April 29 coronavirus news

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3:13 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Greece plans to welcome tourists this summer

From CNN's Simon Cullen

A woman wearing a mask takes a picture with her phone in the Alimos suburb of Athens, Greece, on Tuesday, April 28.
A woman wearing a mask takes a picture with her phone in the Alimos suburb of Athens, Greece, on Tuesday, April 28. Petros Giannakouris/AP

Travelers will be welcome to visit Greece this summer but social distancing rules will remain in place to keep people safe from coronavirus, Greek tourism minister Harry Theocharis said.

“We do want people to come to Greece,” he told BBC Radio. “Of course we will take precautions in terms of the requirements before travelling but also in terms of the way that we travel, the way that we stay. Social distancing rules will apply.”

Theocharis said that Greece has welcomed tourists for "more than 50 years" and "we want to continue showing the hospitality that we’re very much known for."

He added that tourists should feel safe in Greece as the country would take strict precautions.

“Greece is a safe country and in many cases much safer -- I’m sorry to say it -- than your own country,” he told the BBC, Britain's public broadcaster.

Theocharis said he hopes “health technology” will be more advanced by the time the summer season starts to allow a safer travel experience.

“It is very likely that we will have some requirements before travelling,” he said, referring to the suggestion that travelers might need to undergo a coronavirus test before being allowed in to Greece.
2:59 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020

It's just after 9 a.m. in Paris and 4 p.m. in Tokyo. Here's the latest developments

A woman wearing a mask walks in front of "Le Moretti" by French artist Ryamond Moretti in La Défense district near Paris, France, on April 27.
A woman wearing a mask walks in front of "Le Moretti" by French artist Ryamond Moretti in La Défense district near Paris, France, on April 27. Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

The novel coronavirus has now infected more than 3.1 million people and killed over 217,000 worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

If you're just joining us, here's the latest on the pandemic:

PPE and testing shortages: US health officials from FEMA and HHS told lawmakers that states continue to face shortages of personal protective equipment and coronavirus testing supplies -- contradicting President Donald Trump.

Major political event back on: China will hold its annual meeting of the National People’s Congress on May 22, after the unprecedented decision to postpone it amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Australia secures 10 million tests: A mining magnate secured a deal on behalf of the Australian government for 10 million coronavirus tests and pathology equipment. It will mark a 20-fold increase in the country's testing capability.

Rare disease found in US child: US doctors say they may have seen a possible complication of coronavirus in a young child: a rare inflammatory condition called Kawasaki disease. Britain’s National Health Service sent an alert to doctors Sunday saying they had seen similar cases.

Chest radiation study: In a small pilot study, researchers are exploring whether low-dose chest radiation therapy may improve lung function in certain critically ill Covid-19 patients, according to the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta. 

Men could be more affected: A small study in China may support the idea that men get sicker and are more likely to die from coronavirus than women. But it does not necessarily reflect what has happened elsewhere in the world.

Faulty masks: 30,000 reusable masks sent to pregnant women in Japan may be defective, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK, with complaints that they are stained and dirty.

USS Theodore Roosevelt: Sailors from the coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier will begin returning to the ship in the next 24 to 48 hours for the first time since they were moved ashore because of Covid-19, according to a defense official. 

Masks in the sky: United Airlines and American Airlines will begin to provide masks to passengers beginning in early May. It follows an announcement from Jet Blue on Monday saying all passengers will be required to wear a face covering during travel from May 4.

2:41 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Rare inflammatory syndrome seen in US child with Covid-19

From CNN Health’s Jen Christensen, Michael Nedelman, and from Simon Cullen

US doctors say they may have seen a possible complication of coronavirus infection in a young child: a rare inflammatory condition called Kawasaki disease.

Britain’s National Health Service sent an alert to doctors Sunday saying they had seen cases of atypical Kawasaki disease that could be linked to coronavirus.

A team at Stanford Children’s Hospital said they had, also. They described the case of a 6-month-old girl admitted to the hospital with the disease and later also diagnosed with coronavirus.

What is Kawasaki disease? It's a rare childhood illness that causes the walls of the blood vessels in the body to become inflamed and can limit blood flow to the heart. It is usually treatable and most children recover without serious problems, but it can be deadly.

What causes it? No one knows what causes Kawasaki disease, but some studies have pointed to a link between viruses or a bacterial infection.

The US case: The child was initially diagnosed with a viral infection, the Stanford team said, and later tested positive for Covid-19. On the second day she had a fever and a blotchy rash. A chest x-ray showed a small white spot in her mid-lung, the team reported in the journal Hospital Pediatrics. The baby’s symptoms appeared to be Kawasaki disease and she was treated. Two weeks after she was discharged, the baby had no respiratory symptoms and is doing well.

Further research: The authors of the study suggest that since the coronavirus is new, and not all symptoms in children are known, scientists will want to further research the potential association of Kawasaki Disease with Covid-19.

