May 29 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Steve George and Zamira Rahim, CNN

Updated 9:49 p.m. ET, May 29, 2020
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9:50 a.m. ET, May 29, 2020

WHO says the tobacco industry is taking advantage of the global pandemic

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

A person holds a cigarette in Moscow on May 12.
A person holds a cigarette in Moscow on May 12. Valery Sharifulin/TASS/Getty Images

The World Health Organization (WHO) called on tobacco and nicotine industries across the world to stop taking advantage of the global pandemic and marketing directly to children and teens. 

Ruediger Krech, health promotion director at the WHO, said Thursday that more than 40 million teenagers around the globe have already started to use tobacco. 

“We've made great strides… but we've also had some setbacks. If we are not careful, we may lose ground in tobacco control as the industry persists and is looking to hook a new younger generation on its products,” Krech said.

Every year on May 31, the WHO celebrates World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) to raise awareness on the deadly effects of smoking. 

“We see hundreds of thousands of people - of smokers - wanting to quit during this crisis," Krech said. "There's a huge uptake of tobacco cessation programs and demand to us to support people in quitting smoking.”

Countries like Mexico, India, Jordan, Indonesia and China, along with parts of central and eastern Europe, have all seen an increase of cessation during the pandemic. 

"We are now looking for new technology solutions to make available to help those who want to quit,” Vinayak Prasad, coordinator with the No Tobacco Unit at WHO, said.

WHO said in a statement that it is launching a kit aimed at teenagers to “alert them to the tobacco industry tactics used to hook them to addictive products.”

“The toolkit exposes tactics, such as parties and concerts hosted by the tobacco and related industries, e-cigarette flavors that attract youth like bubble-gum and candy, e-cigarette representatives presenting in schools, and product placement in popular youth streaming shows,” Prasad said.

Adriana Blanco Marquizo, convention secretariat head at WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, said it is important to arm younger people to fight the tactics.

“Adolescents and young people can be empowered to protect themselves when they understand the intention of this industry – an industry that really wants them hooked in an addictive behavior, just in order to keep the profits, even if it goes against public health,” she said. 

8:02 a.m. ET, May 29, 2020

It's just past 1 p.m. in London and 8 a.m. in New York. Here's the latest on the pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 5.8 million people globally. If you're just joining us, here are the latest developments:

  • Berlin eases lockdown restrictions: Pubs in the German capital will reopen from Tuesday, June 2. Open-air events such as concerts or film screenings will be allowed to start from the same date, but will be capped at a maximum of 200 people.
  • Seoul closes schools: More than 500 schools in the South Korean capital closed on Friday after briefly reopening. The country's health officials are trying to stamp out a new coronavirus cluster in the city.
  • Renault slashes jobs: The carmaker announced that it would cut 14,600 jobs, in an attempt to cut costs during the pandemic.
  • English Premier League to restart: The soccer competition will provisionally resume from June 17, ending a three-month break brought about by the pandemic.
  • US death toll rises: At least 101,621 people have died from coronavirus in the country, which has suffered the highest number of deaths globally.
7:31 a.m. ET, May 29, 2020

Hundreds of South Korea schools close again after reopening

From CNN's Jake Kwon and Sophie Jeong 

A cleaner wearing a protective mask walks past a high school in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday, May 29.
A cleaner wearing a protective mask walks past a high school in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday, May 29. SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg/Getty Images

More than 500 schools closed again Friday to students after briefly reopening, as South Korea moves to stamp out a resurgence of the coronavirus in the capital, Seoul, and its surrounding metropolitan area.

Parks, art galleries, museums and theaters operated by the government in the Seoul metropolitan area -- home to about half the country's population of nearly 52 million -- have also been closed to the public for the next two weeks.

Government hosted events in the metropolitan area will be canceled or postponed as well, Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said Thursday. The authorities have recommended that private academies and internet cafes there close too until June 14.

Park also asked people living in the Seoul metropolitan area to refrain from going outside or holding events for the next fortnight.

The coronavirus outbreak includes a cluster in a logistics center in Bucheon. Almost 100 cases had been linked to the logistics center cluster as of Friday, Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said in a briefing. So far, 3,836 people out of 4,351 workers and visitors at the center had been tested, he said.

Read more here.

7:08 a.m. ET, May 29, 2020

Police request six Premier League games to be played at neutral venues as soccer competition resumes

From CNN's Aleks Klosok 

English Premier League soccer matches will make a provisional return on Wednesday June 17, ending a three-month break to the top-flight competition because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Police forces in England have requested that six of the matches – including the game in which Liverpool could secure the league championship – take place at neutral venues, the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) confirmed Friday.

“The majority of remaining matches will be played, at home and away as scheduled, with a small number of fixtures taking place at neutral venues, which, contrary to some reports, have yet to be agreed,” Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, NPCC Football Policing Lead, said in a statement.
“This plan will be kept continually under review to ensure public health and safety and a key part of this is for supporters to continue to respect the social distancing guidelines, and not to attend or gather outside the stadiums,” added Roberts.

Liverpool are two currently wins away from claiming a historic title – its first in 30 years. The team sits 25 points clear of second-placed Manchester City with nine full rounds of match fixtures remaining.

6:33 a.m. ET, May 29, 2020

US death toll rises to 101,621

From CNN's Joe Sutton

A hearse arrives at a temporary morgue near Green-Wood Cemetery the Brooklyn borough of New York City on May 27.
A hearse arrives at a temporary morgue near Green-Wood Cemetery the Brooklyn borough of New York City on May 27. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

At least 101,621 people have died in the US from coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University, with at least 1,721,926 cases recorded across the country.

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

The US has the highest number of deaths and cases globally.

CNN is tracking Covid-19's spread across the nation here.

6:13 a.m. ET, May 29, 2020

Are lockdowns more damaging than the virus? Experts say it's a false choice

From CNN's Tara John

Is the damage caused by the lockdown worse than the virus itself? That's a question raised by some world leaders and commentators who claim that economic and social hardship caused by strict coronavirus restrictions places a heavier burden on society than the death rate caused by the disease.

These lockdown skeptics point to the tens of millions of US jobs lost in an economic downturn not seen since the Great Depression, the warning by the European Commission of a recession of "historic proportions" and the Bank of England's fear that the British economy is facing its worst crash in three centuries.

The drumbeat of dissent had its moment on the popular British debate show, the BBC's Question Time, when Luke Johnson, a prominent UK businessman with a maverick streak, argued in the May 14 broadcast that the UK had over-reacted to Covid 19. "Imagine the agony of 2 million more people," he said of the number who could lose their jobs amid a sustained UK lockdown. "How many deaths might flow from that?"

US President Donald Trump made similar claims in late March, telling Fox News: "You're going to lose more people by putting a country into a massive recession or depression."

His Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro insists that economic stagnation will hurt Brazil more than the virus itself, and on Thursday called the decision made by governors and mayors to close some non-essential sectors of the economy "a terrible disgrace."

Read more here.

6:00 a.m. ET, May 29, 2020

Moscow revises Covid-19 death toll, more than doubling April fatalities

From CNN's Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

Grave diggers carry the coffin of a Covid-19 patient, in a section of a cemetery reserved for coronavirus victims, outside Moscow on May 26.
Grave diggers carry the coffin of a Covid-19 patient, in a section of a cemetery reserved for coronavirus victims, outside Moscow on May 26. Pavel Golovkin/AP

Moscow health authorities have revised the city's coronavirus death toll for April, revealing that more than twice as many people died than previously reported.

Officials raised the documented number of fatalities attributed to Covid-19 to 1,561 up from 636.

CNN and other news outlets reported in mid-May that Moscow saw a mortality spike in April, adding an estimated 1,800 excess deaths in comparison with previous year averages.

Russia’s official number of Covid-19 deaths has been relatively low compared to countries with similar numbers of overall infections, and observers have questioned official counting methods that permit ascribing deaths in patients who tested positive for coronavirus to other causes such as terminal illnesses and other underlying conditions.

In the report, the city health department said it revised the toll according to new counting guidelines and included even the “most debatable” cases in its overall figures.

The report reveals that, in addition to the initially reported 636 fatalities, another 756 people who tested positive for coronavirus died in April. Their deaths were originally ascribed to other causes, but for some, “the virus became the catalyst for the main condition” and its lethal complications, the report states.

Authorities also added 169 deaths to the toll to include people who tested negative for coronavirus, but for whom coronavirus was established as the main cause of death through post-mortem examination. 

Moscow authorities said that, even with a revised death toll, the Russian capital’s mortality rate from Covid-19 remains lower than in other comparably large cities such as London and New York. 

City officials as well as Russia’s central government have warned the public the numbers for May will be higher.

“The end of April peaked in terms of coronavirus infections, and there are about 2-3 weeks between the peak in infections and mortality [spikes],” the report said, adding that May numbers will also be studied and released publicly. 

Russia’s regions have mostly followed Moscow’s lead in its response to the pandemic as well as with counting cases, so revising the counting method may lead to an increase in the death toll across the country. 

Some regions have been reporting “double statistics,” releasing numbers of deaths in coronavirus-positive patients that have been officially ascribed to other causes in national figures. 

Officials in Dagestan, one of the worst hit areas in Russia, have previously said publicly their overall death toll was much higher than what is reflected in federal statistics. 

5:40 a.m. ET, May 29, 2020

Renault slashes 14,600 jobs as coronavirus wreaks havoc on auto industry

From CNN Business' Sherisse Pham

Renault employees gather on May 29 in Choisy-le-Roi, near Paris, to protest against the company's cost-cutting plan at its core French operations.
Renault employees gather on May 29 in Choisy-le-Roi, near Paris, to protest against the company's cost-cutting plan at its core French operations. Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images

Renault is slashing 14,600 jobs as part of a major overhaul designed to reduce costs and help the French carmaker survive the coronavirus pandemic. Some 4,600 positions will be eliminated in France, with 10,000 more in other markets.

The company announced Friday that it will cut costs by more than 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) over the next three years. It also plans to reduce the number of cars it makes each year from 4 million to 3.3 million by 2024, and will stop selling Renault-branded vehicles in China.

Renault (RNLSY) is part of the world's biggest carmaking alliance, alongside Nissan (NSANF) and Mitsubishi (MBFJF). Earlier this week, the companies announced they would make fewer models, share production facilities and focus on the existing geographic and technological strengths of each carmaker as they try to slash costs amid the pandemic.

Renault said changes were needed because of the scale of the economic fallout from the pandemic, as well as stricter emissions standards. The company, which employs 180,000 people around the world, said it would consult with unions about restructuring some of its plants in France.

Read more here.

5:24 a.m. ET, May 29, 2020

Berlin's pubs and fitness studios allowed to reopen

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

Berlin is further easing its coronavirus restrictions, by allowing pubs and fitness studios to reopen and increasing limits for public gatherings, according to the region’s Senate.

Starting this weekend, outdoor prayer services with an unlimited number of people will be allowed in Germany's capital, in time for the Christian holiday of Pentecost.

Starting on Tuesday, June 2, pubs will be allowed to reopen -- but rather than standing at a bar, guests will need to sit at tables set 1.5 metres (about 5 feet) apart. Nightclubs remain closed.

Open-air events such as concerts or film screenings will be allowed starting June 2, though they will have a cap of 200 people. This limit will be increased to 500 by June 16, and up to 1,000 participants by June 30.

Indoor cinemas that meet hygiene rules will be allowed to reopen on June 30.

The Senator of the Interior of Berlin, Andreas Geisel, has warned that stricter rules would be reimposed if the coronavirus situation deteriorates again.

The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 741 to 180,458 on Friday, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases. The reported death toll also rose by 39 to 8,450.