May 15 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung and Adam Renton, CNN

Updated 0055 GMT (0855 HKT) May 16, 2020
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4:22 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

The US has recorded more than 1.4 million cases

The United States has recorded at least 1,417,889 cases of coronavirus and 85,906 related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The totals includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.

CNN's live tracker of US cases is updated every 15 minutes. Check it out here.

4:10 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Germany's virus reproduction rate falls

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

A woman wearing a face mask crosses in front of traffic in central Berlin on May 14.
A woman wearing a face mask crosses in front of traffic in central Berlin on May 14. John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

Germany’s coronavirus reproduction rate has fallen to 0.75, according to the country’s disease and control center -- a small but hopeful decrease.

It had previously been 0.81, according to the Robert Koch Institute.

The reproduction rate, also known as the R-value, indicates how much the virus is spreading; an R-value of 1 means each infected person is transmitting it to one other person.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly warned that if the number rises above 1, the country's health system would eventually be overwhelmed. 

The Robert Koch Institute says a total of 3.1 million coronavirus tests have been carried out in Germany since the outbreak began.

The country has reported 174,478 cases and 7,884 related deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. But this doesn't reflect the total number of active cases; at least 151,700 people have recovered from the virus, according to the institute.

3:57 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

China's factories are producing more but the economy remains fragile amid Covid-19

From CNN's Laura He in Hong Kong

An employee works on steel bars at a factory in Hangzhou, in China's eastern Zhejiang province on May 15.
An employee works on steel bars at a factory in Hangzhou, in China's eastern Zhejiang province on May 15. Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

Production at China's factories is growing for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began. But there are still major challenges ahead for the country's economy.

Industrial output increased 3.9% in April from a year ago, according to data released Friday by the National Bureau of Statistics. That's well above the 1.5% uptick that analysts polled by Refinitiv expected, and the first time output has grown since December.

This growth can be attributed to the political pressure that Beijing is putting on factories to resume production, Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist for Capital Economics, wrote in a research note on Friday.

He expects factory output to continue to grow, since policymakers in China have signaled that more stimulus measures are on the way.

But it wasn't all good news: Domestic demand remains very weak, and retail sales in China dropped 7.5% in April from a year earlier.

And the official unemployment rate -- which tracks jobless numbers in urban areas -- reached 6%, up from 5.9% in March and just shy of February's record of 6.2%.

Evans-Pritchard said that the true unemployment rate is "likely double" what was announced Friday, since the urban rate does not include people in rural communities or a large number of the 290 million migrant workers who work in China.

Read the full story here.

3:46 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

French President summons drugmaker CEO amid vaccine row

From CNN's Pierre Bairin in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron takes part in a video conference at the Crisis Center of the Interior Ministry, on May 13, in Paris.
French President Emmanuel Macron takes part in a video conference at the Crisis Center of the Interior Ministry, on May 13, in Paris. Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron has summoned the CEO of global pharmaceutical giant Sanofi to a meeting next week, after the company suggested the US market could be prioritized for a Covid-19 vaccine.

Macron and CEO Paul Hudson will meet on Tuesday, said the Elysee Palace.

In a statement, Macron said any Covid-19 vaccine must be treated as a "public good for the world, and not subject to the laws of the market."

The Paris-headquarted company has clarified its earlier comments, saying it will also work with European governments to begin production as soon as possible.

Some background: Sanofi said its cooperation with the US’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) will allow it to start production as soon as possible.

It says it's exploring similar opportunities within Europe.

“We have always been committed in these unprecedented circumstances to make our vaccine accessible to everyone,” the company said in a statement.

“We are having very constructive conversations with the EU institutions and the French and German government amongst others.”

3:36 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

German soccer returns -- but not as we know it

From CNN's Ben Church

The eyes of the world will be on the German Bundesliga this weekend as it becomes the first major European soccer league to return amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The country has recorded more than 174,000 cases of Covid-19, including at least 7,861 deaths, according to the latest figures, but Germany's Football Association (DFB) has worked closely with league organizers (DFL) and hope strict safety protocols will protect those involved when matches are played.

If the measures work, it could provide a template for other sports to get back underway. If they don't, then questions will be asked as to why football returned so soon.

Philipp Köster, chief editor of soccer publication "11 Freunde," puts it more bluntly -- German football is on "parole."

"This is an experiment with an unknown outcome," Köster told CNN's Fred Pleitgen.
"It could indeed happen that we see two or more weeks of football and then everything gets canceled ... if there are many infections or serious infections."

Read the full story:

3:26 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Taiwan rejects Beijing's condition that it accepts "one China" principle to participate in WHO

From CNN's Isaac Yee in Hong Kong 

Taiwan's Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung arrives at a news conference at the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control in Taipei on March 11.
Taiwan's Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung arrives at a news conference at the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control in Taipei on March 11. Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

Taiwanese health officials have rejected China’s condition for the island to take part in the World Health Organization -- Chinese officials said yesterday that the self-governed island would only be allowed to join the body "in accordance with the one-China principle."

"I have no way to accept something (the "one China" principle) which does not exist," Taiwan’s health minister Chen Shih-chung said today.

Some background: Taiwan is not a WHO member. The self-ruled, democratic island is claimed by China as part of its territory and Beijing blocks Taiwan from participating in many international organizations unless it does so in a way that acknowledges it is part of China.

Why is this coming up now? Taiwanese officials and other observers have claimed the island's exclusion from the WHO has had a negative effect both during the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic and the current pandemic.

Yesterday, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it "opposes so-called proposals" by countries to invite Taiwan to join the World Health Assembly as an observer, adding that the countries which insist on discussing Taiwan’s participation are "only seeking to severely disrupt this World Health Assembly and undermine global anti-pandemic cooperation."

Taiwan's response: Deputy Foreign Minister Kelly Hsieh argued today that it was Taiwan's "right" to participate in the WHO.

"We can represent our own people. We have said this many times. Our democratically elected government alone, including the public health system headed up by our professionals from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, can take care of our 23 million citizens and contribute to organizations like the World Health Organization," she said.
3:11 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

It's just past 9 a.m. in Paris and 12:30 p.m. in New Delhi. Here's what you may have missed

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 4.4 million people and killed at least 302,000 worldwide. If you're just tuning in, here are the latest headlines:

  • Refugees hit: The first known Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in Bangladesh refugee camps home to nearly a million Rohingya refugees. The discovery was the "realization of a nightmare scenario," said Daniel P. Sullivan, a senior advocate for human rights with the US-based organization Refugees International.
  • China fears second wave: At least 11 asymptomatic cases were reported in Wuhan, ground zero for the pandemic, as the city aims to test all 11 million residents after recent local transmissions. Four new cases were also found in the northeastern province of Jilin, where a new cluster has prompted fresh lockdown measures.
  • India response: Indian PM Narendra Modi held a video conference with Bill Gates on Thursday to discuss the country's response to the pandemic, officials said. Meanwhile, the World Bank has approved a $1 billion package for India to provide support for its poor and vulnerable populations.
  • US warning: Without better planning, America risks its "darkest winter in modern history," said whistleblower and ousted vaccine director Dr. Rick Bright before Congress. Bright slammed the Trump administration's response to the pandemic, and said his warnings went ignored.
  • Japan measures eased: Japan recorded 99 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, as the government lifted the state of emergency across most of the country. Only the hardest hit prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, are still under the order.
  • France's tourism plan: French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced an “unprecedented” 18 billion euro ($19.4 billion) plan to support the country’s tourism industry.
2:55 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

World Bank approves $1 billion in support for India’s poor and vulnerable

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi

A file photo of the World Bank headquarters in Washington.
A file photo of the World Bank headquarters in Washington. Shutterstock

The World Bank has approved a $1 billion package for India to provide support for its poor and vulnerable populations, it announced in a news release.

The funding will be distributed in two installments -- $750 million for the 2020 fiscal year and $250 million for the 2021 fiscal year.

The nationwide program will be implemented through the existing Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (Prime Minister’s Welfare for the Poor Scheme) and help boost cash transfers and food benefits through other pre-existing programs to benefit the most vulnerable, especially migrant and informal workers.

“The response to the Covid-19 pandemic around the world has required governments to introduce social distancing and lock downs in unprecedented ways. These measures, intended to slow down the spread of the virus have, however, impacted economies and jobs -- especially in the informal sector," said Junaid Ahmad, the World Bank Country Director in India.
"India, with the world’s largest lockdown, has not been an exception to this trend. In this context, cash transfers and food benefits will help the poor and vulnerable access a ‘safety bridge’ towards a time when the economy will start to revive."

Last month, the World Bank announced a separate $1 billion in emergency response support for India's health sector.

2:37 a.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Greta Thunberg: "Our actions can be the difference between life and death for many others"

From CNN's Melissa Mahtani

Teen activist Greta Thunberg is urging the world to listen to scientists as she describes the devastating impact the coronavirus pandemic is having around the world.

"During any crisis it is always the most vulnerable people who are hit the hardest, and that is children," she said.

"Especially in the global south, people in the poorest parts of the world, especially people living in conflict zones and refugee camps," she added.

Despite having had what she describes as mild symptoms, she posted about her experience on social media to raise awareness about the virus and the appropriate action to take.

"Many people don't even notice that they have symptoms and then they might spread the virus without even knowing it," she said.

"So we have to be extra careful, because our actions can be the difference between life and death for many others."

Thunberg is best known for her environmental activism, leading climate strikes around the world -- strikes that have now gone online.

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