The first step in the plan will start on March 8, when the government's top priority groups for vaccinations are expected to have "received a degree of immunity, three weeks after being offered their first dose,” Downing Street said.

Across the UK, more than 17 million people have received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, the government’s dashboard shows.  

The plan will depend on four key tests:

  • The vaccine deployment program continues successfully.  
  • Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalizations and deaths in those vaccinated.  
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalizations which would put unsustainable pressure on the National Health Service (NHS).  
  • The government’s assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants.

Restrictions will be eased step-by-step across the whole of England at the same time and outdoor settings will be opened earlier than indoor ones, Downing Street said.  

“Our decisions will be made on the latest data at every step, and we will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far and the sacrifices each and every one of you has made to keep yourself and others safe," Johnson said in a statement.
2:05 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

Biden to mark upcoming 500,000 Covid deaths with candle lighting ceremony

From CNN's Arlette Saenz 

With the United States approaching half a million Covid-19 deaths, plans are underway for President Joe Biden to mark the moment this week.

The President is planning to deliver remarks and hold a candle-lighting ceremony at the White House around sundown as soon as Monday if the threshold is crossed, a White House official said.

First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will also participate. 

At least 498,897 people have died in the US from coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The nation has reported more than 28.1 million total cases.

On Friday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the White House was working on plans so the President could use his “own voice and platform to take a moment to remember the people whose lives have been lost, the families who are still suffering.” 

One day before taking office, Biden, Harris and their spouses held a somber ceremony on the National Mall to commemorate the more than 400,000 lives lost to Covid-19. “To heal we must remember,” Biden said at the time.

2:36 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

Australia kicks off vaccination program for frontline workers

From CNN's Chandler Thornton

A health worker receives a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Melbourne, Australia, on Monday, February 22. 
A health worker receives a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Melbourne, Australia, on Monday, February 22.  Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Australia began its Covid-19 vaccination rollout for frontline workers on Monday with about 60,000 Pfizer/BioNTech doses, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison's office.

The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine will begin rolling out in March, said Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt in a news release.

Aged care resident Jane Malysiak, 84, from Marayong, New South Wales, was the first person in Australia to receive a Covid-19 vaccine on Sunday ahead of Monday's official rollout.

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison looks on as Jane Malysiak becomes the first person in the country to receive a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Sydney on February 21.
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison looks on as Jane Malysiak becomes the first person in the country to receive a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Sydney on February 21. Steven Saphore/AFP/Getty Images

Prime Minister Morrison also received his vaccine on Sunday.

"Pleased to get my #COVID19 vaccine today along with Australia’s CMO Professor Paul Kelly to give further confidence to Australians these vaccines, which have been tested and approved by our medical experts, are safe & effective," Morrison tweeted afterward.

The Australian government has secured more than 150 million vaccine doses. Over 50 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine ordered by the government will be manufactured in Melbourne.