April 28 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Emma Reynolds and Adam Renton, CNN

Updated 3:31 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020
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3:50 a.m. ET, April 28, 2020

US oil falls below $11 a barrel as supply concerns roil markets

From CNN's Jill Disis

Pump jacks operate in Eddy County, New Mexico, on April 23.
Pump jacks operate in Eddy County, New Mexico, on April 23. Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images

US oil prices are still plunging as investors continue to fret about an excess supply of crude at a time when no one wants any. 

West Texas Intermediate plummeted more than 14% to $10.95 during Asian trading hours Tuesday, accelerating earlier, dramatic declines. The US benchmark, of oil to be delivered in June, settled at $12.78 a barrel on Monday -- a drop of more than 20%. 

The latest crash came as the United States Oil Fund -- a popular fund geared to track the price of oil -- said in a regulatory filing that it would dump its June oil contracts this week and reduce contracts for other upcoming months. Instead, the ETF will buy into longer-term oil contracts.

The announcement was yet another sign of how much the coronavirus pandemic has caused oil demand to evaporate, leaving the world without much room to store barrels of excess supply that aren't being used.

Read the full story here.

3:29 a.m. ET, April 28, 2020

It's 9:30 a.m. in Berlin and 5:30 p.m. in Sydney. Here are the latest developments

Surfers wait for officials to open Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, on April 28, as coronavirus restrictions are eased.
Surfers wait for officials to open Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, on April 28, as coronavirus restrictions are eased. Rick Rycroft/AP

The novel coronavirus has now infected more than 3 million people and killed at least 211,000 worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

If you're just joining us, here are the latest developments:

  • WHO warns countries: World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the agency “can only give advice" and that "each country takes its own responsibility" to implement measures to tackle Covid-19. Tedros also said the pandemic was "far from over."
  • US deaths prediction: Dr. Chris Murray, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Help Metrics and Evaluation, said that they’ve adjusted their scientific model to increase the predicted US coronavirus death toll to 74,000. The model had previously forecast 60,000 deaths.
  • New Zealand's success: The country is "not out of the woods," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, as it entered its first day of transitioning to Alert Level 3 from the toughest lockdown restrictions of Level 4. Ardern said the country must stay vigilant to protect the progress made so far.
  • Hong Kong goes back to work: Civil servants will start returning to work and public services will resume next Monday. The government will also begin loosening some Covid-19 anti-epidemic measures, after the city reported no new confirmed cases for the fourth time in eight days.
  • Destruction of the natural world: Future pandemics are likely to be more frequent, deadly, and will spread more rapidly, unless we stop the widespread destruction of our environment, a group of four leading scientists said.
  • Bondi reopens: Australia's iconic Bondi Beach reopened for surfers and swimmers today but the beach remains off limits to everyone else. The water can be accessed only for surfers and swimmers between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.
  • White House plan: US President Donald Trump announced a "blueprint" to set guidance on how states should handle coronavirus, distinguishing the roles between states and the federal government.
  • US lockdowns: New York's first phase of reopening could begin after May 15 in some areas, the governor said. Other states are already taking their first steps toward reopening.
3:13 a.m. ET, April 28, 2020

Scandinavian Airlines to lay off 5,000 employees

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

A Scandinavian Airlines plane arrives at Malaga Airport in Spain, on July 28, 2018.
A Scandinavian Airlines plane arrives at Malaga Airport in Spain, on July 28, 2018. Shutterstock

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) said it is laying off up to 5,000 employees because of the coronavirus lowering demand for air travel.

"As a result of COVID-19, demand is expected to be significantly affected during the remainder of 2020 and it will take some years before demand returns to the levels experienced before the outbreak," the airline said in a statement.

"Consequently, SAS needs to adapt the business to a lower demand environment. As a consequence, SAS will initiate processes to reduce the size of its future workforce by up to 5,000 full-time positions."

SAS said it is operating a limited domestic network in Norway and Sweden and expects its important summer season to be much quieter.

The airline said the cuts will be split, with about 1,900 full-time positions in Sweden, 1,300 in Norway and 1,700 in Denmark.

2:55 a.m. ET, April 28, 2020

Germany's virus reproduction rate edges closer to key level identified in Merkel warning

From CNN’s Fred Pleitgen in Berlin

A medical staff member tends to a coronavirus patient in the intensive care unit of the community hospital in Magdeburg, Germany on April 16.
A medical staff member tends to a coronavirus patient in the intensive care unit of the community hospital in Magdeburg, Germany on April 16. Ronny Hartmann/AFP/Getty Images

Germany’s coronavirus reproduction rate has increased to 1, coming closer to a threshold that Chancellor Angela Merkel has previously warned it must stay under in order for the country to continue pushing the disease back.

On average, one person infected with Covid-19 is now infecting one other person, according to the country's center for disease control and prevention, the Robert Koch Institute. That’s up from a reproduction rate of 0.9 a week ago and 0.7 the week before.

Merkel has previously warned that if the number -- also known as the R0 value -- rises above 1, the country’s health system would eventually be overwhelmed.

She has also said that Germany risks squandering the gains made so far if it loosens physical distancing restrictions too quickly. 

Despite the rise in the reproduction number, new infections remain at a relatively moderate level.

The institute reported 1,144 new infections in the past 24 hours, while 163 people died of coronavirus-related symptoms.

Germany's death toll now stands at 5,913.

2:33 a.m. ET, April 28, 2020

Future pandemics will be deadlier if we don't change our behavior, leading scientists say

From CNN's Helen Regan

Smoke billows from a steel plant in Inner Mongolia, China on November 4, 2016.
Smoke billows from a steel plant in Inner Mongolia, China on November 4, 2016. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Future pandemics are likely to be more frequent, deadly, and will spread more rapidly, unless we stop the widespread destruction of our environment, a group of four leading scientists say.

"There is a single species that is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic -- us," the group said in a guest article published on the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)'s website.

"We have a small window of opportunity, in overcoming the challenges of the current crisis, to avoid sowing the seeds of future ones."

Professors Josef Settele, Sandra Diaz and Eduardo Brondizio and Dr. Peter Daszak drew on research from their IPBES Global Assessment Report last year -- considered the most comprehensive assessment of global nature loss ever -- which concluded 1 million species of plants and animals are at risk of extinction in coming decades.

A perfect storm for disease: "Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of agriculture, intensive farming, mining and infrastructure development, as well as the exploitation of wild species have created a 'perfect storm' for the spillover of diseases from wildlife to people," the scientists said,

"This often occurs in areas where communities live that are most vulnerable to infectious diseases."

The authors warn that this is just the beginning: About 1.7 million unidentified viruses of the type known to infect people are believed to still exist in mammals and water birds.

What they recommend:

  • Strengthen and enforce environmental regulations -- "and only deploy stimulus packages that offer incentives for more sustainable and nature-positive activities."
  • Adopt a 'One Health' approach to decision-making -- "recognizing the complex interconnections among the health of people, animals, plants and our shared environment."
  • Health systems need to be properly funded in countries with disease hot spot risks. They recommend mobilizing international finance to build clinics and surveillance programs, and partner with indigenous peoples and local communities.
2:12 a.m. ET, April 28, 2020

US federal courts begin to consider guidelines for reopening amid pandemic

From CNN's Paul LeBlanc and Ariane de Vogue

Federal courts across the United States are beginning to consider guidelines for reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic, contingent on local decision-making.

The Administrative Office of the US Courts has distributed guidelines to courts "for restoring operations that rely heavily on conditions in local communities and on objective data" from public health officials, according to a news release Monday. 

A group of chief judges and court executives has also been created to develop protocols for how to safely resume grand jury and trial proceedings.

The guidelines come as more states plan phased reopenings of businesses and other gathering places. In response to the pandemic, courts across the country have suspended juries because of the difficulty of impaneling representative samplings of the communities.

Read more:

1:53 a.m. ET, April 28, 2020

Sweden says its coronavirus approach has worked. The numbers suggest a different story

From CNN's Emma Reynolds

Sweden has been an outlier during the coronavirus outbreak.

The country has not joined many of its European neighbors in imposing strict limits on citizens' lives, and images of people heading to work on busy streets, or chatting at cafes and bars have raised eyebrows.

Younger children have continued to go to school, although universities and schools for older students have switched to distance learning. Businesses -- from hair salons to restaurants -- have remained open, although people have been advised to work from home where possible.

Among Nordic countries -- which share similar cultural, geographical and sociological attributes -- the contrast with Sweden is great. 

  • Finland declared a state of emergency, closed schools and banned gatherings of more than 10 people on March 16.
  • Denmark announced widespread closures on March 11, and was among the first countries in Europe to close borders, shops, schools and restaurants.
  • Norway began introducing travel restrictions in mid-March, and has since closed schools and businesses such as hair and beauty salons.

The death rate in Sweden has now risen significantly higher than many other countries in Europe, reaching more than 21 per 100,000 people, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University, controlled for population.

By contrast, Denmark has recorded more than seven deaths per 100,000 people, and both Norway and Finland less than four

Read the full story on Sweden's approach to handling the pandemic:

1:46 a.m. ET, April 28, 2020

Trump returns to the stage with underwhelming testing promises

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

US President Donald Trump speaks at a news briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 27 in Washington.
US President Donald Trump speaks at a news briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 27 in Washington. Alex Brandon/AP

US President Donald Trump couldn't resist the stage -- despite warning he was done with his contentious White House briefings amid the uproar over his musings last Thursday about injecting disinfectant.

So he was back with a new, sweeping promise to revolutionize the testing that America needs to safely open its economy -- though on closer inspection the initiative looked as underwhelming as many previous vows on overhauling the dysfunctional system for diagnosing the coronavirus.

Trump celebrated saving more than a million lives with his "good decisions" and boasted that "there's a hunger for reopening" the nation and it's "happening faster than people would think," while leaving a misleading impression that the virus is all but defeated in the nation's great cities.

"We are deploying the full power of the federal government," Trump said even as he unrolled a plan complete with a glossy power point presentation that falls well short of the level of testing -- several million a day -- that some experts say is needed to keep the pathogen at bay.

While stepping up federal involvement, the blueprint also enshrines ultimate responsibility for testing with states that have struggled to get sufficient test kits, swabs and reagents to perform diagnoses.

Read the full analysis:

1:15 a.m. ET, April 28, 2020

US deaths spiked as coronavirus spread, new analysis finds

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Deaths across America spiked as Covid-19 began its spread, and many were never attributed to the coronavirus, researchers reported Monday.

"Notable increases" in deaths were seen in March and early April, the team led by the Yale School of Public Health found. This was especially true in New York and New Jersey, states hard-hit by the pandemic.

The study was first reported by the Washington Post.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the team found about 15,000 excess deaths from March 1 to April 4.

During the same time, states reported 8,000 deaths from Covid-19.

"That is close to double," Dan Weinberger, who studies the epidemiology of infectious diseases at Yale, told CNN.

The team could not show whether the increased deaths were due to coronavirus, Weinberger said. But there are strong indications that they were.

Read the full story: