May 5 coronavirus news

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1:46 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Potential coronavirus vaccine tested in Germany could supply "many millions" by end of year

From CNN’s Fred Pleitgen

Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images
Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

An experimental coronavirus vaccine entering human trials in the US may be available in many millions of doses by the end of 2020, the CEO of BioNTech has told CNN. 

The German drug maker has partnered with US giant Pfizer to distribute a potential vaccine which is already in human trials in Germany.

CEO Ugur Şahin believes the regulatory approval process could be sped up from what is historically an 18-month time frame due to the global pandemic. 

"The benefit of a vaccine in a pandemic situation is much greater and therefore an approval or an authorization of a vaccine in a pandemic situation has to follow other rules than we have seen in the past,” Şahin told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen. 

Şahin believes Covid-19 will be responsive to a vaccine which is he calls the “most important aspect” of vaccine development. He said the second aspect is the “very encouraging” pre-clinical data.

“We see vaccine responses, we see strong vaccine responses at even low doses. And we believe that this vaccine response, since we have seen that in different animal models will also translate into vaccine responses in human subjects," Şahin said.

If it is approved by the regulators, Şahin said the partners are “prepared to go as fast as possible” to get the vaccine to the population.

1:49 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Turkey seizes illegal cargo of masks stuffed into pillowcases in violation of coronavirus trade restrictions

From CNN's Gul Tuysuz in Istanbul

Turkish customs officials have seized 79,000 surgical and 8,500 filtered masks stuffed into pillowcases that were outbound from the Istanbul Airport cargo department. The final destination of the illegal cargo hasn't been revealed.

Turkey has placed a trade restriction on the export of personal protective equipment (PPE), which requires approval from the Turkish Health Ministry during the coronavirus outbreak.

Turkey has delivered PPE and medical equipment to more than 50 countries since the outbreak including donations to Spain, Italy, the UK and the US.  

Customs agents were alerted to the illegal shipment when X-ray scans showed unusually high density in the cargo boxes, the Trade Ministry said. 

Tracing back the shipment, customs officials raided an address and found 441,480 surgical masks, 19,450 filtered masks, and eight boxes of nano-fiber textile as well as vacuuming equipment for packaging. All masks and related equipment worth nearly half a million dollars were confiscated and two people have been arrested.

1:17 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Lebanon extends coronavirus movement restrictions

From Ghazi Balkiz in Beirut

Lebanon has extended movement restrictions to control the spread of coronavirus an additional two weeks, to now end on May 24.

So far, Lebanon has reported 741 positive cases and 25 people have died from the virus. Restrictions have further exacerbated the country's deep and long-running financial crisis.

In a five-phase plan to gradually reopen the country, Lebanon has already eased some of the measures imposed on March 15, allowing restaurants to reopen this week with a 30% customer capacity.

Customers have a drink at a restaurant in Beirut, Lebanon, on Monday, May 4.
Customers have a drink at a restaurant in Beirut, Lebanon, on Monday, May 4. Hassan Ammar/AP

It's also extended opening hours for some commercial and industrial enterprises and is allowing public transport vehicles to operate with limited passengers under specific conditions.

Announcing the extension in movement restrictions today, the country's Information Minister Manal Abdel-Samad said some are dismissing the measures as if they have ended.

"We have a great fear these days that the epidemic will rapidly spread because of people’s lack of commitment to the measures. Therefore, the security services should strictly implement the measures, otherwise there will be a second wave of corona that is more harmful,” the information minister said.

Why this matters: Cash-strapped Lebanon is facing growing turmoil after the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak sparked violent protests over rising hunger and poverty. The government believes that up to 75% of people are in need of aid.  

 

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.