May 11 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Julia Hollingsworth, Zamira Rahim and Adam Renton, CNN

Updated 9:20 p.m. ET, May 11, 2020
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1:25 p.m. ET, May 11, 2020

WHO says concept of herd immunity is a "dangerous calculation"

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

Dr. Mike Ryan, the executive director of the World Health Organization (WHO) health emergencies program, said the concept of herd immunity is “dangerous.”  

“This idea that maybe countries that had lax measures and haven’t done anything will all of a sudden magically reach some herd immunity – and so what if we lose a few old people along the way? This is a really dangerous, dangerous calculation," Ryan said at a news briefing on Monday.

The term herd immunity is taken from veterinary epidemiology, where people are “concerned with the overall health of the herd, and individual animals in that sense, doesn’t matter,” Ryan said. “Humans are not herds.” 

Ryan said the world needs to be careful using the term, as it “can lead to a very brutal arithmetic which does not put people and life and suffering at the center of that equation.”

Many people are still susceptible: Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO infectious disease epidemiologist, said there are about 90 studies that are coming out showing results of antibody surveys. Van Kerkhove said WHO hasn’t been able to “critically evaluate” all the studies, as many of them haven’t been published yet.  

“What is interesting from the studies that are coming out is that many of them, across a number of countries in Europe, the United States and Asia have found a very low proportion of the people that have been tested have evidence of antibodies,” Van Kerkhove said.

The range is between 1% and 10%, she said, and that a large number of people remain “susceptible” to the coronavirus.

“That’s important when you think about what may happen in subsequent waves, or what may have as a potential resurgence,” Van Kerkhove said.

1:27 p.m. ET, May 11, 2020

Number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care in Italy drops below 1,000

From CNN’s Mia Alberti in Lisbon and Nicola Ruotolo in Rome

Medical workers tend to a coronavirus patient at the intensive care unit of Tor Vergata Covid-4 hospital in Rome on April 21.
Medical workers tend to a coronavirus patient at the intensive care unit of Tor Vergata Covid-4 hospital in Rome on April 21. Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units in Italy has dropped to 999 on Monday, according to the Italian Civil Protection Agency.

It is the first time the number of Covid-19 ICU patients in the country is below 1,000 since March 10.

The increase in the total number of Covid-19 cases (including deaths and recoveries) is also the lowest since March 4, signaling a drop in new infections. The total number of cases increased by 744 in the last 24 hour period to a total of 219,814. 

The number of active cases on Monday was 82,488, a drop of 836 from the day before. There were 179 deaths in the last 24 hours, raising the total number of fatalities to 30,739.

Until Monday, 106,587 people have recovered from the virus, an increase of 1,401 since Sunday.

 

12:45 p.m. ET, May 11, 2020

"Alarming number" of health care workers infected with Covid-19, WHO says

From CNN Amanda Watts

Healthcare workers stand next to ambulances in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on May 7.
Healthcare workers stand next to ambulances in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on May 7. Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images

World Health Organization infectious disease epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said globally, “there is an alarming number of health care worker infections.”

“In some countries, upwards of 10% of the reported cases are among health care workers,” she added.

Speaking on Monday during a media briefing, Van Kerkhove said WHO is looking into where and why health care workers are getting infected, and working to reduce and stop the infections. 

“What we understand from the studies that are being reported and from teleconferences that we are having with clinicians and with infection control specialists, is that many health care workers have had contact with a known case that is among a family member,” Van Kerkhove said. 

“Many of them have been infected outside of a health care facility," she added.

Van Kerkhove said those who are getting infected inside the facility often come in contact with a patients in a ward that is not equipped to handle Covid-19 patients. Others are infected after spending extended periods of time in wards with active Covid-19 cases, inadequate personal protection equipment and sub-optimal hand hygiene, she said. 

The pandemic is not over yet: WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that most of the world's population is still susceptible to infection since many people have not developed antibodies against the virus.

"Early serological studies reflect that a relatively low percentage of the population has antibodies to Covid-19, which means most of the population is still susceptible to the virus," he said, adding this is something for nations to consider if they plan to lift lockdown measures and other restrictions.

There have now been more than four million cases of Covid-19 across the world.

12:33 p.m. ET, May 11, 2020

WHO warns smokers "more likely to develop severe disease with Covid-19"

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

ANDBZ/Abaca/Sipa/AP
ANDBZ/Abaca/Sipa/AP

The World Health Organization warned in a statement released today that a review of studies by public health experts convened by WHO last month found that smokers are “more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19, compared to non-smokers.”

