The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines

By Joshua Berlinger, Kara Fox and Christopher Johnson, CNN

Updated 9:39 PM ET, Fri April 2, 2021
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10:00 a.m. ET, April 2, 2021

Clashes break out between Brussels police and attendees of a fake April Fool's festival

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

People throw objects towards police in Bois de la Cambre park in Brussels, as clashes broke out following an  unauthorized event in violation of coronavirus restrictions, on April 1.
People throw objects towards police in Bois de la Cambre park in Brussels, as clashes broke out following an unauthorized event in violation of coronavirus restrictions, on April 1. Francisco Seco/AP

Violent clashes broke out between Brussels police and people gathering to attend a fake April Fool's Day festival on Thursday in violation of coronavirus restrictions.

Ilse Van de keere, spokesperson for the Bruxelles Ixelles Police, told CNN on Friday that 26 police officers and eight participants of the illegal event were injured when police tried to break up the gathering.

The windows of a police van were smashed and seven police horses were injured Van de keere said, and that 22 people were arrested.

Footage from the scene shows police officers on horseback appearing to strike participants with batons and spraying water cannons to try and disperse the crowd.

People scatter as police use a water cannon to disperse the crowd in Bois de la Cambre park.
People scatter as police use a water cannon to disperse the crowd in Bois de la Cambre park. Francisco Seco/AP

The hoax event, called "The Party," was widely promoted on social media networks as an outdoor festival in the city's Bois de la Cambre park.

A Facebook event page for the event boasted a lineup of "100s of DJs" and free admission for participants. 

On March 17, the Brussels police posted a tweet warning potential attendees that the event was an April Fool's joke, adding that no authorization had been given and police would be present.

A number of anti-lockdown events and protests have taken place in Brussels this year with one protest on February 1 resulting in 488 arrests. 

Watch:

7:12 a.m. ET, April 2, 2021

North Korea sees mass exodus of foreigners due to Covid-19, Russian Embassy says

From CNN's Joshua Berlinger

Foreign diplomats and aid workers have fled North Korea en masse in recent months due to shortages of goods and "unprecedented" restrictions on daily life imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus, according to the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang.

The embassy said in a statement on its official Facebook page that there are now only 290 expatriates within North Korea, including just nine ambassadors and four charge d'affaires. All foreign personnel working for NGOs and humanitarian organizations have left the country.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia had one of the biggest diplomatic missions in North Korea, but its presence has dwindled recently. Months of living with strict public health measures and coping with extreme shortages of "necessary goods," including medicine appear to have taken a toll.

Diplomats, aid workers and NGO staff have chosen to leave North Korea rather than risk being stranded due to the country's inflexible and strict border controls -- shrinking Pyongyang's already small expatriate community, a valuable source of information on one of the world's most reclusive and secretive countries.

North Korea's borders have been effectively locked down for months as part of Kim Jong Un regime's efforts to keep Covid-19 at bay, stranding the few diplomats operating inside Pyongyang.

Experts believe Kim decided to sever almost all of North Korea's ties with the outside world because he recognized his country's dilapidated healthcare system would be overwhelmed by a Covid-19 outbreak.

Kim's strategy appears to have worked from a public health standpoint. North Korea has not reported a major outbreak of Covid-19, and there have been no indications one has taken place, though experts doubt Pyongyang's claim the country has not seen a single case of the virus.

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7:15 a.m. ET, April 2, 2021

FDA says it's OK to squeeze more doses out of Moderna coronavirus vaccine vials

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

Vials of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine are seen at a vaccination site in Reading, Pennsylvania, on April 1.
Vials of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine are seen at a vaccination site in Reading, Pennsylvania, on April 1. Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle/Getty Images

It’s OK to squeeze more doses out of vials of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, the US Food and Drug Administration said in a revision to Moderna’s emergency use authorization Thursday.

The FDA also authorized a 15-dose vial of Moderna vaccine Thursday – something the company has been working to organize since February.

“The first revision clarifies the number of doses per vial for the vials that are currently available, in that the maximum number of extractable doses is 11, with a range of 10-11 doses, the FDA explained in a statement.

"The second revision authorizes the availability of an additional multi-dose vial in which each vial contains a maximum of 15 doses, with a range of 13-15 doses that can potentially be extracted,” the FDA said.

Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, which regulates vaccines, said that:

Both of these revisions positively impact the supply of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, which will help provide more vaccine doses to communities and allow shots to get into arms more quickly. Ultimately, more vaccines getting to the public in a timely manner should help bring an end to the pandemic more rapidly."

The FDA also said that “because the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine does not contain preservative, any further remaining product that does not constitute a full dose should not be pooled from multiple vials to create one full dose."

"If one vial becomes contaminated during use, pooling doses from multiple vials can spread contamination to other vials,” it said.

Last December, the FDA said it was acceptable to squeeze six -- or even seven doses of vaccine out of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine's five-dose vials.

A certain type of syringe is needed to make this possible.

7:12 a.m. ET, April 2, 2021

UK medicines watchdog finds 30 blood clot cases after AstraZeneca vaccinations

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová and Chris Liakos in London

An medical worker prepares to administer the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in London, on
An medical worker prepares to administer the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in London, on Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

The UK’s medicines watchdog has identified 30 cases of rare blood clots in people who have received the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine -- 25 more than previously reported.

It added that the cases were still very rare and advises the vaccine continue to be used, as the benefits outweigh the risk. 

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said it received 22 reports of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis -- a blood clot in the sinuses that drains blood from the brain -- and eight reports of other thrombosis events where the person’s blood platelet counts were low.
These were out of a total of 18.1 million doses of the vaccine given in the UK by March 24. 
The MHRA said that as of March 21, there were no reports of blood clots for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, though the UK has purchased significantly fewer doses of that shot.

The European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organization also said the vaccination should continue, though several other countries have either paused or limited its use, pending investigation.

On the basis of this ongoing review, the benefits of the vaccines against Covid-19 continue to outweigh any risks and you should continue to get your vaccine when invited to do so,” the MHRA said in its weekly report into vaccination. 

AstraZeneca said that “patient safety remains the Company’s highest priority,” following the report Friday.

“Regulatory authorities in the UK, European Union, the World Health Organization have concluded that the benefits of using our vaccine to protect people from this deadly virus significantly outweigh the risks across all adult age groups. The benefit risk profile of the vaccine was reaffirmed in the EMA’s monthly safety update,” it said.

7:08 a.m. ET, April 2, 2021

Chinese city that borders Myanmar begins a 5-day vaccination drive for all 300,000 residents following Covid-19 outbreak

From CNN’s Beijing bureau

People queue at a Covid-19 vaccination site in Ruili, a city in China's Yunnan Province, on April 1.
People queue at a Covid-19 vaccination site in Ruili, a city in China's Yunnan Province, on April 1. Chen Xinbo/Xinhua/Getty Images

The Chinese city of Ruili, which borders Myanmar, started a citywide mass vaccination campaign for its roughly 300,000 residents after dozens of Covid-19 cases were discovered this week.

Speaking at a press conference Friday, an official said the city had started a mass vaccination and planned to inoculate all its residents in town before April 6.

As of now, Ruili has identified a total of 16 symptomatic cases and 30 asymptomatic cases since March 29, according to government statements. The government notes that many patients are Myanmar nationals.

The government did not indicate if they were refugees from Myanmar.

Ruili officials launched citywide Covid-19 tests since Wednesday morning and stopped all inbound and outbound travel Tuesday evening, according to a statement released by the information department of Yunnan province.

This is the second mass testing that the city has conducted since the coronavirus; the previous one was held in September 2020.

Those needing to leave the city need to show negative Covid-19 test results within three days of departure. 

The Yunnan province statement added that local authorities will crack down on illegal border crossings from Myanmar, as four Covid-19 patients had been identified as Myanmar nationals.

Last September, Chinese officials blamed smugglers from Myanmar for a surge of Covid-19 cases in Ruili.

"There are Burmese asymptomatic cases illegally crossing into the Chinese border," Yang Bianqiang, deputy director of the local police department, told the media at a press conference held by the Ruili government on September 14.

"It shows that there are shortfalls in our work of guarding the 169.8 km borderline, and we must fix the loopholes," he said.

6:41 a.m. ET, April 2, 2021

Turkey's daily Covid-19 cases hit a record high as restrictions are reimposed

From CNN's Gul Tuysuz and Isil Sariyuce in Istanbul   

The nearly empty shopping district on Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul is seen during a general curfew on March 21.
The nearly empty shopping district on Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul is seen during a general curfew on March 21. Elif Ozturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Turkey reported 40,806 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, marking another record high in daily cases since the start of the pandemic, according to Turkish health ministry data released on Thursday.

It was Turkey's highest single-day increase in new cases since the pandemic began in December 2020, when it recorded more than 33,000 new infections in a single day.

The surge comes as the country is facing new restrictions.

On Monday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reimposed weekend curfews and announced plans for further restrictions, such as a ban on indoor dining during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan -- set to begin on April 13. 

Erdogan said that the weekend lockdowns would occur in cities with the highest number of Covid-19 cases and that nationwide, evening lockdowns will remain in place from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The weekend lockdowns will effect 58 of 81 cities, encompassing 80 % of the country’s population, he said.

Restaurants and cafes will only be open for deliveries and takeout throughout Ramadan.

No mass gatherings will be allowed for the breaking of the fast, Iftar, or the early-morning pre-fast meal, Sahur, throughout the country. 

Turkey has recorded 3,357,988 total Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, according to the health ministry.  On Thursday, the health ministry reported 176 new deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 31,713.    

4:51 a.m. ET, April 2, 2021

Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar hospitalized days after testing positive for Covid-19

From Akanksha Sharma and CNN’s Vedika Sud

Indian cricket legend Sachin Teldulkar poses for a photograph at the Oval cricket ground in south London , on May 6, 2017.
Indian cricket legend Sachin Teldulkar poses for a photograph at the Oval cricket ground in south London , on May 6, 2017. Niklas Halle'N/AFP/Getty Images

Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar has been hospitalized days after testing positive for Covid-19, according to a statement posted on his official Twitter account on Friday.

In the tweet, Tendulkar said: “As a matter of abundant precaution under medical advice, I have been hospitalized. I hope to be back home in a few days.”

On March 27, Tendulkar first announced on Twitter that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. At the time, he said that his symptoms were “mild” and that he was in quarantine at his home.

Tendulkar, widely considered the greatest batsman of all time, retired from cricket in 2013.

His cricket career spanned 24 years, in which time he amassed a record 15,921 runs -- making him the highest run scorer in Test history.

Tendulkar's news comes as India is facing a surge in coronavirus cases.

On Thursday, the country reported 12,221,665 total cases, including 11,474,683 recoveries and 162,927 deaths, according to the Indian Ministry of Health.

More than 65 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been distributed so far, according to the health ministry.

6:26 a.m. ET, April 2, 2021

If you're fully vaccinated, you can celebrate Easter in the US indoors with no masks, CDC says

From CNN Health's Ryan Prior

A nurse loads a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at the Blood Bank of Alaska in Anchorage, on March 19
A nurse loads a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at the Blood Bank of Alaska in Anchorage, on March 19 Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

People who have been fully vaccinated are safe to celebrate Easter this Sunday indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing masks, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In a series of tweets, the public health agency also recommended that those who aren't fully vaccinated stick to their own households for Easter dinner and egg hunts, or enjoy these traditions outdoors while six feet apart, in order to protect against spreading Covid-19.

The CDC says it's still learning how vaccines protect against the coronavirus, and advises that fully vaccinated people going out in public still wear masks and take precautions until the agency knows more.

At least 99,565,311 people have received at least one dose of vaccine and at least 56,089,614 people are now fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Meanwhile, the US rate of infections continues to climb, with 30,539,175 cases of coronavirus cases and at least 553,120 deaths, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.

2:13 a.m. ET, April 2, 2021

Panama authorizes emergency use of Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Elizabeth González, Tatiana Arias and Claudia Rebaza

Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine.
Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine. Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

Panama has authorized the emergency use of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, the country’s Health Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

Panamanian authorities requested 3 million doses of the Russia-made vaccine in February, which could now help jump-start the country's vaccination drive.

Panama has only received 457,000 doses of the 3 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses it signed up for. The country is still waiting on at least 1 million AstraZeneca doses and a similar amount to be delivered through the COVAX agreement, according to the ministry. 

As of Thursday, 373,491 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered across the country, the ministry said. 

Panama has reported a total of 355,499 cases of coronavirus and 6,119 Covid-19 related deaths, according to ministry data.