More than 27% of care home deaths in England and Wales were caused by a coronavirus
From CNN's Max Ramsay
More than a quarter of all care home resident deaths recorded in England and Wales during March and April were caused by a coronavirus, according to official data released Friday. Between March 2 and May 1, Covid-19 was a cause for 27.3% of total deaths in English and Welsh care homes, according to the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS). While it was the leading cause of death among male care home residents during this period, accounting for 30.3% of deaths, it was the second leading cause of death in female residents, at 23.5% of fatalities. ONS added that in the days up to Tuesday May 12, a higher proportion of care home deaths were due to coronavirus, at 40% of all deaths “in the most recent days.” The UK government has been widely criticized for the spread of the disease in the country's care homes. “I don’t deny that what is happening in care homes is absolutely terrible. It’s a huge challenge, but we are trying to put as much support as we can around care homes," UK Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told BBC Radio on Thursday. CNN reported on Thursday that a study from academics at LSE’s Care Policy and Evaluation Centre suggested the actual coronavirus death toll among care home residents in England and Wales could be over 22,000, based on calculations of excess deaths. The study found that official data on deaths in care homes directly attributed to coronavirus underestimates the impact of the pandemic, as the data does “not take account of indirect mortality effects of the pandemic and/or because of problems with the identification of the disease as the cause of death.”
China calls for stable bilateral ties with the US after Trump criticizes Beijing
From CNN's Isaac Yee
China has called for stable bilateral ties to be maintained between Beijing and Washington after US President Donald Trump heavily criticized the country on Thursday. "Maintaining stable development of bilateral ties serves the fundamental interests of both the Chinese and US people and is also conducive to world peace and stability," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said. "Now China and the US should continue to enhance our cooperation against the novel coronavirus to defeat the virus as soon as possible and to treat patients and resume the economic development and production, but doing this also calls for the cooperation on the US side.” Trump has repeatedly attacked China as coronavirus cases rise in the US. The US has also increased military pressure on China over the last few weeks, amid increased tensions over the South China Sea and Washington has accused Beijing of seeking to leverage the coronavirus pandemic to extend its sphere of influence in the region.
The outcry from unions over plan to reopen England's schools in June
From CNN's Max Ramsay
Britain's largest trade unions have called on the government to reconsider its plan to partially open English schools on June 1, over health and safety concerns for teachers. The UK government currently hopes to partially reopen schools in England next month but its clash with unions over the issue has become a tense political issue in the country. “We all want schools to re-open, but that should only happen when it is safe to do so,” the unions said in a statement. “The government is showing a lack of understanding about the dangers of the spread of coronavirus within schools, and outwards from schools to parents, siblings and relatives, and to the wider community.” The joint statement released on Wednesday was signed by major trade unions, including the National Education Union which describes itself as the largest education union in Europe, with more than 450,000 members. The groups are calling for a set of principles over safety to be met including additional resources for PPE, local autonomy to close schools with clusters of cases, a taskforce to produce statutory guidance, and no increase in pupil numbers until a national test and trace scheme is implemented. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson accused the unions of “scaremongering” in parliament on Wednesday, but struck a conciliatory tone in an op-ed published in the Daily Mail newspaper on Friday. Williamson said he had organized for union leaders to meet with the UK’s Chief Medical Officer and other experts to be briefed on the scientific advice. “I know some teaching unions still have concerns, just as I know parents and teachers have some worries,” Williamson wrote. “I intend to carry on talking to all of them and working with them on any issues they may have.” “All of us in education have a duty to work together to get children back to school,” he added. Details on the reopening of schools in other parts of the UK will be decided by their devolved governments.
How hair salons are adapting to the "new normal"
From CNN's Allyssia Alleyne
A nurse from the Pitie Salpetriere Hospital gets a haircut at the "Hovig Etoyan" salon on May 12, in Paris. Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images The hair salon has always been an especially intimate environment. It is a place where close contact is non-negotiable a hairstylist massages your scalp with the pads of their fingers; a barber leans in close to shape up your hairline. All that stopped when the coronavirus forced salons and barbershops in many countries to close, temporarily breaking the bond between stylist and loyal client, and curtailing the camaraderie and community of many barbershops. And as lockdowns ease around the world, salon owners and employees are returning to workplaces that have been crucially transformed.
