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May 4 coronavirus news

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What you need to know

  • The numbers: More than 3.5 million cases of the novel coronavirus, including at least 250,000 deaths have been recorded worldwide according to Johns Hopkins University.
  • Lockdowns ease: Many parts of India are now under less severe measures. As countries in Europe start to reopen, Italy is easing some restrictions, including allowing funerals with up to 15 attendees.
  • In the US: More than 1.1 million cases and at least 68,000 Covid-19 related deaths have been recorded.
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Global death toll from Covid-19 passes 250,000

The number of deaths from the novel coronavirus worldwide has surpassed a quarter of a million, according to a tally of cases by Johns Hopkins University.

Johns Hopkins reported 250,687 deaths and 3,573,864 total confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide as of 6 p.m. ET Monday.

Markets and malls in Israel will reopen Thursday

Mounted Israeli security forces patrol at a market due to restrictions imposed as measures against the novel coronavirus in Jerusalem on April 25.

Israel unveiled its comprehensive exit plan Monday evening as the country prepares to reopen malls and open-air markets in an easing of the restrictions imposed to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Markets and malls will reopen Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced, laying out the latest regulations. He added that the key to reopening more of the economy would depend on social distancing, hygiene, and the wearing of masks.

Netanyahu warned that the country’s gradual emergence from lockdown was conditional upon coronavirus figures maintaining their downward trend.

Among the announcements, citizens will no longer be required to remain within 100 meters of their homes. In addition, gatherings of up to 20 people will be permitted, as well as weddings of up to 50 people, though dancing remains forbidden in order to maintain social distancing. 

It is now permissible to visit immediate family, including the elderly, Netanyahu said, but physical contact must still be avoided.

Kindergarten and daycares will open on Sunday. Sports and leisure facilities will gradually reopen by mid-June.

Netanyahu warned that a second and more serious wave of coronavirus infections remains possible. He laid out a metric for determining if restrictions need to be reimposed.

He said the gradual reopening would have to stop immediately, and new restrictions would be put in place if…

  • There are more than 100 new infections a day
  • The rate of infection doubles within 10 days
  • There are more than 250 patients in serious condition

As of Monday evening, the Ministry of Health reported 16,246 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Israel, an increase of only 44 in the past 24 hours. The ministry reported 235 deaths as a result of the virus.

French hospital reports evidence patient had coronavirus in December

Doctors at a Paris hospital claim to have found evidence a patient who got sick in December was infected with the novel coronavirus.

If verified, it may show the virus was circulating in Europe as early as December. The first reports of Covid-19 in France were reported on Jan. 24, in two people who had a history of travel to Wuhan, China.

Yves Cohen and colleagues at the Paris hospital decided to check the records of patients who got sick before the Jan. 24 cases to see if the virus may have been spreading undetected earlier than first thought.

The French team looked at people admitted to the hospital with flu-like illnesses between Dec. 2 and Jan. 16 who were not subsequently diagnosed with influenza. The doctors re-tested samples stored in a freezer for coronavirus.

“One sample was positive, taken from a 42-year-old man born in Algeria, who lived in France for many years and worked as a fishmonger,” the team wrote in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents.

“His last trip was in Algeria during August 2019,” they wrote. The man had not been to China, and one of his children had also been sick, the team reported.

“Identifying the first infected patient is of great epidemiological interest as it changes dramatically our knowledge regarding SARS-COV-2 and its spreading in the country. Moreover, the absence of a link with China and the lack of recent travel suggest that the disease was already spreading among the French population at the end of December 2019,” they wrote. 

Remember: This claim has not yet been independently verified.

Europe did not start reporting cases of coronavirus until January. In Italy, the European country hit hardest by the virus, the first two cases were reported on Jan. 31, in two Chinese tourists in Rome. The first known community transmission was recorded in February in Codogno, in northern Italy. 

Brazil claims it's committed to democracy following government's controversial coronavirus response

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro holds his daughter's hand as he waves to supporters during a protest against his former Minister of Justice Sergio Moro and the Supreme Court, in front of the Planalto presidential palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, Sunday, May 3.

Brazil’s Defense Ministry issued an unusual statement today declaring the armed forces are committed to democracy and institutional “harmony” amid the government’s controversial response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The statement was released a day after President Jair Bolsonaro greeted hundreds of supporters gathered in Brasilia to protest social isolation measures and rally behind the president. Bolsonaro has previously defended his participation in a public protest against coronavirus lockdown measures,

Some protesters also carried signs calling for military intervention to dismantle Congress and the Supreme Court. Both institutions have clashed with Bolsonaro over his response to coronavirus. Separately, the Supreme Court authorized investigations into his allies and his family by the federal police.

