December 14 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 4:06 p.m. ET, December 15, 2020
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7:08 a.m. ET, December 14, 2020

Germany's situation is "dead serious," says President

From CNN’s Nadine Schmidt in Berlin 

Germany's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier gives a speech in Berlin on December 14.
Germany's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier gives a speech in Berlin on December 14. Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Germany's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Monday that tougher lockdown restrictions in Germany are vital to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country, calling the situation “dead serious.” 

“From Wednesday onwards, our public and private life will be more restricted than we have ever seen in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany,” he said, adding: “The situation is dead serious.”

In a rare speech, the German president addressed the nation a day after Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that the country would return to tighter lockdown restrictions from Wednesday over the festive period. Non-essential retail and services as well schools and kindergartens will close down until January 10, 2021. 

“Thousands of deaths in a week, and an infection rate that threatens to get out of control. We cannot avoid drastic measures…. We can't risk a situation where the health system can't cope anymore," Steinmeier added.

He said he understood that people are beginning to show coronavirus fatigue but reiterated how vital it is that everyone sticks to the measures announced on Sunday and contributes to bringing down the high infection numbers. 

Germany recorded 16,362 new coronavirus infections on Monday -- 4,000 more than a week ago -- according to data from the Robert Koch Institute, the country's agency for disease control. The overall number of infected people stands at 1,337,078. The death toll rose by 188 to 21,975, data showed.

On Friday, Germany recorded nearly 30,000 new coronavirus infections and nearly 600 deaths within 24 hours in a record day for both daily infections and fatalities.

7:09 a.m. ET, December 14, 2020

Eswatini Prime Minister becomes first head of government to die after Covid-19 diagnosis

From CNN’s David McKenzie in Johannesburg and Philip Wang in Atlanta

Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, prime minister of Eswatini, speaks at the COP24 climate change summit in Katowice, Poland, on December 3, 2018.
Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, prime minister of Eswatini, speaks at the COP24 climate change summit in Katowice, Poland, on December 3, 2018. Lukasz Kalinowski/Shutterstock

The Prime Minister of the tiny African nation of Eswatini died while being treated for Covid-19 at a hospital in South Africa on Sunday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Monday.

The death appears to make Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini the first head of government confirmed to have died after a Covid-19 diagnosis. He was 52 years old. 

In a statement, Ramaphosa offered his condolences to the family and friends of the late Prime Minister, the Swazi Royal Family, the government of the Kingdom, and the nation at large.

6:53 a.m. ET, December 14, 2020

Ohio and Michigan hospitals confirm vaccines about to arrive

From CNN's Samantha Guff, Sara Sidner and Jack Hannah

Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are prepared for shipment at the Pfizer manufacturing plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on December 13.
Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are prepared for shipment at the Pfizer manufacturing plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on December 13. Morry Gash/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center expects the first doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to be delivered between 9:15 and 9:30 a.m. ET this morning, hospital spokesperson Alexis Shaw told CNN in a statement.  

Once the vaccine arrives, Shaw said, they plan to begin vaccinating about 20 to 30 of the hospital’s “prioritized, high risk frontline healthcare workers” within 1-1.5 hours.

The University of Michigan Hospital is expecting to receive its first doses of the shot at 8:45 a.m., a hospital spokesperson told CNN.

Distribution begins: Thousands of vials of the vaccine were collected for distribution across the country Sunday after it passed its last regulatory hurdle. Los Angeles International Airport tweeted just before 10 p.m. local time that it had received its first batch.

Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, said on Saturday that 145 administration sites across all the states were expected to receive the vaccine on Monday, another 425 sites on Tuesday, and the final 66 sites on Wednesday.

Read more here:

6:13 a.m. ET, December 14, 2020

London Mayor presses for tighter Covid restrictions and school closures as cases spike

From CNN's Mia Alberti and Sharon Braithwaite

London Mayor Sadiq Khan makes a statement to media in the city on September 25.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan makes a statement to media in the city on September 25. Victoria Jones/Pool/Getty Images

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has criticized the UK government’s current Covid-19 restrictions and asked for tighter measures, such as school closures.

"Given the surge in cases in London, and in neighbouring counties of Kent and Essex, further urgent government action is needed to ensure we regain control of the virus... We are therefore calling on you to take further urgent measures, on the back of public health advice, to prevent a continued increase in cases," Khan wrote in an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

"With significant outbreaks among 10 to 19-year-olds, the Government must consider asking schools and colleges to close early and re-open later in January," Khan said.

In London, 17 local authorities have registered a 7-day case rate higher than 200 cases per 100,000 people. Khan told the government it should consider moving London from Tier 2 to Tier 3 of restriction levels, putting the city on "very high alert." This would also allow authorities to introduce more restrictions.

On Sunday, local authorities in the London borough of Greenwich announced the closure of all its schools from Monday until the end of the term.

That decision challenges the central government's policy to keep schools open.

"Our overall message is that we want to keep the schools open. For young people, for students, the best thing we can do, to support them is to keep them in education, because there are negative consequences when that doesn't happen," UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma said in an interview with Sky News on Monday.

Sharma said 99% of schools across the UK have remained open since the beginning of the school year, and the government will talk to local authorities to discuss changes in restrictions "on a case by case basis."

5:59 a.m. ET, December 14, 2020

Singapore approves Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine with first shipments expected by end of year

From CNN's Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

Singapore has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine and is expecting the first shipments to arrive by the end of December, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Friday.

