April 26 coronavirus news

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3:52 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Germany's daily confirmed cases drops for the third straight day

From CNN's Lauren Kent in London

Daily confirmed coronavirus cases slowed for the third day in Germany, according to Sunday figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious disease.

The number of infections increased by 1,737 to reach 154,175, RKI said. The country's death toll stands at 5,640 -- an increase of 140 deaths within the last day. 

The institute previously said the number of daily Covid-19 infections needs to fall to a few hundred per day before further lockdown measures can be lifted.

Germany has been easing its lockdown: Last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel laid out a list of steps the country would undertake to begin lifting its lockdown, and on Monday stores up to 800 square meters in size began reopening, as long as they have hygiene and social distancing measures in place.

Bookshops, car dealerships and bike stores can also now reopen regardless of their size. Restaurants, bars and gyms will remain closed.

Merkel also announced that the country would increase its contact-tracing efforts, deploying a team of five officers for every 20,000 people in the population to trace those who may have come into recent contact with every confirmed case.

Read more about the lifting of lockdowns here.

2:39 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

From private testing for the rich to unrest in banlieues, coronavirus is highlighting France's stark divide

From CNN's Benjamin Berteau, Emma Reynolds and Barbara Wojazer in Paris

A trash can burns in the street during clashes in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, in the northern suburbs of Paris, early on April 21.
A trash can burns in the street during clashes in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, in the northern suburbs of Paris, early on April 21. Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images

While billionaires isolate themselves at luxurious hideaways on the Mediterranean during the coronavirus outbreak, residents in deprived and crowded areas of France are now facing a surge in deaths, along with unrest on the streets.

Hostilities erupted this week in Paris' northern banlieues (or suburbs) following accusations of police brutality and racism during the coronavirus outbreak. Footage on social media appeared to show cars and trash cans set alight on roads, protesters hurling firecrackers and police racing to control the crowds.

The lockdown in France has had very different consequences for different sections of society since it was announced on March 17. The country's ban on all non-essential business until May 11, along with a requirement for a permission slip to venture outside, has had the harshest impact on people living in poorer, more densely populated neighborhoods, according to an op-ed from several activist organizations and unions in Mediapart on Friday.

The associations -- including ATTAC (Association for the Taxation of financial Transactions and Aid to Citizens) -- wrote that people in working class neighborhoods were on the front lines as essential workers. "Yet social inequalities, already glaring, are reinforced by the management of the coronavirus and will explode with the economic and social crisis to come."

In stark contrast, wealthy residents at one of the country's most exclusive gated communities on the French Riviera have been embroiled in controversy after it emerged that some had access to antibody testing, despite the strain on hospitals and nursing homes across the country.

Read more here.

2:11 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Western Australia begins relaxing "most extreme" lockdown measures

The state of Western Australia will begin relaxing some lockdown measures Monday, Premier Mark McGowan said on Twitter.

"Our State has seen remarkable results in the fight against COVID-19 - and while that fight will continue for some time yet, those results mean we can now cautiously adjust some of the most extreme of those restrictions," he said on the platform.

"As of tomorrow, 27 April, based on expert health advice, the two person limit on non-work indoor and outdoor gatherings will be adjusted, with the limit rising to 10 people," he added.

The list of "acceptable activities" to leave home for has also been extended. It now includes shopping, medical needs, exercise, studying where remote learning is unavailable, childcare or school, work, "non-contract recreational activities" such as picnics, and some gatherings of less than 10 people.

"All other restrictions will remain in place for now, and all public playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor gym equipment to remain closed," McGowan said.

12:32 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Almost 2.9 million coronavirus cases have been reported worldwide

From CNN's Alta Spells

As the United States recorded 48,529 new cases of the coronavirus and 2,772 deaths across the country Saturday, here's where the global figures currently stand, according to Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

The university has tallied 2,897,645 cases worldwide as of Sunday, with the US the worst hit country by far. As of midnight ET, the country has 939,053 cases and 53,789 deaths.

Spain has the second-highest number of cases, at 223,759, followed by Italy with 195,351.

Eleven countries around the world, including the US, have recorded more than 50,000 cases so far, and five countries have recorded more than 20,000 deaths.

11:45 p.m. ET, April 25, 2020

China reports 11 new cases of coronavirus

From CNN's Alexandra Lin in Hong Kong

China reported 11 new cases of the novel coronavirus and no new deaths on Saturday, the National Health Commission announced today.

The 11 new infections include five imported cases and six local cases. Of the latter, all but one were reported in Heilongjiang province, in China's far northeast, on the Russian border.

There has been growing concern over cases coming into China from Russia, over fears they could spark a new outbreak in the north as most of the country returns to normal.

In addition to the 11 confirmed cases, 30 new asymptomatic cases were reported. Some 1,000 asymptomatic patients are still under medical observation around the country. China previously did not include those patients not showing symptoms in some of its tallies.

The total number of confirmed cases to date is 82,827, the NHC said.

Of those confirmed cases, 77,394 patients have recovered and been discharged.

The country's official death toll stands at 4,632.

11:17 p.m. ET, April 25, 2020

Several Italian mafia bosses released from prison over coronavirus fears

From CNN's Livia Borghese and Robert Iddiols

Anti-riot police officers stand guard outside the San Vittore prison in Milan as inmates stage a protest on a rooftop of a wing at the prison on March 9, in one of Italy's quarantine red zones.
Anti-riot police officers stand guard outside the San Vittore prison in Milan as inmates stage a protest on a rooftop of a wing at the prison on March 9, in one of Italy's quarantine red zones. Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

Several Italian mafia bosses have been released from prison under a new coronavirus regulation, the country's national anti-mafia prosecutor said.

Francesco Bonura, an influential boss in the Sicilian Cosa Nostra; Vincenzo Iannazzo, a member of the Ndrangheta; and Pasquale Zagaria, a member of the Casalesi clan, have been moved to house arrest, according to Federico Cafiero De Raho, Italy's anti-mafia prosecutor.

To prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus within correctional facilities, the Italian government authorized magistrates to transfer inmates with 18 months or less left in their sentences to house arrest.

Cafiero De Raho said the three men had been held under "extra isolation measures" to avoid contact with people outside the prison because of the roles they had in mafia organizations.

"Once they are sent back home, these measures are obviously no longer enforced," the prosecutor added.

Read more here.

10:51 p.m. ET, April 25, 2020

I left Hong Kong for a break. Instead I got stuck with my parents for weeks

From CNN's Julia Hollingsworth in Wellington, New Zealand

Julia Hollingsworth/CNN
Julia Hollingsworth/CNN

I'm a 30-year-old woman and my dad has just told me to clean my room.

It's slightly humiliating, but not entirely surprising. For the past month, I've been at my childhood home in New Zealand on coronavirus lockdown -- and it appears I'll be living with my parents for the foreseeable future.

Until recently, I lived in my own apartment in Hong Kong with a spirited cat and a large collection of potted plants. My interests included heading to the beach or grabbing a drink in a pub.

Now, my hobbies are a bit different. Last weekend, I made five different types of bread. This weekend, we have grand plans to go on a walk.

Back in late January, as the coronavirus outbreak grew increasingly serious in mainland China, CNN's Hong Kong office largely shut down and I was asked to work from home. At first, I enjoyed the novelty of wearing my pyjamas during work meetings. But as the weeks wore on, my 370 square feet (34 square meters) studio apartment only seemed to get smaller, and work days and weekends bled into one another.

So, at the start of March, I decided to work from my parents' home in New Zealand for two weeks.

Within days of my arrival, New Zealand imposed new restrictions. First, our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that everyone who entered the country would need to self-quarantine for 14 days, meaning I need to stay home. Then the government shut borders to foreigners and urged Kiwis overseas to return home. By the time two weeks were up, my flight out of the country had been canceled and New Zealand was in lockdown. I figured I would just stay put.

Read more here.

10:29 p.m. ET, April 25, 2020

US death toll reaches 53,751, as confirmed cases top 938,000

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

According to Johns Hopkins University's (JHU) tally of cases in the United States, as of 10 p.m. Saturday ET, there were at least 938,072 cases of coronavirus in the country.

At least 53,751 people have died in the US as a result of the pandemic.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases and those in the US military, veterans hospitals and federal prisons.

As states begin to include “probable deaths” in their counts, so will JHU, the university has said. That change may cause a surge in the number of recorded deaths in the US.

9:52 p.m. ET, April 25, 2020

Social distancing in 100 square feet: Hong Kong's cage homes make coronavirus control difficult

From CNN's Joshua Berlinger in Hong Kong

A handout photograph from the Society for Community Organization shows the inside of one of Hong Kong's "cage homes." 
A handout photograph from the Society for Community Organization shows the inside of one of Hong Kong's "cage homes."  Benny Lam/Society for Community Organization

Before the pandemic, Lum Chai used to go to the park and drink beers with friends to escape his tiny living quarters. Now the 45-year-old walks the city's streets alone to kill time and keep away from his neighbors.

Vigilantly practicing social distancing at home isn't an option for Lum. He lives in one of Hong Kong's "cage homes," subdivided apartments that often have space for only a bed and some clothes. His closest neighbor is just a few feet away, inside the same room.

Cage homes are usually smaller than 100 square feet, only 25 square feet larger than most of the city's prison cellsBathrooms are mostly communal and often there are no kitchens -- just plug-in hot plates. Units are mostly divided by makeshift or removable walls.

Lum, who is unemployed, said he pays 1,800 Hong Kong dollars ($232) for an apartment divided between 10 people.

Lum's situation is extreme, but not unusual. Nine in 10 people in Hong Kong live in an area smaller than 753 square feet -- or 70 square meters -- and yet pay some of the highest rents and property prices in the world. The average cost of a home was more than $1.2 million last year, according to real estate investment firm CBRE.

To make things worse, many public areas are closed due to the pandemic. Libraries are shuttered. Jungle gyms in parks are taped off. Restaurants have slashed capacity, and bars have been forced to close, unless they serve food. Public gatherings are limited to four people.

Despite having had the virus since January, Hong Kong has recorded fewer than 1,050 infections and 4 deaths, so few citizens disagree with the restrictions. But that doesn't make them easy to live with -- especially for those like Lum who can't easily stay home.

"I'm so lonely," Lum said. "There isn't that same atmosphere on the streets like there was before. So few people sit in the parks. People used to watch the children play and the elderly play badminton."

Read more here.