May 28 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger and Brett McKeehan, CNN

Updated 1:08 AM ET, Fri May 29, 2020
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11:56 p.m. ET, May 27, 2020

Six feet of distance may not be enough to prevent coronavirus transmission, experts say

From CNN’s Arman Azad

People wearing protective masks walk their bicycles past a social distancing sign at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park during the coronavirus pandemic on May 17 in New York City.
People wearing protective masks walk their bicycles past a social distancing sign at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park during the coronavirus pandemic on May 17 in New York City. Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Public health officials have called on people to stay six feet apart to slow the spread of coronavirus through so-called respiratory droplets. But three experts are warning that six feet may not be enough – and they say the world needs to take airborne transmission of the virus seriously.

In a commentary published in the journal Science, the experts called for “regular, widespread testing” to find asymptomatic cases, and they pointed to places where mask wearing is universal and the virus has been controlled, like Hong Kong and Taiwan. World Health Organization guidance might not be enough in all situations, they said.

“Evidence suggests that (the novel coronavirus) is silently spreading in aerosols exhaled by highly contagious infected individuals with no symptoms,” wrote Chia Wang of National Sun Yat-sen University in Taiwan and Kimberly Prather and Dr. Robert Schooley of the University of California, San Diego.

“Increasing evidence for (the coronavirus) suggests the six foot WHO recommendation is likely not enough under many indoor conditions where aerosols can remain airborne for hours, accumulate over time, and follow air flows over distances further than six feet,” they wrote.

The three experts, who are specialists in chemistry and infectious diseases, said aerosols from breathing and speaking “can accumulate, remain infectious in indoor air for hours, and be easily inhaled deep into the lungs.” That makes wearing masks all the more essential, they said, even when people are keeping their distance. 

More on this: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has focused on so-called respiratory droplets produced when a person coughs or sneezes. The droplets don’t linger in the air for long, but the CDC says they “can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.” 

Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another, or “within about 6 feet,” the CDC says. That’s because respiratory droplets are relatively large and fall to the ground – unlike aerosols, which are smaller and more likely to stay in the air longer.

Despite the focus on droplets from US health officials and others, the experts said “a large proportion of the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) appears to be occurring through airborne transmission of aerosols produced by asymptomatic individuals during breathing and speaking.” 

While more research is needed, they called for robust testing schemes and said people need to mask up. “For society to resume, measures designed to reduce aerosol transmission must be implemented, including universal masking and regular, widespread testing to identify and isolate infected asymptomatic individuals,” they said.

11:29 p.m. ET, May 27, 2020

Another 79 coronavirus cases were identified in South Korea yesterday. It's the most in weeks

From CNN's Jake Kwon in Seoul, South Korea

A health worker administers a swab at a testing center in Bucheon, south of Seoul, on May 27.
A health worker administers a swab at a testing center in Bucheon, south of Seoul, on May 27. Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

South Korean authorities identified 79 new novel coronavirus cases yesterday -- the most in a single day since April 5.

Sixty-eight of those were locally transmitted, with the majority found in Seoul, the province that surrounds the capital, Gyeonggi, and the city of Incheon.

Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said that 54 of the patients identified Wednesday were traced to a logistics center in Bucheon, a satellite city 25 minutes from downtown Seoul. It's possible that the Bucheon cases are linked to a cluster identified in Itaewon, a popular nightlife district in Seoul, but the investigation is ongoing, an official at the Health Ministry said.

More than 4,150 people connected to the Bucheon cluster have been put under quarantine and 83% of them have been tested, Kim said. The rest will be tested today.

11:00 p.m. ET, May 27, 2020

Brazil records more than 1,000 deaths and 20,000 cases in a single day

From CNN's Shasta Darlington and Helena de Moura

Health workers arrive with test kits in the Marajoara region at the mouth of the Amazon River in the state of Para, Brazil, on May 23.
Health workers arrive with test kits in the Marajoara region at the mouth of the Amazon River in the state of Para, Brazil, on May 23. Tarso Sarraf/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil had another 1,086 coronavirus-related deaths over the previous 24 hours, the country's health ministry reported Wednesday -- taking the national toll to 25,598.

The ministry said 20,599 new cases were also confirmed.

Brazil has reported a total of 411,821 coronavirus cases, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

10:35 p.m. ET, May 27, 2020

China identified just 2 fresh symptomatic cases yesterday

From journalist Alexandra Lin in Hong Kong

Chinese health workers sanitize safety equipment after carrying out nucleic acid tests in Beijing, China, on May 28.
Chinese health workers sanitize safety equipment after carrying out nucleic acid tests in Beijing, China, on May 28. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Chinese authorities identified only two new novel coronavirus patients presenting symptoms on Wednesday, the country's National Health Commission (NHC) said in a statement.

Both cases were imported -- one was in Shanghai and the other in the southeastern province of Fujian.

However 23 asymptomatic cases were recorded, the NHC added.

Authorities in China have confirmed 82,995 Covid-19 patients to date, with 73 cases still active. A total of 78,288 confirmed patients have recovered and been discharged from hospital.

At least 4,634 people have died in China after contracting the virus.

10:05 p.m. ET, May 27, 2020

Disney CEO explains why it's safe to go back to Disney World

From CNN Business' Frank Pallotta

Disney World is set to reopen -- but is it safe to return to the "most magical place on earth"?

Disney CEO Bob Chapek believes so.

The Disney resort in Orlando, Florida, plans to reopen on July 11 for its Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom parks and July 15 for EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, the company said Wednesday.

The resort, which closed in mid-March because of the pandemic, will implement several health and safety measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus during a phased reopening.

Chapek spoke with CNN Business about reopening the parks and how different they will look under the new health guidelines.

Read the transcript here:

9:31 p.m. ET, May 27, 2020

More than 100,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

From CNN's Holly Yan, Steve Almasy and Jay Croft

A Maryland Cremation Services transporter loads the remains of a coronavirus victim into her vehicle at Stauffer Funeral Home on May 12, in Frederick, Virginia.
A Maryland Cremation Services transporter loads the remains of a coronavirus victim into her vehicle at Stauffer Funeral Home on May 12, in Frederick, Virginia. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

At least 100,276 people have died from Covid-19 in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases.

That's almost twice the number of Americans lost during the entire Vietnam War.

No one knew how bad the coronavirus pandemic would get when the first known virus-related death happened on February 6. But since then, an average of nearly 900 Americans have died every day from Covid-19.

The victims have represented some of the best of humanity:

Remembering the victims: 105 families shared their favorite memories with CNN. Read their stories here.

Watch:

9:13 p.m. ET, May 27, 2020

French Parliament adopts contact-tracing app

From CNN's Benjamin Berteau and Ya Chun Wang

French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet delivers a speech during a session of Questions to the government, on May 19, at the national assembly in Paris.
French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet delivers a speech during a session of Questions to the government, on May 19, at the national assembly in Paris. Christophe Petit Tesson/Pool/AFP

Both chambers of the French Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of the StopCovid smartphone application on Wednesday, despite the contact tracing app being decried by opposition parties for its infringements on individual freedoms.

The vote was purely symbolic and was meant to let President Emmanuel Macron's government know there was political backing for the app. After hours of debate, StopCovid was adopted at the National Assembly with 338 votes in favor and 215 votes against. Around midnight, the French Senate voted in favor of the government app by 189 votes in favor to 129 against.

“StopCovid is a tool at the service of citizens and not a threat to their freedoms,” Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet told the Lower House. 

The app had already been given the green light by the National Commission for Digital Freedom on Tuesday. A spokesperson for the National Assembly told CNN on Wednesday that the government "did not need a legal basis in order to deploy the app, because it works on a purely voluntary basis and doesn’t infringe on personal freedom."

French digital rights association La Quadrature du Net said that between 60% and 80% of the population would need to use the app for it to be useful in the fight against the coronavirus.

9:09 p.m. ET, May 27, 2020

Spain had 43,000 more deaths than usual during two peak Covid-19 months

From CNN’s Al Goodman, Ingrid Formanek and Mia Alberti

A mortuary worker prepares supports for coffins, most of them containing Covid-19 victims, at Collserola funeral home near Barcelona, Spain.
A mortuary worker prepares supports for coffins, most of them containing Covid-19 victims, at Collserola funeral home near Barcelona, Spain. Pau Barrena/AFP/Getty Images

Mortality rates in Spain were 55% higher than usual between March 10 and May 10, the country’s top coronavirus health ministry official said Wednesday.

“This excess of 55% represents more than 43,000 deaths than what is expected,” Fernando Simón, Spain’s director of the center for health emergencies, said. “That mortality was centered in people 75 or older,” accounting for 35,000 of the total excess figure.

However, only 27,118 of those additional deaths are linked to Covid-19. A “significant part” of the more than 43,000 deaths between March 10 and May 10 “cannot directly connect to Covid-19 yet,” cautioned Simón.

"If we count the deaths with coronavirus and compare it with the excess, there's still a significant number of deaths left that could be explained for several reasons," he added.

Among those reasons could be an inability or unwillingness to go to a hospital or get medical assistance during the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, Simón said. 

“We may have also witnessed some complications in some health centers that didn't favor survival during a longer period for some of our elderly,” he added. 

A number of senior care homes in Spain reported unusually high mortality numbers during the height of the pandemic, but most of the deceased were not tested for Covid-19.

The numbers are emerging now, Simón said, because the country was under strict lockdown during the height of the epidemic, and notifications of deaths may have been delayed due to registry workers not being able to go to their offices -- leaving many deaths tallied without a detailed analysis.

8:58 p.m. ET, May 27, 2020

El Salvador’s leader is taking hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment

From CNN's Tatiana Arias 

President Nayib Bukele speaks during a press conference at Rosales Hospital in San Salvador on May 26.
President Nayib Bukele speaks during a press conference at Rosales Hospital in San Salvador on May 26. Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele says he's taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent Covid-19.

Remember: Hydroxchloroquine is an anti-malarial drug that medical experts have said is an unproven and possibly harmful therapy to ward off the coronavirus. US President Donald Trump has also claimed he is using the drug.

“I use it as a prophylaxis. President Trump uses it as a prophylaxis. Most of the world’s leaders use it as a prophylaxis,” Bukele said on Tuesday.

Bukele touted his use of the drug during a news conference with the US Ambassador to El Salvador, Ronald Johnson, about the donation the US had made of 250 ventilators to the Central American country.

"Sometimes what's recommended to the people is something different than what's recommended to the leaders, because I have been recommended to use hydroxychloroquine as a prophylaxis and the probability of this harming you is very low," Bukele said as he displayed a bottle of what is assumed to be hydroxychloroquine. 

Bukele did not say how much he was taking or if the drug was prescribed by a doctor.

The leader added that at the recommendation of the World Health Organization, the drug was no longer part of the country's coronavirus treatment protocol, but it would remain available for "those who wish to use it as prophylaxis" or by a doctor's prescription.

The World Health Organization announced Monday that it has temporarily halted studying hydroxychloroquine as a potential Covid-19 treatment in its Solidarity Trial due to safety concerns.