May 20 coronavirus news

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7:58 a.m. ET, May 20, 2020

Boris Johnson promises contact tracing system will be up and running in the UK by June 1

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in London, on Wednesday, May 20.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in London, on Wednesday, May 20. Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged that the UK's contact tracing program will be in place by June 1, seemingly contradicting one of his ministers who had earlier said the scheme wouldn't be as widespread "as we would like" by that date.

Johnson told MPs during Prime Minister's Questions that 25,000 trackers would be able to trace the contacts of 10,000 new cases each day.

"And to understand the importance of that statistic, I should just remind him that today the new cases stand at 2,400," Johnson said. "So we're making fast progress in testing and tracing and I have great confidence that, by June 1, we will have a system that will enable us, that will help us very greatly, to defeat this disease and move the country forward."

When pressed by Labour leader Keir Starmer on whether the system would be up and running by the start of June -- the date from which Johnson will consider easing more lockdown restrictions -- Johnson replied: "We have growing confidence that we will have a test, track and trace operation that will be world-beating and yes, it will be in place by June 1."

That date also marks the deadline, set by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, for the UK to be conducting 200,000 coronavirus tests per day. It is currently carrying out only around 100,000 each day, and its previous monthly target was missed for several days earlier this month.

Starmer told Johnson that "despite two million tests having been carried out" in the UK, "there has been no effective tracing in place since March 12, when tracing was abandoned."

"That is nearly 10 weeks in a critical period without effective tracing. That is a huge hole in our defences, isn't it Prime Minister?" he said.

Starmer drew comparisons between the tracing programs in South Korea and Germany, which have helped keep deaths low in those countries.

But Johnson defended his government's approach, telling Starmer the UK is "now testing more than virtually any other country in Europe."

9:43 a.m. ET, May 20, 2020

Ukrainian president says the country's lockdown may be eased earlier than planned

From CNN’s Nathan Hodge

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday, May 20.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday, May 20. Sergii Kharchenko/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Ukraine may move its plans to ease lockdown forward, citing positive trends in the rate of new coronavirus cases, its President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday.

In a news conference marking his first year in office, Zelensky said the country might allow some measures to gradually lift lockdown -- including restrictions on public transportation -- to be introduced earlier than anticipated.

"We understand that today there are good statistics," he said, according to a transcript released by the presidential administration. "Thanks to our doctors, and this allows some stages to be … brought closer to the present."

Zelensky added that the government would discuss the possibility of resuming public and suburban transport from Friday, the readout stated.

"We can't provide transport between the regions yet, because we have only six oblasts [regions] ready for it," he said. "We see normal statistics where the number of patients is decreasing only in six oblasts."

Ukraine has 19,230 recorded cases of coronavirus with 564 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

7:25 a.m. ET, May 20, 2020

Cambridge University is scrapping face-to-face lectures for the entire year due to the pandemic

From CNN's Rob Picheta

University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge Shutterstock

The University of Cambridge has said it will scrap all face-to-face lectures until mid-2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesperson for the prestigious British university said it expects social distancing measures to be in place throughout the upcoming year.

It will continue to make lectures available online, and some small-group teaching may take place if participants can maintain a safe distance, but students will not be able to attend lectures in person.

"The University is constantly adapting to changing advice as it emerges during this pandemic. Given that it is likely that social distancing will continue to be required, the University has decided there will be no face-to-face lectures during the next academic year," a University of Cambridge spokesperson said in a statement.

Cambridge and Oxford, the UK's two leading universities, rely far more on smaller group teaching than large lectures -- so the move will probably not be as disruptive as it would be at most institutions.

But it demonstrates the dilemma facing universities around the world, many of which have been forced to shut their campuses and move classes online in recent months.

Read the full story here

7:31 a.m. ET, May 20, 2020

Track and trace might not be "fully developed" in time for planned reopening of schools, UK minister says

From CNN’s Hilary McGann and Lauren Kent in London

The UK's track and trace strategy to limit the spread of Covid-19 infection might not be "fully developed" by June 1, the date planned for the reopening of schools, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has admitted.

Speaking to the BBC on Wednesday, Buckland said: "I'm not going to sit here and pretend suddenly on the first of June everything will be uniform," admitting the track and trace system which includes a mobile phone app "won’t necessarily be as widespread and as full-blown as we would like." 

When he originally announced plans to reopen schools, Education Minister Gavin Williamson said track and trace would "create an inherently safer system" for pupils and staff returning to their classrooms.

Britain's Education Secretary Gavin Williamson arrives in Downing Street in London on Friday, May 1.
Britain's Education Secretary Gavin Williamson arrives in Downing Street in London on Friday, May 1. Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

The British National Education Union (NEU) has called the proposed reopening plans "reckless," and urged the government to share the data and models they are basing their evaluations on.

"We are asking and advising leaders not to start planning for 1 June as we do not think it is safe to do that at this stage," a statement from NEU on Tuesday said, adding they are in "urgent talks" with the Department for Education.

In an op-ed for the Daily Telegraph newspaper, the chairman of the BMA's Public Health Medicine Committee Dr. Peter English wrote on Tuesday: "We know that the longer children are kept away from the classroom, the greater the harm to their education, life opportunities and wellbeing. For disadvantaged children, this harm is even greater. A focus on arbitrary dates for schools to reopen is polarising."

"The BMA wants schools to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so and the evidence allows – this could be before June 1 or after. But a zero-risk approach is not possible. This is about 'safe' being an acceptable level of risk," he added.

About 85% of British teachers said they do not think it will be safe to return to school on June 1, according to a survey published by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) on Tuesday.

6:35 a.m. ET, May 20, 2020

Dutch authorities believe minks may have infected human with Covid-19

From CNN’s Mick Krever in London

Testing will become mandatory at mink farms, the Dutch government said.
Testing will become mandatory at mink farms, the Dutch government said. Shutterstock

Dutch authorities believe that a mink may have infected a human with Covid-19, and are instituting mandatory testing at all mink farms in the Netherlands.

“On the basis of new research results from the ongoing research into Covid-19 infections at mink farms, it is plausible that an infection took place from mink to human,” the Dutch government said in a statement late Tuesday night. “It also appears from this research that minks can have Covid-19 without displaying symptoms.”

The government said that antibody testing of minks will be expanded to “all mink farms in the Netherlands and will become mandatory.”

The government also said it believes that cats may be playing a role in the spread of the virus between farms. “Ongoing research shows the viruses at two of the infected farms are very similar,” the statement said. Covid-19 was found in three of 11 cats at one mink farm, it said.

“In the course of this investigation, it is advised that infected mink farms ensure that cats cannot enter or leave the farm premises.”

6:23 a.m. ET, May 20, 2020

English Premier League clubs Watford and Burnley confirm positive coronavirus tests

From CNN's Martijn Edelman

A general view outside Vicarage Road, home of Watford FC in London, England, on March 14.
A general view outside Vicarage Road, home of Watford FC in London, England, on March 14. Marc Atkins/Getty Images

English Premier League sides Watford and Burnley have confirmed positive coronavirus test cases among their clubs. The announcement comes a day after the league revealed six positive cases among 748 players and staff tested.

At Watford, one player plus two members of the staff have tested positive. The club will not be naming those involved, asking that medical confidentiality be respected.

In a statement published on the team's website, Burnley confirmed assistant manager Ian Woan has also tested positive. The club says Woan is asymptomatic and currently "safe and well" at home.

Players and staff at every Premier League club have started being tested this week, with league bosses hoping to re-start the season in June.

As mandated by government guidelines, players or club staff who have tested positive will self-isolate for seven days. Teams returned to non-contact training this week, with strict social distancing measures in place at team facilities.

6:00 a.m. ET, May 20, 2020

All 50 US states are now partially reopened, despite warnings from health officials

From CNN's Christina Maxouris 

People eat outside of a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on May 18.
People eat outside of a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on May 18. Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

For the first time since US officials began implementing widespread lockdowns to slow the spread of coronavirus, all 50 states have now partially reopened. 

On Wednesday, Connecticut became the final state to begin lifting restrictions, now allowing retail shops and restaurants to reopen their doors. 

How the states are doing it: Some states, including Georgia and Texas rolled out aggressive reopening plans. Others have taken a more measured approach; for instance, New York, California and Pennsylvania are only reopening parts of their state reporting declines in new cases.

Many cities also remain under stay-at-home orders. In Baltimore, gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited and retail stores remain closed.  

Experts warn the danger isn't over: Health officials say Americans remain at risk of catching the highly transmissible and sometimes deadly virus. 

"The only thing that was keeping this very contagious virus in check was each of us keeping that physical distance," Dr. Leana Wen, the former Baltimore City Health Commissioner, told CNN Tuesday night.

Experts have warned that lifting restrictions prematurely may mean thousands more Americans will die and could cause a second spike in cases in parts of the country.  

The responsibility now lies with individuals to adhere to guidelines, practice safe social distancing and adapt to new habits to keep themselves and those around them safe. 

Read the full story here:

5:41 a.m. ET, May 20, 2020

The pandemic could push 60 million people into extreme poverty, World Bank warns

From CNN’s Sarah Dean in London

People queue along a street to collect food aid from a distribution point at a church in Barcelona, Spain, on May 17.
People queue along a street to collect food aid from a distribution point at a church in Barcelona, Spain, on May 17. Angel Garcia/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The global coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic shutdown could push 60 million people into "extreme poverty," warned David Malpass, President of the World Bank Group, in a press release Tuesday.

The World Bank defines “extreme poverty” as living on less than $1.90 per person per day.

In a press release, the international financial organization said it had set up emergency response operations in 100 countries to respond to the impact of the pandemic.

"To return to growth, our goal must be rapid, flexible responses to tackle the health emergency, provide cash and other expandable support to protect the poor, maintain the private sector, and strengthen economic resilience and recovery," it said in the release.

Threat in Africa: The threat is particularly severe in Africa, warned Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Solomon Dersso, Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

“This health crisis, along with the debt burden of the continent and its already fragile economies, threaten to further drain reserves, cripple nascent job creation schemes and annihilate gains made in social development and efforts to industrialize,” they said in a statement today
“This could throw millions more people into want and poverty, with catastrophic consequences to the human rights of the most vulnerable, including the poor, women and children.”

They called for greater access for Covid-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, and asked creditors of African countries to freeze or relieve those countries' debts.

The spread of coronavirus: The pandemic has reached all 54 African states and infected nearly 88,172 people across the continent as of Tuesday, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The death toll on the continent stood at 2,834, OHCHR said.

5:20 a.m. ET, May 20, 2020

The US has nearly 92,000 deaths from coronavirus

A transporter for Maryland Cremation Services moves the remains of a coronavirus victim onto a stretcher at a morgue in Silver Spring, Maryland, on May 11.
A transporter for Maryland Cremation Services moves the remains of a coronavirus victim onto a stretcher at a morgue in Silver Spring, Maryland, on May 11. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The United States now has at least 1,528,661 cases of coronavirus and 91,938 related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

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

New York state remains the hardest hit, with 352,845 cases and 28,558 deaths -- that's 147 deaths per 100,000 residents, the highest rate nationwide. New Jersey, Illinois, and Massachusetts follow next, in that order.