May 12 coronavirus news

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2:34 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Iceland expects to ease restrictions on international travelers "no later than June 15"

From CNN’s Mia Alberti

People walk down a street in downtown Reykjavik, Iceland, on April 30.
People walk down a street in downtown Reykjavik, Iceland, on April 30. Egill Bjarnason/AP

Iceland expects to start lifting restrictions on international arrivals to the country "no later than June 15," the government said in a statement on Tuesday. 

Travelers will likely have to choose between being tested for Covid-19 or a two-week quarantine upon arrival. All arrivals will also be required to use the official tracing app during their stay.

"Iceland's strategy of large-scale testing, tracing and isolating have proven effective so far. We want to build on that experience of creating a safe place for those who want a change of scenery after what has been a tough spring for all of us," the Minister of Tourism, Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir, said in a statement.

The government also announced that some professionals arriving in Iceland from May 15, including essential workers, "scientists, filmmakers, and athletes will be eligible for a modified quarantine." This means companies can request an exemption from quarantine if they can guarantee safety procedures in their work environment.

"These measures do not preclude the option of bilaterally opening borders between coronavirus-free countries," the government added. 

Since January, Iceland residents arriving from "high-risk" areas have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. The rule was extended to all travelers on April 24, as Iceland kept its Schengen borders open throughout the pandemic.

So far, Iceland has only seen three confirmed infections of Covid-19 in May, according to the statement. 

2:14 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Canada looking at "stronger measures" for US border as states reopen, prime minister says

From CNN’s Paula Newton

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on Friday, May 1.
Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on Friday, May 1. David Kawai/Bloomberg/Getty Image

Canada is looking to strengthen surveillance at US border crossings as discussions continue between the two countries about when and how to reopen the border to nonessential travel. 

“We are looking at stronger measures to make sure that we’re following up appropriately on people who come over,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a press conference in Ottawa Tuesday.

The Canadian government is looking at administering questionnaires, contact tracking apps, temperature and medical history checks.

“We’re going to be very, very careful about reopening any international travel, including the United States before we feel that it is time,” Trudeau said.

Some background: Canada and the US agreed to close the border to nonessential travel in March and the current agreement, already extended, expires May 21. There is still no decision on whether the border agreement will remain in place beyond that date. 

Canadian premiers and mayors across the country have expressed concern about fully reopening the border as the US continues to deal with Covid outbreaks and significant community spread. 

“Preventing transmission from outside of Canada into Canada, once we have controlled the spread within Canada, will be an essential part of ensuring that we don’t fall back into a second wave that could be as serious as this wave we’re going through, or even more so,” Trudeau said.

2:10 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Small rise in cases reported for a second day in Italy's worst-hit region

From CNN’s Mia Alberti and Livia Borghese

A large flag of Italy hangs from the facade of Palazzo Medolago Albani in Bergamo Alta, the heart of the hardest-hit province in Italy, in the Lombardy region, on March 17.
A large flag of Italy hangs from the facade of Palazzo Medolago Albani in Bergamo Alta, the heart of the hardest-hit province in Italy, in the Lombardy region, on March 17. Luca Bruno/AP

The worst-hit Italian region of Lombardy has reported a small increase in the number of Covid-19 cases for the second day in a row. This comes after a few days where active case numbers were going down, according to the Italian Civil Protection Agency.

On Tuesday, active cases in the region increased by 264, making a total of 30,675. However, Lombardy officials said the increase in cases could be explained by the additional data that was collected from the past few days.

Across Italy, at least 30,911 people have died from Covid-19, according to the Italian Civil Protection Agency on Tuesday. That is an increase of 172 since the day before and a variation in line with previous days.

The total number of cases in Italy, including deaths and recoveries, is now 221,216.

8:09 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Nearly 27,000 deaths from coronavirus reported in France

From CNN's Eva Tapiero in Paris

The French death toll from coronavirus is now at least 26,991, with an increase of 348 reported deaths, according to the French Health Ministry.

In addition to the number of deaths, the ministry also said that 21,595 people remain in hospital.

1:10 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Canada works with Chinese company to help develop coronavirus vaccine

From CNN’s Paula Newton

Canada’s National Research Council said Tuesday it would collaborate with China's CanSino Biologics Inc, one of the few companies globally with a vaccine already in clinical trials.

