April 6 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Rob Picheta, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 1:31 AM ET, Wed April 7, 2021
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8:05 a.m. ET, April 6, 2021

US faces a tsunami of chronic disease deaths when the pandemic is over, former FDA commissioner says

From CNN's Maggie Fox

The US is set up for a tsunami of deaths caused by chronic diseases – especially heart disease – once the coronavirus pandemic is over, a former US Food and Drug Administration commissioner said Tuesday.

“Once the acute phase of this crisis is past, we will face an enormous wave of death and disability due to common chronic diseases (CCDs), with cardiometabolic diseases at the crest,” Dr. Robert Califf, who was FDA commissioner in the Obama administration and who now works at Verily Life Sciences and Google Health, wrote in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

It’s an ongoing problem that the pandemic has worsened, Califf argued. “Unlike its peers, the United States has seen declining life expectancy over the last few years after decades of steady progress. This reversal is chiefly due to increases in drug overdose and suicide, but deaths from CVD (cardiovascular disease), particularly stroke, have also increased.

"These challenges are coupled with adverse patterns of risk among younger people, including increases in obesity, hypertension, and glucose intolerance driven by poor diet and lack of exercise—patterns that portend increases in cardiometabolic disease for decades to come,” he wrote.

“This concerning pattern is compounded by an alarming increase in deaths directly from COVID-19 together with rising CCD- and drug-related deaths. The net effect is a substantial increase in excess death and a correspondingly steep drop in average U.S. life expectancy, perhaps by as much as three years,” Califf predicted.

The US has an opportunity to make big changes to fix some of the underlying problems, he said. These could include universal health care and better use of so-called big data, as well as better sharing of data and real-time tracking of chronic disease incidence to improve prevention strategies.

“The fight against COVID-19 has given us a glimpse of what is possible,” he wrote.

“If we act now, we can significantly reduce the damage from the impending tsunami.”

7:55 a.m. ET, April 6, 2021

Vaccine certificates would not be discriminatory, UK vaccines minister insists

From CNN's Amy Cassidy

UK vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi walks in London in December 2020.
UK vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi walks in London in December 2020. Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

Vaccine certification as means of unlocking British society would not be discriminatory, the UK vaccines minister insisted on Tuesday, as the proposal continues to attract controversy in the UK.

The minister, Nadhim Zahawi, said such a requirement does raise “a number of ethical issues” but “it would be remiss of us as a government” not to look at all the options to reopen the economy and “take our lives back.”

No decision has been made yet, he said on BBC Breakfast, but “ultimately whatever we decide has to be workable, has to be non-discriminatory. You can't have a sort of two tier or multi-tiered system.”

The comments from Zahawi – echoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s words a day earlier – are the latest indication that a government which once ruled out the possibility of “vaccine passports” is sliding towards introducing them.

Zahawi himself previously rejected the idea of introducing a vaccine passport: “One, we don't know the impact of the vaccines on transmission. Two, it would be discriminatory,” he said on Sky News in February.

But the scheme will now be piloted in the coming weeks for large-scale events, cinemas and theatres. 

Asked on BBC Breakfast how this will be possible without being discriminatory, Zahawi said: “There is not going to be a situation where a government is going to allow that to happen, but it's only right that we look at all technologies. 

He continued: “Everyone can get a test, there is no discrimination, anyone can get a test, not everybody can get a vaccine [...] which is why we've got to look at all the technologies, make sure they work together to get us to the place where we need to be.”

The subject has been met with both support and backlash from across the political spectrum, with several figures in Johnson’s own Conservative party against the idea of vaccine passports. 

The government published an update to its review on easing lockdown restrictions on Monday, which said: “Even without Government intervention, Covid-status certification is likely to become a feature of our lives until the threat from the pandemic recedes.”

Separately, Zahawi affirmed the Moderna vaccine is on track to be rolled out in the UK “around the third week of April.”

7:16 a.m. ET, April 6, 2021

IOC and South Korea look for clarity after North Korea reportedly pulls out of Olympics over Covid-19 fears

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok

People at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, watch a news report about North Korea's decision not to participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games due to Covid-19 concerns on April 6.
People at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, watch a news report about North Korea's decision not to participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games due to Covid-19 concerns on April 6. Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it has “not received any official application" from North Korea regarding its reported decision to pull out of this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games due to Covid-19 concerns. 

