May 13 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton and Zamira Rahim, CNN

Updated 9:26 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020
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1:05 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Coronavirus may "never go away," WHO official says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Dr. Mike Ryan
Dr. Mike Ryan World Health Organization

The new coronavirus may never go away and may just join the mix of viruses that kill people around the world every year, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization health emergencies program, said Wednesday.

"This virus just may become another endemic virus in our communities and this virus may never go away. HIV hasn’t gone away," Ryan said.

"I’m not comparing the two diseases but I think it is important that we’re realistic. I don’t think anyone can predict when or if this disease will disappear," Ryan added.

With a vaccine, "we may have a shot at eliminating this virus but that vaccine will have to be available, it will have to be highly effective, it will have to be made available to everyone and we’ll have to use it," Ryan said. "This disease may settle into a long-term problem or it may not be."

Yet the future of coronavirus does not have to be all doom and gloom, according to WHO infectious disease epidemiologist Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove.

"The trajectory of this outbreak is in our hands," Van Kerkhove said during Wednesday's briefing.

"The global community has come together to work in solidarity," Van Kerkhove said. "We have seen countries bring this virus under control. We have seen countries use public health measures."

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus echoed Van Kerkhove's sentiments on Wednesday and added, "We should all contribute to stop this pandemic."

12:58 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Active cases in Italy drop below 80,000 for first time since March

From CNN’s Mia Alberti in Lisbon

A health worker puts on her personal protective equipment (PPE) before starting to work at the intensive care unit, treating COVID-19 patients, of the Tor vergata hospital in Rome, on Tuesday May 12.
A health worker puts on her personal protective equipment (PPE) before starting to work at the intensive care unit, treating COVID-19 patients, of the Tor vergata hospital in Rome, on Tuesday May 12. Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

The number of active Covid-19 cases reported in Italy has dropped to at least 78,457 on Wednesday — a decrease of 2,809 cases since the day before. It's the first time the number of active cases in the country stands below the 80,000 mark since March 31.

On Wednesday, the country added at least 3,502 new recoveries, bringing the total number of people who have so far recovered from the virus to 112,541, according to the Italian Civil Protection Agency.

The total number of cases, including deaths and recoveries, is now more than 221,000, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University.

12:52 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020

There's a "long, long way to go" before coronavirus isn't considered a pandemic, WHO says

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Dr. Mike Ryan
Dr. Mike Ryan World Health Organization

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Programme, said the world needs to reach “a point of very significant control over the virus” to no longer consider coronavirus a pandemic. 

There's a long, long way to go before there's going to be any bells unrung in this response,” Ryan said on Wednesday during a briefing. 

Ryan said as countries try to find a path toward a new normal, “we're going to be on that pathway for a long, long time.”  He explained that the International Health Regulations only allows two choices: there is either a global public health emergency, or there is not. 

“We can obviously, as time goes on in our risk assessment, reduce the level of alert at national, regional and global levels, through our systematic risk assessment process,” Ryan said. “At the moment, we obviously consider the risks to still be high.”  

Ryan said as time goes on, WHO could consider moving the risk assessments for each country down, but “that is going to require us reaching a point of very significant control over the virus, very strong public health surveillance and stronger health systems in place to cope with any recurrent cases.”

“I think we're going to have to remain on alert, stay the course and ensure that we're ready to respond,” he said.

12:52 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Trudeau suggests US-Canada border likely to remain closed through June

From CNN’s Paula Newton

CTV Network
CTV Network

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said negotiations continue between his government and the Trump administration about whether to keep the border closed to nonessential traffic. The mutual border agreement is set to expire May 21.

“We are a good week away from the expiry of the current phase of our border restrictions with the United States. Conversations are ongoing, are constructive, are productive. I won’t make any announcements today, but I can say that things are going well and we’re confident about being able to continue to keep Canadians safe,” Trudeau said Wednesday.

The agreement as it stands forbids any nonessential travel, although commercial traffic continues. Canadian business groups say the border has been functioning well, allowing for a substantial flow of essential and commercial goods to cross the border in both directions. 

Trudeau on Tuesday said that even when some border restrictions are lifted, Canada may need some "stronger measures" at the border to safeguard public health. Canadian public health officials are looking at enhanced screening, including temperature checks and medical history evaluations for travelers coming in from the US, including those arriving at land borders. 

“Different countries are facing different challenges and as we manage the spread of Covid-19 we want make sure that we’re not becoming vulnerable from travelers arriving from elsewhere, that’s why we made strong moves to secure, to close our borders including to American travelers at this time,” Trudeau said Wednesday. 

Canada’s top doctor also said Tuesday that easing any border closures should proceed with "extreme caution."

“Of course, the United States being one country that still has cases and is still trying to manage outbreaks, they present a risk to Canada from that perspective,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer said Tuesday. 


12:12 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Sweden extends travel advisory to July 15

From CNN's Per Nyberg in Stockholm

Anders Wiklund/TT News Agency/AFP/Getty Images
Anders Wiklund/TT News Agency/AFP/Getty Images

Sweden announced it is extending “advice against all nonessential travel to all countries” until July 15, according to the country's Foreign Affairs Ministry

Sweden’s advice against nonessential travel initially began on March 14.

Sweden has been an outlier during the coronavirus outbreak. The country had not joined many of its European neighbors in imposing strict limits on citizens' lives.

Last month, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde told Swedish TV the country's approach was, "No lockdown and we rely very much on people taking responsibility themselves."

12:09 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Saudi Arabia to reimpose nationwide coronavirus lockdown during Eid

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi

Health workers perform a nose swab during a drive-through coronavirus testing site at Diriyah hospital in the Saudi capital Riyadh on May 7.
Health workers perform a nose swab during a drive-through coronavirus testing site at Diriyah hospital in the Saudi capital Riyadh on May 7. Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia has announced a new 24-hour nationwide curfew starting May 23 and during Eid holidays to control the spread of coronavirus, state-news agency SPA said on Tuesday quoting the Ministry of Interior.

The kingdom had last month eased lockdown measures during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which started from April 23. The important Eid holidays mark the end of Ramadan.

With ramped up testing, reported coronavirus cases continue to rise in Saudi Arabia. On Wednesday, at least 1,905 new cases were reported, bringing the total number of cases to over 45,000 with 273 deaths, the Saudi Health Ministry said.

Over 500,000 tests have been performed so far and with increasing cases, authorities have called on residents to limit gatherings, an important custom during Ramadan and Eid holidays.

With some countries in the Middle East moving towards easing restrictions, others have doubled down by reimposing lockdown measures.

  • In Kuwait, a 24-hour curfew was announced on Sunday for 20 days, while Lebanon also implemented a four-day complete lockdown starting Wednesday after a spike in cases.    
  • In Qatar, 1,526 cases were reported on Tuesday, the highest daily increase to date and bringing the total to 26,539 cases.

However in countries like the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, measures have been relaxed with some malls, parks, hairdressers and malls reopening.

12:02 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Travel Europe at your own risk, EU transit chief warns


Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty Images
Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Tourists who travel in Europe this summer do so at their own risk, the European Commissioner for Transport Adina-Ioana Valean told CNN's Hala Gorani on Wednesday.

"No one can give 100% guarantees, we're not labeling that [traveling] is safe. It's a risk you take," Valean said, referring to both health and financial safeguards such as refunds in case of cancellation.

On Wednesday the European Union unveiled an action plan to get its internal borders reopening, safely fire up its hospitality sector and to revive rail, road, air and sea connections that have been strangled during the pandemic.

The plan includes proposals for permitting special "green corridors" or "travel bubbles" that would allow certain countries with low or sharply declining infection rates to open up to a select few destinations until borders are fully reopened.

Regarding hotels, the commissioner said measures, such as disinfection and social distancing, "can be observed easily but the risk is taken by the traveler in the end because no one can guarantee [safety]".

As for plane and train travel, Valen said the EU is recommending the use of masks and physical distancing "as a matter of principle". However, she added, that might not be possible from an economic point-of-view on a plane. "A flight cannot observe 2 meters between passengers because it won't be worth it to fly that route," she said.

The commissioner added that the so-called travel bubbles will depend on the decision taken on a national level. Regarding EU-wide travel guidelines, she said the bloc is aiming for the measures to be "proportionate and not discriminatory and applied the same way all over Europe".

Read more about the EU's plan here.

2:00 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Spain coronavirus deaths and cases slowing trend holds steady

From Al Goodman in Madrid, and Max Ramsay in London

Jesús Hellín/Europa Press/Getty Images
Jesús Hellín/Europa Press/Getty Images

Spain recorded 184 new coronavirus-related deaths in the past day, taking the country’s total death toll to 27,104, the Spanish Health Ministry said Wednesday.

The 0.7% increase in the death toll is the same as the percentage rise recorded on Tuesday, and in line with others recorded over the past week.

Spain has a total of 228,691 confirmed cases so far, with the daily increase calculated by the government holding steady at 0.2% for each of the last three days.

Spain’s Director of Health Emergencies, Dr. Fernando Simón, was asked at the government’s daily coronavirus briefing about the guidance for wearing masks, amid reports they might become obligatory in all public places in Spain, and not just on public transport, which is already the rule.

Simón said masks are a "good prevention measure" and that "the best masks are the two meters of distance," or six feet, in support of continued social distancing measures. But he deferred to the government regarding any final decision about the masks.

Spain, which for weeks had been the country with the second-highest total confirmed cases of coronavirus in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally, has now dropped to third, behind Russia. Both are behind the United States, which has the most cases.

10:18 a.m. ET, May 13, 2020

India unveils $40 billion relief package for small businesses

From CNN's Swati Gupta in New Delhi

Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images
Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images

The Indian government has announced details of a support package worth more than $40 billion to help small businesses affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

The majority of the money will go toward providing collateral-free loans until October 31, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said today during a press conference.

The finance minister also announced that in order to help local industries, foreign companies will be prevented from tendering for contracts worth up to $26.5 million.

“This will reduce competition for local industries,” the minister said.

Some background: Modi in March announced an unprecedented three-week shutdown for the country's 1.3 billion people that required everything to shut except for health services, grocery stores and other essential services.

The lockdown has been extended a few times since then. The current, third phase — which eased some aspects of the lockdown, allowing the limited reopening of construction sites and private offices — will last until May 17. The next phase will include more adjustments, which Modi said will be announced in the coming days.