May 5 coronavirus news

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4:38 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Hong Kong will start relaxing social distancing measures from Friday

From Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam listens to reporters questions during a news conference in Hong Kong on Tuesday, May 5.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam listens to reporters questions during a news conference in Hong Kong on Tuesday, May 5. Vincent Yu/AP

Hong Kong will begin to relax some social distancing measures from Friday, as the city has recorded fewer cases of novel coronavirus, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced during a news conference on Tuesday.

Starting on May 8, the city will increase the number of people permitted to gather at one time from four to eight.

In restaurants:

  • The number of people allowed to sit together at a table will be increased to eight
  • Diners will still be required to wear a face mask unless eating or drinking

Restaurants will continue to be required to:

  • Conduct temperature checks
  • Provide hand sanitizer
  • Ensure a 1.5-meter distance between tables

The new measures will be in place until May 21.

Meanwhile, Lam announced that some premises previously ordered to close will be allowed to reopen on Friday.

They include:

  • Gaming centers
  • Fitness centers
  • Theaters
  • Beauty salons
  • Massage parlors
  • Mahjong centers
  • Bars -- but there will be a limit on the number of customers allowed at one time, and live music performances will be banned.

Other premises considered high-risk for virus transmission, such as karaoke centers, party rooms, public bathrooms, and nightclubs, will remain shut.

Meanwhile, schools in Hong Kong will gradually reopen in phases from May 27. The first batch of students returning to classrooms will include those attending Form Three to Form Five in secondary schools. Others, except those attending the first two years of kindergarten, will gradually return to schools by June 15.

In addition, Lam announced that the city will hand out single-use face masks and reusable masks to its residents from late June. Each household will be given 10 single-use masks, while each resident can also register for a reusable mask. 

Read more about Hong Kong's containment of the virus:

4:21 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Migrant workers stuck in lockdown have clashed with police in 2 Indian states

From CNN's Swati Gupta and Esha Mitra in New Delhi

Sujarat police detain migrant workers during a protest in Surat on May 4.
Sujarat police detain migrant workers during a protest in Surat on May 4. Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

Migrant workers clashed with local police in two Indian states on Monday as frustration grows under lockdown restrictions. 

In the city of Surat in Gujarat state, around 4,000 migrant workers -- mostly from the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar -- had gathered and were demanding that they be sent back home, said Ashok Munia, a senior Surat police official.  

“For about two hours, we tried to make them understand that if their states give permission to receive them, we will send them across. But they were not listening,” said Munia.

The protest turned violent after local police were unable to pacify the crowd. They threw stones at police and were burning tires in the street, added Munia. Police used tear gas on the crowd and beat them back with batons in an attempt to control the situation.  

In Bengaluru in the state of Karnataka, 1,200 migrant workers, primarily from the states of Bihar and Odisha, gathered on the outskirts of the city demanding trains be arranged to send them home, police sub-inspector, Y Mudharaja, said.

"They were striking and when we tried to calm them down they started pelting stones, I was hit on the head as well," Mudharaja said.

The police commissioner and the state revenue minister arrived at the spot and addressed the workers after which they finally agreed to disperse, Mudharaja added.

Migrants stranded: India has been under a nationwide lockdown since March 25. That's been an issue for the country's millions of migrant workers, many of whom earn a daily wage rather than a salary.

According to government statistics, every year more than 9 million migrant workers move from India's rural areas to large population centers to find work at construction sites or factories, sending money back to their home towns and villages.

But with those industries closed by the government lockdown, many have been left with little choice but to attempt the return journey home.

Read more:

4:07 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Russia's coronavirus cases surpass 150,000

Russia recorded 10,102 new infections on Tuesday, bringing the total number of officially reported cases to 155,370, according to the country’s coronavirus response headquarters. 

In total, the country has reported 1,451 deaths. Another 19,865 people have recovered from the virus.

What's happening in Russia: Last week, Russia extended its isolation period through May 11. "The peak is not behind us, we are about to face a new and grueling phase of the pandemic ... the deadly threat of the virus remains," President Vladimir Putin said.

Anger is rising among the country's health workers after two dozen hospitals had to shut down for quarantines, with many doctors falling sick. Russian independent media and non-governmental organizations have reported anonymous pleas from outraged medical workers who said they had been ordered to the front lines without adequate protection, and that bureaucratic foot-dragging was costing lives.

Read more:

3:58 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

India will begin evacuating citizens stranded abroad on Thursday

From CNN's Swati Gupta in New Delhi

Evacuation of Indians stranded abroad will begin May 7, according to the country's Ministry of Home Affairs.

All Indian embassies and high commissions are preparing lists of "distressed Indian citizens" and non-scheduled commercial flights will be arranged for them.

"Medical screening of passengers would be done before taking the flight. Only asymptomatic passengers would be allowed to travel. During the journey, all these passengers would have to follow the protocols, such as the Health Protocols, issued by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Civil Aviation," read the statement issued by the ministry.

Two special flights are being operated out of the United Arab Emirates to the southern Indian state of Kerala, according to the Indian consulate in Dubai.

"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 statement said. 

Stranded citizens: India banned all international flights in and out of the country in March before initiating a nationwide lockdown, effectively stranding thousands of its citizens overseas.

The special evacuations come as India is attempting to reopen the country. All domestic and international airlines are prohibited from running regular passenger flights until May 17.

A total of 46,433 coronavirus cases, including 1,568 deaths have now been recorded in India, according to the country's health ministry.

3:48 a.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Nearly 1,300 inmates have tested positive for Covid-19 in Texas prisons

Some 1,275 inmates in Texas have tested positive for Covid-19, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice reported Monday. 

At least 22 prisoners are presumed to have died from the virus, TDCJ said in a news release. An additional 12 deaths are under investigation.

In total, 461 TDCJ employees, staff or contractors have tested positive, the statement said.  

“20,063 offenders are on medical restriction because they may have had contact with either an employee or offender with a positive or pending COVID-19 test,” TDCJ said. 

TDCJ said it is continuing to test inmates who are asymptomatic but may be vulnerable to Covid-19 based on age or health conditions. 

Virus hot spots: Across the US -- and in other countries around the world -- prisons and jails have become hotbeds for coronavirus. Close confinement is likely fueling the spread. But it's not just a major health problem -- there's also safety concerns, with violence erupting in several facilities.

Read more:

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.

Read the full story: