May 1 coronavirus news

By Emma Reynolds, Jessie Yeung and Adam Renton, CNN

Updated 9:56 p.m. ET, May 1, 2020
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5:33 a.m. ET, May 1, 2020

Trump contradicts US intel community by claiming he's seen evidence coronavirus originated in Chinese lab

From CNN's  Zachary Cohen, Alex Marquardt, Kylie Atwood and Jim Acosta

President Donald Trump contradicted a rare on-the-record statement from his own intelligence community by claiming Thursday that he has seen evidence that gives him a "high degree of confidence" the novel coronavirus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, but declined to provide details to back up his assertion.

The comments undercut a public statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued just hours earlier which stated no such assessment has been made and that the intelligence community continues to "rigorously examine" whether the outbreak "began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan."

"Yes, I have," Trump said when asked whether he's seen evidence that would suggest the virus originated in the lab. Later, asked why he was confident in that assessment, Trump demurred.

"I can't tell you that. I'm not allowed to tell you that," he said.

Trump officials have been pushing the US intelligence community to determine the exact origins of the coronavirus outbreak in pursuit of an unproven theory that the pandemic started because of a laboratory accident in China, multiple sources told CNN. 

In acknowledgment of that effort, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued an unprecedented public statement Thursday prior to Trump's comments making clear the intelligence community is currently exploring the two possibilities.

Trump said Thursday there were "a lot of theories" that he would assess but seemed to hold out hope that Beijing would eventually be forthcoming with what it knows about the virus' origin. "China may tell us," he said.

Read more:

5:25 a.m. ET, May 1, 2020

Russia saw nearly 8,000 new cases in 24 hours

From CNN’s Darya Tarasova in Moscow 

A medical worker waits near a line of ambulances queued to deliver patients suspected of being infected with the coronavirus to the Pokrovskaya hospital in St.Petersburg, Russia, on April 28.
A medical worker waits near a line of ambulances queued to deliver patients suspected of being infected with the coronavirus to the Pokrovskaya hospital in St.Petersburg, Russia, on April 28. Dmitri Lovetsky/AP

Russia reported 7,933 new coronavirus cases on Friday -- its biggest single-day jump in cases so far.

That brings the national total to 114,431 cases and 1,169 deaths, according to the country’s coronavirus response headquarters.

This figure doesn't reflect the number of active cases, but rather the total number of infections since the start of the outbreak. So far, 13,220 patients have recovered, the center added.

The spike comes a day after Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin appeared on state television informing President Vladimir Putin by video conference that he'd tested positive for the virus. 

5:14 a.m. ET, May 1, 2020

She was asked to pay thousands for her coronavirus treatment, he got a free ride. She's American. He's Italian

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová, Tami Luhby and Valentina Di Donato

Leah Blomberg and Marco Paolone both called an ambulance when their coronavirus symptoms worsened. Both spent time in intensive care, both were unconscious for days, and both were on a ventilator.

They were lucky -- they survived a disease which has so far killed more than 233,000 people around the world.

But while Blomberg, an American, walked away with medical bills totaling several thousands of dollars, Paolone's treatment was free. In his home country of Italy, cost isn't something coronavirus patients need to worry about.

The Covid-19 pandemic is exposing the deep divide between how health care is approached in the US and in Europe. In Italy, like on much of the continent, the system is publicly funded and almost entirely free for anyone who needs it. Meanwhile, the United States is the only developed nation without universal health care.

"People do not avoid health care because of cost in Europe," said Reggie D. Williams II, an international health policy expert at the US-based Commonwealth Fund. "Americans unfortunately face a dual burden of worrying about access to care ... and then affordability."

Read the full story:

5:36 a.m. ET, May 1, 2020

American, Delta, Frontier to require passengers to wear face masks

From CNN's Brekke Fletcher

Three major US airlines have separately announced they are going to require their passengers to wear face masks. 

Two days after Jet Blue became the first major airline to announce this change, American, Delta and Frontier followed suit, releasing statements explaining their new policies.

Earlier this week Delta said that employees were required to wear masks and passengers "were strongly encouraged" to do so. Today, Delta released a statement saying passengers were required to wear masks on all flights starting May 4, the same date as Jet Blue.

American Airlines made similar announcements earlier this week regarding flight attendants wearing masks, and today extended that requirement to passengers.

American said it would also be offering masks and sanitizing wipes to passengers on select flights. The airline added that it may take a few weeks to roll out these provisions, and in the interim, "customers should bring their own masks or face coverings."

This morning Frontier Airlines, a smaller, Denver-based carrier, announced that passengers would be required to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth at the airline's ticket counters, gate areas and onboard from May 8.

The airline is blocking every other row and requires passengers to agree to a "health acknowledgment" before checking in, to certify that they have not been exposed to Covid-19, do not have a temperature and promise to wash their hands before boarding. 

AFA (Association of Flight Attendants) President Sara Nelson said the union was "happy to see airlines taking action" and called on the US federal government to make masks mandatory for all crew, frontline employees and all passengers.

Read more:

4:56 a.m. ET, May 1, 2020

Coronavirus death rate among ethnic minorities in UK up to 3.7 higher than in white population

From CNN's Simon Cullen

The rate of coronavirus deaths among British black Africans in hospital is 3.7 times higher than the UK’s white population, according to a new analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) that highlights “stark inequalities” between different ethnic groups.

The IFS research also found that after stripping out the role of age and geography, hospital fatalities among Bangladeshis are twice those of the white British group, while Pakistani deaths are 2.9 times as high.

The Indian, black Caribbean and "other white" ethnic groups also have excess fatalities, but the difference is not as stark.

Underlying health conditions, occupational exposure, and a range of other factors are likely to be important (to understanding the differences),” the report states.

The IFS says some ethnic groups are significantly over-represented in "key worker" categories, which have a higher risk of infection.

The report states: “More than two in ten black African women of working age are employed in health and social care roles. Indian men are 150% more likely to work in health or social care roles than their white British counterparts. While the Indian ethnic group makes up 3% of the working-age population of England and Wales, they account for 14% of doctors.”

There is also a significant difference in the economic vulnerability of different groups, according to the IFS.

The report compared six minority ethnic groups (white other, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, black African and black Caribbean) against the white British majority.

There is growing evidence that ethnic minority groups in the UK are disproportionately affected by the virus, which has already prompted the government to order an inquiry into the issue.

4:47 a.m. ET, May 1, 2020

South Korea announces one new local transmission after reaching milestone of zero cases

From CNN’s Sophie Jeong in Seoul

South Korea announced one new local case of Covid-19 Friday – one day after announcing the milestone of zero new local cases in 72 days, according to South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Eight other imported cases were also announced Friday.

On Friday, South Korea’s Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told reporters “the recent stable situation is the result of the period when strong social distancing was carried out showing up two weeks later.” 

The country is currently in a vacation period known as "Golden holiday" running from April 30 through May 5. 

“How well we have kept our social distancing during this holiday period will also show up two weeks later, so the situation is that (we) can’t let go of the tension just by looking at the current number of confirmed cases,” Kim said.

The government plans to reopen museums, art galleries and libraries on a limited basis from May 6.

4:30 a.m. ET, May 1, 2020

India's richest man will forgo his salary until the pandemic eases

From CNN's Akanksha Sharma and Manveena Suri

India's richest man said Thursday that he won't be taking home a salary until the impact of the coronavirus pandemic eases.

Mukesh Ambani announced his decision as Reliance Industries -- the sprawling oil refining, manufacturing and telecom conglomerate he runs -- posted dismal earnings.

Net profit slid more than 37% to 65 billion rupees ($850 million) in the three months ended March compared to a year earlier as the firm grappled with the impact of the pandemic.

Ambani is worth $53.4 billion, according to Forbes. The company says his salary has been capped at $2 million since the 2008 financial crisis.

"Now, he is forgoing his salary until the company and all its businesses are fully back to their earnings potential," the company said in a statement.

Bloomberg reported that the company will also cut wages by 10% for all employees earning more than $20,000 a year, citing sources. Reliance declined to comment about that report.

Reliance also announced that it wants to raise money by issuing shares to its existing stakeholders -- its first such offering in three decades. The move would allow the firm to raise $7 billion.

Read more:

4:25 a.m. ET, May 1, 2020

Singapore records more than 900 new cases after brief respite from spike

From CNN's Isaac Yee

Singapore reported 932 new cases today -- a dramatic jump from yesterday's count of 528 new infections.

The Asian city-state saw its numbers spike in April, with clusters identified at dormitories where migrant workers live together in cramped conditions.

The vast majority of the thousands of new cases these past few weeks have been migrant workers in these dorms; of today's new cases, only five were Singaporean citizens or permanent residents.

Read more about the dormitory clusters:

4:17 a.m. ET, May 1, 2020

India sends first train to bring stranded migrant workers home, ahead of lifting lockdown

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

A train platform at a railway station, roped off with social distancing tape, in Chennai, India, on April 27.
A train platform at a railway station, roped off with social distancing tape, in Chennai, India, on April 27. Credit: Arun Sankar/AFP via Getty Images

The first train carrying stranded Indian migrant workers home set out today, as the country prepares to lift its nationwide lockdown.

The restrictions, which have been in place since March 25, are set to ease on Sunday. Railways, which had been suspended during the lockdown, resumed service for one train this morning, bringing 1,200 migrant workers from southern Telangana state back to their home state of Jharkhand in eastern India.

They are due to arrive at 11 p.m. local time tonight, said a senior railways official. 

"This is a pilot program and we are testing out social distancing measures, based on which we will take a call on releasing further trains to take migrants home," Arun Kumar, director general of the Railway Protection Force said. 

Workers will be screened and a decision to institutionally quarantine them will be taken upon arrival, Kumar added.

This train journey comes two days after the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order allowing inter-state movement for those stranded away from home, including migrant workers, as long as that they are asymptomatic. 

Several states such as Punjab and Maharashtra have asked the central government to send trains to take migrant workers home. Based on the success of this first train, further trains may be commissioned, according to Kumar.