Live Updates

The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines

By Jessie Yeung and Brett McKeehan, CNN

Updated 10:06 PM ET, Fri March 5, 2021
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6:11 a.m. ET, March 5, 2021

Welsh ghost hunters fined for breaking lockdown rules

From CNN's Zamira Rahim and Kara Fox

Halloween is long gone but in Wales, police officers stumbled across a group of ghost hunters on an overnight excursion on Friday.

Officers from South Wales Police stopped a car in the seaside village of Mumbles in the early hours of Friday morning.

The force said there were four people in the car who "had come to ghost hunt and view castles."

The group were fined and their car seized as the driver lacked insurance and a full driving license.

"Long walk home!" South Wales Police wrote.

Wales has been under a national lockdown since December 2020. The rules require people to stay home and not travel without a reasonable excuse.

6:29 a.m. ET, March 5, 2021

Moldova becomes the first European country to receive Covid-19 vaccines under COVAX scheme

From Duarte Mendonça in Lisbon

Moldova has become the first European country to receive coronavirus vaccines from the global COVAX scheme, the country's President Maia Sandu tweeted on Friday. 

“The first 14,400 doses arrived last night,” Sandu wrote. “Thankful to Germany and other European Union nations, the United States, UK, Canada, EU Commission, Japan and others for solidarity, and to WHO and UNICEF.” 

COVAX is an entity run by a coalition that includes the Vaccine Alliance known as Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The coalition is funded by donations from governments, multilateral institutions and foundations. Its mission is to buy coronavirus vaccines in bulk and send them to poorer nations that can't compete with wealthy countries in securing contracts with the major drug companies.

Moldova has reported a total of 191,197 Covid-19 cases and 4,049 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

6:08 a.m. ET, March 5, 2021

Danish health authority approves AstraZeneca vaccine for over 65s

From CNN’s James Frater in London

A medical worker prepares a syringe with the AstraZeneca vaccine at a vaccine center in Copenhagen, Denmark, on February 11.
A medical worker prepares a syringe with the AstraZeneca vaccine at a vaccine center in Copenhagen, Denmark, on February 11. Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images

Denmark's National Board of Health has updated its guidance and now recommends the use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in all adults over the age of 18, including those above 65.

The board had previously advised against administering the vaccine to the elderly, due to a “limited base of data in the approval studies in persons over 65 years of age,” the health authority said in a statement.

The Danish authority cited a large-scale study of vaccines in Scotland as a factor in its decision to revise its advice. 

The EAVE II project, carried out by researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Aberdeen, Glasgow and St Andrew’s and Public Health Scotland (PHS), analyzed a dataset covering almost the entire Scottish population of 5.4 million.

Preliminary data from the study suggests that rollout of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer shots was linked to reduced risk of hospitalization in Scotland.

“The results from Scotland are gratifying. They show a large decrease in the risk of requiring hospital with Covid-19, also among the elderly,” said Bolette Søborg, the head of contingency and infectious diseases at the Denmark's health board.

This decision by Denmark follows similar moves in other European countries such as Belgium, Sweden and Germany in changing their advice of administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to the elderly.

5:23 a.m. ET, March 5, 2021

Germany sees rise of Covid-19 mutations, as UK strain detected in 40% of new infections

From CNN”s Nadine Schmidt and Claudia Otto

Lothar Wieler, President of Germany's Robert Koch Institute, speaks to the media on March 5, in Berlin.
Lothar Wieler, President of Germany's Robert Koch Institute, speaks to the media on March 5, in Berlin. Andreas Gora/ Pool/Getty Images

Germany is currently experiencing “a rise of worrying coronavirus mutations,” Dr Lothar Wieler, the head of the country's public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), said in a press conference on Friday.

Wieler said B.1.17, the variant first discovered in the United Kingdom, has been detected in 40% of new infections in Germany.

The variant represented just 6% of new cases in Germany four weeks ago but could soon become the dominant strain in the country, according to Wieler.

“It is foreseeable that B.1.17 will soon be the predominant variant in Germany and then it will be even more difficult to keep the virus in check because B.1.17 is more contagious and even more dangerous in all age groups,” he said.

Wieler also warned that Germany is "still seeing too many deaths” and that the country’s virus incidence rate is rising again.  

Germany reported 10,580 new coronavirus infections on Friday, RKI data showed, an increase of 583 cases compared to the same day the previous week. In total, 2,482,552 have contracted Covid-19 since the pandemic started. 