At the rally, Bolsonaro told his supporters: “I am certain of one thing, we have the people on our side, we have the Armed Forces alongside the people.” At least two reporters and two photographers were attacked by the crowd.

On Monday, the Defense Ministry declared its commitment to its “Constitutional mission” and said it “considers the independence and harmony among the institutions necessary for the governability of the country.” It also denounced violence against journalists.

“The Armed Forces will always be on the side of the law, order, democracy and freedom,” Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva said.

Syrian leader warns of potential catastrophe if coronavirus cases spike

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warns the country may face a “real catastrophe” if coronavirus cases spike there and overwhelm health services.

Syrian state-run news reports that Assad said the current low numbers of cases does not mean “we have gone out of the circle of danger.”

These small figures could suddenly spike in a few days or few weeks and we would face a real catastrophe that can overwhelm our health systems,” Assad said.

He praised his country’s efforts to combat the pandemic.

“The response and awareness of citizens, in addition to the swift actions of the state, played a main role in slowing the spread of the coronavirus,” Assad said.

Today, the country’s health ministry reported 44 confirmed cases and three deaths.

France records continued decline of hospitalized coronavirus patients

In France, the total number of coronavirus patients in hospitals or intensive care has once again fallen, according to the latest figures released by the French Health Ministry.

The ministry said 25,548 people are now in hospitals with coronavirus, which is 267 fewer than Sunday. Another 3,696 patients are in intensive care – a decrease of 123 since yesterday. 

A total of 25,201 people have died in France from coronavirus – including 15,826 deaths in hospitals and 9,375 deaths in other care settings. At least 306 deaths have been recorded over the past 24 hours. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 93,372 in France have been hospitalized and 51,371 have returned home.

World leaders pledge $8 billion for coronavirus treatments and vaccines

World leaders have pledged a total of $8 billion for the development and deployment of diagnostics, treatments and vaccines against the novel coronavirus.

The donations came flooding in during a virtual pledging conference today co-hosted by the European Union, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Norway, Spain and the UK. The US did not participate.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, “Today the world showed extraordinary unity for the common good. Governments and global health organizations joined forces against coronavirus. With such commitment, we are on track for developing, producing and deploying a vaccine for all. However, this is only the beginning. We need to sustain the effort and to stand ready to contribute more. The pledging marathon will continue.”

Here’s what some of the leaders are promising:

Norway pledged $1 billion in contributions, Switzerland promised $381 million and the Netherlands $209.5 million.

Australia pledged $352 million Australian dollars, which is about $226 million USD.

Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte pledged $152.7 million, while South Korea announced a contribution of $50 million and Kuwait promised to donate $40 million.

South Africa said it would pledge $1.3 million and raise a further $61 million from member states of the African Union. Israel promised to invest $60 million in the effort to respond to the pandemic.

Ireland is donating almost $20 million USD. Luxembourg pledged $5.45 million, Sweden $17 million, Portugal $10.9 million, Croatia $1.09 million, Finland $39.3 million. Bulgaria and Romania pledged $109,000 and $218,000, respectively. 

Serbia announced a contribution of $2.18 million, Slovenia $33.6 million, and the Czech Republic announced a joint pledge with Poland, Hungary and Slovakia of $3.27 million.

Meanwhile, Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, pledged $100 million to the effort.

Other countries such as the UAE, Oman, Turkey, Monaco and China also promised to contribute to the efforts against Covid-19 without mentioning an amount. 

Turkey's malls and hair salons allowed to reopen next week

A person wearing a face mask cleans mannequins of a store in Ankara, Turkey on Monday, May 4, after Turkey lifted a 72-hour coronavirus restrictions as of midnight Sunday.

Turkey will begin lifting its coronavirus lockdown measures “step by step,” Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said today.  

Starting next Monday, barbers, hairdressers and shopping malls will be allowed to open with new regulations. 

Travel restrictions for seven of 31 provinces will be lifted. The seven provinces are Antalya, Aydin, Erzurum, Hatay, Malatya, Mersin and Mugla. Travel restrictions have been extended for the remaining provinces, including Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Gaziantep.

Turkey has an age-based curfew system that prohibits some age groups from leaving their homes. As part of the easing of restrictions, those under 20 or over 65 will be allowed within walking distance for 4-hour periods on designated dates.

The weekend curfews Turkey has imposed will continue through next week.

#Health#

Air Canada announces new health measures for flights

Air Canada announced they have implemented new safety measures designed to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

The program, which they call Air Canada CleanCare+, includes mandatory preflight infrared temperature checks, blocking the sale of adjacent seats, capping the total number of passengers allowed on each flight, requiring employees and passengers to wear face coverings, and removing pillows and blankets from the planes.

