May 15 coronavirus news

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6:50 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Men, blacks and the poor most likely to catch coronavirus, UK study shows

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Clinical staff wear personal protective equipment as they care for a patient in the Intensive Care unit  at the Royal Papworth Hospital, in Cambridge, U.K., on May 5.
Clinical staff wear personal protective equipment as they care for a patient in the Intensive Care unit at the Royal Papworth Hospital, in Cambridge, U.K., on May 5. Neil Hall/EPA/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Older men, people who live in densely populated but deprived areas, who are obese and who have chronic kidney disease, are more likely not only to develop serious illness from the new coronavirus, but to catch it in the first place, British researchers reported Friday.

Their detailed look at people who sought coronavirus tests from all over England turned up some surprises. People living in larger households were less likely to test positive, but blacks were disproportionately likely to be diagnosed with the virus, the team reported in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

“In our sample, we found increasing age, male sex, increasing deprivation, urban location, and black ethnicity were associated with increased odds of a positive SARS-CoV-2 test,” Simon de Lusignan from the University of Oxford and colleagues wrote. “Chronic kidney disease and increased BMI (a sign of obesity) were the only clinical factors independently associated with a positive test.”

The team analyzed data from 587 people with positive results and 3,215 with negative results, collected by physicians across England. They found 18% of people ages 40 to 64 tested positive, compared to 4.6% of children age 17 and younger. Men were somewhat more likely than women to test positive.

And people living in poorer areas were more likely to be infected. “Of 668 people in the most deprived areas, 29.5% tested positive, compared with 7.7% in the least deprived areas,” the researchers wrote.

“People in urban areas were more at risk than those in rural areas. Of 1,816 people tested in urban areas, 26.2% tested positive, while in rural areas 5.6% tested positive,” they wrote.

“It’s important to know which groups in the wider community are most at risk of infection so that we can better understand SARS-CoV-2 transmission and how to prevent new cases,” de Lusignan said in a statement.

One surprise: Smokers were less likely to test positive. The researchers don’t think smoking protects people from infection, however.

“Smokers are more likely to have a cough, meaning they might also be more likely to be tested for SARS-CoV-2 than non-smokers, even if they are SARS-CoV-2 negative,” they wrote. “ This more frequent testing could increase the proportion of smokers with negative SARS-CoV-2 results in our sample, which would bias our results. However, the proportion of smokers in our study was low.”

6:22 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Catch up: Here are the top coronavirus headlines from today

If you're just tuning in, here are some of the top stories you might have missed:

  • Global coronavirus cases top 4.5 million: There are now 4,523,916 cases of coronavirus in the world as of Friday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University.
  • Museums in Italy to reopen: Italian museums are preparing to reopen on Monday, but the world-renowned Uffizi Gallery in Florence will "probably" wait another week because the government has not issued safety guidelines, the museum's press office told CNN on Friday.
  • Lombardy moves forward: Italy’s worst-hit coronavirus hotspot, Lombardy, will begin the process of reopening shops, restaurants and hair salons on Monday, the region’s governor said.
  • Saudi Arabia death toll: The country announced 2,307 new coronavirus cases in the past day — its highest daily increase yet, the country's health ministry tweeted Friday. 
  • Ireland to ease restrictions: The Republic of Ireland will begin to relax its restrictions on Monday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed today in a statement, outlining a roadmap for the gradual easing of emergency coronavirus restrictions over the weeks and months ahead.
6:16 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Italy's Lombardy region to reopen restaurants and shops on Monday

From CNN's Valentina di Donato in Rome and Mia Alberti in Lisbon

View of Chef Carlo Cracco's restaurant in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele which reopened on Monday with a take away service, on May 08, in Milan, Italy.
View of Chef Carlo Cracco's restaurant in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele which reopened on Monday with a take away service, on May 08, in Milan, Italy. Roberto Finizio/Getty Images

Italy’s worst-hit coronavirus hotspot, Lombardy, will begin the process of reopening shops, restaurants and hair salons on Monday, the region’s governor said Friday.

According to government data, the northern Italian region has so far recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases across the country. At least 34,242 active cases were reported Friday.

The announcement comes after a meeting between Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Minister of Regional Affairs Francesco Boccia and Italy’s regional governors, in which the politicians agreed to allow local authorities to ease national confinement measures.

In a statement to CNN, Boccia affirmed that regional authorities will have the freedom to decide whether they wish to begin the process of reopening, or if they will continue to impose confinement measures.

If regional leaders decide to relax additional restrictive measures, they will be required to communicate their actions to the central government, Boccia added.

 

4:09 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Saudi Arabia reports highest daily increase in coronavirus cases 

From Ruba Alhenawi and Mostafa Salem

Health workers perform a nose swab test during a drive through coronavirus test campaign held in Diriyah hospital in the Saudi capital Riyadh on May 7.
Health workers perform a nose swab test during a drive through coronavirus test campaign held in Diriyah hospital in the Saudi capital Riyadh on May 7. Fayex Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia has announced 2,307 new coronavirus cases in the past day — its highest daily increase yet, the country's health ministry tweeted Friday. 

At least nine new deaths related to the virus were also confirmed, bringing the death toll to at least 292, the ministry said.

The additional cases bring the total number of known Covid-19 infections in the country to more than 49,000.

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced a new 24-hour nationwide curfew starting May 23 and during Eid holidays to control the spread of the virus, state-news agency SPA reported, 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, and the authorities have called on residents to limit gatherings, an important custom during Ramadan and Eid holidays.

3:44 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Spain eases restrictions for almost 70% of its population

From Al Goodman in Madrid, Mia Alberti in Lisbon and Claudia Rebaza in London

A clothing store is open to the public by appointment in Barcelona, on May 13.
A clothing store is open to the public by appointment in Barcelona, on May 13. Paco Freire/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As part of the de-escalation process in Spain, 70% of the population will now have fewer restrictions under phase one.

The other 30% of the population — mainly in and around Spain’s two largest cities of Madrid and Barcelona — remain on phase zero, but with some relief measures, Health Minister Salvador Illa said during a televised news conference on Friday.

Before the latest changes, just over half of Spain's population already was on phase one starting May 11.

Illa and the director for Health Emergencies Dr. Fernando Simón explained that Madrid’s region, which includes the Spanish capital and surrounding cities, will remain at phase zero as a precaution despite improvements in reducing coronavirus cases, and quickly detecting new ones.

“It's a region (Madrid) that has a mobility situation and characteristics of connection with the rest of Spain and Europe with flights and international connections that is a very particular situation we have to take into account," Simón said. "All these factors, associated with that transfer from hospital assistance to primary care assistance and public services that is been done in these last few days and still needs some margin."
3:31 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Italian museums to reopen Monday after two-month lockdown

From CNN's Livia Borghese and Sharon Braithwaite

Italian museums are preparing to reopen on Monday, but the world-renowned Uffizi Gallery in Florence will "probably" wait another week because the government has not issued safety guidelines, the museum's press office told CNN on Friday.

Uffizi is planning to allow a maximum of 450 people at one time once it reopens, compared to the capacity of 900 before the pandemic, the press office said, adding that the museum has suffered a loss of 10 million euros (about $10.8 million USD) during the lockdown, mainly due lack of revenue from ticket sales, but also from the missed sales of merchandising and books in their shops.

In 2019, the Uffizi was visited by 2.2 million people, the press office said.

The archaeological site of Pompeii is planning to reopen on May 26 with a two-week trial during which visitors will be allowed only on the main streets of the ancient city. 

After that period, some of the main “domus” – roman houses – will be opened, with separate entrance and exit paths for visitors.

The Vatican Museums have not set a date for reopening yet.

3:10 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Global coronavirus cases top 4.5 million

There are now 4,508,435 cases of coronavirus in the world as of Friday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The countries with the highest cases in order are the US, Russia, UK, Spain and Italy.

The US, UK and Italy have the most deaths.

3:37 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

Number of hospitalized coronavirus patients in France falls below 20,000

From CNN’s Barbara Wojazer

French caregiver Mireille takes care of a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital in Vannes, France, on May 6
French caregiver Mireille takes care of a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital in Vannes, France, on May 6 Stephane Mahe/Reuters

The number of hospitalized coronavirus patients in France has fallen below 20,000 — now totaling at least 19,861, according to the latest figures released by the National Health Agency.

As of today, a total of approximately 27,529 coronavirus patients in France have died — an increase of 104 deaths over the last 24 hours — including at least 17,342 in hospitals and 10,187 in care homes.

Approximately 2,203 coronavirus patients are currently in intensive care, the National Health Agency added.

2:00 p.m. ET, May 15, 2020

All care home residents and staff in England to get coronavirus test by early June

From CNN's Milena Veselinovic and Nada Bashir in London 

UK Health Minister Matt Hancock
UK Health Minister Matt Hancock Pool

All care home residents and staff in England — both those with coronavirus symptoms and those without — will be tested between now and early June, UK Health Minister Matt Hancock said on Friday.

More than 25% of care home deaths were caused by coronavirus in England and Wales, data from UK's Office for National Statistics published on Friday shows. 

Hancock defended the government's strategy in handling the outbreak among the elderly population in residential facilities, saying that this week 600 million euros ($727 million) was made available to care homes in England, on top of the 3.2 billion euros ($3.9 billion) made available in March and April.

He added that these measures helped save lives, and ensured that almost two thirds of care home did not have any cases of coronavirus at all.