May 18 coronavirus news

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2:06 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Europeans enjoy weekend of sun as coronavirus restrictions ease

Images show people enjoying the sun in parks and beaches in many European countries over the weekend, as coronavirus restrictions begin to ease.

In France, people sat in front of the Eiffel Tower and gathered on the grass at the Vincennes woods on the first weekend after lockdown measures were loosened on May 11.

People sit on the Champs de Mars at sunset in front of the Eiffel Tower, on May 17, in Paris.
People sit on the Champs de Mars at sunset in front of the Eiffel Tower, on May 17, in Paris. Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

In Germany, a group of people joined a yoga class in Berlin's Tempelhofer Feld on the first weekend people were allowed to gather in groups of eight people to practice sports, according to Getty Images.

Group of "Yoga on the move" class participants practice Yoga in Tempelhofer Feld on May 17 in Berlin.
Group of "Yoga on the move" class participants practice Yoga in Tempelhofer Feld on May 17 in Berlin. Maja Hitij/Getty Images

In Greece, people flocked to public beaches after many were reopened to the public. Social distancing measures required all shade umbrellas to be planted at least 4 meters (13 feet) apart, and a maximum 40 beachgoers allowed in every 1,000 square meters (10,700 square feet) of beach.

Beachgoers enjoy the sun and sea at public beach during the official reopening of beaches to the public on May 16 in Varkiza, Greece. 
Beachgoers enjoy the sun and sea at public beach during the official reopening of beaches to the public on May 16 in Varkiza, Greece.  Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

In the UK, queues of cars could be seen parked near natural beauty spots as people were allowed to spend more time outside and drive longer distances. Officials had warned against flocking to parks and beaches.

Cars are seen parked in the car parks and along the road-side at Birling Gap near Beachy Head on the south coast of England on May 17.
Cars are seen parked in the car parks and along the road-side at Birling Gap near Beachy Head on the south coast of England on May 17. Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images
1:46 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

How a lifeline for the world's poorest is being cut off due to Covid-19

From CNN's  Rebecca Wright, Ivan Watson and Salman Saeed

For more than four years, Saiful Islam sent about half of the money he made as a construction worker in Bahrain back to his aging parents in Bangladesh.

When the 25-year-old lost his job due to the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, that lifeline for his loved ones was abruptly cut off.

"Now that I can't send money back home, my family is also suffering and cannot buy food, and my old parents can't get any good medical treatment," Islam told CNN Business. "I have no savings because I have a big family back home."

Since Islam lost his job, his family in Comilla Daudkandi village in eastern Bangladesh say they are struggling to survive.

"We cannot buy enough food and we cannot buy our medicines," said Rokeya Begum, Islam's 60-year-old mother. "Some days we have nothing to eat, and some days we ask the neighbors for food."

Islam and his family are not alone.

Migrant workers around the world are being laid off as the coronavirus crisis cripples economies and lockdowns shutter many industries, such as construction. The families who rely on their migrant relatives for money are already feeling the consequences.

The World Bank estimates that global remittances will fall 20% in 2020 due to Covid-19 -- cutting about $100 billion from a vital source of funds for the world's poorest people. By comparison, the fall in remittances in 2009 after the global financial crisis was 5%.

Read the full story:

1:31 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

US official lays part of blame for Covid-19 death toll on state of Americans' health

From CNN's Kristen Holmes and Kevin Bohn

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar listens during a vaccine development announcement from the Rose Garden of the White House on May 15.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar listens during a vaccine development announcement from the Rose Garden of the White House on May 15. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has suggested that the underlying health conditions of Americans, in particular in minority communities, contributed significantly to the death toll from the coronavirus

"Unfortunately the American population is a very diverse ... It is a population with significant unhealthy comorbidities that do make many individuals in our communities, in particular African American, minority communities particularly at risk here," Azar said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Azar said the reason these communities were at risk was "because of significant underlying disease health disparities and disease comorbidities," and said it was "an unfortunate legacy in our health care system that we certainly do need to address."

With nearly 90,000 deaths, the US has recorded more Covid-19-related fatalities than any other country.

Azar was asked if he was implying the reason so many Americans had died from Covid-19 was because they were "unhealthier than the rest of the world," Azar said no, that wasn't what he meant. 

But the head of the HHS emphasized again that the US had a "significantly disproportionate burden of comorbidities ... (including) obesity, hypertension, diabetes," adding that "these are demonstrated facts that do make us at risk for any type of disease burden."

Read the full story:

1:16 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

India reports over 5,000 new cases in largest single-day spike

From CNN’s Swati Gupta in New Delhi

A doctor collects samples for a coronavirus swab test in Gauhati, India on Sunday.
A doctor collects samples for a coronavirus swab test in Gauhati, India on Sunday. Anupam Nath/AP

India recorded 5,242 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours -- the country’s biggest single-day spike in confirmed infections.

The total number of confirmed cases in the country stands at 96,169, including 3,029 deaths, according to India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The state of Maharashtra -- home to Mumbai -- has reported the most cases, with 33,053 infections and 1,198 deaths. 

India says it has ramped up its testing capacity and to date, more than 2.3 million people have been tested across the country, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research.

On Sunday, India announced it was extending its lockdown until the end of the month.  

