April 26 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Jenni Marsh, Tara John, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 9:44 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020
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12:32 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Almost 2.9 million coronavirus cases have been reported worldwide

From CNN's Alta Spells

As the United States recorded 48,529 new cases of the coronavirus and 2,772 deaths across the country Saturday, here's where the global figures currently stand, according to Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

The university has tallied 2,897,645 cases worldwide as of Sunday, with the US the worst hit country by far. As of midnight ET, the country has 939,053 cases and 53,789 deaths.

Spain has the second-highest number of cases, at 223,759, followed by Italy with 195,351.

Eleven countries around the world, including the US, have recorded more than 50,000 cases so far, and five countries have recorded more than 20,000 deaths.

11:45 p.m. ET, April 25, 2020

China reports 11 new cases of coronavirus

From CNN's Alexandra Lin in Hong Kong

China reported 11 new cases of the novel coronavirus and no new deaths on Saturday, the National Health Commission announced today.

The 11 new infections include five imported cases and six local cases. Of the latter, all but one were reported in Heilongjiang province, in China's far northeast, on the Russian border.

There has been growing concern over cases coming into China from Russia, over fears they could spark a new outbreak in the north as most of the country returns to normal.

In addition to the 11 confirmed cases, 30 new asymptomatic cases were reported. Some 1,000 asymptomatic patients are still under medical observation around the country. China previously did not include those patients not showing symptoms in some of its tallies.

The total number of confirmed cases to date is 82,827, the NHC said.

Of those confirmed cases, 77,394 patients have recovered and been discharged.

The country's official death toll stands at 4,632.

11:17 p.m. ET, April 25, 2020

Several Italian mafia bosses released from prison over coronavirus fears

From CNN's Livia Borghese and Robert Iddiols

Anti-riot police officers stand guard outside the San Vittore prison in Milan as inmates stage a protest on a rooftop of a wing at the prison on March 9, in one of Italy's quarantine red zones.
Anti-riot police officers stand guard outside the San Vittore prison in Milan as inmates stage a protest on a rooftop of a wing at the prison on March 9, in one of Italy's quarantine red zones. Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

Several Italian mafia bosses have been released from prison under a new coronavirus regulation, the country's national anti-mafia prosecutor said.

Francesco Bonura, an influential boss in the Sicilian Cosa Nostra; Vincenzo Iannazzo, a member of the Ndrangheta; and Pasquale Zagaria, a member of the Casalesi clan, have been moved to house arrest, according to Federico Cafiero De Raho, Italy's anti-mafia prosecutor.

To prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus within correctional facilities, the Italian government authorized magistrates to transfer inmates with 18 months or less left in their sentences to house arrest.

Cafiero De Raho said the three men had been held under "extra isolation measures" to avoid contact with people outside the prison because of the roles they had in mafia organizations.

"Once they are sent back home, these measures are obviously no longer enforced," the prosecutor added.

Read more here.

10:51 p.m. ET, April 25, 2020

I left Hong Kong for a break. Instead I got stuck with my parents for weeks

From CNN's Julia Hollingsworth in Wellington, New Zealand

Julia Hollingsworth/CNN
Julia Hollingsworth/CNN

I'm a 30-year-old woman and my dad has just told me to clean my room.

It's slightly humiliating, but not entirely surprising. For the past month, I've been at my childhood home in New Zealand on coronavirus lockdown -- and it appears I'll be living with my parents for the foreseeable future.

Until recently, I lived in my own apartment in Hong Kong with a spirited cat and a large collection of potted plants. My interests included heading to the beach or grabbing a drink in a pub.

Now, my hobbies are a bit different. Last weekend, I made five different types of bread. This weekend, we have grand plans to go on a walk.

Back in late January, as the coronavirus outbreak grew increasingly serious in mainland China, CNN's Hong Kong office largely shut down and I was asked to work from home. At first, I enjoyed the novelty of wearing my pyjamas during work meetings. But as the weeks wore on, my 370 square feet (34 square meters) studio apartment only seemed to get smaller, and work days and weekends bled into one another.

So, at the start of March, I decided to work from my parents' home in New Zealand for two weeks.

Within days of my arrival, New Zealand imposed new restrictions. First, our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that everyone who entered the country would need to self-quarantine for 14 days, meaning I need to stay home. Then the government shut borders to foreigners and urged Kiwis overseas to return home. By the time two weeks were up, my flight out of the country had been canceled and New Zealand was in lockdown. I figured I would just stay put.

Read more here.

10:29 p.m. ET, April 25, 2020

US death toll reaches 53,751, as confirmed cases top 938,000

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

According to Johns Hopkins University's (JHU) tally of cases in the United States, as of 10 p.m. Saturday ET, there were at least 938,072 cases of coronavirus in the country.

At least 53,751 people have died in the US as a result of the pandemic.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases and those in the US military, veterans hospitals and federal prisons.

As states begin to include “probable deaths” in their counts, so will JHU, the university has said. That change may cause a surge in the number of recorded deaths in the US.