"It's like opening a brand new salon," said colorist Maria Dowling, whose namesake salon in Dubai reopened on April 26 after a month-long shutdown. "It's a new era." Under Dubai's rules, she is only allowed to operate with 30% of her workforce, which means a maximum of five of her 17 employees can be on the salon floor at a given time. At Delphine Courteille's salon in Paris, which reopened on May 11, she says stylists must not only wear masks, but also protective visors. Clients must bring their own masks to appointments (two if they're coming in for a lengthy color service) or risk being turned away. Complimentary magazines and beverages -- a mainstay of high-end salons -- have been removed indefinitely. At Chinese branches of the global salon chain Toni & Guy, clients who have recently traveled overseas must show proof of a recent medical report.
Germany enters recession as economy shrinks 2.2% in first quarter of 2020
From CNN's Robert North and Nadine Schmidt
Germany is in recession after its economy saw two consecutive quarters of negative growth. The country's GDP shrank 2.2% in the first quarter of 2020, the German economy's worst performance since the financial crisis. Growth for the fourth quarter of 2019 was also downgraded to -0.1%. At a press briefing on Friday, Federal Statistics Office official Albert Braakmann warned that the country's economic downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic is expected to accelerate in the current quarter. Most forecasts predict the economy contracting by about 10% in the second quarter of 2020, although Braakmann said the final result will depend on how coronavirus restrictions are eased.
US House to vote on $3 trillion aid package and historic rules change to allow remote voting
From CNN's Clare Foran, Haley Byrd and Manu Raju
The United States House of Representatives will vote on Friday on a $3 trillion Covid-19 aid package and a historic rules change to allow lawmakers to vote remotely during the pandemic. The legislation, which provides funding for state and local governments, coronavirus testing, and a new round of direct payments to Americans, sets up an immediate clash with the Senate, where Republican leaders have said another round of emergency funding is not yet needed. The partisan debate: The legislation, which reflects Democratic priorities and was not a product of bipartisan negotiations, would stand as the largest relief package in US history. House Republican leaders have voiced opposition to both the relief package and the rules change for remote voting. House Democrats' leaders have expressed confidence that both measures will pass the House on Friday. The relief package is not expected to be taken up by the Senate, however, due to Republican opposition.
What's in the stimulus package?
Nearly $1 trillion for state and local governments
A $200 billion fund for essential worker hazard pay
$75 billion for Covid-19 testing, tracing and isolation efforts
Direct payments to Americans of up to $6,000 per household
Democrats are also pushing for temporary remote voting: This would authorize temporary implementation of remote voting by proxy in the event of a public health emergency due to the coronavirus. It also allows for remote committee proceedings during the pandemic. Once enacted, the authorization for remote voting and remote committee work would remain in place for a 45-day period, after which it could be extended if the public health emergency persists.
Spanish island says Germans may be able to visit in June
From CNN's Al Goodman
Spain's Mallorca island in the Mediterranean plans to welcome a limited number of Germans and other travelers in late June in a "pilot project" to restart tourism that has been halted due to coronavirus, Francina Armengol, the Regional President of the Balearic Islands said Thursday. The plan would have the large German tour operator TUI fly in Germans or others from European countries or regions that, like Mallorca, have low infection rates, Armengol told CNN and other journalists on a video call. "We are ready to do the pilot project at the end of June, so that groups can come assured of health safety," Armengol said, speaking from Palma de Mallorca, the island's capital. "We have to learn how to live with Covid-19 and how to do that safely." In Germany, TUI confirmed that it sees renewed tourism in Mallorca and beyond. "We are in constructive talks with a number of local governments where we believe there may be summer holidays," Martin Riecken, TUI's Head of Communications, told CNN by phone. "We don't believe that Spain as a whole, but the Balearics, also the Canary Islands, with low infection rates, where local governments have made good progress." TUI, he added, is also in talks with tourist destinations in Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, and Bulgaria. The restart of tourism will depend on national governments re-opening borders and lifting 14-day mandatory quarantines for travelers, where they are in effect, Riecken said. Spain has announced mandatory 14-day quarantines for all international travelers to the country, starting May 15, and the rule will last through Spain's state of emergency.
China says Wuhan needs citywide testing so schools and work can resume
From CNN's Isaac Yee in Hong Kong
Chinese health officials said Friday that citywide testing is needed in Wuhan to identify the scope of the local outbreak there and allow work, school, and business to resume. Eleven new asymptomatic cases were found in Wuhan today, according to city health officials. The city of 11 million people, the capital of Hubei province in central China, is considered ground zero for the coronavirus pandemic. “The main purpose is to further identify the scope of the epidemic, initiate searching efforts, strengthen detection and inspection,” said Vice Minister Zeng Yixin of the National Health Commission on Friday. He added that expanding the scope of testing would also promote the “comprehensive recovery of social, economic, and living order.” Officials in Wuhan have already started testing residents, but other cities can also “adjust testing strategies and the scope of testing based on local needs and testing capabilities,” he said. Fears of a second wave: Zeng’s comments come after China's National Health Commission said yesterday that the country needs to expand coronavirus testing to prevent a resurgence in cases. After several new local transmissions were detected in Wuhan, officials there said they would test every resident within 10 days.
Russia reports more than 10,000 new cases
From CNN’s Darya Tarasova in Moscow
Russia reported 10,598 new cases of coronavirus on Friday from the past 24 hours, as the country struggles to rein in the pandemic. It has consistently reported more than 10,000 new cases a day for the past two weeks, only dipping below once in the past 13 days -- and, even then, only by a small margin. It reported 9,974 new cases yesterday. Friday's numbers bring the nationwide total to 262,843 confirmed cases, according to Russian officials. Only the United States has reported more coronavirus cases than Russia, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The US has recorded more than 1.4 million cases
The United States has recorded at least 1,417,889 cases of coronavirus and 85,906 related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. CNN's live tracker of US cases is updated every 15 minutes. Check it out here.
Germany's virus reproduction rate falls
From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin
Germany’s coronavirus reproduction rate has fallen to 0.75, according to the country’s disease and control center -- a small but hopeful decrease. It had previously been 0.81, according to the Robert Koch Institute. The reproduction rate, also known as the R-value, indicates how much the virus is spreading; an R-value of 1 means each infected person is transmitting it to one other person. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly warned that if the number rises above 1, the country's health system would eventually be overwhelmed. The Robert Koch Institute says a total of 3.1 million coronavirus tests have been carried out in Germany since the outbreak began. The country has reported 174,478 cases and 7,884 related deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. But this doesn't reflect the total number of active cases; at least 151,700 people have recovered from the virus, according to the institute.
China's factories are producing more but the economy remains fragile amid Covid-19
From CNN's Laura He in Hong Kong
Production in China's factories is growing for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began. But there are still major challenges ahead for the country's economy. Industrial output increased 3.9% in April from a year ago, according to data released Friday by the National Bureau of Statistics. That's well above the 1.5% uptick that analysts polled by Refinitiv expected, and the first time output has grown since December. This growth can be attributed to the political pressure that Beijing is putting on factories to resume production, Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist for Capital Economics, wrote in a research note on Friday. He expects factory output to continue to grow, since policymakers in China have signaled that more stimulus measures are on the way.
But it wasn't all good news: Domestic demand remains very weak, and retail sales in China dropped 7.5% in April from a year earlier. And the official unemployment rate reached 6%, up from 5.9% in March and just shy of February's record of 6.2%. Evans-Pritchard said that the true unemployment rate is "likely double" what was announced Friday, since the urban rate does not include people in rural communities or a large number of the 290 million migrant workers who work in China.
French President summons drugmaker CEO amid vaccine row
From CNN's Pierre Bairin in Paris
French President Emmanuel Macron has summoned the CEO of global pharmaceutical giant Sanofi to a meeting next week after the company suggested the US market could be prioritized for a Covid-19 vaccine. Macron and CEO Paul Hudson will meet on Tuesday, said the Elysee Palace. In a statement, Macron said any Covid-19 vaccine must be treated as a "public good for the world, and not subject to the laws of the market." The Paris-headquartered company has clarified its earlier comments, saying it will also work with European governments to begin production as soon as possible.
Some background: Sanofi said its cooperation with the US’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) will allow it to start production as soon as possible. It says it's exploring similar opportunities within Europe. “We have always been committed in these unprecedented circumstances to make our vaccine accessible to everyone,” the company said in a statement. “We are having very constructive conversations with the EU institutions and the French and German government amongst others.”
German soccer returns but not as we know it
From CNN's Ben Church
The eyes of the world will be on the German Bundesliga this weekend as it becomes the first major European soccer league to return amid the coronavirus pandemic. The country has recorded more than 174,000 cases of Covid-19, including at least 7,861 deaths, according to the latest figures, but Germany's Football Association (DFB) has worked closely with league organizers (DFL) and hope strict safety protocols will protect those involved when matches are played. If the measures work, it could provide a template for other sports to get back underway. If they don't, then questions will be asked as to why football returned so soon. Philipp Köster, chief editor of soccer publication "11 Freunde," puts it more bluntly -- German football is on "parole." "This is an experiment with an unknown outcome," Köster told CNN's Fred Pleitgen. "It could indeed happen that we see two or more weeks of football and then everything gets canceled ... if there are any infections or serious infections."
Taiwan rejects Beijing's condition that it accepts "one China" principle to participate in WHO
From CNN's Isaac Yee in Hong Kong
Taiwanese health officials have rejected China’s condition for the island to take part in the World Health Organization Chinese officials said yesterday that the self-governed island would only be allowed to join the body "in accordance with the one-China principle."
"I have no way to accept something (the "one China" principle) which does not exist," Taiwan’s health minister Chen Shih-Chung said today.
Some background: Taiwan is not a WHO member. The self-ruled, democratic island is claimed by China as part of its territory and Beijing blocks Taiwan from participating in many international organizations unless it does so in a way that acknowledges it is part of China.
Why is this coming up now? Taiwanese officials and other observers have claimed the island's exclusion from the WHO has had a negative effect both during the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic and the current pandemic. Yesterday, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it "opposes so-called proposals" by countries to invite Taiwan to join the World Health Assembly as an observer, adding that the countries which insist on discussing Taiwan’s participation are "only seeking to severely disrupt this World Health Assembly and undermine global anti-pandemic cooperation."
Taiwan's response: Deputy Foreign Minister Kelly Hsieh argued today that it was Taiwan's "right" to participate in the WHO. "We can represent our own people. We have said this many times. Our democratically elected government alone, including the public health system headed up by our professionals from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, can take care of our 23 million citizens and contribute to organizations like the World Health Organization," she said.
It's just past 9 a.m. in Paris and 12:30 p.m. in New Delhi. Here's what you may have missed
The novel coronavirus has infected more than 4.4 million people and killed at least 302,000 worldwide. If you're just tuning in, here are the latest headlines:
Refugees hit: The first known Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in Bangladesh refugee camps home to nearly a million Rohingya refugees. The discovery was the "realization of a nightmare scenario," said Daniel P. Sullivan, a senior advocate for human rights with the US-based organization Refugees International.
China fears second wave: At least 11 asymptomatic cases were reported in Wuhan, ground zero for the pandemic, as the city aims to test all 11 million residents after recent local transmissions. Four new cases were also found in the northeastern province of Jilin, where a new cluster has prompted fresh lockdown measures.
India response: Indian PM Narendra Modi held a video conference with Bill Gates on Thursday to discuss the country's response to the pandemic, officials said. Meanwhile, the World Bank has approved a $1 billion package for India to provide support for its poor and vulnerable populations.
US warning: Without better planning, America risks its "darkest winter in modern history," said whistleblower and ousted vaccine director Dr. Rick Bright before Congress. Bright slammed the Trump administration's response to the pandemic, and said his warnings went ignored.
Japan measures eased: Japan recorded 99 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, as the government lifted the state of emergency across most of the country. Only the hardest-hit prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, are still under the order.
France's tourism plan: French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced an “unprecedented” 18 billion euro ($19.4 billion) plan to support the country’s tourism industry.
World Bank approves $1 billion in support for India’s poor and vulnerable
From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi
The World Bank has approved a $1 billion package for India to provide support for its poor and vulnerable populations, it announced in a news release. The funding will be distributed in two installments $750 million for the 2020 fiscal year and $250 million for the 2021 fiscal year. The nationwide program will be implemented through the existing Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (Prime Minister’s Welfare for the Poor Scheme) and help boost cash transfers and food benefits through other pre-existing programs to benefit the most vulnerable, especially migrant and informal workers. “The response to the Covid-19 pandemic around the world has required governments to introduce social distancing and lockdowns in unprecedented ways. These measures, intended to slow down the spread of the virus have, however, impacted economies and jobs -- especially in the informal sector," said Junaid Ahmad, the World Bank Country Director in India. "India, with the world’s largest lockdown, has not been an exception to this trend. In this context, cash transfers and food benefits will help the poor and vulnerable access a ‘safety bridge’ towards a time when the economy will start to revive." Last month, the World Bank announced a separate $1 billion in emergency response support for India's health sector.
Greta Thunberg: "Our actions can be the difference between life and death for many others"
From CNN's Melissa Mahtani
Teen activist Greta Thunberg is urging the world to listen to scientists as she describes the devastating impact the coronavirus pandemic is having around the world. "During any crisis it is always the most vulnerable people who are hit the hardest, and that is children," she said. "Especially in the global south, people in the poorest parts of the world, especially people living in conflict zones and refugee camps," she added. Despite having had what she describes as mild symptoms, she posted about her experience on social media to raise awareness about the virus and the appropriate action to take. "Many people don't even notice that they have symptoms and then they might spread the virus without even knowing it," she said.
"So we have to be extra careful, because our actions can be the difference between life and death for many others." Thunberg is best known for her environmental activism, leading climate strikes around the world strikes that have now gone online.