“I am very happy to tell you that after studying the scientific evidence and clinical trial data, the Health Sciences Authority has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for pandemic use, the first shipment should arrive by the end of this month,” Lee announced in a televised address to the nation. 

“We also expect other vaccines to arrive in Singapore in the coming months; if all goes according to plan, we will have enough vaccines for everyone in Singapore by the third quarter of 2021,” Lee said. 

Shots will first be administered to those at “greatest risk,” including healthcare workers, frontline personnel, and the elderly population, according to the Prime Minister. 

Vaccines will be free of charge to all Singaporeans and permanent residents, but will not be compulsory, Lee said.

Lee also announced that Singapore will start "Phase 3" of reopening and a further relaxation of coronavirus restrictions starting on December 28. 

Under the relaxed restrictions:

  • Groups of up to eight will be allowed to meet in public, up from current limit of five.
  • Capacity limits will be eased in public places e.g. shopping malls and places of worship.

As of December 13, Singapore has reported 58,325 cases of coronavirus and 29 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

5:06 a.m. ET, December 14, 2020

Germany's CureVac enrols first participants in vaccine study

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

German biotech company CureVac announced Monday that it had taken a step forward in the development of its coronavirus vaccine. 

The Tübingen-based company said it has started a Phase 3 clinical trial with an expected enrolment of more than 35,000 participants at sites in Europe and Latin America. 

We have reached another important milestone in the development of our vaccine candidate, CVnCoV," CureVac CEO Franz-Werner Haas wrote in the statement.

The vaccine candidate uses mRNA technology, like the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna shots.

Following completion of the trial, subjects will continue to be monitored in a one-year extension study, which will collect additional data to evaluate long-term safety, persistence of antibodies and the duration of efficacy.

5:00 a.m. ET, December 14, 2020

US readies for first Covid-19 vaccinations as country nears 300,000 deaths

From CNN's Susannah Cullinane

Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant in Portage, Michigan, on December 13.
Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant in Portage, Michigan, on December 13. Morry Gash/Pool/Getty Images

Eleven months after the earliest recorded case of coronavirus in the United States, medical workers are preparing to give the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, with deliveries set to arrive at administration sites from around 8 a.m. ET.

Thousands of vials of the vaccine were collected for distribution across the country Sunday after it passed its last regulatory hurdle.

"We expect 145 sites across all the states to receive vaccine on Monday, another 425 sites on Tuesday, and the final 66 sites on Wednesday, which will complete the initial delivery of the Pfizer orders for vaccine," Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, said Saturday.

It's up to states to allocate their share of vaccines, but the CDC has recommended that frontline health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities get the vaccine first. Officials warn it could take months before the vaccine becomes available to many Americans as the virus continues to surge, breaking grim state and national records.

Death toll: More than 30,000 Americans died due to Covid-19 in the first 13 days of December, according to data from Johns Hopkins University (JHU). It put the country's death toll since the beginning of the pandemic at nearly 300,000 as of Sunday night, with more than 16.2 million reported cases.

And hospitalizations have remained above 100,000 for 12 consecutive days, breaking records for eight days in a row Sunday, the Covid Tracking Project (CTP) reported.

Read the full story:

5:04 a.m. ET, December 14, 2020

South Korea is in "greatest crisis" of the pandemic and cases are expected to rise, top health official says

From CNN’s Jake Kwon in Seoul

Special Warfare officers work at the makeshift coronavirus test center in Seoul, South Korea, on December 14.
Special Warfare officers work at the makeshift coronavirus test center in Seoul, South Korea, on December 14. Ko Sung-Joon-Korea/Pool/Getty Images

South Korea's "third wave" of the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to worsen with its caseload to increase, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) warned Monday.

KDCA Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong predicted that daily cases will rise to between 950 to 1,200 in the near future, up from 718 new infections declared on Monday.

"Its pattern is different from the first and the second wave and we judge that this is the greatest crisis since the beginning of the pandemic," Jeong said.

Officials are particularly fearful over the spread of the virus through religious and nursing facilities, Jeong added.

As cases have spiked over the past week, 32% have been in patients aged over 60, Jeong said, warning that cases among elderly citizens will likely result in further deaths.

A religious facility cluster in western Seoul has grown to 162 patients with 22 new cases discovered, according to the KDCA.

Another religious facility in Dangjin, a city south of Seoul, was linked to 42 new cases on Sunday. KDCA's tracing team director Park Yeong-jun blamed a group meal taken in the unventilated facility.

Vaccine deal: South Korea has signed a vaccine agreement with AstraZeneca as part of its plan to acquire doses for 44 million people, with the hope to complete contracts with two other vaccine developers by the end of the year.

4:02 a.m. ET, December 14, 2020

Los Angeles receives its first batch of Covid-19 vaccines

From CNN's Jennifer Selva

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has received its first shipment of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, the airport tweeted on Sunday night.

"This is a major milestone for science, our country and our community. Thank you to all those who made this delivery possible, and are part of the incredible effort to distribute vaccines around the world," LAX tweeted shortly before 10 p.m. PT.

Running out of hospital beds: California reported 30,334 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday and 122 virus-related deaths, according to the state's Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Hospitals are filling up across the state; ICU capacity is down to 4.2% in Southern California, and even lower at 1.5% in the San Joaquin Valley.