May 5 coronavirus news

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12:52 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

UK coronavirus death toll overtakes Italy's to become highest in Europe

From CNN's Milena Veselinovic in London

Family members look on during a funeral service for a victim of Covid-19, in Ipswich, England, on May 5.
Family members look on during a funeral service for a victim of Covid-19, in Ipswich, England, on May 5.  Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The number of people who have died from coronavirus in the UK is now the highest in Europe and second only to the US globally.

The UK today surpassed Italy's death toll, as Britain's foreign secretary announced the number of those who have died from the virus has now reached 29,427. In Italy, 29,315 people have died. The US has lost almost 70,000 people to the virus.

There was an increase of 4,406 cases in the UK today, bringing the total number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus to 194,990, Dominic Raab said.

So far, 1,383,842 coronavirus tests have been conducted in the UK.

12:30 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Coronavirus cases in Italy drop to 98,467 as the spread continues to stabilize 

From CNN's Nicola Ruotolo in Rome and Mia Alberti in Lisbon

People enjoy the sun from a balcony in Codogno, Italy, on May 4.
People enjoy the sun from a balcony in Codogno, Italy, on May 4. Marzio Toniolo/Reuters

The number of positive coronavirus cases in Italy now stands at 98,467, a drop of 1,513 since yesterday. The country has taken the first delicate steps towards lifting its lockdown, with around 4 million returning to work this week.

Since Monday, 236 people died from the virus, an increase of 0.81%. The death toll now stands at 29,315.

The number of patients in intensive care also continues to drop. There were 1,427 patients in intensive care today, 52 fewer than yesterday. The number of recoveries increased by 2,352 cases to a total of 85,231.

The total number of cases in Italy so far, including deaths and recoveries, is 213,013.

10:48 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

UK car sales fall 97% in worst month since 1946

From CNN's Charles Riley

The UK car market suffered its worst month in more than seven decades in April as coronavirus restrictions forced dealerships to close, pushing sales of new vehicles down by more than 97%.

Just over 4,320 cars were sold to private buyers, businesses and fleets last month in Britain, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, compared with roughly 161,000 in April 2019. The industry association described the sales decline as "the steepest of modern times."

With showrooms closed and potential buyers sheltering at home, the industry group said that only 871 cars were sold to private buyers during the month. Many of those were battery electric vehicles such as Tesla's Model 3 that customers had on order. 

The monthly sales total is the weakest since February 1946, when 4,044 cars were sold in Britain as the country struggled to regain its footing in the immediate aftermath of World War II.

These figures ... make for exceptionally grim reading, not least for the hundreds of thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on the sector," Mike Hawes, CEO of the SMMT, said. 

The UK has been under lockdown since late March, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered pubs, restaurants, theaters, cinemas and gyms to close as part of an effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic. 

Read the full story here.

10:33 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Scotland is unlikely to make changes to lockdown this week

From CNN’s Zeena Saifi in Abu Dhabi 

A cyclist passes the closed V&A Museum in Dundee, Scotland as the United Kingdom continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus on May 3.
A cyclist passes the closed V&A Museum in Dundee, Scotland as the United Kingdom continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus on May 3. Jane Barlow/PA Images/Getty Images

Scotland will review social distancing restrictions but significant changes are “highly unlikely” by this Thursday, First Minster Nicola Sturgeon said at a coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh.   

She said new data outlines “careful and gradual” changes to lockdown restrictions, but stressed they will only be implemented “when we judge it is safe to make them, which I am afraid is not right now”.  

The options include re-configuring schools and businesses to allow for some restrictions to be eased and for more people to interact in smaller groups both outdoors and inside. 

We are not recommending these options at the moment, but offer them as examples of what may come next and the kind of preparations that are under way,” Sturgeon added.

The Scottish government last week advised people to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces, in a break from the UK-wide approach to tackling the spread of coronavirus.

Sturgeon cautioned that a full reopening of the country too early could lead to a resurgence in the virus that would overwhelm Scotland’s health services and lead to many more deaths.

Scotland has 12,437 reported cases, with 1,620 registered deaths.

10:01 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Virgin Atlantic to cut more than 3,000 jobs, shuts down London Gatwick airport operations

From CNN's Chris Liakos in London

Virgin Atlantic will cut 3,150 jobs across all functions as part of its strategy to reduce cost and preserve cash. The airline is working closely with unions and a company-wide consultation period of 45 days begins today. 

It is crucial that we return to profitability in 2021. This will mean taking steps to reshape and resize Virgin Atlantic in line with demand, while always keeping our people and customers at the heart of all we do. I wish it was not the case, but we will have to reduce the number of people we employ.”, said Chief Executive Shai Weiss.

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) called the news devastating saying “this is another terrible blow for the industry and is evidence of the dire situation facing UK aviation.” 

Virgin Atlantic also plans to end flights from London's Gatwick airport. The firm says it will retain landing slots so it could resume if customer demand returns. 

“Following the pattern of previous crises including 9/11 and the Global Financial Crisis, capacity across the aviation industry will significantly reduce, with recovery to pre-crisis levels expected to take up to three years,” the company said.

The airline added it continues to explore all available options for additional external funding and remains in talks with stakeholders and the government.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced countries to seal their borders and impose travel restrictions to certain areas. Airlines are scaling back their schedules, canceling flights and suspending some routes entirely.

9:39 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Norwegian Cruise Line may go out of business

From CNN’s Chris Isidore 

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Pearl cruise ship is docked at the Port of Jacksonville amid the coronavirus pandemic  in Jacksonville, Florida on March 27, 2020.
Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Pearl cruise ship is docked at the Port of Jacksonville amid the coronavirus pandemic in Jacksonville, Florida on March 27, 2020. Sam Greenwood/Getty Images 

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has warned investors it may be forced to go out of business.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday, the company said its accounting firm has "substantial doubt" about Norwegian's ability to continue as a going concern because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Companies with this kind of dire outlook are sometimes able to turn things around and survive, although it often takes a trip through bankruptcy to shed debt and other liabilities in order to do so. 

Norwegian suspended sailings of its fleets on March 14, along with an industrywide shutdown. That shutdown has been extended through at least June 30.

The cruise industry has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic as there were several high profile ships with multiple people testing positive for the coronavirus. Many died from the disease.  

Some ships had difficulty finding ports where they could discharge their passengers.

9:33 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Spain can't rely on hopes for a vaccine, top health official says

From CNN’s Al Goodman, Vasco Cotovio and Ingrid Formanek

A medical worker attends to a patient with coronavirus at the Hospital Universitario Mtua Terrassa in Barcelona, Spain on April 30.
A medical worker attends to a patient with coronavirus at the Hospital Universitario Mtua Terrassa in Barcelona, Spain on April 30. Xavier Bonilla/NurPhoto/AP

Spain's control of the coronavirus pandemic cannot be pinned on hopes of a vaccine, a top health official told the government today.

The Director for Health Emergencies Dr. Fernando Simón, said while it is his belief there will be a vaccine at some point, “other tools allow us to control the epidemic and reduce the impact on public health.” 

The number of deaths from coronavirus in Spain is up by 185 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 25,613. A total of 219,329 infections have been recorded in the country.  

Daily numbers of recoveries outweigh the new infections rate by two and a half times, so “the figures are favorable, indicating a good process toward transition” said Simón, referring to Spain’s confinement de-escalation strategy toward a so-called new normality. 

9:05 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

French president warns summer vacation plans should remain on hold

From CNN's Benjamin Berteau in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a statement from the Elysee Palace in Paris on May 4.
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a statement from the Elysee Palace in Paris on May 4. Gonzalo Fuentes/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

It's still too soon for the French to consider their much-cherished summer vacations, President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday.

Macron also cautioned citizens against planning international holidays.

We haven't won the battle against the virus," he said. "It has slowed down. We are entering a new phase. It is too early to talk about vacations.”

Macron added: "We are going to limit all international travel, even during summer vacation. We will stay among Europeans ... maybe as the epidemic evolves, we'll even have to reduce that a little more, but it is too early to tell. We will know in early June."

9:00 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

First US participants get experimental coronavirus vaccine in Pfizer BioNTech study

From CNN’s Frederik Pleitgen and Jacqueline Howard

BioNTech began its first human trials of a potential Covid-19 vaccine in Germany last week.
BioNTech began its first human trials of a potential Covid-19 vaccine in Germany last week. BioNTech

US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech have begun testing an experimental coronavirus vaccine on humans in the United States, according to an announcement from the companies on Tuesday.

The companies’ coronavirus vaccine program is called BNT162. Study participants in the program in Germany were given doses of the vaccine last week and now the US trial -- at NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York and the University of Maryland School of Medicine -- is underway, the companies have revealed.

The program's Phase 1/2 study is designed to test the safety, effectiveness and best dose level of four mRNA vaccine candidates and is to be evaluated in a single, continuous study, the companies said.

The first participants in the first stage of the study will be healthy adults ages 18 to 55, according to the announcement.

Worldwide race to develop a vaccine: Pfizer isn't the only company with a potential Covid-19 vaccine program this far along.

In April, scientists at Oxford University's Jenner Institute in the United Kingdom began testing its vaccine on humans and, depending on the trial results, says the vaccine could be ready as early as September. 

In the US, the National Institutes of Health also started testing in humans, becoming the first to do so in March.

The World Health Organization says that eight vaccine programs are in the clinical trial phase and more than 100 others are in preliminary phases.