Dr. Brad Segal, who worked on the case, said the team was surprised when the test came back positive for Covid-19. “In hindsight, looking at it, it’s not entirely shocking that this association was possible,” he said, adding that Kawasaki disease itself is often preceded by a respiratory or gastrointestinal illness.

Segal doesn’t believe they have seen any other cases of Kawasaki associated with coronavirus at his hospital. He thinks that if this is a complication associated with the coronavirus then it is most likely uncommon.

“I don’t, though, think we are going to see a wave of these cases,” he said. “This isn’t something that families, even if they have coronavirus really need to worry about, based on what we know so far.”
“I think this is going to be a subset, of a subset, of a subset of individuals who develop it,” Segal said. “As far as we can tell, this is something exceedingly uncommon.”

 For further explanation of Kawasaki disease, read our coverage here:

2:27 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Trump still seems to not understand how bad the coronavirus crisis is

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

Three months in -- after a million infections, nearly 60,000 US deaths and a potential economic depression -- it's still unclear whether US President Donald Trump grasps the gravity of the coronavirus crisis.

Trump's leadership in the worst domestic crisis since World War II has consistently featured wrong, ill-informed and dangerous decisions, omissions and politically fueled pivots.

"Many very good experts, very good people too, said this would never affect the United States," Trump told CNN's Jim Acosta on Tuesday. "The experts got it wrong. A lot of people got it wrong and a lot of people didn't know it would be this serious."

Such comments are typical of Trump's consistent habit of blaming others for his own poor judgments. For the record, senior Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official Nancy Messonnier warned on February 27 that it was inevitable the disease would reach the US and could be "bad."

The President's deflections on Tuesday are typical of his wider political method of evading responsibility by bending the truth and of creating distractions.

But in the depths of the current disorientating times, the deeper liabilities of the President's political approach are being exposed. A hostility to details, a resistance to accepting the advice of experts and for learning the messy intricacies of a crisis that interrupted his own narrative in election year.

Read the full analysis:

2:13 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Germany’s coronavirus death toll surpasses 6,000 

From CNN’s Fred Pleitgen in Berlin

More than 6,000 people have now died of Covid-19-related symptoms in Germany, the country's center for disease control, the Robert Koch Institute, said today.

At least 202 people died in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 6,115.

The country is seen as one of the most successful in dealing with the pandemic because it has managed to keep its death toll relatively low in relation to confirmed cases.

The total number of confirmed infections now stands at 157,641, while around 120,400 people have recovered.

Virus reproduction rates: Germany also managed to slow down the reproduction rate of infections to 0.9 after it rose to 1 on Tuesday.

That means every person infected in Germany on average is infecting less than one other person and the virus is being pushed back. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has previously warned that if the number -- also known as the R0 value -- rises above 1, the country’s health system would eventually be overwhelmed. 

Face masks: The new numbers come after the city state of Berlin became the final jurisdiction in Germany to make wearing face coverings in stores mandatory.

Avoiding a new surge: Merkel and top virologists have warned the country risks a new spike in infections if physical distancing measured are relaxed too much.

2:02 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Small study in China indicates men may be more likely to die from coronavirus than women

From CNN Health’s Jen Christensen

A Chinese commuter wears a protective mask while riding through a nearly empty intersection during the afternoon rush hour on March 6, in Beijing, China.
A Chinese commuter wears a protective mask while riding through a nearly empty intersection during the afternoon rush hour on March 6, in Beijing, China. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

A new study may support the idea that men get sicker and are more likely to die from coronavirus than women.

It’s a small study, done in China, and does not necessarily reflect what has happened elsewhere in the world. But it supports an early observation about Covid-19 when it first started spreading in China: men were more likely to die than women. 

The method: A team at Beijing Tongren Hospital and Wuhan Union Hospital studied 43 patients directly and the records of just over 1,000 others.

What they found: Men and women seemed to get the disease at the same rate, but men were more than twice as likely to die, the team found. The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, gives little other detail.

People who were older and those with more underlying health conditions fared worse than younger and healthier patients, the researchers found.

More research needed: The authors concluded that the male gender is a risk factor for worse outcomes of Covid-19, regardless of age and underlying health conditions. They said this will need to be studied with a larger group of patients to determine if it is accurate, although some earlier studies have noted a similar trend. 

Other factors could be at play: Scientists will also want to look at data from patients in other countries since there are demographic elements that could be a factor. In China, for example, 50% of men smoke, compared to 5% of women, according to earlier research, and smoking is thought to be tied to more severe cases of the disease. The study also does not explain why men fare worse with this disease.

1:50 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020

New Zealanders were so eager to eat burgers after restrictions eased that police had to enforce crowd control

From CNN's Julia Hollingsworth

Customers queue up for the "drive-thru" at a McDonald's restaurant on the first day of the easing of restrictions in Wellington on April 28.
Customers queue up for the "drive-thru" at a McDonald's restaurant on the first day of the easing of restrictions in Wellington on April 28. Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images

Police in New Zealand enforced crowd control measures at a popular fast food outlet after large numbers of people rushed to buy burgers following a relaxing of the country's lockdown measures.

