May 5 coronavirus news

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10:01 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Virgin Atlantic to cut more than 3,000 jobs, shuts down London Gatwick airport operations

From CNN's Chris Liakos in London

Virgin Atlantic will cut 3,150 jobs across all functions as part of its strategy to reduce cost and preserve cash. The airline is working closely with unions and a company-wide consultation period of 45 days begins today. 

It is crucial that we return to profitability in 2021. This will mean taking steps to reshape and resize Virgin Atlantic in line with demand, while always keeping our people and customers at the heart of all we do. I wish it was not the case, but we will have to reduce the number of people we employ.”, said Chief Executive Shai Weiss.

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) called the news devastating saying “this is another terrible blow for the industry and is evidence of the dire situation facing UK aviation.” 

Virgin Atlantic also plans to end flights from London's Gatwick airport. The firm says it will retain landing slots so it could resume if customer demand returns. 

“Following the pattern of previous crises including 9/11 and the Global Financial Crisis, capacity across the aviation industry will significantly reduce, with recovery to pre-crisis levels expected to take up to three years,” the company said.

The airline added it continues to explore all available options for additional external funding and remains in talks with stakeholders and the government.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced countries to seal their borders and impose travel restrictions to certain areas. Airlines are scaling back their schedules, canceling flights and suspending some routes entirely.

9:39 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Norwegian Cruise Line may go out of business

From CNN’s Chris Isidore 

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Pearl cruise ship is docked at the Port of Jacksonville amid the coronavirus pandemic  in Jacksonville, Florida on March 27, 2020.
Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Pearl cruise ship is docked at the Port of Jacksonville amid the coronavirus pandemic in Jacksonville, Florida on March 27, 2020. Sam Greenwood/Getty Images 

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has warned investors it may be forced to go out of business.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday, the company said its accounting firm has "substantial doubt" about Norwegian's ability to continue as a going concern because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Companies with this kind of dire outlook are sometimes able to turn things around and survive, although it often takes a trip through bankruptcy to shed debt and other liabilities in order to do so. 

Norwegian suspended sailings of its fleets on March 14, along with an industrywide shutdown. That shutdown has been extended through at least June 30.

The cruise industry has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic as there were several high profile ships with multiple people testing positive for the coronavirus. Many died from the disease.  

Some ships had difficulty finding ports where they could discharge their passengers.

9:33 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Spain can't rely on hopes for a vaccine, top health official says

From CNN’s Al Goodman, Vasco Cotovio and Ingrid Formanek

A medical worker attends to a patient with coronavirus at the Hospital Universitario Mtua Terrassa in Barcelona, Spain on April 30.
A medical worker attends to a patient with coronavirus at the Hospital Universitario Mtua Terrassa in Barcelona, Spain on April 30. Xavier Bonilla/NurPhoto/AP

Spain's control of the coronavirus pandemic cannot be pinned on hopes of a vaccine, a top health official told the government today.

The Director for Health Emergencies Dr. Fernando Simón, said while it is his belief there will be a vaccine at some point, “other tools allow us to control the epidemic and reduce the impact on public health.” 

The number of deaths from coronavirus in Spain is up by 185 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 25,613. A total of 219,329 infections have been recorded in the country.  

Daily numbers of recoveries outweigh the new infections rate by two and a half times, so “the figures are favorable, indicating a good process toward transition” said Simón, referring to Spain’s confinement de-escalation strategy toward a so-called new normality. 

9:05 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

French president warns summer vacation plans should remain on hold

From CNN's Benjamin Berteau in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a statement from the Elysee Palace in Paris on May 4.
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a statement from the Elysee Palace in Paris on May 4. Gonzalo Fuentes/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

It's still too soon for the French to consider their much-cherished summer vacations, President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday.

Macron also cautioned citizens against planning international holidays.

We haven't won the battle against the virus," he said. "It has slowed down. We are entering a new phase. It is too early to talk about vacations.”

Macron added: "We are going to limit all international travel, even during summer vacation. We will stay among Europeans ... maybe as the epidemic evolves, we'll even have to reduce that a little more, but it is too early to tell. We will know in early June."

9:00 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

First US participants get experimental coronavirus vaccine in Pfizer BioNTech study

From CNN’s Frederik Pleitgen and Jacqueline Howard

BioNTech began its first human trials of a potential Covid-19 vaccine in Germany last week.
BioNTech began its first human trials of a potential Covid-19 vaccine in Germany last week. BioNTech

US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech have begun testing an experimental coronavirus vaccine on humans in the United States, according to an announcement from the companies on Tuesday.

The companies’ coronavirus vaccine program is called BNT162. Study participants in the program in Germany were given doses of the vaccine last week and now the US trial -- at NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York and the University of Maryland School of Medicine -- is underway, the companies have revealed.

The program's Phase 1/2 study is designed to test the safety, effectiveness and best dose level of four mRNA vaccine candidates and is to be evaluated in a single, continuous study, the companies said.

The first participants in the first stage of the study will be healthy adults ages 18 to 55, according to the announcement.

Worldwide race to develop a vaccine: Pfizer isn't the only company with a potential Covid-19 vaccine program this far along.

In April, scientists at Oxford University's Jenner Institute in the United Kingdom began testing its vaccine on humans and, depending on the trial results, says the vaccine could be ready as early as September. 

In the US, the National Institutes of Health also started testing in humans, becoming the first to do so in March.

The World Health Organization says that eight vaccine programs are in the clinical trial phase and more than 100 others are in preliminary phases.