The airline company will also begin using hospital grade disinfectant in their sprayers and will give kits with hand sanitizer to passengers.

Italy's coronavirus cases fall below 100,000 for the first time in more than three weeks

A patient who tested positive for COVID-19 is being transported to the Spallanzani hospital, after various cases of the coronavirus outbreak were discovered in a nursing home in Rome on Saturday, May 2.

The number of active coronavirus cases in Italy has fallen below 100,000 for the first time since April 10. The overall number of people infected with coronavirus in Italy is now 99,980. 

The Italian Civil Protection Agency said 195 people have died over the past 24 hours, bringing Italy’s total number of coronavirus fatalities to 29,079. 

A further 1,225 people have recovered in the past day. A total of 82,879 patients have recovered from coronavirus across Italy during the outbreak.  

The number of patients in intensive care is 1,479 – down by 22 from Sunday’s total. 

The total number of cases recorded in Italy, including deaths and recoveries, is now 211,938.

Brazil's famous Christ the Redeemer statue dons a face mask

The massive Christ the Redeemer statue that has overlooked Rio de Janeiro for almost 90 years sported a new look this weekend.

A face mask was projected onto the statue to promote self care amid the coronavirus pandemic and as a tribute to healthcare workers.

The text #MascaraSalva, which translates to masks saves, was also displayed on the statue’s torso.

The statue was closed to the public in mid-March. Standing atop Mount Corcovado, it has long been a major draw for visitors and tourists.

This is the third time special lighting has been used on the monument as a response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In March, the statue was illuminated with the flags of countries impacted by the pandemic. 

On Easter Sunday, images of medical workers were projected onto the statue as a tribute to those risking their lives on the front lines to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Brazilian health authorities announced Sunday the country has surpassed 100,000 confirmed cases of the virus and over 7,000 reported deaths.

Environmentalists in Greece protest outside parliament after country eases some restrictions

How normal are things in Athens right now? On the day the country began to ease its strict lockdown measures, environmentalists took to the steps of parliament to protest proposed legislation.

Greece has largely avoided the Covid-19 epidemic, with just 146 deaths total. The government acted fast to implement a strict lockdown, before there was even a single death.

On Monday, the first measures were eased: Some small businesses were allowed to open, and Greeks no longer have to register with the government in advance of leaving their homes.

The bill proposed by the government would simplify regulations around land use, protected areas, and energy; a vote in parliament is expected Tuesday.

“This cannot wait,” Athanassia Tsirtavi, president of environmental group Peripolo told CNN by phone. “The changes the government is planning are very serious and they will further harm the environment. The time to act is now.”

“These are people who have been complying with the measures, most had barely exited their houses for weeks,” Tsirtavi said.

In an exclusive interview on Sunday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told CNN that he saw the pandemic as an opportunity to rally the world to take on the even bigger challenge of climate change.

“I’ve been making the case for a green transition in Greece since I first got elected,” he said. “If there’s one maybe good thing that came out of this pandemic, it proved that if we if we can all work together towards a common cause.”

UK launches contact tracing app today

British Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove announced the test during a briefing on May 3.

The UK government has launched its first test of a coronavirus contact tracing app today on a small island off the south coast of England. 

Using bluetooth technology, the app will alert users if they have been near someone who has tested positive for the virus. Developed by the National Health Service (NHS), the app will also upload information to a central database to help public health experts study the behavior of the virus. 

Unlike Germany, the UK has chosen not to use technology jointly developed by Google and Apple that would only store data locally on individual devices. Instead, the anonymous user data will be encrypted and stored by the health authority in keeping with UK privacy rules. 

The government hopes more than half of the 80,000 households on the Isle of Wight will download the app after its launch Monday. If the test is successful, the app will be rolled out across the country later this month.

Such apps can be highly effective in stopping mass infections, according to Christophe Fraser, an infectious diseases expert at Oxford University who is helping to develop the UK app and has extensively investigated outbreaks of SARS, H1N1 and Ebola.

If people are alerted that they may have been exposed to the virus, they can take steps to prevent further transmission.

However, to be really be effective at stemming the virus, at least 60% of the population would need to download and use the app. 

In addition to the app, the UK government wants to hire 18,000 contact tracers in the next few weeks as part of its overall efforts to keep track of the virus once lockdown measures have been eased. Contact tracers will track where an infected person has been and who they may have come into contact with.

Keep reading.