1:02 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

New Zealand's prime minister was turned away from a cafe under coronavirus restrictions

From CNN's Hira Humayun and Alicia Lee

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been praised for her country's response to the pandemic.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been praised for her country's response to the pandemic. Dom Thomas/Pool/Getty Images

Not even New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was exempt from her own coronavirus restrictions after she was turned away from a cafe that was at capacity under physical distancing guidelines. 

Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford were rejected from a popular cafe in Wellington on Saturday, according to a post by a Twitter user named Joey. Gayford responded to the tweet, admitting, "I have to take responsibility for this, I didn't get organized and book anywhere." 

Gayford added that the restaurant chased them down when a spot freed up and he gave them an "A+" for service. 

Lockdown easing: After Ardern announced last week that the country will move from Alert Level 3 down to Level 2, cafes, movie theaters and restaurants in New Zealand were allowed to reopen last Thursday, as long as they did so with strict hygiene measures and physical distancing in place.

12:42 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Osaka records no new coronavirus cases for first time since March

From CNN’s Junko Ogura in Tokyo

People walk around Dotonbori, one of Osaka's most popular tourist areas, on May 13 in Osaka, Japan.
People walk around Dotonbori, one of Osaka's most popular tourist areas, on May 13 in Osaka, Japan. Carl Court/Getty Images

Japan's third-largest city recorded no new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the first time since March 9 that the figure had fallen to zero.

The total number of infections reported in Osaka now stands at 1,770, the Osaka prefectural government said.

In the capital Tokyo, five new cases were reported on Sunday -- that's the lowest since the city was placed under a state of emergency on April 7. The total number of cases recorded in Tokyo has reached 5,050.

Across the country, 28 new coronavirus cases and five deaths were recorded on Sunday, Japan’s health ministry said.

The total number of reported cases in Japan is 16,844, with 712 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. The number of Covid-19-related deaths is 762, with 13 from the cruise liner.

Japan's restrictions: Tokyo, Osaka, and six urban prefectures remain a under state of emergency. The government will assess their status on May 21, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said last week as he announced the lifting of emergency measures for 39 of 47 prefectures.

12:23 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

More than 100 countries call on WHO for independent "evaluation" into Covid-19 pandemic

From CNN's Sarah Faidell

The World Health Organization's World Health Assembly will be held virtually from May 18-19.
The World Health Organization's World Health Assembly will be held virtually from May 18-19. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

More than 100 countries have proposed a draft resolution calling for an independent “evaluation” into the coronavirus pandemic.

The resolution is to be presented to the World Health Organization during its 73rd World Health Assembly held virtually today and tomorrow.

The motion has international support: Countries including Australia, India, New Zealand, Russia and the UK back the proposal, as do the European Union and its member states.

But not from the United States: The US is not one of the signatories. 

Where does China fit into this? The draft does not specifically mention China or Beijing, but China has been facing mounting international scrutiny for its initial handling of the Covid-19 outbreak.

In April, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne called for an independent investigation into the spread of Covid-19 and said “transparency from China most certainly” would be addressed. Chinese officials called the idea of an independent investigation politically motivated.

Last week, China struck back at what it calls “lies” from US politicians, which it said were fabricated to “shift the blame to China for their inadequate response to Covid-19.” China has repeatedly denied accusations of an initial cover-up and delayed release of information about the virus. 

Read the statement proposing the resolution:

“Recognizing the need for all countries to have unhindered timely access to quality, safe, efficacious and affordable diagnostics, therapeutics, medicines and vaccines, and essential health technologies, and their components as well as equipment for the COVID-19 response,” the motion reads in part, the member states call for the WHO to initiate “a stepwise process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation, including using existing mechanisms, as appropriate, to review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19.”
12:10 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

US records more than 18,000 new cases

At least 18,873 new coronavirus cases and 808 Covid-19-related deaths were recorded in the United States on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

That brings the nationwide totals to at least 1,486,757 cases and 89,562 deaths.

The totals includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.

CNN is tracking US coronavirus cases here:

12:01 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Australia announces bid to win back tourists

From CNN's Jessie Gretener and Lynda Kinkade

Uluru is one of Australia's most famous tourist attractions.
Uluru is one of Australia's most famous tourist attractions. Live

When we do go outside again, what will it be like?

Over the weekend, Tourism Australia -- the country's national travel organization -- called upon a couple of well-known mates to connect couches across the country and answer that very question. 

Streamed on Facebook, the virtual event "Live from Aus" transported viewers to 36 destinations down under. The two-day program was filled with famous Australian travel experiences and hosted by zookeepers, chefs and even a pair of Chris Hemsworth's personal trainers.

"Everyone has been cooped up in units and apartments, so what we have is very appealing in terms of the wide-open spaces and beautiful landscapes," Matt Wright, an animal expert who introduced the event, said while a crocodile snapped playfully at his feet.

It's all part of an ongoing push by Tourism Australia to inspire Aussies to travel locally once it is safe to do so.

The coronavirus pandemic has halted international travel for the foreseeable future. But, as restrictions begin to ease in Australia, domestic travel is being seen as a big step forward in the road to recovery.

Read how Australia plans to restart its tourism industry:

Australia announces bid to win back tourists
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Australia announces bid to win back tourists