In a statement to CNN on Tuesday, the IOC said: “This news has to be put in context. 

“Unfortunately, (North Korea’s Olympic Committee) was, despite several requests of the IOC, not in a position to hold a telephone conference during which also the COVID-19 situation in North Korea should have been discussed.

“The IOC has not received any official application from the NOC of DPRK to be released from their obligation to take part in the Olympic Games according to the Olympic Charter.”

DPRK sports, a website on sports affairs in North Korea, reported Tuesday that the country would skip the delayed event to “protect players from the world public health crisis caused by Covid-19."

Following those reports, the South Korean government said it hoped its neighbors would still take part. The South Korean Foreign Ministry's spokesperson Choi Young-sam said in a briefing on Tuesday that the country suppoers Japan’s hosting of the Olympics with Covid-19 control measures in place.

7:07 a.m. ET, April 6, 2021

Undercover video sparks outrage over secret dinner parties for Paris elite

From CNN's Saskya Vandoorne and Rob Picheta

An undercover report showing members of the Paris elite enjoying secret dinner parties in luxury restaurants and flouting Covid-19 restrictions has sparked fury in France, and prompted the city's prosecutor to launch an investigation.

The probe comes after a TV report by channel M6 that aired Friday, showing hidden camera footage of two upmarket restaurants filled with mask-free guests.

In the video, an undercover journalist enters a private dining club with closed shutters and is greeted by a waiter wearing white gloves. She is asked on whose behalf she has been invited and is told: "Once you're through the door, there's no more Covid."

The maitre d' is heard explaining that the menu starts at 160 euros ($190) per person. For 490 euros ($580) diners can sip champagne while feasting on foie gras with truffle and langoustine in a ginger sauce.

"We are looking into possible charges of endangerment and undeclared labor," a spokesman for the Paris prosecutor told CNN Monday. "We will verify whether the gatherings were organized in violation of sanitary rules and determine who were the potential organizers and participants."

Restaurants in France have been closed since late last year, as the country battles a third wave of coronavirus infections.

An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that restaurants have been closed in France since last month. They’ve been closed since last year. This has been corrected.

5:04 a.m. ET, April 6, 2021

India’s capital imposes night curfew amid rise in coronavirus cases

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

A health worker places a swab sample vial into a box after a roadside Covid-19 RT-PCR test in New Delhi, India on April 5.
A health worker places a swab sample vial into a box after a roadside Covid-19 RT-PCR test in New Delhi, India on April 5. Naveen Sharma/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

India’s union territory of Delhi, which contains the nation’s capital New Delhi, has imposed a night curfew with immediate effect as coronavirus cases mount, the region's government has announced.

The curfew will last between 10 p.m and 5 a.m. local time every day until April 30, during which all public movement will be prohibited. 

Only those engaged in essential services, including medical staff, media personnel, and essential delivery couriers, will be allowed to travel overnight.

The union territory of Delhi reported 3,548 new cases of the virus on Monday, bringing the total cases in the city to 679,962. Cases have been above 3,500 for each of the last four days. 

India has suffered a new wave of coronavirus infections, reporting more than 90,000 cases daily over the last three days -- similar to the case load the country experience in the peak of its first wave in September last year. 

Delhi has taken a number of measures to ramp up testing and vaccinations to combat the spread. On Monday hospitals began running a third of their vaccination centers 24 hours a day.

"Those who want to get the vaccine during the curfew can do so, they would just have to take an e-pass before commuting during the curfew hours," Rajat Tiwari, secretary to the Delhi health minister told CNN Monday.

The chief minister of Delhi on Monday also wrote to the Prime Minister to remove the age restriction for distributing the vaccines, which currently stands at 45 and above.

Since the pandemic began, India has reported more than 12.6 million Covid-19 cases and more than 165,000 deaths. It has distributed more than 83 million vaccine doses, according to the Indian Ministry of Health.

2:55 a.m. ET, April 6, 2021

China reports 17 local Covid-19 cases, all in border province near Myanmar

From CNN's Beijing bureau 

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) reported 17 new locally-transmitted Covid-19 cases Tuesday. All of the new infections were recorded in Yunnan, a southwestern province on the border with Myanmar.

Nine of the 17 new cases were Burmese nationals, the NHC said.

Yunnan has recorded 90 Covid-19 cases since March 29, most from the border city of Ruili. 