Three Russian doctors fall from hospital windows, raising questions amid coronavirus pandemic

An ambulance seen in Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge during the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic on May 4.

Three frontline health care workers have mysteriously fallen out of hospital windows in Russia over the past two weeks, heightening public attention to the working conditions for doctors and medical professionals amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Two of those health care workers are dead, and one remains hospitalized.

All three incidents, which are being investigated by Russian law enforcement authorities, have prompted intense discussion in the Russian press and on social media.

Alexander Shulepov, an ambulance doctor in Voronezh, a city about 320 miles south of Moscow, is in serious condition after falling from a hospital window on Saturday. Local state television, citing regional health officials, said he fell out of second-floor window of the Novousmanskaya hospital, where he worked and was receiving treatment after testing positive for coronavirus.  

Shulepov was hospitalized for coronavirus on April 22, the same day he and his colleague Alexander Kosyakin posted a video online saying that Shulepov had been forced to continue working after testing positive for coronavirus. 

Kosyakin had also previously criticized hospital administration for protective gear shortages on his social media and was questioned by the police for allegedly spreading fake news. 

Police have not responded to CNN’s request for comment.

The Novousmanskaya hospital said in a statement that Shulepov had been taken off a shift as soon as he informed the hospital administration about his positive diagnosis and was offered hospitalization in the infectious diseases ward. 

Three days later, Shulepov retracted his previous statements, saying that in his video with Kosyakin he was “overwhelmed by emotions.” The second video Shulepov recorded featured Igor Potanin, the head doctor of the Novousmanskaya hospital, who said his medical staff has enough protective equipment.

Shulepov was the third health worker in Russia to fall out of a window in the past two weeks. 

Last Friday, Elena Nepomnyashchaya, the acting head doctor of a hospital in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, died after spending a week in intensive care, the regional department of the Health Ministry said in a statement.  

Local TV station TVK Krasnoyarsk reported Nepomnyashchaya allegedly fell out of a window during a meeting with regional health officials, during which they discussed turning the clinic into a coronavirus facility.  

Nepomnyashchaya was reported to have opposed those changes due to the lack of protective gear in the hospital. The Health Ministry’s regional health department denied the allegations in a statement, adding that the hospital is in “reserve” for coronavirus patients and its staff has been trained and equipped. The hospital did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment. 

On April 24, Natalya Lebedeva, head of the emergency medical service at Star City, the main training base for Russia’s cosmonauts, died in a hospital after a fall.

The hospital within the Federal Biomedical Agency, which says it treated her for suspected coronavirus, released a statement that “a tragic accident” occurred, without elaborating. 

The hospital did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

In the statement, the hospital said, “She was a true professional in her field, saving human lives every day!”

UK coronavirus death toll up by 288, lowest increase since end of March

Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock, left, and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty leave 10 Downing Street, as the United Kingdom enters a seventh week of lockdown to help stop the spread of coronavirus, in London, Monday May 4.

At least 28,734 people have died from the novel coronavirus in the UK, the country’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock said today. 

That’s a rise of 288 from the day before, which is the lowest daily increase in the death toll since the end of March.

Hancock cautioned the figures tend to be lower after the weekend because of a lag in reporting, and added that number is expected to rise.

The total number of tests performed in the UK so far is 1,291,000. The daily testing capacity in Britain stands at 108,000.  

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases is 190,584, up by 3,985 from the day before.

There are currently 13,258 coronavirus patients in hospital, the UK Health Secretary said.

Norwegian Air shareholders back plan to avoid bankruptcy

Workers wearing high-visibility jackets stand near a passenger aircraft, operated by Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, grounded at Stavanger Airport in Stavanger, Norway, on April 30.

Norwegian Air shareholders voted in favor of a proposed rescue plan, helping the budget carrier unlock government aid and avoid bankruptcy.

During the global coronavirus outbreak, the airline has canceled almost all flights and said it would temporarily lay off 90% of its workforce.

How the plan works: It will proceed with a large debt for equity swap, which is when creditors swap their company debt loans for shares. It will also raise up to $38 million equity by issuing more shares. 

Norwegian Air said in statement it expects to convert more than 10 billion Norwegian Krone of debt into equity. That is about $960 million USD. The measures will enable the airline to qualify for state aid of 3 billion Norwegian Krone, around $288.7 million USD. 

Iran reports slight daily increase in coronavirus-related deaths and infections

People wearing protective clothing take part in the funeral of a victim who died from coronavirus at a cemetery in Ghaemshahr, Iran, on May 1.

Iran has reported 74 additional coronavirus-related deaths and 1,223 new cases over the past 24 hours – a slight jump from Sunday’s numbers.