The country also reported 394 deaths in the past 24 hours, a decrease of 130 compared to the previous Friday.

A total of 71,504 people have died with Covid-19 in Germany.

6:29 a.m. ET, March 5, 2021

France could follow Italy and block vaccine shipments, health minister says

From CNN's Barbara Wojazer in Paris

French Health Minister Olivier Veran speaks during a press conference on the French government's current strategy for the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, on March 4, in Paris.
French Health Minister Olivier Veran speaks during a press conference on the French government's current strategy for the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, on March 4, in Paris. Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images

France said Friday it may follow Italy in blocking Covid-19 vaccine shipments after Rome invoked European Union (EU) powers to block the export of 250,000 Covid-19 AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Australia.

"Of course, I understand what Italy did," Véran said during an interview with CNN affiliate BFM on Friday. "We could do the same thing."

A spokesperson for Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi told CNN that Italy and the European Commission had agreed on the action. This is the first time that such EU measures have been used for vaccines.

"We are closely discussing with Italians, as well as with all our European partners to have a European approach on the issue." Véran said.
"Since the first day, France has believed in a shared European approach," he added.

In late January, a public and acrimonious fight erupted between the EU and AstraZeneca over vaccine delays, after the company advised the bloc that it would deliver tens of millions fewer doses than agreed by the end of March.

The European Commission later adopted new measures giving member states the power to restrict the export of vaccines outside the bloc, in certain situations.

Italy has justified invoking the powers by citing AstraZeneca's delays in supplying its vaccine to Italy and the EU, and noting that Australia is not considered a "vulnerable" nation to Covid-19 by the EU.

Read more:

3:37 a.m. ET, March 5, 2021

Japan extends state of emergency for Tokyo

People commute on a train in Tokyo, Japan on March 5 as officials extended a coronavirus state of emergency in the Tokyo area.
People commute on a train in Tokyo, Japan on March 5 as officials extended a coronavirus state of emergency in the Tokyo area. Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

Japan approved a two-week extension for Tokyo's Covid-19 state of emergency, the country's public broadcaster NHK reported Friday.

The state of emergency has been in place for Tokyo and three prefectures -- Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa -- since January 7, and was set to end Sunday. It will now continue until March 21.

The extension was approved to lessen the strain on hospitals and ensure hospital bed availability, said Nishimura Yasutoshi, Japan's Covid-19 response minister, on Friday.

Nishimura also noted infection rates were higher in March and April 2020 as people's movements increase during that time. 

Tokyo reported 279 new cases on Thursday, bringing its total to 112,624, according to the city's Metropolitan Government.

3:20 a.m. ET, March 5, 2021

US reports more than 65,000 cases on Thursday

The United States reported 65,447 new Covid-19 cases and 1,775 related deaths on Thursday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

That raises the national total to at least 28,825,427 cases and 520,228 deaths.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

At least 109,905,530 vaccine doses have been distributed and at least 82,572,848 shots administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least 54,035,670 people have received one or more doses of the vaccine and at least 27,795,980 people have received two doses, the website shows.

See CNN's live tracker here.

2:10 a.m. ET, March 5, 2021

More than 2,750 cases of coronavirus variants reported in the US

The United States has reported at least 2,753 cases of the coronavirus variants first spotted in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Genomic sequencing has turned up cases of the three top variants of concern in 47 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico.

The CDC says this does not represent the total number of such cases circulating in the US -- just those detected by analyzing positive samples.

UK variant: The vast majority of these cases -- 2,672 -- are the more contagious variant known as B.1.1.7, which was originally detected in the UK. This variant has been found in 46 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC. About 24% of cases are in Florida. 

South Africa variant: There have been 68 cases of a variant first seen in South Africa, called B.1.351, in 16 states and Washington, DC.

Brazil variant: 13 total cases of the P.1 variant first linked to Brazil have been discovered in 7 states.

2:01 a.m. ET, March 5, 2021

Australia says it has enough AstraZeneca vaccines until domestic production is established

From CNN's Carly Walsh

A container holding the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine arrives at Sydney International Airport on February 28.
A container holding the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine arrives at Sydney International Airport on February 28. Edwina Pickles/Pool/Getty Images

Australia has enough doses of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine to continue plans to inoculate its citizens, according to a statement from the spokesperson of the Minister for Health.

The statement said existing vaccines in the country will see Australia through until domestic production is established in late March. 

Australia started inoculating citizens with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on February 22. Distribution of the AstraZeneca vaccine began Thursday in the state of South Australia.