WHO noted that smoking impairs lung function and makes it more difficult for the body to fight off coronaviruses and other diseases.

Tobacco smoking is a known risk factor for many respiratory infections and increases the severity of respiratory diseases.

"Tobacco is also a major risk factor for noncommunicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes which put people with these conditions at higher risk for developing severe illness when affected by COVID-19," WHO said in the statement. 

Some context: Tobacco kills more than 8 million people globally every year. More than 7 million of these deaths are from direct tobacco use and around 1.2 million are due to non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke, according to WHO. 

12:31 p.m. ET, May 11, 2020

Coronavirus cases rose over weekend in some countries where lockdowns were lifted

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

 

A security guard checks the body temperature of a customer on May 11 in Berlin.
A security guard checks the body temperature of a customer on May 11 in Berlin. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

There was a surge of coronavirus cases over the weekend in some of the nations around the world where stay-at-home measures and other restrictions were lifted, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a media briefing in Geneva on Monday.

"Over the weekend we saw signs of the challenges that may lie ahead. In the Republic of Korea, bars and clubs were shut as a confirmed case led to many contacts being traced," Tedros said.

"In Wuhan, China, the first cluster of cases since their lockdown was lifted was identified," Tedros said. "Germany has also reported an increase in cases since an easing of restrictions. Fortunately, all three countries have systems in place to detect and respond to a resurgence in cases."

Tedros added that WHO has released guidance and six criteria for countries to consider before lifting lockdown measures.

"WHO is working closely with governments to ensure that key public health measures remain in place to deal with the challenge of lifting lockdowns," Tedros said. "Until there is a vaccine, the comprehensive package of measures is our most effective set of tools to tackle."

11:32 a.m. ET, May 11, 2020

British people can spend more time outdoors starting Wednesday, Boris Johnson says

From CNN's Rob Picheta in London

People exercise in St James Park in London on May 10 during the nation-wide coronavirus lockdown.
People exercise in St James Park in London on May 10 during the nation-wide coronavirus lockdown. Frank Augstein/AP

British people will be allowed to spend more time outdoors starting on Wednesday, Boris Johnson has confirmed in Parliament, as he batted back calls for the government to spell out its reopening plan in more detail.

Johnson told MPs there is a “lower risk outdoors than indoors” and said people can swim in the sea and in lakes and exercise outdoors as much as they like.

"You can now walk, sit and rest in parks, you can play sports and exercise and you can do all these things with members of your own household or with one other person from another household provided you observe social distancing and remain two meters apart,” Johnson said.

"I do hope that's clear,” he added, acknowledging criticism that the government’s plan has left people in the UK confused about what they can and can’t do outdoors. Previously, the government’s guidelines had only allowed for one piece of outdoor exercise per day, although its legislation made no mention of how often people could exercise. 

Johnson also said he is increasing fines for people who break the lockdown rules. Penalties will now begin at £100 — or about $123 USD — and double on each infringement, up to £3,600 (or about $4,460 USD).

The prime minister added that his government is asking its scientific advisers about when people from two different households can mix on an exclusive basis, suggesting that could be allowed starting on June 1.

And he said sporting events, such as the Premier League, could potentially return in empty stadiums on the same date — a prospect that Johnson said would provide a “much needed boost” for the country.

Johnson’s government has dropped its “stay home” slogan for a message encouraging people to “stay alert,” as it seeks to slowly creep out of lockdown.

But his efforts were attacked by opposition leaders. Ian Blackford, the Scottish National Party’s Westminster leader, asked Johnson not to use the new slogan in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland unless regional governments there agree.

“It is obvious that the last 24 hours has spread confusion,” Blackford said. “Mixed messaging risks lives.”

Johnson replied that “staying alert” was a “valid piece of advice.

11:16 a.m. ET, May 11, 2020

UK lawmakers grill Boris Johnson over reopening plans

From CNN's Rob Picheta in London

Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a statement to the House of Commons on COVID-19 on May 11 in London.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a statement to the House of Commons on COVID-19 on May 11 in London. House of Commons

Boris Johnson has faced scrutiny from lawmakers over his tentative plan to restart Britain's economy, which has been criticized from many corners for causing confusion.

The UK prime minister defended parts of his recovery plan in a speech to Parliament, which he first unveiled in a televised address on Sunday night, telling MPs: "We have begun our descent from the peak of the epidemic but our journey has reached the most perilous moment where a wrong move could be disastrous."

"So at this stage we can go no further than to announce the first careful modification of our measures," he added.

Johnson said people would now be encouraged to wear face coverings in some public places, such as shops — a reversal of the government's previous position.

And he admitted that lockdown measures may be lifted at different times in different parts of the country, saying his government will pursue a "flexible response." Leaders in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have resisted some of Johnson's reopening measures in recent days.

But he was pressed by the opposition leader Keir Starmer over the government's mixed messaging, which has caused confusion over what British people are permitted to do in public, and when workers who cannot do their jobs from home should return to their workplaces.

"What the country needs at this time is clarity and reassurance and at the moment both are in pretty short supply," Starmer said. "At the heart of the problem it seems is that the Prime Minister made a statement last night before the plan was written, or at least finalized."

10:46 a.m. ET, May 11, 2020

UK unveils 3-step coronavirus recovery plan

From CNN’s Lauren Kent

A sign is pictured explaining that the road has been narrowed to aid social distancing when using Camden High Street in central London on May 11.
A sign is pictured explaining that the road has been narrowed to aid social distancing when using Camden High Street in central London on May 11. Isabel Infantes/AFP/Getty Images

The UK government published a three-step coronavirus recovery plan, a day after a speech by Prime Minister Boris Johnson was widely criticized for being vague.

The planned stages start with a first easing on Wednesday, followed by potential further steps on June 1 and “not before July 4,” depending on conditions at the time.

Here's what's happening in each step:

  • Phase 1: Beginning Wednesday, people will be allowed to leave the house for outdoor recreation and leisure with members of their household, and individuals can meet with one other person outside their household. People in England can also drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance. Workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open — ideally not traveling on public transport.
  • Phase 2: Beginning June 1, the UK will allow “non-essential retail” businesses to reopen if it is safe for them to follow social distancing guidelines. The government said some schools should also prepare to begin to open for more children from June 1. 
  • Phase 3: Depending on how the initial easing of restrictions impacts the UK’s infection rate, the UK government may allow more businesses to open in July, no earlier than July 4.  

“The precise timetable for these adjustments will depend on the infection risk at each point, and the effectiveness of the Government’s mitigation measures like contact tracing,” said the government document. “Initially, the gap between steps will need to be several weeks, to allow sufficient time for monitoring.” 

9:44 a.m. ET, May 11, 2020

Spain records lowest coronavirus death numbers in more than 7 weeks

From CNN’s Ingrid Formanek and Al Goodman in Spain and Max Ramsay in London

People sit at a terrace of a bar on May 11 in Seville, Spain.
People sit at a terrace of a bar on May 11 in Seville, Spain. Marcelo del Pozo/Getty Images

Spain reported 123 coronavirus deaths in the latest 24-hour period on Monday — the lowest number since March 19, Spanish Ministry of Health data showed.

At 0.7 %, that's the lowest daily mortality increase in 7 weeks, bringing the total number of deaths to 26,744 since the start of the pandemic, according to the Ministry’s figures.

The rise in new infections since Sunday is 373, bringing the number of cumulative cases confirmed by PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests to 227,436.

Just more than half of Spain’s population got more freedom from the coronavirus lockdown, starting today, as their territories moved to Phase 1 of de-escalation, that allows meetings of up to 10 people who don’t live together, or the opening only of 50% of the normal outdoor seating at restaurants. The government said it is monitoring to avoid a second wave of infections.

Spain’s Director of Health Emergencies, Dr. Fernando Simón, said authorities are closely watching new data from some Spanish hospitals reporting somewhat younger COVID-19 patients.

“In some hospitals, not many but some hospitals, it seemed they have detected that the average age of people is a bit less, not kids but the average age of people is a bit less,” Simón said at the daily technical briefing press conference. “This in principle could be due to various things. The first thing we needed to rule out was whether it had something to do, or not, with the release of kids, and apparently it wasn’t.”

Children under age 14 were allowed out for walks and to exercise, with an adult who lives with them, starting April 26, after six weeks of strict confinement at home under Spain’s state of emergency, which remains in effect, aiming to reduce coronavirus infections. Simón did not offer further details about this new data on somewhat younger patients.