Iran’s Health Ministry spokesperson Kianoush Jahanpour said the country’s total number of cases is 98,647. Of those, 6,203 people have died. Another 2,676 patients remain in intensive care in a critical condition. 

“So far, 508,288 PCR tests have been carried in more than 130 labs across the country,” Jahanpour added.

What this is about: Polymerase chain reaction tests, known as PCR, are the most common and most accurate tests for determining whether someone is currently infected with the novel coronavirus.

Mosques in Iran reopened today in 132 cities part of the plan to ease restrictions. Friday prayers, which the government banned in early March in provinces across the country, will also resume in low-risk areas.

How people across Europe are reacting to eased restrictions

Cafe clerks prepare coffee and cappuccinos for customers waiting to take out in Rome, Italy, on May 4.

Millions across Europe are returning to some semblance of their former lives today as more countries across the continent begin to reopen after weeks — or months — of coronavirus-related lockdowns. But not everyone is happy with how the “new normal” looks.

Italian businesses are wondering how they’ll survive as restrictions are eased but not fully lifted. More more than four million people are expected to return to work today with many businesses set to reopen.

But the owner of the Il Bello Cafe bar in Rome, said the partial easing of restrictions would not be enough to keep many establishments afloat. Franco, who declined to give his last name, told CNN he’s only making 30% of what he was making before the lockdown.

Students are heading back to socially-distanced schools in Germany, where newly reopened barber shops are facing huge demand to right the wrongs of weeks of home haircuts. One salon in Hamburg said it was “overrun” by customers, while Udo Walz, a hairdresser to the stars in Berlin, told CNN his salons were booked out for the next three weeks.

Other European countries are gradually relaxing restrictions. Spain allowed people outside for solo exercise this weekend for the first time in seven weeks. Portugal opens small stores Monday, and people in Belgium may travel on public transport but must wear masks. 

Traffic increased in Greece today as small stores including hair salons, flower shops and bookstores reopened and lines formed outside electrical appliance retailers. The country is planning to welcome tourists again this summer. 

As Europe reopens, the big question is how the once vibrant continent will look as we move into a different future to the one we all expected. It has certainly changed forever.

Read the full story here.

European Commission pledges 1 billion euros for coronavirus global response

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, on April 23.  

The European Union started an international conference on the search for vaccines and coronavirus treatment by pledging one billion euros to the cause. That is about $1.09 billion USD. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the virtual Coronavirus Global Response conference the initial aim is to raise 7.5 billion euros, or $8 billion USD, to ramp up immediate work, but more will be needed. She described it as the start of a global “pledging marathon”.

Japan extends state of emergency until end of May

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe adjusts his face mask as he leaves a press conference in Tokyo on May 4.

Japan will extend its state of emergency until May 31, but the country must prepare for a “life with coronavirus,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a task force meeting today.

Some prefectures with a high infection rate, including Tokyo and Osaka, will keep working to reduce social contact by 80% to stem the spread of the virus. The rest of the nation may begin easing restrictions for small businesses, such as restaurants and cultural facilities, with appropriate prevention measures.

Abe said he will review the infection status around May 14 to see if the order can be lifted earlier.

He said the country’s “unique” approach of cluster tracing during lockdown has helped it avoid what he called an explosive outburst of infection seen in other countries.

Japan’s state of emergency gives the authority to local governors to request residents stay indoors and suspend businesses, although it cannot force lockdown measures with penalties.

German border checks will continue through next week

German Federal police officers control vehicles at the border to France in Saarbruecken, Germany, on March 26.

Germany’s border checks will continue until at least next Friday, May 15, the Interior ministry said.

Germany is part of the European open-border Schengen area, which imposed emergency border checks to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The group of 26 European countries — including Spain, France, Greece, Germany, Italy and Poland — do not have internal borders and usually allow people to move between them freely.

The ministry said the extension of the border checks is in line with the EU commission.

“Of course, we are guided by the European spirit not to act unilaterally or in an uncoordinated way,” the spokesman added.

Ukraine extends lockdown until May 22

A medical worker waits for patients inside a clinic in the Ukrainian town of Irpin on April 15.

Ukraine has extended its nationwide lockdown until May 22 but has agreed to loosen some restrictions starting on May 11, the government announced in a televised cabinet meeting today.

The partial lifting of some restrictions on May 11 will include the reopening of parks, some specialist shops and cafes for take out services.

Ukraine has reported at least 12,331 Covid-19 cases and 303 deaths as of May 4, according to the Health Ministry.

The country’s lockdown began on March 12.

German hair salons can reopen today. Here's what it's like to get a hair cut now.