May 29 coronavirus news

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10:01 p.m. ET, May 28, 2020

The WHO is still concerned about rising cases around the world

From CNN's Jen Christensen

There are still several virus hot spots around the world causing concern, said a top World Health Organization official on CNN’s Global Town Hall earlier tonight.

The WHO is keeping a close eye on very large increases in case numbers in Russia, Africa, the Americas, some countries in South Asia and a few countries in Europe, said Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead for the WHO’s coronavirus response.

“These are areas that we are concerned about because, as we know, as you know, when this virus has an opportunity to really take hold it can grow very, very quickly,” Van Kerkhove said. “Any one of these could really take hold and take off very, very quickly and we have seen how this virus affects vulnerable populations, and that’s a big worry of ours.”

She said she hopes a vaccine could be deployable by the end of the year -- but that’s if everything goes right. Scientists are working around the clock on more than 100 vaccine candidates, she said, but the accelerated schedule cannot compromise on safety or efficacy. 

10:00 p.m. ET, May 28, 2020

Scientists have warned about pandemics for years, but politicians need to spend the money to prepare

From CNN's Jen Christensen

The least predictable aspect of the pandemic is exactly how unprepared we are to deal with it, said author David Quammen on CNN’s Global Town Hall Thursday.

“The science was there. The scientists knew about this,” said Quammen, who wrote "Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic."

"For years, infectious disease specialists have been warning countries that they need to prepare, but political leaders don’t want to spend the money to prepare for a pandemic if it is not likely going to happen during their term in office," he said.

“Scientists could provide the warnings, public health officials could echo the warnings to political leaders, but political leaders tend to be risk averse, and as Bill Gates said, it would cost billions and billions of dollars."

But billions of dollars are nothing compared to the toll of the pandemic, he said.

The threat of wild animals: The world also needs to protect the environment much better, he said. The world’s hunger for meat, timber and minerals has disrupted the Earth’s wild ecosystems putting us all in danger. 

“As we do that, we’re coming in contact with all these wild animals that carry all these viruses and as long as we keep doing that, we’re going to be facing these spillovers in these outbreaks in the future,” Quammen said.  


9:53 p.m. ET, May 28, 2020

Brazil hits record high for new coronavirus cases

From CNN's Rodrigo Pedroso and Taylor Barnes

Brazil reported 26,417 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Thursday, a record high for the country, bringing the nationwide total to 438,238, according to the Brazilian Health Ministry.

The country also recorded 1,156 new coronavirus-related deaths over the past 24 hours, according to its health ministry, raising the overall death toll to 26,754.

Thursday is the third day in a row that Brazil has recorded more than 1,000 deaths in a day.

9:51 p.m. ET, May 28, 2020

Sao Paulo announces gradual reopening plans despite growing number of coronavirus cases 

From CNN's Shasta Darlington in Sao Paulo

View of an almost empty hall at Guarulhos International Airport in Guarulhos, near Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 26.
View of an almost empty hall at Guarulhos International Airport in Guarulhos, near Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 26. Miguel Schincariol/AFP/Getty Images

The mayor of Sao Paulo announced new guidelines on Thursday to gradually reopen the city, despite high levels of infections and deaths related to Covid-19. 

Mayor Bruno Covas said during a news conference today that several sectors in the city will be allowed to submit health and sanitary reopening plans to officials starting on Monday.

Once these plans are approved by the city government, they can reopen.

Among the businesses allowed to submit reopening plans are offices, retail stores, car dealerships, real estate agencies and shopping malls. Food courts and gyms are excluded. There is no outlook yet for the reopening of schools or parks.

This comes as experts warn Latin America is the new global epicenter of the pandemic. Brazil surpassed Russia over the weekend in the number of coronavirus infections and is now the second highest in the world.

ICU beds in Sao Paulo are at a 92% occupancy, the mayor said on Thursday. He added more ICU beds have been brought in and more are on their way, but the number of ICU bed occupied is slightly higher than it was two weeks ago.

On Wednesday, Sao Paulo reported 129 new deaths and 3,096 new confirmed cases, which accounts for 15% of all the new cases in Brazil. The city has recorded a total number of 54,948 Covid-19 cases.

10:51 p.m. ET, May 28, 2020

Spain to start easing lockdown restrictions

From CNN's Al Goodman, Mia Alberti and Claudia Rebaza

A couple wearing face masks walks at the Retiro Park in Madrid on May 26.
A couple wearing face masks walks at the Retiro Park in Madrid on May 26. Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

Spain will start easing lockdown restrictions starting Monday, the country's Health Minister and a top aide announced Thursday. 

"From Monday, around 70% of the Spanish population, or 32 million people will be in phase two. Around 30% of the population or 15 million people will be in phase one and 45,000 people will be in phase three," Spain’s Health Minister Salvador Illa said at a news conference.

At the start of this week, just over half of the population was still on the more restrictive phase one.

Parts of the regions of Castilla, Valencia, Catalonia, Murcia, Andalucia and Castilla and Leon will move to phase two, which allows meetings of up to 15 people who don't live together, some restaurant service indoors, and the opening of stores, cinemas and museums but with occupancy limits.

Four small islands in Spain's Balearic and Canary Islands with small populations and low infection risk will advance to phase three, with further restrictions on movement and gatherings eased.

"The data is good, we are in a good way, but I have to insist: it's very important to know this is a very complex phase and to maintain an attitude of individual responsibility because a mistake can put at risk everything we've done so far," Illa added.  

The Madrid region, which includes Spain’s capital and surrounding cities, will remain in phase one without any changes, the health officials explained.

"All of this evolution is due to the effort made by the population and the health system to control this epidemic," said Dr. Fernando Simón, Spain’s director of the Center for Health Emergencies.

Simón also told reporters that "small re-emergences" have been identified very quickly and are being closely monitored by local authorities to "avoid a new outbreak and maintain this favorable tendency."