The partnership could eventually see CanSino’s vaccine receive approval for human trials in Canada.

"This vaccine candidate holds great promise. Until such time as there is an effective vaccine for COVID-19, the virus will continue to disrupt all aspects of our society and economy," Iain Stewart, President of the National Research Council (NRC) said in statement. 

According to the NRC statement, CanSino’s vaccine candidate received Chinese regulatory approval earlier this year. That allows CanSino Biologics to move ahead with human clinical trials in China.

It is one of only a handful of vaccine candidates in the world so far approved for initial safety testing in humans. 

The NRC said it would scale up production for CanSino's vaccine candidate at a government facility in Montreal, and that CanSino was preparing a clinical trial application to Canada’s drug regulator, Health Canada.

The NRC previously collaborated with CanSino in its work on an Ebola vaccine. 

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

Imported coronavirus cases could become one of Spain's "greatest risks," top health official says

From CNN's Max Ramsay, Al Goodman, Ingrid Formanek and Mia Alberti

Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa addresses a session at the Lower Chamber of the Spanish Parliament in Madrid on Wednesday, April 22.
Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa addresses a session at the Lower Chamber of the Spanish Parliament in Madrid on Wednesday, April 22. Sebastian Marisca/EFE/AFP/Getty Images

New coronavirus cases brought into Spain from abroad could become one of the country’s “greatest risks”, said Fernando Simón, Spain’s Director of Health Emergencies.

Simón was explaining the reasons behind the newly announced 14-day mandatory quarantine for international travelers arriving in Spain, starting on May 15th. 

“There will be other countries with infections. Which means that our biggest risk, besides the risk of local infections, is the import of cases. We would go back to being in a similar situation to the one we were in at the end of February, even the first week of March,” he said at the government’s daily coronavirus briefing on Tuesday. “That situation in which all our cases were imported or associated with imported cases, practically all of them.”

Simón continued to explain “If a Spaniard living on the peninsula, for example, cannot go to their second residence, like in the Balearics, but another person living abroad can travel there by air,” then more logical norms have to be put in place, he said.

The quarantine measures are similar to those in place in other European countries, Simón added.

Spain registered 176 daily new deaths from Covid-19 on Tuesday, up from 123 new registered on Monday but still among the lowest daily death tolls since mid-March. A total of 26,920 people have died from the virus in Spain, according to Health Ministry data released Tuesday.

Speaking at a separate press conference, Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said the possibility of a second wave of infections “can’t be dismissed” but added that the public's compliance with the government’s measures against the coronavirus is the best way to avoid this.

Illa and Simón were among Spanish officials who paid tribute to nurses on International Nurses Day. Nurses are “one of the groups with the highest risk of infection”, Simón said Tuesday.

Spain’s Health Ministry reported a total of 48,860 health workers have been infected with coronavirus since the start of the outbreak, while the General Council of Official Medical Colleges, the Spanish doctors’ professional body (CGCOM), said a “large number” had died, including 48 doctors. 

 

7:57 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Indian prime minister announces new stimulus package, bringing total amount of aid to $266 billion

From CNN's Swati Gupta

Viewers in India watch a televised address to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Hyderabad, India, on Tuesday, May 12.
Viewers in India watch a televised address to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Hyderabad, India, on Tuesday, May 12. Mahesh Kumar A/AP

In a national address Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an additional financial package to help India’s ailing economy during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Modi said the new stimulus package, along with previous measures taken by the Indian government, would account for about $266 billion, which is around 10% of the country’s GDP. 

“This package will work to bring about a self-reliant India,” Modi said. He did not release any further details on the package.

Lockdown: He also announced that phase four of the lockdown, which is due to begin on May 18, will start with a different set of instructions and measures in place.

The Indian government had extended the nationwide lockdown, with some ease in the restrictions till May 17. New changes for the coming phase will be announced in the next few days, said Modi.

“Scientists say that coronavirus will remain a part of our lives for a long time, but our lives cannot revolve around coronavirus. We will wear masks, maintain social distancing but we will not lose sight of our goals,” he said. 

During the address, Modi emphasized the need for India to become a self-reliant country.