9:52 p.m. ET, April 25, 2020

Social distancing in 100 square feet: Hong Kong's cage homes make coronavirus control difficult

From CNN's Joshua Berlinger in Hong Kong

A handout photograph from the Society for Community Organization shows the inside of one of Hong Kong's "cage homes." 
A handout photograph from the Society for Community Organization shows the inside of one of Hong Kong's "cage homes."  Benny Lam/Society for Community Organization

Before the pandemic, Lum Chai used to go to the park and drink beers with friends to escape his tiny living quarters. Now the 45-year-old walks the city's streets alone to kill time and keep away from his neighbors.

Vigilantly practicing social distancing at home isn't an option for Lum. He lives in one of Hong Kong's "cage homes," subdivided apartments that often have space for only a bed and some clothes. His closest neighbor is just a few feet away, inside the same room.

Cage homes are usually smaller than 100 square feet, only 25 square feet larger than most of the city's prison cellsBathrooms are mostly communal and often there are no kitchens -- just plug-in hot plates. Units are mostly divided by makeshift or removable walls.

Lum, who is unemployed, said he pays 1,800 Hong Kong dollars ($232) for an apartment divided between 10 people.

Lum's situation is extreme, but not unusual. Nine in 10 people in Hong Kong live in an area smaller than 753 square feet -- or 70 square meters -- and yet pay some of the highest rents and property prices in the world. The average cost of a home was more than $1.2 million last year, according to real estate investment firm CBRE.

To make things worse, many public areas are closed due to the pandemic. Libraries are shuttered. Jungle gyms in parks are taped off. Restaurants have slashed capacity, and bars have been forced to close, unless they serve food. Public gatherings are limited to four people.

Despite having had the virus since January, Hong Kong has recorded fewer than 1,050 infections and 4 deaths, so few citizens disagree with the restrictions. But that doesn't make them easy to live with -- especially for those like Lum who can't easily stay home.

"I'm so lonely," Lum said. "There isn't that same atmosphere on the streets like there was before. So few people sit in the parks. People used to watch the children play and the elderly play badminton."

Read more here.

9:27 p.m. ET, April 25, 2020

Five Covid-19 deaths linked to New Mexico care facility where 33 patients tested positive

From CNN’s Jessica Jordan

Nine more deaths were announced in the state of New Mexico on Saturday, including five at a care facility where 33 patients have tested positive.

The two women and three men, in their 80s and 90s, were all residents of the Life Care Center in Farmington. The facility has reported 33 positive patients, 17 positive staff, and 15 deaths from Covid-19, according to a spokesman for the state of New Mexico.

New Mexico has recorded 93 Covid-19-related deaths.

Care facilities, along with cruise ships and prisons, have emerged as hotspots for the virus around the world.

9:00 p.m. ET, April 25, 2020

Hawaii seeing a 98% decrease in travelers arriving at airports since quarantine rule put in place 

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

Hawaii has seen a 98% decrease in travelers arriving at airports since the state's 14-day quarantine rule was put in place, Gov. David Ige said during a press conference Saturday.

About 100 travelers are still arriving every day which is why the extension of the quarantine order for visitors to the state was necessary, Ige said.

The screening process for visitors includes a temperature check and verification of hotel accommodations while at the airport. Each visitor must provide a phone number for their hotel accommodations and they will not be allowed to leave the airport if their accommodation isn't confirmed by an employee at the hotel, Ige said.

9:00 p.m. ET, April 25, 2020

Vaccine group suggests manufacturing coronavirus vaccines even before they are fully tested

From CNN's Gina Yu

It might be necessary to start manufacturing coronavirus vaccines even before they have been fully tested to see if they can protect people from infection, said Richard Hatchett, the CEO of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

CEPI is a non-profit put together organization formed to speed the development of vaccines.

Manufacturing could begin even while some of the Covid-19 vaccines are in the first phase of human clinical testing, which are designed to demonstrate only safety, Hatchett said Saturday.

This plan could cut time without cutting corners or sacrificing efficacy or safety, Hatchett said on a National Academy of Sciences Covid-19 Update webcast.

Large-scale manufacturing doesn’t usually start until after a vaccine has passed all three phases of clinical trials, a process that usually takes years. CEPI first published outlines of the plan to accelerate the process in The New England Journal of Medicine in March.

It may be more expensive to do things this way, Hatchett said.

"If we want to deliver vaccine at scale within … our stipulated targets of 12 to 18 months from the initiation of the program, we’re going to have to be comfortable with those risks," he said. He estimated that tens of billions of dollars will be spent over the next several years for vaccine delivery.

"If we shorten the pandemic by a month, we’re saving hundreds of billions of dollars. And that’s the calculus the elected leaders need to make," Hatchett said.

CEPI has funded several Covid-19 vaccine research projects, including all three of the vaccines currently being tested in people. Two of the vaccines are in phase one clinical trials – vaccines from Moderna and Inovio – and only China’s CanSino Bio vaccine advanced to the second phase of clinical trials earlier this month.

Moderna already intends to use funding from the US federal government's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to help fund a scale-up of its manufacturing process, according to a statement from the company earlier this month.