May 5 coronavirus news

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4:16 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

UK's leading scientific adviser on coronavirus resigns after breaking lockdown rules he helped shape

From CNN's Milena Veselinovic in London

Professor Neil Ferguson speaks at a news conference in London, England, on January 22.
Professor Neil Ferguson speaks at a news conference in London, England, on January 22. Reuters

The leading epidemiologist who advised the UK government on the coronavirus response has resigned from his government post today after the Telegraph newspaper reported he broke lockdown rules. 

Professor Neil Ferguson, who is based at Imperial College in London, is one of the architects of the UK government stay-at-home strategy and was a prominent member of Britain's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), which has been spearheading the coronavirus response.

In a statement to CNN, Ferguson said he accepted he made "an error of judgement and took the wrong course of action," and therefore stepped back from his involvement in SAGE. 

"I acted in the belief that I was immune, having tested positive for coronavirus and completely isolated myself for almost two weeks after developing symptoms," Ferguson said.

"I deeply regret any undermining of the clear messages around the continued need for social distancing to control this devastating epidemic. The government guidance is unequivocal, and is there to protect all of us,” Ferguson said.

4:10 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Despite Trump claims, top US general says "we don't know" where coronavirus originated

From CNN's Jamie Crawford and Ryan Browne

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley speaks during a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, on May 5.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley speaks during a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, on May 5. WHO PAHO

A top US general said there isn't conclusive evidence on where the coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, saying “we don’t know” whether it began in a Chinese lab or a wet market.   

Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley said, “Did it come out of the virology lab in Wuhan, did it occur in the wet market there in Wuhan or did it occur somewhere else? And the answer to that is we don’t know and as mentioned by many people various agencies both civilian and US government are looking at that.”

Some background: President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have repeatedly claimed there is evidence that Covid-19 originated in a Wuhan lab.

Milley said, “the weight of evidence is that it was natural and not manmade,” and also said while there was still not “conclusive evidence” on whether or not the virus was accidentally or deliberately released in Wuhan, China, “the weight of evidence is that it was probably not intentional.”

“It would help a great deal if the Chinese government would open up and allow inspectors and investigators to go there in full transparency so that the world can know the actual original source of this so that we can apply the lessons learned and prevent outbreaks in the future,” Milley added.

Intelligence shared among Five Eyes nations indicates it is "highly unlikely" that the coronavirus outbreak was spread as a result of an accident in a laboratory but rather originated in a Chinese market.

Watch here:

3:27 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

France's daily coronavirus death toll goes up for the 2nd day in a row

From CNN's Eva Tapiero in Paris

A funeral services van brings coffins in a building turned into a new 'large capacity' morgue in Wissous, France, on April 19.
A funeral services van brings coffins in a building turned into a new 'large capacity' morgue in Wissous, France, on April 19. Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images

For a second consecutive day in France, the number of people who have died from coronavirus has increased, the Ministry of Health said today. 

At least 330 died in the past day, a spike after the number of fatalities had previously been decreasing

A total of 25,531 people in France have now died after contracting the virus. 

But the number of patients in critical care is decreasing, as is the overall number of hospitalizations.

 

3:01 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Trump's pick for spy chief quizzed over coronavirus origins in China

From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Zachary Cohen

Rep. John Ratcliff testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.
Rep. John Ratcliff testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times/Pool/AP

US President Donald Trump's pick to be director of national intelligence, Rep. John Ratcliffe, was grilled today by senators over his views about the intelligence community's investigation into the origins of the coronavirus in China.

The Texas Republican faced questions from both Democrats and Republicans on whether he would provide intelligence to a President who might not want to hear it.

If confirmed as director of national intelligence, Ratcliffe would lead the 17 agencies that make up the intelligence community as head of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which was created in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Ratcliffe said his primary focus for the intelligence community would be on the impact of coronavirus around the world, as well as questions about its origins in Wuhan, China.

Ratcliffe said he views China as the "greatest threat actor" to the United States right now, citing China's role in the coronavirus outbreak along with cybersecurity and technology issues.

All roads lead to China," Ratcliffe said.

Asked if he'd seen evidence the coronavirus originated in a lab as the president has suggested, Ratcliffe said he had not. Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, then asked Ratcliffe if he'd seen evidence the virus originated in a Wuhan market. He also said he had not.

CNN reported Monday that intelligence shared among Five Eyes nations indicates it is "highly unlikely" that the coronavirus outbreak was spread as a result of an accident in a laboratory but rather originated in a Chinese market, according to two Western officials who cited the intelligence assessment.

Read the full report here.

1:45 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

The UK must adjust to a "new normal," government says

From CNN's Milena Veselinovic in London

An empty street in Birmingham, England.
An empty street in Birmingham, England. Mike Kemp/In Pictures/Getty Images)

The UK will have to adjust to a "new normal" as authorities consider the next steps in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said today. 

Society will have to adapt to "safe new ways to work, to travel, to interact and to go about our daily lives," Raab said during the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefing. The UK now has the second-highest death toll in the world from the virus, following only the US.

"We’ve never experienced anything like this first stage of COVID-19, in terms of the scale of the lives lost but also the lockdown that it has required. As we go forward, we want to make sure that the next phase is more comfortable, is more sustainable and prevents lasting damage to jobs and livelihoods," the foreign secretary said.

Later this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will update the country on the measures needed to protect the National Health Service (NHS) and avoid the risk of a second peak.

1:46 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Potential coronavirus vaccine tested in Germany could supply "many millions" by end of year

From CNN’s Fred Pleitgen

Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images
Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

An experimental coronavirus vaccine entering human trials in the US may be available in many millions of doses by the end of 2020, the CEO of BioNTech has told CNN. 

The German drug maker has partnered with US giant Pfizer to distribute a potential vaccine which is already in human trials in Germany.

CEO Ugur Şahin believes the regulatory approval process could be sped up from what is historically an 18-month time frame due to the global pandemic. 

"The benefit of a vaccine in a pandemic situation is much greater and therefore an approval or an authorization of a vaccine in a pandemic situation has to follow other rules than we have seen in the past,” Şahin told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen. 

Şahin believes Covid-19 will be responsive to a vaccine which is he calls the “most important aspect” of vaccine development. He said the second aspect is the “very encouraging” pre-clinical data.

“We see vaccine responses, we see strong vaccine responses at even low doses. And we believe that this vaccine response, since we have seen that in different animal models will also translate into vaccine responses in human subjects," Şahin said.

If it is approved by the regulators, Şahin said the partners are “prepared to go as fast as possible” to get the vaccine to the population.

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

Turkey seizes illegal cargo of masks stuffed into pillowcases in violation of coronavirus trade restrictions

From CNN's Gul Tuysuz in Istanbul

Turkish customs officials have seized 79,000 surgical and 8,500 filtered masks stuffed into pillowcases that were outbound from the Istanbul Airport cargo department. The final destination of the illegal cargo hasn't been revealed.

Turkey has placed a trade restriction on the export of personal protective equipment (PPE), which requires approval from the Turkish Health Ministry during the coronavirus outbreak.

Turkey has delivered PPE and medical equipment to more than 50 countries since the outbreak including donations to Spain, Italy, the UK and the US.  

Customs agents were alerted to the illegal shipment when X-ray scans showed unusually high density in the cargo boxes, the Trade Ministry said. 

Tracing back the shipment, customs officials raided an address and found 441,480 surgical masks, 19,450 filtered masks, and eight boxes of nano-fiber textile as well as vacuuming equipment for packaging. All masks and related equipment worth nearly half a million dollars were confiscated and two people have been arrested.

1:17 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Lebanon extends coronavirus movement restrictions

From Ghazi Balkiz in Beirut

Lebanon has extended movement restrictions to control the spread of coronavirus an additional two weeks, to now end on May 24.

So far, Lebanon has reported 741 positive cases and 25 people have died from the virus. Restrictions have further exacerbated the country's deep and long-running financial crisis.

In a five-phase plan to gradually reopen the country, Lebanon has already eased some of the measures imposed on March 15, allowing restaurants to reopen this week with a 30% customer capacity.

Customers have a drink at a restaurant in Beirut, Lebanon, on Monday, May 4.
Customers have a drink at a restaurant in Beirut, Lebanon, on Monday, May 4. Hassan Ammar/AP

It's also extended opening hours for some commercial and industrial enterprises and is allowing public transport vehicles to operate with limited passengers under specific conditions.

Announcing the extension in movement restrictions today, the country's Information Minister Manal Abdel-Samad said some are dismissing the measures as if they have ended.

"We have a great fear these days that the epidemic will rapidly spread because of people’s lack of commitment to the measures. Therefore, the security services should strictly implement the measures, otherwise there will be a second wave of corona that is more harmful,” the information minister said.

Why this matters: Cash-strapped Lebanon is facing growing turmoil after the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak sparked violent protests over rising hunger and poverty. The government believes that up to 75% of people are in need of aid.  

 

12:52 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

UK coronavirus death toll overtakes Italy's to become highest in Europe

From CNN's Milena Veselinovic in London

Family members look on during a funeral service for a victim of Covid-19, in Ipswich, England, on May 5.
Family members look on during a funeral service for a victim of Covid-19, in Ipswich, England, on May 5.  Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The number of people who have died from coronavirus in the UK is now the highest in Europe and second only to the US globally.

The UK today surpassed Italy's death toll, as Britain's foreign secretary announced the number of those who have died from the virus has now reached 29,427. In Italy, 29,315 people have died. The US has lost almost 70,000 people to the virus.

There was an increase of 4,406 cases in the UK today, bringing the total number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus to 194,990, Dominic Raab said.

So far, 1,383,842 coronavirus tests have been conducted in the UK.