9:57 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

French doctors say they had a Covid-19 patient in December

There's new evidence that the coronavirus may have been in France weeks earlier than was previously thought.

Doctors at a Paris hospital say they've found evidence that one patient admitted in December was infected with Covid-19. If verified, this finding would show that the virus was already circulating in Europe at that time — well before the first known cases were diagnosed in France or hotspot Italy.

"Covid-19 was already spreading in France in late December 2019, a month before the official first cases in the country," the team at Groupe Hospitalier Paris Seine in Saint-Denis wrote in a study published Sunday in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents.

The first official reports of Covid-19 in France were reported on Jan. 24, in two people who had a history of travel to Wuhan, China.

Intensive care specialist Dr. Yves Cohen and his hospital colleagues wrote that they decided to check the records of earlier patients, in case the virus had been spreading undetected.

The French team looked at people admitted to the hospital with flu-like illnesses between Dec. 2 and Jan. 16 who were not subsequently diagnosed with influenza. The doctors re-tested samples stored in a freezer for coronavirus.

One sample, taken from a 42-year-old man born in Algeria, who lived in France, tested positive. “His last trip was in Algeria during August 2019,” they wrote. The man had not been to China, and one of his children had also been sick, the team reported.

CORRECTION: This post has been updated to reflect the report from the Paris hospital.

8:46 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Many early Covid-19 cases in the UK came from Europe, not China, says chief scientific adviser

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in Dublin

Britain's Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance arrives at 10 Downing street in London on April 9, to take part in the daily government coronavirus briefing.
Britain's Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance arrives at 10 Downing street in London on April 9, to take part in the daily government coronavirus briefing. Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

Many of the early Covid-19 cases imported into the UK came from European countries, rather than China, the UK government’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance said Tuesday.

Early in March the UK got many, many different imports of virus from many different places, and those places were particularly from European countries with outbreaks," Vallance told the UK Parliament’s committee on health and social care.
"So we see a big influx – probably from Italy and Spain, looking at the genomics of the virus, in early March – seeded right across the country. Whether that was people returning from half term or business travelers we don’t know, but a lot of the cases in the UK didn’t come from China and didn’t come from places you might have expected."

"They actually came from European imports and the high level of travel into the UK around that time,” he explained -- despite the UK’s initial focus on contact tracing which concentrated on arrivals from China.

The first two cases of coronavirus in the UK were confirmed by England’s chief medical officer, Chris Witty, on January 31.

When asked whether the UK should have imposed a lockdown earlier than March 23, Vallance said: “when you look at everything that happened and the speed at which it happened, maybe days either way would have made a difference.”

Vallance said that the UK has not yet managed to get the reproduction rate of the virus -- known as the R-rate -- down to a manageable number, whereby the virus could be controlled using contact tracing and isolation.

He said the country's lockdown should not be lifted until this outcome is achieved.

The UK must review its lockdown measures by Thursday, but is not expected to announce major changes yet.

8:30 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

India will begin evacuating stranded citizens this week

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi

Starting on Thursday, the Indian government is preparing to begin a phased evacuation of its citizens stranded in 13 countries. 

In the first week, a total of 14,800 Indians will be flown home on 64 flights from Bahrain, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Malaysia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. Ten flights, each carrying 200 to 300 passengers, will bring back 2,300 Indians on the first day.

Within the Gulf region, India is expected to evacuate the largest number of citizens from the UAE. The Indian Embassy and Consulate in the UAE has received almost 200,000 registrations to bring Indians home. 

Yesterday, the Indian consulate in Dubai issued a statement on Twitter, saying it will operate two flights, one from Abu Dhabi and the other from Dubai, to Kozhikode in southern Kerala state on Thursday. The passenger lists for both Dubai flights will be finalized by officials.

Priority will be given to workers in distress, elderly people, urgent medical cases, pregnant women as well as to other people who are stranded in difficult situations,” the consulate said.

It added the cost of the tickets, quarantine requirements after reaching India, and health requirements to board the flight, will have to be accepted by each passenger. 

All passengers will be required to fill out a “self reporting form” to be handed over to the Health and Immigration Counter upon landing at their destination. The form will include contact details as well as information on any symptoms they have suffered and their medical history. Only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to travel.

9:01 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

British death toll may have neared 30,000 before end of April, UK data shows

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Sarah Dean in London

A stretcher which had been used recently to transport a body is pictured at a temporary morgue at a mosque in Birmingham, England, on April 20.
A stretcher which had been used recently to transport a body is pictured at a temporary morgue at a mosque in Birmingham, England, on April 20. Jacob King/PA Images/Getty Images

The UK's Covid-19 death toll may have been significantly higher than previously thought, with almost 30,000 registered deaths until April 24 (April 26 in Scotland), the latest data released by statistics bodies across the UK reveals. 

A total of 29,998 fatalities in the United Kingdom in that period mention Covid-19 on their death certificates.

According to England’s Office of National Statistics, there were 27,356 deaths in England and Wales up to April 24, while Scotland’s National Records reported 2,272 deaths until April 26, and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) reported 370 deaths until April 24. 

The numbers released by the statistics bodies are considerably higher than the Covid-19 death toll previously announced by the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) which reported 19,506 deaths until April 24 and 20,732 deaths until April 26.

At that point DHSC data did not include patients who died from Covid-19 in non-hospital settings, such as care homes.

The figures from the ONS and the UK’s other statistics bodies are based on deaths registered in that period and include all cases where "Covid-19" was mentioned on the death certificate, whereas those published by DHSC are based on the deaths of people who have tested positive for Covid-19.