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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9:08 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has moved here.

8:47 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Italian region of Calabria to begin relaxation of lockdown measures

From CNN's Valentina Di Donato in Rome 

The southern Italian region of Calabria will begin phase two of the relaxation of emergency coronavirus restrictions on Thursday, Gov. Jole Santelli said, signing an order to allow communities to embark on a gradual reopening. 

“Starting tomorrow, the reopening of bars, bakeries, restaurants and pizzerias — where tables can be out in the open — will be consented,” Santelli said in a statement Wednesday.

“Movements within your municipality, or to another municipality for individual sports, are allowed…the activity of open-air markets is allowed, including street vending,” she added. 

According to the Italian Civil Protection Agency, the region has registered one coronavirus-related death in total.

“Calabrians have shown a civic sense and respect for the rules in recent weeks. It is right that, today, the region puts their trust in them. They will be able to demonstrate common sense in managing the new open spaces that the region has decided to allow,” Santelli said.

3:52 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

More than 12 million Italian workers have requested coronavirus emergency funds

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

A total of 12.4 million workers in Italy have asked for emergency funds offered by the government through the "Cura Italia" (Heal Italy) decree. 

As of Monday, the National Social Security Institute (INPS) said in a tweet it has received 4,740,000 applications for the 600 euros ($652) Covid-19 indemnity, and 7,730,493 others applied for the wage guarantee funds and for the "ordinary check," INPS said Tuesday in a statement.

These funds were introduced by the Heal Italy decree on March 17 to “support workers and companies, with the aim that no one will lose their jobs due to the emergency," the government said on its website.

According to a study by INPS and the Bank of Italy, two-thirds of the 600 euro indemnities were paid out to self-employed workers, and 15.4% to temporary workers. The average age of payees is 46.

This 600 euros indemnity was created for self-employed workers and freelancers who are "almost 5 million people," the Ministry of Economy and Finance said in a statement.

According to INP, the regions most affected by the payment flow were Lombardy (North Italy), Puglia and Sicily (South Italy), which received almost a third of the subsidies, followed by Emilia Romagna, Veneto (North Italy) and Campania (South Italy).


3:29 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Spain should not be too quick to restart tourism industry, government official says

From CNN's Al Goodman, Laura Perez Maestro, Vasco Cotovio and Simon Cullen

A woman looks over Barcelona on April 10, during a national lockdown to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 disease.
A woman looks over Barcelona on April 10, during a national lockdown to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 disease. Pau Barrena/AFP via Getty Images

Spain, one of the world’s top travel destinations, should not fully restart its tourism industry until the European Union reopens its internal and external borders, a senior Spanish government official said on Wednesday.

“A big part of our economy depends on the movements of international visitors and of Spaniards,” said the official. “But we have to have a health system that can take care of anyone who’s in Spain. That’s the fundamental issue.”

Some 200 German owners of holiday homes on Spain’s Mediterranean islands such as Mallorca and Ibiza, wrote to the regional president this month, requesting they be allowed back to their properties as soon as Spain’s lockdown is lifted.

A spokesperson for the Balearic regional government president, Francina Armengol, provided CNN with a copy of the reply she sent to the German homeowners, saying that Spain is working on reopening, but its first priority is “the safety of people and avoiding the expansion of the virus.”

Spain has the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, after the United States.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Spain was the world’s second biggest international tourist destination, with 83 million visitors, just behind France, the UN’s World Tourism Organization reported for 2018, the most recent figures available.

The Covid-19 outbreak served a blow to Spain’s tourism sector, which is 12.3% of GDP and accounts for 2.6 million jobs, according to the Tourism Ministry.

3:15 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Canada's Trudeau says he won't force meat processing plants to stay open

From CNN’s Paula Newton in Ottawa


Dave Chan/AFP/Getty Images
Dave Chan/AFP/Getty Images

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that while the food supply chain in Canada faces challenges, he will not force meat processing plants to remain open as President Trump has done.

“The priority for us is both things; keeping people safe and ensuring a good supply of food to Canadians, we will make sure we’re doing them both,” Trudeau said during a news conference in Ottawa Wednesday.

Canada is facing several Covid-19 outbreaks in meat-processing plants across the country. The most serious situation is in Alberta where two large meat processing plants providing as much at 70% of beef products in Canada have suffered outbreaks.

Cargill shut a large processing plant in High River, Alberta, on April 20 after an employee died of the virus and hundreds more were infected. With more than 700 cases of Covid-19, the Cargill plant is the country’s largest single-site outbreak of the virus. 

JBS is operating another meat processing plant in Alberta on reduced hours after dozens were infected at its facility.



2:09 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

WHO aware of reports of inflammatory syndrome in children


WHO technical lead Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove attends a virtual news briefing on Covid-19 from the WHO headquarters in Geneva on April 6.
WHO technical lead Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove attends a virtual news briefing on Covid-19 from the WHO headquarters in Geneva on April 6. AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it is aware of the United Kingdom report about a small number of children with the inflammatory response to Covid-19. 

On Wednesday, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead for the coronavirus response said, “We're looking at this with our clinical network, and in fact our clinical network had a teleconference yesterday which discussed this.” 

“There are some recent rare descriptions of children in some European countries that have had this inflammatory syndrome, which is similar to the Kawasaki Syndrome, but it seems to be very rare,” Van Kerkhove said.

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said clinicians are looking into what is “causing the inflammation that attacks tissue, other than lung tissue.” 

“We've seen this in the past with many emerging diseases. They don't necessarily only attack one type of tissue; there can be multiple organs affected and many of you have seen the reports of other organs that have been affected with this disease,” Ryan said.

1:11 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Small study in China finds remdesivir did not help coronavirus patients

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Ulrich Perrey/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Ulrich Perrey/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

One of the first carefully done studies of the antiviral drug remdesivir shows it did not help people recover faster from coronavirus infections. But the study, conducted in China, may have been too small to show clearly whether the drug helps.

The findings of the Chinese study conflict with other hints of the drug’s efficacy coming from other trials – two of them also on Wednesday. One study was from the company that makes the drug and a third study from the National Institutes of Health is expected later on Wednesday.

Experts say it’s going to take a lot more testing and a little longer before it’s clear whether remdesivir can help patients recover from Covid-19 infections.

The study conducted in China was stopped early because there weren’t enough patients, but it indicated that the drug did not work as hoped, the team reported in the Lancet medical journal on Wednesday. Some details of this study were posted last week on the World Health Organization’s website, then removed.

Gilead said earlier on Wednesday that its own study of the drug showed it may work and that patients who took the drug for five days or 10 days saw similar results. Gilead’s study results have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. The study done in China was more carefully designed than Gilead’s study to show whether the drug was helping patients.

The Lancet study was a randomized, placebo controlled study – meaning that patients were randomly given the drug or a dummy treatment and the patients and doctors did not know who was getting what.

The team at China-Japan Friendship Hospital and Capital Medical University in China tested the drug using 237 coronavirus patients in Wuhan.

“Unfortunately, our trial found that while safe and adequately tolerated, remdesivir did not provide significant benefits over placebo,” Bin Cao, the researcher who led the study, said in a statement. 

“Future studies need to determine whether earlier treatment with remdesivir, higher doses, or combination with other antivirals or SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies, might be more effective in those with severe illness,” he added. 

The study may not tell anything meaningful. Larger studies enrolling more people, and conducted with careful controls will be needed to tell whether various treatments work.

“The study was well designed—a double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter randomized trial—and well conducted, with high protocol adherence and no loss-to-follow up,” John Norrie of the University of Edinburgh, who was not involved in the study, wrote in a commentary.

“We eagerly await the ongoing trials.”

12:40 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

More than 27,000 people have died from coronavirus in Italy

From CNN's Mia Alberti in Lisbon, Livia Borghese in Rome and Sharon Braithwaite in London


Fabrizio Villa/Getty Images
Fabrizio Villa/Getty Images

At least 27,682 people with Covid-19 have now died in Italy since the beginning of the crisis, data from the Italian Civil Protection Agency showed Wednesday.

The number of active cases in the country stands at 104,657. The total number of cases in Italy, including deaths and recoveries, is now 203,591.

More than 20,000 health workers have been infected with coronavirus, according to the National Institute for Health. At least 153 doctors have died of coronavirus, according to the Association of Doctors.

11:17 a.m. ET, April 29, 2020

"What do you want me to do?" Bolsonaro asks as Brazil's coronavirus death toll tops 5,000

From CNN’s Flora Charner and Shasta Darlington

Andressa Anholete/Getty Images
Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

The number of confirmed deaths from coronavirus in Brazil surpassed 5,000, according to the latest numbers released by the country’s health ministry Tuesday.

President Jair Bolsonaro was questioned by reporters about the spike in the death toll during a late night press gaggle outside the presidential residence in Brasilia Tuesday.

Bolsonaro responded, "So what? I'm sorry, but what do you want me to do?" He added that even though his middle name is “Messias,” which translates to Messiah in English, he’s not “a miracle worker.”

He later walked back the comments during the same press conference, saying “I’m sorry for the situation we are currently living with due to the virus. We express our solidarity to those who have lost loved ones, many of whom were elderly. But that’s life, it could be me tomorrow.”

Bolsonaro has dismissed the threats of the pandemic, calling it a “little flu” and defying stay-at-home orders imposed by governors by participating in rallies with supporters and hugging people in local supermarkets and bakeries.

Support for Bolsonaro has eroded amid the pandemic, but according to a poll conducted by Datafolha, 33% of Brazilians still think he is doing a "good job," compared with 38% who think he is doing a "terrible job" or 26% who think his performance is average.