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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9:01 a.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Calls to anti-violence helpline increased 73% in Italy during the lockdown, officials say

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London

The number of calls to a government run anti-violence helpline in Italy increased by 73% during the coronavirus lockdown, the Italian National Institute of Statistics (Istat) said Wednesday.

Between March 1 and April 16, at least 5,031 calls were registered, an increase of 73% compared to the same period of 2019. Just under half of those who called the hotline asked for help, an increase of 59%, Istat said in a statement.

Remember: According to the statistical agency, the increase is not necessarily attributable to greater violence but could be due to more awareness.

Meanwhile, the worst-hit Italian region of Lombardy on Tuesday registered a small increase in the number of Covid-19 cases for the second day in a row, after a few days in which active case numbers were going down, according to the Italian Civil Protection Agency.

Lombardy officials said the increase in cases could be explained by the addition of data that was collected from the past few day.

The total number of cases in Italy, including deaths and recoveries, stands at 221,216.

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12:03 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Austria does not plan to open its border with Italy for now

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt

People wait for registration and health checks at the border between Austria and Italy near Matrei am Brenner, Austria, on March 11.
People wait for registration and health checks at the border between Austria and Italy near Matrei am Brenner, Austria, on March 11. Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images

Austria will start relaxing border controls, but those along the Austrian-Italian border would remain in place for the time being, Sebastian Kurz the Austrian Chancellor said at a government press conference in Vienna on Wednesday.  

Kurz said, “We have agreed with Germany to fully open the border between Austria and Germany from June 15 as long as the number of infection cases allow for it. We are in contact with Switzerland and Liechtenstein to find a similar agreement and of course we are also in contact with our eastern neighbors to find solutions on our eastern borders."

"Regarding other countries such as Italy, the situation of course is problematic. Infection numbers continue to be very high, similar to France and Spain and so there is no plan for a border opening any time soon."

He said Austria is in "intensive contact with its eastern European neighbors," adding, "I assume we will already be able to present a plan in the coming days, latest next week which we agreed on with these countries.''

Austria's national rail system ÖBB suspended passenger rail traffic between Austria and Italy on March 11.

Read more here.

12:03 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Boris Johnson: UK "cannot now go back to square one"

From CNN's Max Ramsay in London

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend Prime Minister's Questions in the Houses of Parliament on May 13 in London.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend Prime Minister's Questions in the Houses of Parliament on May 13 in London. Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the rise in infection rates in some countries relaxing their lockdowns is a “very clear warning” for the UK “not to proceed too fast or too recklessly”. 

“What we are doing is entirely conditional and provisional,” Johnson said in Parliament on Wednesday. “The UK has made a huge amount of progress. The people of this country have worked incredibly hard to get the R down. We cannot now go back to square one. We can’t risk a second outbreak, and we will do everything to avoid that.”

In reaction to videos of packed London buses circulating this morning, Johnson said he does not want to see crowding on public transport in the UK.

“We are working very actively with TfL [Transport for London] to ensure that what we do is we have more capacity, we discourage people from going to work during the peak, and that operators — particularly TFL — lay on more tube trains when those are necessary throughout the day,” Johnson told lawmakers in parliament.

Some background: Today marks the first day people are allowed to return to work if they cannot work from home after Johnson laid out his vision for gradually reopening the economy in an address televised on Sunday.

The government's previous stance was that people should only go to work "if they must," Johnson said in Sunday's address, adding "we now need to stress that anyone who can't work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work."

8:44 a.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Germany hopes for unrestricted European Union travel in mid-June

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt 

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer speaks to the media on May 13 in Berlin, Germany.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer speaks to the media on May 13 in Berlin, Germany. Sean Gallup/Pool/Getty Images

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has said the country is hoping for unrestricted travel within the European Union by June 15.

Speaking to journalists in Berlin, Seehofer said Germany had agreed with France, Austria and Switzerland to ease gradually its border controls, with the goal to completely end the restrictions by June 15.

Germany's federal police opened five border crossings between the state of Bavaria and Austria on Wednesday.

The country will further relax some border controls starting on Saturday, which were introduced in March to slow the spread of coronavirus.

8:28 a.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Maker of remdesivir strikes deals to let other companies produce the drug internationally

From CNN Health’s Arman Azad

Gilead Sciences, the maker of remdesivir, has reached agreements with five generic drugmakers to produce remdesivir for 127 countries. The move comes after growing questions over the global supply of remdesivir, which has been shown to speed the recovery of some coronavirus patients. 

Gilead signed agreements with manufacturers based in India and Pakistan, according to its website. The deals allow the companies to distribute the drug to mostly low-income and lower-middle income countries, according to Gilead, which said the companies can set their own prices.

The manufacturers also wouldn’t have to pay royalties to Gilead for the time being, although that would change if another drug or vaccine is approved to treat or prevent Covid-19 – or if the World Health Organization declares an end to the public health emergency of international concern. 

In the US: Gilead has said it will donate its existing remdesivir supply of 1.5 million vials, enough for about 100,000 to 200,000 patients. At least 40% of that is reserved for the United States, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. 

While the company has said it hopes to produce a million treatment courses by the end of the year, it’s unclear how that will be distributed internationally.

In a statement, the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen said Gilead’s licensing agreements don’t go far enough. It noted that much of the world’s population wouldn’t be covered by the agreements, and said Gilead should “commit its patents, data and know-how to the public domain,” instead of just licensing its technology.

About the drug: In early results from a trial sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health, remdesivir was found to shorten the duration of illness in patients with severe Covid-19, but it had no statistically significant effect on whether patients died. 

8:18 a.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Germany's Merkel says it would be depressing to return to restrictions

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt and Fred Pleitgen in Berlin

Michael Sohn/AP
Michael Sohn/AP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it would be depressing to return to restrictions "because we want too much too soon" as the country starts to ease lockdown measures. 

Speaking in parliament Wednesday, Merkel said the country will have to live with the virus and it will remain that way for some time to come.

Stressing the importance of trying to avoid a new spike in Covid-19 cases, Merkel said: "We have the obligation to not jeopardize what we have achieved so far already."

Merkel said, as of today, she was not expecting tax rises or rises in business contributions in response to the pandemic.

The reproduction number for the novel coronavirus in Germany has dipped back below the key threshold of one, the national agency for disease control and prevention, the Robert Koch Institute, said earlier on Wednesday.

Also known as the R0 value, the figure had been above one for three consecutive days, a sign the disease may have been expanding rather than being pushed back. 

"The decline in new infections which we have seen in the past weeks is flattening and may be reaching a plateau,” the Institute wrote in its daily data brief. 

Germany continues to deal with several larger scale outbreaks in meat-processing plants and retirement homes as the country eases restrictions to combat the pandemic.

Official daily data from Tuesday showed 798 new infections and 101 Covid-19 related deaths during that 24-hour period. 

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8:00 a.m. ET, May 13, 2020

It's just past 1 p.m. in London and 8 a.m. in New York. Here's what you may have missed

  • Russia reports more than 10,000 cases for 11th day running: The country is reporting the second-highest number of infections in the world and now has a total of 242,271 cases.
  • Locally transmitted cases confirmed in Hong Kong: The cases of a grandmother and granddaughter mark the first such cases in the city in 22 days. Officials said they were concerned about the “invisible transmission chain,” shown by the cases.
  • UK heads for "significant recession": The British economy contracted by 2% in the first quarter of 2020, according to UK GDP figures published on Wednesday. The country's finance minister said a recession was now likely.
  • Russia suspends use of Aventa-M ventilators: The ventilators have been linked to two deadly fires in the country, in hospitals treating coronavirus patients.
  • Amazon France will keep distribution centers closed: The centers will remain closed until May 18, as the company continues to discuss working conditions with their employees.
6:46 a.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Russia suspends use of ventilator model that caught fire in coronavirus hospitals

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

Emergency personnel work at the site of a fire at the St. George Hospital in St. Petersburg on May 12.
Emergency personnel work at the site of a fire at the St. George Hospital in St. Petersburg on May 12. Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images 

Russia has suspended the use and circulation of Aventa-M ventilators produced after April 1 2020, following two deadly fires in coronavirus hospitals, the country’s Federal Service for Supervision in Healthcare Roszdravnadzor said in a statement Wednesday.

On Tuesday, a fire in St. Petersburg claimed the lives of five patients and forced the evacuation of 150 people. Three days earlier a similar incident killed one patient in Moscow. Both hospitals used Aventa-M ventilators, Roszdravnadzor said. 

Aventa-M is a flagship ventilator produced by KRET, which is part of state-owned defense producer Rostec.

KRET has been designated by the Russian authorities as the main supplier of ventilators in the country. According to a government contract, KRET is supplying 6,711 ventilators in total this year to Russia’s regional hospitals. In April, the company said it would increase its production capacity from 10 ventilators to 100 ventilators a day. 

Aventa-M ventilators were also part of a shipment of medical supplies sent by Russia to the US in early April.

A FEMA spokesperson told CNN the ventilators had never been deployed and the shipment was returned by New York and New Jersey.

“They were held in reserve in case the situations in NY and NJ worsened," a FEMA spokesperson told CNN on Tuesday.
"The ventilators have not been deployed to hospitals. Out of an abundance of caution, the states are returning the ventilators to FEMA. The conclusion(s) of the investigation being conducted by the Russian authorities into the fire in St. Petersburg will help inform our decision regarding any future use of the ventilators."
7:54 a.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Beijing's schools and universities will reopen in June

From CNN's Isaac Yee

Schools and universities in Beijing will reopen in June, according to Beijing Municipal Health Commission Spokesperson Li Yi.

Middle school students in certain grades will be allowed to resume classes on June 1. A start date for elementary school students in the first to third grade is yet to be confirmed but those in the fourth and fifth grade will be allowed to resume classes on June 8.

The health commission said that schools would work hard to prevent and control the spread of Covid-19 in their institutions.

Universities in the Chinese capital will be allowed to reopen on a voluntary basis, as long as their campuses have implemented epidemic control measures.