May 5 coronavirus news

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3:32 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Two weeks of zero local infections: How Hong Kong contained its second wave of Covid-19

From CNN's Jessie Yeung in Hong Kong

Hong Kong had just begun letting its guard down in late February when it was hit by a second wave of the novel coronavirus.

After a brief period of low case numbers, new infections spiked dramatically, prompting a series of additional stringent restrictions.

That second wave now appears to have largely passed. Hong Kong hasn't had a case of local transmission in more than two weeks. 

In total, Hong Kong has recorded only 15 new cases since April 20, all of which were people with recent travel history. That brings the city's total to 1,041 cases and four deaths. Of those total cases, 900 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospital.

What Hong Kong did: The coronavirus first emerged in mainland China in December, and jumped the border into Hong Kong on January 24. By then, it had already made its way to several other countries. 

Hong Kong closed borders and began social distancing just a week or so after recording its first case. But this three-month stretch of working from home, business closures and service suspensions has dealt a massive blow to both the city's economy and the mental health and wellbeing of residents.

Now, with the second wave mostly contained, many are itching to get back to pre-pandemic life. 

But the city's leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, and other health experts are cautioning people not to let their guard down too soon, as they did in February. With the virus still wreaking havoc on the rest of the world, it's too soon to celebrate, she warned.

"I must stress that this epidemic may come back. As the WHO (World Health Organization) said not long ago ... we must remain vigilant," Lam said last week.

Read the full story:

3:17 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

15 children hospitalized in New York with inflammatory syndrome that could be linked to Covid-19

From CNN’s Jamie Gumbrecht and Joe Sutton 

Fifteen children in New York City have been hospitalized with symptoms compatible with a multi-system inflammatory syndrome that might be linked to Covid-19, according to a health alert issued Monday evening by the New York City Health Department.   

The patients, aged 2 to 15, were hospitalized from April 17 to May 1.

Several tested positive for Covid-19 or had positive antibody tests. Some of the patients experienced persistent fever and features of Kawasaki disease or features of toxic shock syndrome. 

Kawasaki disease causes inflammation in the walls of the arteries and can limit blood flow to the heart. It is usually treatable and most children recover without serious problems, but it can be deadly.  

At least five of the cases required a ventilator and more than half of the patients required blood pressure support. So far, no fatalities have been reported among the New York City patients. 

Doctors on alert: British pediatrics specialists recently warned that a small number of children were becoming ill with Kawasaki disease that could be linked to coronavirus. 

The Paediatric Intensive Care Society UK warned about a small rise in the number of cases of critically-ill children, some who had tested positive for Covid-19, presenting "overlapping features of toxic shock syndrome and atypical Kawasaki disease with blood parameters." 

There have been similar reports in Italy and Spain.

In the US, a team at Stanford Children's Hospital reported a case with similar features. 

Read more:

2:59 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

It's just past 8 a.m. in London and 12:30 p.m. in New Delhi. Here's the latest on the coronavirus pandemic

Customers abide by social distancing measure at B&Q Leyton on May 2 in East London.
Customers abide by social distancing measure at B&Q Leyton on May 2 in East London. Hollie Adams/Getty Images

If you're just joining us, here's the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Coronavirus origin: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the most likely origin of the coronavirus outbreak was a wildlife wet market. His comments come as intelligence shared among US allies indicates the virus more likely came from a Chinese market and not from a lab, according to two officials.
  • Spike in cases: Pakistan and India have both reported their biggest single-day jumps in infections. India reported 3,900 new cases in 24 hours, bringing the country's total to more than 46,000. Pakistan recorded 1,315 new cases after an increase in testing.
  • Daily low: South Korea recorded three new imported cases on Monday -- the lowest figure for 77 days, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 86% of patients in the country have recovered.
  • Rare guest: New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern joined Australia's national Cabinet meeting on Tuesday to share her country's experience with fighting the coronavirus. It's the first time since World War II that a New Zealand leader has attended the meeting, according to Ardern.
  • Chinese tourism: Around 104 million people have flocked to domestic tourist sites during China's "golden week" holiday, according to the country's culture and tourism ministry -- generating around $6 billion in revenue.
  • Drinkers hit with "corona tax": New Delhi authorities have imposed a 70% tax on the retail price of alcohol, after social distancing violations occurred when liquor shops opened for the first time in five weeks on Monday.
2:48 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Hong Kong's mental health had already been battered by protests. Then came the coronavirus