The country eased into level 3 restrictions on Monday and for many, it was a chance to finally eat the fast food they had been craving.

Long lines for take-out: Under the new restrictions, limited number of restaurants and cafes have been permitted to reopen. According to state-owned broadcaster TVNZ, that resulted in long queues of cars at KFC and McDonald's "drive-thru" outlets in Auckland, the country's biggest city. 

And at one Auckland burger joint, the crowds were so large that the police were called.

"Day one of re-opening saw our BurgerFuel stores inundated with a stampede of customers, way beyond what we had anticipated," a spokesperson for BurgerFuel said in a statement.

Breaking the rules: New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said police had recorded 104 breaches in the first 18 hours of the level 4 rules being lifted. There had also been 742 complaints of businesses not complying, with most of the complaints relating to a lack of social distancing measures being in place.

Read the full story:

1:38 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Mining magnate secures 10 million coronavirus tests for Australia

From CNN's Sol Han and Helen Regan

Cars queue up for free drive-through coronavirus tests at Bondi Beach in Sydney on April 22.
Cars queue up for free drive-through coronavirus tests at Bondi Beach in Sydney on April 22. Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images

Australia has announced what it calls a groundbreaking partnership that secures 10 million Covid-19 test kits and pathology equipment supplied by Chinese company Beijing Genomic Institute (BGI).

So far, Australia has completed 500,000 tests. The additional 10 million tests will be distributed across the country from now until the end of the year and "equates to an almost 20 fold increase in testing," the government said in a statement.

The partnership is between the Australian government, the Minderoo Foundation -- owned by mining magnate Andrew Forrest -- and private pathology providers.

"As we move to the next stage of our recovery, further expanding testing capacity and case ascertainment is one of the three critical steps we can take to protect Australians, avoid further spikes in community transmission and assist in easing restrictions," said Australian Health Secretary Greg Hunt in the statement.
"The work of the Minderoo Foundation in helping to secure these high quality PCR tests and equipment helps protect the Australian public, diversifies supply lines and provides us with a fundamental testing capacity for COVID-19."

Forrest, the former CEO of Fortescue Metals and one of Australia's richest men, secured the tests on behalf of the Australian government in a deal worth $320 million Australian dollars ($209 million), according to CNN affiliate Nine News.

The test kits and equipment will be supplied by the Beijing Genomic Institute (BGI), Thermo Fisher and Tecan.

1:21 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020

A woman in labor needed to get to hospital in another state. One problem: a trench had been dug at the border

From CNN's Esha Mitra and Manveena Suri in New Delhi

Migrants from Andhra Pradesh state attempting to return to their native villages on foot are moved on trucks to a government facility during a lockdown in Hyderabad, India, on Tuesday, April 14.
Migrants from Andhra Pradesh state attempting to return to their native villages on foot are moved on trucks to a government facility during a lockdown in Hyderabad, India, on Tuesday, April 14. Mahesh Kumar A./AP

A pregnant woman in southern India who went into premature labor had to hold onto a bamboo pole and be carried by villagers across a trench that had been dug to keep coronavirus out.

Local administrations in two states bordering Andhra Pradesh state have built walls and trenches to prevent cars and people crossing state lines as concerns mount over rising cases of the virus amid a nationwide lockdown.

Andhra Pradesh has reported at least 1,259 cases, including 31 deaths.

The pregnant woman, from a remote tribal area of Andhra Pradesh, had been referred to a specialist hospital in neighboring Odisha state, where an ambulance was waiting for her.

But the trench prevented her from walking across the state border, according to Saikanth Varma, a project officer with the Andhra Pradesh Tribal Welfare department.

"Barricades are in place at all border checkpoints as only essential goods and services can cross the border during the lockdown. However, the local municipality in charge of manning this checkpoint was overenthusiastic and dug a trench as well,” Varma said.

The Andhra Pradesh Tribal Welfare department has raised the issue with district officials in Odisha who have told the local body to immediately fill the trench.

The woman gave birth to a healthy baby and is currently in isolation as a precaution.

Border walls: At Andhra Pradesh’s southern border, three walls ranging from 3 feet to 6 feet high were built along the border with Tamil Nadu state to control traffic amid the lockdown.

A temporary wall built on Sunday was removed the next day, said Ganesh Shekhar, sub-collector of Vellore district in Tamil Nadu. The decision to build the walls was taken by local district officials and not by the state government, Shekhar added.

India lockdown: On March 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a three-week nationwide lockdown, which has since been extended until May 3. Modi is yet to make an official announcement on a further extension.

Several chief ministers are in favor of an extension following a video conference with Modi on Monday, according to CNN affiliate News 18.