April 27 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Kara Fox and Niamh Kennedy, CNN

Updated 1:44 AM ET, Wed April 28, 2021
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8:41 a.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Covid-19 cases are also surging in India's neighboring Nepal

From journalist Asha Thapa in Kathmandu

A health worker holds an oxygen cylinder inside a Covid-19 hospital ward in Kathmandu, Nepal, on April 26.
A health worker holds an oxygen cylinder inside a Covid-19 hospital ward in Kathmandu, Nepal, on April 26. Niranjan Shrestha/AP

Nepal is facing a surge in Covid-19 cases as its neighbor India is crumbling under a brutal second wave of the pandemic, according to Nepal’s department of health.

Nepal has recorded at least 4,364 new Covid-19 cases so far for Tuesday, up from 3,442 new cases on Monday, with the capital Kathmandu reporting the highest number of infections.

The border city of Nepalgunj in Lumbini province has become a Covid-19 hotspot, according to numbers posted by the Department of Health’s website.

In an effort to curb the spread of the disease, "prohibitory orders," or local lockdowns, have been imposed in cities such as Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur for 15 days, starting at 6 a.m. local time on Thursday.

There have been reports that some tourists were infected at Mount Everest’s base camp but the Nepalese government has denied such reports. 

Mira Acharya, the director of the department of mountaineering Nepal Tourism Board, told CNN that he had not received an official notice regarding potential Covid-19 infections of climbers at base camp.

8:32 a.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Dalai Lama donates to India's Covid-19 relief as a 'token of our solidarity'

From CNN’s Chandler Thornton

The Dalai Lama speaks in Mumbai, India, in December 2018.
The Dalai Lama speaks in Mumbai, India, in December 2018. Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images

The Dalai Lama has donated to the Indian Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund, which was created in March 2020.

“I have been following the continuing challenge that the Covid-19 pandemic has been posing across the world, including in India, with concern," the Dalai Lama said in a statement Tuesday.

“At this critical time, during this alarming Covid-19 surge, I have asked the Dalai Lama Trust to make a donation to the PM-CARES Fund as a token of our solidarity with fellow Indian brothers and sisters," the statement added.

The Dalai Lama also expressed his "deep appreciation" for Covid-19 frontline workers adding:

I pray that the pandemic threat will end soon."

Last May, the Dalai Lama called for a “coordinated global response” to the coronavirus pandemic, calling it the only way to “meet the unprecedented magnitude of the challenges we face."

He urged people to “reach out to each other with compassion” and focus on "what unites us as members of one human family."

This is the Dalai Lama's second donation to the PM-CARES Fund after first donating in March 2020. Neither donation amount was disclosed.

The Dalai Lama lives in exile in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala and received his first dose of a coronavirus vaccine from a local hospital on March 6. 

Dharamsala has been the home of the spiritual leader and the Tibetan government-in-exile since 1960.

8:22 a.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Provinces in Pakistan ban non-urgent surgeries as oxygen supplies run low

From CNN’s Sophia Saifi in Islamabad

A shopkeeper speaks with a customer before refilling oxygen cylinders for Covid-19 patients in Karachi, Pakistan, on April 26.
A shopkeeper speaks with a customer before refilling oxygen cylinders for Covid-19 patients in Karachi, Pakistan, on April 26. Rizwan Tabassum/AFP/Getty Images

In light of depleting oxygen supplies in Pakistan, two provinces in the country have imposed a “complete ban” on elective surgeries in order to manage supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Punjab and Sindh -- which are the two most populous provinces of the country -- released statements on Monday announcing the immediate suspension of non-urgent surgeries in hospitals so that oxygen may be conserved for critically-ill Covid-19 patients.

Included in that suspension are surgeries for tonsillitis, kidney stones, fractures, and hernias as well as cosmetic and eye surgeries. 

Speaking at a press conference, the spokesperson of the army Major General Babar Ifitkhar said that “over 75% of the total oxygen” produced in the country has been allocated for the health sector.

He also stated that oxygen reserved for industrial uses “might have to be reallocated” to the health sector if the present coronavirus situation persisted. 

Pakistan currently has 90,000 active cases of the virus of these active cases, Iftikhar said, with 4,300 patients in critical condition and 570 people on ventilators.

On Monday, Pakistan called in its army to assist police in “enforcing” Covid-19 guidelines amid fears of poor compliance in the population.

There are 51 cities where the virus positivity rate is above 5%, according to the military. 

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a televised address to the nation that he wanted to avoid a lockdown as “to save the livelihoods of the poorest in the country” but that he may be left with “no other option.”

7:19 a.m. ET, April 27, 2021

4,000 Indian patients at risk if oxygen supply in Gujarat city does not increase, senior doctor says

From Esha Mitra in New Delhi

The Indian city of Surat in the western state of Gujarat is rapidly running out of oxygen, Hiral Shah, a senior doctor in the city told CNN Tuesday.