The NHC has not specified whether the uptick in cases is from Myanmar refugees, but 40 of the 90 new cases recorded since March 29 are Burmese nationals. 

Three neighborhoods in Ruili have been marked as high-risk areas. The city is undergoing a vaccination campaign that aims to inoculate all of its approximately 300,000 residents by Tuesday.

2:48 a.m. ET, April 6, 2021

New Zealand to begin quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia

From CNN's Mia Alberti and Angus Watson

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces plans for a quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia during a news conference on April 6 in Wellington, New Zealand.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces plans for a quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia during a news conference on April 6 in Wellington, New Zealand. Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

New Zealand will allow Australians to travel to the country quarantine-free, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced at a news conference Tuesday.

The travel bubble is set to begin on Sunday, April 18 at 11:59 p.m., Ardern said. 

Australia has allowed for New Zealand travelers to enter without quarantine and New Zealand is now following suit.

"This is an important step forward in our Covid response and represents an arrangement I do not believe we have seen in any other part of the world. That is, safely opening up international travel to another country while continuing to pursue a strategy of elimination and a commitment to keeping the virus out", Ardern said during the news conference.

Under the new rules, passengers won't be allowed to travel if they had a positive Covid test in the previous 14 days or present flu-like symptoms. 

The New Zealand prime minister also said travel "will not be what it was pre-Covid", explaining flights could be suspended again in the case of a new outbreak or travelers might be asked to take a PCR test or quarantine upon arrival, depending on the nature and origin of the infections. 

Ardern also said travelers coming from Australia will board on "green zone flights." 

"That means there will be no passengers on that flight who have come from anywhere but Australia in the last 14 days", Ardern said, adding the crews operating the connection "have not flown on any high-risk routes for a set period of time".

2:37 a.m. ET, April 6, 2021

3 Japanese prefectures strengthen coronavirus restrictions as cases rise

From CNN's Chandler Thornton and Junko

Japanese prefectures Osaka, Hyogo, and Miyagi are strengthening their Covid-19 measures amid a rise in cases in the country, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The restrictions, which are set to last one month, include asking bars and restaurants to close by 8 p.m. and will prevent entry to customers without a mask.

Osaka prefecture is set to hold the Tokyo Olympic torch relay on April 14, but organizers are asking for the event to be moved because of the rise in cases, NHK reported.

Osaka Gov. Yoshimura Hirofumi told reporters on Monday the torch relay will not be held on public roads and is still looking into the possibility of alternative sites for the event.

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Monday the rise in coronavirus cases has not yet reached the level of a nationwide fourth wave, but extra vigilance is required.

Japan's Health Ministry reported 1,554 new infections on Monday. The overall total number of confirmed cases in the country now stands at 485,797 and the death toll at 9,259. Tokyo reported 249 cases on Monday, according to its government site.

Japan's rise in cases come four months ahead of the Olympics, set to start July 23 in Tokyo. North Korea has reportedly decided drop out of the Games due to concerns its athletes could contract the virus.

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

Indian states call for vaccine age restriction to be lowered as Covid-19 cases surge

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

A BMC medical staff member administers a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at the Urban Health Training Centre on April 3 in Mumbai, India.
A BMC medical staff member administers a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at the Urban Health Training Centre on April 3 in Mumbai, India. Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

India's Maharashtra state and the union territory of Delhi have asked the central government to lower the age limit of those eligible to take the Covid-19 vaccine amid a rise in new cases.

"If the central government allows us to vaccinate people on a mass level then we can create thousands of facilities in schools, community centers and start a war of a vaccination drive," Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi, said Monday. 

Since April 1, the Indian government has provided Covid-19 vaccinations to anyone age 45 and over. 

In Maharashtra, where weekend lockdowns and night curfews have been put in place until the end of April to curb the spread of the virus, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray reiterated the request to lower the age threshold.

"If a larger number of our young and working population is vaccinated, the intensity of the cases would be much lower than the treatment that they need today," Thackeray said in his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, asking for the eligibility to be lowered to all above the age of 25. 

Maharashtra state accounts for more than half of the new Covid-19 cases in the country. 

India is facing a second wave of coronavirus, with more than 100,000 infections reported on Monday, its highest single-day rise since the beginning of the pandemic. 

On Tuesday, India reported 96,982 cases, taking the total to 12,686,049, including 165,547 deaths, according to the Indian Ministry of Health.