We have to save ourselves and also move forward. Today as the world is in trouble, we have to strengthen our resolve, he said. “I have full faith that following all the rules, we will fight coronavirus and move ahead as well,” added Modi. 

12:05 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Mosques in Italy to remain closed until the end of Ramadan

From CNN's Valentina DiDonato and Mia Alberti

An imam holds the Friday sermon during Ramadan in a near empty mosque in Milan, Italy on May 1.
An imam holds the Friday sermon during Ramadan in a near empty mosque in Milan, Italy on May 1. Massimo Alberico/Fotogramma/IPA/ABACAPRESS/Reuters

Mosques in Italy will remain closed until after the celebrations that end the period of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr beginning May 23, the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy (UCOII) said on Tuesday.

"This is the choice of our communities who...responsibly expressed their position considering the lives of the most vulnerable people in the mosques," president of the UCOII, Yassine Lafram, said in a statement.

The UCOII also urged all other mosques to keep their prayer rooms closed until the end of Ramadan and added it still hadn't received any guidelines from the government regarding the May 18 opening of religious celebrations. 

The Islamic community does not enjoy great protection from the state, as it has not yet entered into an agreement with Muslims. This makes the various communities in the area even more vulnerable, that by not having clear laws regarding places of worship, they are not put in the right conditions to adequately face the difficult situation. For this reason, the decision not to wait for any government directive regarding the alleged openings scheduled for May 18 but to continue, responsibly, to maintain the line already adopted since the beginning of the utmost prudence," the statement said.

According to the Italian government's de-escalation plan, Catholic mass celebrations will resume on May 18. 

11:37 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

91 arrested in operation against mafia clans "ready to exploit coronavirus crisis" in Italy

From CNN's Valentina Di Donato and Sharon Braithwaite

Prosecutor Salvatore De Luca talks during a news conference in Palermo, Sicily on July 17, 2019.
Prosecutor Salvatore De Luca talks during a news conference in Palermo, Sicily on July 17, 2019. Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters

An operation against mafia clans accused of being “ready to exploit the coronavirus crisis” has seen 91 people arrested in Sicily, Italy, on Tuesday, the Italian Financial Police and Prosecutor Salvatore De Luca told CNN.

The 91 people that were arrested were ready to exploit businesses in need due to the coronavirus crisis, De Luca, who led the investigation told CNN.

The anti-mafia operation called "hands in the dough" also led to the seizure of real estate property worth about $16 million, the Financial Police said in a statement.

Operations are still underway across the entire country. Around 500 policemen are involved in the search for drugs, weapons and cash, the Financial Police said.

“The operation went on for three and a half years and the investigation will continue. It showed us that there was a series of classic illicit activities; extortion, drugs, and then there are the more recent activities in the Cosa Nostra crime portfolio like slot machines and online gambling, luxury watches and coffee,” De Luca said.

“There were significant arrests within the Aquasanta Family clan of the Cosa Nostra mafia, which is highly structured on family blood lines,” De Luca added.

“Our investigation involved phone interceptions that showed that Russian entrepreneurs were involved in the purchase and sale of watches, we know for certain that a London based firm purchased some of these watches. One of the money transfers for these watches was upward of 600 thousand euro."

Regarding the seizure property, De Luca said, “This is just the tip of the iceberg. As always happens with very complex investigations, we are able to seize the majority of property, in part of companies and businesses, but this is representative of just a small part of the cash flow that the mafia moves. Often, cash disappears in foreign banks.”

The prosecutor said he expects to see a “great merciless advance” from the Sicilian mafia when the market reopens. 

“Today the mafia’s capital is ready to infiltrate healthy companies that are in deep crisis with the aim of taking over the business and making it operate with the mafia’s methods; forcing suppliers to purchase products of the company, threatening workers, decreasing protection of workers, not respecting the norms of the sector all of the things that make a mafia run company more competitive than the healthy ones,” De Luca said.

Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese thanked the judiciary and the police for the “brilliant” results. “The investigation confirms that the current delicate situation constitutes a scenario of strong interest for criminal partnerships that intend to seize the opportunity to exercise their influence and find consensus and to conquer large sectors of the legal economy,” Lamorgese said in a statement Tuesday.