“There are about 4,000 patients in the city who need oxygen, said Shah, president of the Indian Medical Association in Surat. 
"If the supply is not increased, we are afraid it could lead to deaths,” he said.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) in Surat appealed to the Chief Minister of Gujarat on Monday, requesting that oxygen supply to the city be increased. On Tuesday they held a meeting with the city’s administrative officials in an attempt to resolve the crisis, Shah said. 

“If oxygen supply is not restored regularly within next 12 hours then private Covid hospitals will be forced to shut down treating patients,” the IMA said its letter on Monday.

Since then, about 30% of the total oxygen supply has been restored to the city, according to Shah.

Surat requires 230 metric tonnes of oxygen, Shah said, adding that a majority of its supply comes from Jamanagar district in Gujarat, more than 330 miles from Surat.

“The problem is transportation -- it does not reach the city in time,” Shah explained, adding that if the situation persists, hospitals will have to stop taking in patients.

In Ahmedabad, another city in Gujarat, smaller hospitals are struggling to procure enough oxygen for their patients who were quickly turning critical, while bigger, corporate hospitals still have enough oxygen for their patients.

Mona Desai, president of the Ahmedabad Medical Association said:

“Patients are losing their lives because... they are not getting admitted in the ICU, they are waiting in the ambulances, waiting to get admitted, there are no ICUs admitted in any private hospitals...things are bad, really bad...we doctors we feel helpless and frustrated, we want to help but we are helpless."

The state of Gujarat recorded 510,373 cases of coronavirus and 6,486 deaths on Tuesday, according to the Indian Ministry of Health.

According to Desai, however, the death toll in the state is “much higher” than what is being officially reported.

6:59 a.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Australia to vaccinate its Olympic athletes ahead of Tokyo Olympic Games

From CNN’s Sarah Faidell

A person rides by the Olympic symbol in Tokyo on January 25.
A person rides by the Olympic symbol in Tokyo on January 25. Viola Kam/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Australian Olympic athletes and staff heading to Japan for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in July will be granted access to Covid-19 vaccines, Australia’s National Cabinet agreed Tuesday. 

Approximately 2,050 Australians identified by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and Paralympics Australia will be able to take the vaccinations, comprised of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the AstraZeneca vaccine, for those over 50. 

“We want to see our athletes head to Tokyo to compete and then return to Australia safely,” said Greg Hunt, Minister for Health and Aged Care.

Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services and Minister for Sport, said vulnerable Australians remain “an absolute priority” as vaccine rollout continues. 

“This will be a very different Olympics and Paralympics, but our athletes deserve the opportunity to compete,” Colbeck said. 

The vaccine rollout in Australia has been hit with delays, with around 1.78 million doses administered to a population of more than 25 million as of last week.

The AOC welcomed the decision, saying in a media release Tuesday that the move provides comfort for athletes and officials. 

“There will be hundreds of very grateful athletes, coaches and their families relieved to know that their hard work over five years has been worth it. This added layer of assurance is what they were seeking,” AOC CEO Matt Carroll said. 

The Opening Ceremony for the postponed Tokyo 2020 games is set for July 23, 2021. 

6:40 a.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Countries pledge oxygen and medical assistance to India as crisis deepens

From Manveena Suri in New Delhi, CNN’s Pierre Bairin in Paris, Niamh Kennedy in Dublin and CNN’s Gawon Bae in Seoul

A health worker fixes an oxygen cylinder for a Covid-19 patient at a banquet hall converted into a quarantine center in New Delhi, India, on April 23.
A health worker fixes an oxygen cylinder for a Covid-19 patient at a banquet hall converted into a quarantine center in New Delhi, India, on April 23. AP

A number of countries have pledged to send oxygen and other medical assistance to India as the country is battling the force of a devastating second coronavirus wave, with hospitals in the capital reporting severe oxygen shortages.

For the past two weeks, medical facilities there have been running out of oxygen and ICU beds, with patients left to die at home and outside hospitals while waiting for care. 

On Tuesday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Tuesday that Delhi government is importing 18 tankers of oxygen from Thailand, adding that they are expected to arrive on Wednesday.

“If these 18 tankers start arriving from tomorrow [Wednesday], the issue of transporting the oxygen will be resolved,” he said.

France has also pledged to help, saying that it would begin sending medical aid to India by the end of this week, according to a press release from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday. 

Eight medical oxygen production units, each of which will be able to make an Indian hospital autonomous in oxygen for ten years, will be part of the shipment. Liquefied oxygen containers and “specialized medical equipment,” --  in particular 28 respirators and their specific supplies -- will also be part of the shipments, the press release said. 

“In response to the needs expressed by the country's authorities, this material is intended to respond to the emergency but also to significantly and sustainably strengthen the capacities of Indian hospitals to treat the sick and fight the pandemic,” the French foreign ministry said.  

France and India have always stood in solidarity with each other in difficult times. This solidarity is at the heart of our strategic partnership and of the friendship between the French and Indian peoples,” it said.

Kejriwal said on Tuesday that Delhi is “importing 21 ready-to-use oxygen plants from France” which “can be brought in to be used immediately.” They will play a part in “in resolving the oxygen crisis in those hospitals,” he said.

Ireland became one of the first to confirm “concrete support” for India on Monday, according to Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney. The Irish health minister announced that Ireland would send 700 oxygen concentrators -- which were originally purchased by the Irish health service as part of their pandemic planning.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said it was looking to help its citizens in urgent need with medical oxygen concentrators on Tuesday, while also planning to send medical and Covid-19 supplies like testing kits to the country.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Choi Young-sam said in a briefing Tuesday that the Foreign Ministry were closely communicating with the embassy and consulates in India to secure the safety of South Korean citizens.

A total of 20,201 cases and 380 deaths were recorded in Delhi on Monday evening, according to a bulletin issued by the local health department.

The capital has reported more than 20,000 cases every day for the past ten days, with the total number of cases standing at 1,047,916, including 14,628 deaths.

5:52 a.m. ET, April 27, 2021

India’s Election Commission bans state election victory processions as Covid-19 cases surge

From Manveena Suri in New Delhi

People wear gloves before casting their votes at a polling station during West Bengal state elections in New Town, North 24 Parganas district, India, on April 17.
People wear gloves before casting their votes at a polling station during West Bengal state elections in New Town, North 24 Parganas district, India, on April 17. Bikas Das/AP

India’s Election Commission has banned all election victory processions on May 2, marking the latest move by authorities to tackle the country's current Covid-19 crisis.

The Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Assam -- and the union territory of Puducherry -- went to the polls on March 27, with voting taking place across eight phases and ending on April 29.

All votes will be counted on May 2, with the results announced on the same day.

"Not more than two persons shall be allowed to accompany the winning candidate or his/her authorized representative to receive the certificate of election from the Returning Officer concerned," an Election Commission notification said on Tuesday.

Amidst a brutal second wave of the pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have come under fire for holding several rallies in West Bengal, with thousands in attendance between March and April.

Last week, the BJP said it would no longer hold large election rallies there, citing a “difficult phase of the pandemic." Instead, they announced they would hold "small public gatherings," with a with a cap of 500 people, according to a BJP statement.

India reported 323,144 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases to 17,636,307, including 197,894 deaths, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health.

On April 22, India recorded the highest daily increase of cases in the world since the start of the pandemic with 314, 835 new Covid-19 cases, and continued to top the global record for five consecutive days. 

1:14 a.m. ET, April 27, 2021

India is spiraling deeper into Covid-19 crisis. Here's what you need to know

From CNN's Jessie Yeung

In February, it seemed like India had gotten Covid-19 under control, with daily cases falling nearly 90% from the peak of the first wave last year.

Now, the country is experiencing the world's worst outbreak. India reported 323,144 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, marking the first time in a week that cases have dipped after hitting record highs, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health.

On the ground, these numbers translate to heart wrenching tragedy. Photos show grieving families dressed in full protective suits at mass cremations, performing last rites surrounded by dozens of other burning funeral pyres. Hospitals have run out of basic medical supplies, with many patients dying due to oxygen shortages. Family members are driving from clinic to clinic, frantically searching for open ICU beds for their loved ones.

The government has been scrambling to respond to the crisis, with countries around the world offering aid. But for now, the outbreak shows no signs of letting up, and experts warn it could get even worse.

"I'm afraid this is not the peak," said Dr. Giridhara R. Babu of the Public Health Foundation of India on Monday. "The kind of data that we see, (we are) at least two to three weeks away from the peak."

Others say India may be approaching the peak now, sooner than Babu's estimate -- but with so many ill and so few supplies available, the country will see many more deaths before the second wave subsides.

Read more about the crisis in India:

1:08 a.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Biden will announce new CDC mask guidance Tuesday, sources say

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Kate Sullivan

President Joe Biden is expected to announce Tuesday that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance for wearing masks outdoors, three people familiar with the expected announcement said.

Ahead of his first address to Congress on Wednesday, the President will give remarks on the state of the pandemic on Tuesday. The three people familiar with the expected announcement said Biden will announce new CDC guidance on whether vaccinated people need to wear masks outdoors, though the final language of the expected announcement is still unclear.

One of Biden's top coronavirus advisers, Dr. Anthony Fauci, strongly hinted that the guidance would be updated this week, telling CNN's Jim Acosta Sunday he didn't want to get ahead of the CDC, but they "will be coming out with updating their guidelines of what people who are vaccinated can do and even some who are not vaccinated."

The Biden administration is also expected to announce, as early as Tuesday, several other new recommendations for fully vaccinated people in addition to "unmasking outdoors," a federal official told CNN.

The official said the new recommendations "will provide guidelines for activities fully vaccinated people can resume," suggesting a broader list than simply guidelines on masks. The recommendations will also provide guidelines for infection control and prevention in health care settings.

A November review in the Journal of Infectious Diseases found that the odds of viral transmission are 18.7 times greater indoors than out, and less than 10% of Covid-19 infections studied occurred outside. Despite that, several states still have outdoor mask mandates in place.

Read the full story: