April 29 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton and Emma Reynolds, CNN

Updated 9:09 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020
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5:45 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020

France will be divided into red or green zones as coronavirus lockdown is eased

From CNN's Eva Tapiero in Paris 

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe speaks during a debate on the French government's plan to exit from the lockdown situation at the French National Assembly in Paris on April 28.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe speaks during a debate on the French government's plan to exit from the lockdown situation at the French National Assembly in Paris on April 28. David Niviere/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

France is to be divided into red or green zones as the nation's lockdown is eased, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Wednesday as he presented plans for the next phase of coronavirus measures. 

All departments -- which are administrative regions in France -- will be given designations of red or green, depending on three criteria:

  • Number of new cases over a period of seven days
  • Regional intensive care units capacity 
  • Efficiency in local testing and tracing 

A red department means “lockdown relaxation will take a more strict form,” Philippe said at France's National Assembly.

“The Director General of Health will present the map every evening with the results, department by department,” said Philippe.

France has recorded more than 169,000 cases and almost 24,000 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

5:21 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020

South Africa's painful past HIV failures is helping the country to fight Covid-19

From CNN's David McKenzie and Brent Swails

When US President Donald Trump mused recently about injecting household disinfectants as treatment for Covid-19 in the White House briefing room, South Africans were reminded of their own dark past.

Two decades ago, the country's health minister announced that beetroot or garlic could treat HIV/AIDS.

South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki at the time falsely claimed that HIV treatments could be poisonous, so he kept proven, life-saving antiretrovirals (ARVs) from those in need.

In all, South Africa's official AIDS denials and misinformation cost the lives of more than 300,000 people, according to several studies.

"We can't have a large number of people dying," Dr. Yogan Pillay, a senior official at the Department of Health, said. "We came from a period where we had large numbers of South Africans dying from HIV. We can't repeat that now and we shouldn't."

It is the memory of that past failure, South African health officials say, that is driving their fight against this new virus and it is the considerable resources they have since built up against HIV, that could provide their best weapon in fighting Covid-19.

Read the full story:

5:22 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Young activists are fighting for coronavirus hazard pay for their essential employee parents

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

The next generation is stepping into the forefront of the fight to protect essential employees in the coronavirus pandemic.

College students Yolian Ogbu and Victory Nwabufo have teamed up with the National Children's Campaign to launch a movement demanding universal hazard pay and personal protective equipment for all coronavirus essential employees in the US. And it's all happening virtually under the hashtag #YourWorkersMyFamily.

The US Department of Labor defines hazard pay as "additional pay for performing hazardous duty or work" that is "not adequately alleviated by protective devices." New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed last week that hazard pay for frontline workers be included in a federal stimulus plan.

Ogbu and Nwabufo said their effort has garnered support from essential workers, their families, unions and organizations. It will take the form of online story sharing and digital strikes that tweet-bomb decision-makers calling for paid sick leave, hazard pay and PPE. The campaign will culminate on Friday, International Workers' Day, when many organizations are planning strikes of their own, they said.

Read the full story here.

5:19 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Couple married for 73 years died 6 hours apart -- both from coronavirus

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

Mary and Wilford Kepler died beside each other at a Wisconsin hospital after 73 years of marriage.
Mary and Wilford Kepler died beside each other at a Wisconsin hospital after 73 years of marriage. Courtesy Kepler Family

Mary Kepler and her husband, Wilford, died hours apart after a lifetime together. 

The pair were in a Wisconsin hospital after contracting coronavirus, according to CNN affiliate WTMJ. Family members are unsure how the two were infected, the affiliate reported.

Because they both had the disease, they were able to stay together in their last moments -- something most coronavirus patients can't do with their loved ones. Family members across the nation have had to say their final goodbyes over FaceTime or in texts read as overwhelmed medical institutions have restricted visitors to help slow the virus's spread.

The couple, who had been together for 73 years, had beds next to each other and got to say "I love you" to each other one last time before they died Saturday, their granddaughter Natalie Lameka told the affiliate. 

"They had been holding hands and that was just heartbreaking to hear but also heartwarming to hear. And we were just so thankful they were together and were aware they were together," Lameka said.

The two were like the family's "glue that holds us together," their granddaughter said, and while losing them hurts, knowing they never had to part makes the pain a little easier. 

"It was definitely hard," she told the news station. "But it was bittersweet."

Mary Kepler died six hours after her husband, the affiliate reported.

Read the full story here.

4:59 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020

People with eating disorders have suffered all their lives. Now they're struggling even more

From CNN's Aleesha Khaliq

Cara Lisette.
Cara Lisette.

Cara Lisette has spent more than half her life battling anorexia. Now under the coronavirus lockdown, she says she is also fighting to find the few foods she considers "safe" to eat.

Her treatment program was closed down for 12 weeks after the UK government announced its lockdown. She says, without that help, "I'm just having to wing it at home by myself."

"I feel like I've had a big chunk of my treatment stolen from me," Lisette said.

The coronavirus pandemic has left Lisette and many others suffering with eating disorders facing new challenges and exacerbated pre-existing problems for others. 

Support groups estimate that some 1.25 million people in the UK are living with an eating disorder. In the US, that number could be as high as 30 million.

Eating disorder charities in the US and UK say they've seen significant increases in people contacting their services during the lockdowns.

"Everyone who is contacting us is talking about coronavirus and how that's impacting their eating disorders," says Tom Quinn, spokesperson for UK eating disorder charity Beat.

Read the full story:

4:36 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020

UK needs "significant" number of farm workers to replace Europeans unable to travel

From CNN's Simon Cullen

A farmer uses a tractor as he ploughs a field in Retford, near Lincoln in eastern England on April 20, as life in Britain continues during the nationwide lockdown to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
A farmer uses a tractor as he ploughs a field in Retford, near Lincoln in eastern England on April 20, as life in Britain continues during the nationwide lockdown to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Thousands of British people will be needed to work on UK farms because coronavirus has prevented many European workers from traveling, the country’s Environment Secretary George Eustice said.

“Our best estimate is that typically in a normal year, around 30,000 individuals would come from mainly the European Union to do seasonal agricultural work. And of those, probably no more than about one-third were here before lockdown or have managed to travel here,” he told BBC Radio.

Eustice said that a "significant number" of people will be needed and suggested that the gap could be filled with people who have been furloughed.

4:51 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Military disinfecting Portuguese classrooms as schools prepare to open on May 18

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio

A shuttered school in Cascais, Portugal, is pictured on April 14 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A shuttered school in Cascais, Portugal, is pictured on April 14 amid the coronavirus pandemic. Pedro Fiúza/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Portuguese military has begun disinfecting schools across the country with the aim of reopening them to students in their final two years of high school, the Portuguese Defense Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

Around 400 service members from the three military branches will be involved in the operation that will involve around 800 schools.

According to state broadcaster RTP, students in 11th and 12th grade in the Portuguese system will be allowed to return to school on May 18.

School associations and teachers unions have called on the government to provide them with personal protective equipment and clear guidelines from health authorities before they resume classes, but said in an open letter on Tuesday that they have yet to receive the necessary support. 

4:26 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020

A Dutch flower farm spelled out a special message for tourists missing the annual tulip blooms

From CNN's Leah Asmelash

Every year, tourists descend on the Netherlands to revel in the bright and colorful tulip fields. But with coronavirus putting many travel plans on hold, visitors have been notably absent this year.

That's why Dutch Daffodils, a Dutch family flower farm, and Tulips in Holland, a travel blog dedicated to the tulips in the Netherlands, teamed up to create a special message for those sad about missing the flowers this year.

"We headed the tulips a bit earlier to write this message. From our families to yours!" Dutch Daffodils wrote in a Facebook post, with "See You Next Year" written in the flowers, along with a heart. "We hope that this brighten your day a bit and we hope to see you next year! Much love!"

4:10 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Hong Kong airport brings in cleaning robots and disinfection booth

From CNN's Tamara Hardingham-Gill

Cleaning robots, temperature checks and antimicrobial coatings could soon become synonymous with airport trips.

Hong Kong airport has provided a glimpse into what international airport procedures might look like once we're traveling again -- and a lot of disinfection technologies are involved.

Officials at the Asian destination's international airport claim it is the first in the world to trial a live operation of CLeanTech, a full-body disinfection booth.

How it works: Those passing through undertake a temperature check before entering a booth for the 40-second disinfection and sanitizing procedures. The individual is also sprinkled with sanitizing spray for "instant disinfection" inside the booth, which is kept under negative pressure, to prevent cross-contamination.

Kills viruses on clothing: According to the airport authority, the inside of the facility contains an antimicrobial coating that can remotely kill any viruses and/or bacteria found on clothing, and the body, by using photocatalyst advances along with "nano needles."

Is it in operation? While CLeanTech is at present only being used on staff who undertake public health and quarantine duties for passenger arrivals, the fact that it's being trialed at one of the world's busiest airports suggests facilities like this may be used more widely in the near future.