From CNN's Jessie Yeung in Hong Kong

Pro-democracy protestors observe social distancing measures as th
Pro-democracy protestors observe social distancing measures as th Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

Alvin Yau is exhausted. Like other residents in Hong Kong, he hasn't had a break in nearly a year, ricocheting from one crisis to the next.

When Hong Kong was consumed by anti-government, pro-democracy protests last year, the 25-year-old banking analyst found himself constantly on edge, unable to sleep at night, and so overwhelmed he once burst into tears in the middle of the street.

The political chaos began calming somewhat in December -- but only weeks later, the first reports emerged of a mysterious new virus across the border in mainland China. 

The novel coronavirus has since exploded into a global pandemic, infecting more than 3.5 million people globally and killing more than 251,000. In Hong Kong, there have been more than 1,040 cases -- relatively low due to months of stringent quarantine measures and closed borders.

But the pandemic dealt a second blow to a population already devastated by six months of violent unrest -- and now, experts warn it could culminate in a mental health crisis.

Yau certainly feels the toll.

"I feel fatigued, both physically and mentally," he said. "After you go to the protests, you just feel tired. Right now, we don't have protests so we don't have that physical stress, but on the mental side, it's still the same ... I feel very hopeless."

It's a common sentiment: In a survey by Hong Kong University between March and April, more than 40% of respondents showed symptoms of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or any combination of the three.

These numbers may be even higher, in reality, due to under-reporting; many Hong Kongers are reluctant to talk openly about or disclose mental illness due to deep-rooted social stigma and insufficient mental health education.

Activists and educators have been working for years to break down this stigma, but they say the fight has taken on a new urgency, as people buckle under the weight of two back-to-back crises with no immediate relief in sight.

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2:33 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Nike will donate 30,000 shoes to frontline workers fighting Covid-19

Nike is donating 30,000 pairs of shoes -- specifically designed for healthcare workers -- to health systems and hospitals in cities across the United States.

The Air Zoom Pulse, which was released in November 2019, is the company's "first shoe designed for the healthcare athlete, an everyday hero," Nike said in its announcement on Monday.

The company went to OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland, Oregon, to study those in the profession. They took into account the challenges of those on the job -- including long hours on their feet and liquid spills -- and the comfort needed for long shifts.

Nike partnered up with Good360, a non-profit specializing in efficient distribution of product donations, to help deliver the shoes to workers in Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, and New York City, and within the Veterans Health Administration, according to Nike.

The company said healthcare workers in New York City and Los Angeles will also receive about 95,000 pairs of soccer socks offering mild compression.

"The effort is led by messages of gratitude to healthcare professionals," Nike said in its release. "From one athlete to another, Nike athletes recognize the physical and mental resilience of healthcare athletes."

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2:17 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

In India's capital, people buying alcohol must pay a "special corona fee"

From CNN's Esha Mitra and Vedika Sud in New Delhi, India

A liquor shop worker wearing gloves gives bottles of alcohol to a customer through the shutters of the shop after the government eased a nationwide lockdown imposed as a preventive measure against the coronavirus, in Kolkata on May 4.
A liquor shop worker wearing gloves gives bottles of alcohol to a customer through the shutters of the shop after the government eased a nationwide lockdown imposed as a preventive measure against the coronavirus, in Kolkata on May 4. Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty IMages

New Delhi authorities have imposed a 70% tax on the retail price of alcohol, referring to the levy as a "special corona fee" according to an order issued Monday by the Delhi government.

Any resident of India's capital city will have to pay the tax to purchase alcohol after social distancing measures were violated on Monday, as liquor stores reopened after five weeks. 

Chaos ensued after liquor shops opened for the first time in five weeks on Monday in Delhi, with scores of people queuing up outside stores without adequate social distancing, according to a senior district official. 

“It’s unfortunate that chaos was witnessed at some shops in Delhi today ... If we come to know about violations of social distancing and other norms from any area, we will then have to seal the area and revoke the relaxations there,’’ Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi said in an address on Monday. 

India has been under a nationwide lockdown since March 25. The country has reported a total of 46,433 coronavirus cases, including 1,568 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

2:01 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

The most likely origin of the coronavirus was a wildlife wet market, says Australian PM

From CNN's Sol Han and Alex Marquardt

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at a news conference on May 1 in Canberra, Australia.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at a news conference on May 1 in Canberra, Australia. Rohan Thomson/Getty Images

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the most likely origin of the coronavirus outbreak was a wildlife wet market as he called for an independent review into the origins of the pandemic.

"The most likely (origin) has been in a wildlife wet market," he said Tuesday.
"What’s really important is that we have a proper review, an independent review, which looks into the sources of these things in a transparent way so we can learn the lessons and to ensure that, were there to be a virus pandemic potential that would originate anywhere else in the world, we can learn the lessons from that," he said.
"That’s what Australia is focused on."

Two leading theories: Morrison's comments follow recent claims from the Trump administration that the novel coronavirus originated from a laboratory, despite scientists in both China and the West saying the virus likely originated in bats.

A senior official in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) acknowledged Monday night that the US has evidence to support both leading theories of where the Covid-19 outbreak originated.

One theory is that the virus came from an accident in a lab in Wuhan, China, and the other is that the outbreak started in a market in the city.

The official also noted the outbreak "does not appear to have been purposeful.”

In a statement Thursday, the ODNI said that the "Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the Covid-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified."

Scientists in China and the West have pointed to research indicating that the virus is likely to have originated in bats and jumped to humans from an intermediate host -- just like its cousin that caused the SARS epidemic in 2002 and 2003.

Read more:

1:49 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Japan firm offers couples unused hotel rooms amid Covid-19 lockdown

From CNN's Emiko Jozuka in Tokyo

When Keisuke Arai switched to working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, he began bickering more with his long-term girlfriend.

Suspecting he wasn't alone, the Tokyo-based tourism operator wondered how couples across Japan were coping under lockdown, as they adjusted to being together 24/7 under the same roof.

On April 3, he got his answer as the hashtag #coronadivorce -- where people largely ranted about their partners -- started trending on social media. 

In response, Arai's company, Kasoku, started advertising hundreds of empty vacation rentals to stressed-out couples to give them space away from each other.

"We wanted to prevent people from divorcing," says Arai. "The idea behind the vacation rentals is so that married couples can gain some much-needed time and space to think about their relationships."

As Japan scrambled to contain an uptick of coronavirus cases in April, businesses shuttered and the tourism sector was hit especially hard as travelers stayed away. As of Tuesday, 15,943 cases and 534 deaths had been recorded nationwide, according to the health ministry.

With no clear end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic or Japan's state of emergency, Arai is banking on bringing in the bucks -- and saving some relationships on the way.

Read the full story:

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

Pakistan reports more than 1,300 coronavirus cases in largest single-day spike

From CNN’s Sophia Saifi in Islamabad 

Pakistan recorded 1,315 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours in its largest single-day increase on record, according to the country’s health ministry.

The spike in cases comes as the ministry said testing had increased by 9,893 tests in the past day.

The national tally is now 21,501 cases, while the total death toll stands at 486.

Country under lockdown: In a short address to the nation Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that he plans to “ease restrictions” on the ongoing national lockdown to “help the economy and daily wage earners.” Pakistan’s lockdown is scheduled to run through May 9.

Read more about Pakistan's fight against coronavirus: