May 18 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 9:32 p.m. ET, May 18, 2020
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7:17 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Czech Republic lifts state of emergency

From Tomas Etzler in Prague

The Czech government has lifted the country's coronavirus state of emergency, which had been in place since March 12.

Some restrictions will, however, remain:

  • face masks must be worn in public
  • restaurants' indoor sections are to stay closed
  • gatherings of more than 100 people are banned
  • border controls remain in place

The Czech Republic has so far recorded 8,475 coronavirus cases, with 298 deaths, according to the country’s health ministry. 

7:15 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Taiwan postpones bid to join WHO

From CNN's Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

The Taiwan United Nations Alliance Chairman Michael Tsai, center, and Minister of Health Chen Shih-Chung, right, attend a conference on Taiwan's efforts to enter the World Health Assembly hosted by the World Health Organization in Taipei, Taiwan, on Friday, May 15.
The Taiwan United Nations Alliance Chairman Michael Tsai, center, and Minister of Health Chen Shih-Chung, right, attend a conference on Taiwan's efforts to enter the World Health Assembly hosted by the World Health Organization in Taipei, Taiwan, on Friday, May 15. Walid Berrazeg/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Taiwan has said it will postpone its bid to join the World Health Organization, after the secretariat did not invite the island to attend the World Health Assembly, which takes place Monday, according to the island’s Foreign Minister Joesph Wu.

"After careful deliberation, we have accepted the suggestion from our allies and like-minded nations to wait until the resumed session before further promoting our bid," Wu said at a press conference on Monday.
Wu noted that the length of the meeting had been shortened this year due to Covid-19 and that "understandably, countries want to use the limited time available to concentrate on ways of containing the pandemic."

"Deep regret": He added that "the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses deep regret and strong dissatisfaction that the World Health Organization Secretariat has yielded to pressure from the Chinese government and continues to disregard the right to health of the 23 million people of Taiwan."

Taiwan said 29 countries had "expressed support for Taiwan’s WHO participation" with officials including Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters speaking out for the island.

"Our actions speak for themselves—Taiwan can help, and Taiwan is helping," said Wu, adding that Taiwan "took the initiative to provide epidemic prevention and containment supplies to countries in need."

Taiwan says it will continue its bid to join the World Health Organization "later this year when meetings will be conducted normally, to make sure there will be full and open discussion."

6:34 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Nearly 1.5 million coronavirus cases reported in US; death toll approaches 90,000

There are at least 1,486,742 cases of coronavirus in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases in the United States, and at least 89,564 people have died in the US from the virus. 

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

6:33 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

UK missing between 50,000-70,000 Covid-19 cases, says head of symptoms study

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in Dublin

King's College London a public research university located in London, England, on April 23.
King's College London a public research university located in London, England, on April 23. Richard Baker/In Pictures/Getty Images

The UK is likely missing between 50,000-70,000 Covid-19 cases because it has not updated its list of coronavirus symptoms, a professor who leads the Kings College London Covid Symptom Tracker app said Monday.

Professor Tim Spector told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that his team's app has listed "about 14 symptoms which [they] know are related to having a positive swab test and these are not being picked up by the NHS." These include symptoms such as the loss of smell and taste and severe muscle pain and fatigue.

Professor Spector said the app is the "largest source of data" in the UK, with more than 1.5 million signed up to offer information about their response to the virus.

Citizens in the dark about symptoms: He said that UK citizens are not aware of the full spectrum of symptoms due to the lack of testing and the advice to only self-isolate if they have a high-fever or cough.

"There's no point telling people to be alert if they don't know the symptoms," he added.

Other countries expand lists: Professor Spector noted 17 other countries, the WHO, the EU and even the CDC altered and expanded their list of symptoms a few weeks ago.

Since the UK began testing, 243,695 people have tested positive for the virus, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health and Social Care.

Spector advised that "Public Health England ... get in line with the rest of the world and make people more aware."

He estimated that there are 100,000 cases of infected people in the UK at present and stressed that "there are still people out there who can infect others and we do have to be very vigilant," as some parts of the UK begin to ease their lockdown.

6:04 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

New coronavirus clusters found in France

From CNN's Sophie Stuber, Pierre Buet and Pierre Bairin in Paris

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Some 69 out of 209 employees at an agricultural producer near St. Brieuc in northwestern France have tested positive for coronavirus following a mass screening, according to the local health authority.

An employee at the unnamed factory in Brittany was admitted to the local hospital on May 13, the health authority says.

Meanwhile, 34 employees have tested positive for coronavirus at the Tradival slaughterhouse in Fleury-les-Aubrays south of Paris, according to the local health authority.

Initially, the French government contact tracing app flagged three employees there for possible symptoms. A wider testing campaign is now underway at the factory and several subsidiary companies, the health authority says.

News of the two clusters of cases comes as France enters its second week of "deconfinement," as the measures which had seen people confined to their homes, only allowed to leave when carrying a form justifying their movements, are relaxed.

5:04 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Singapore reports 305 new coronavirus cases

From CNN's Isaac Yee

A man wearing a protective mask has his temperature taken before entering a McDonald's restaurant in Singapore, on May 12. 
A man wearing a protective mask has his temperature taken before entering a McDonald's restaurant in Singapore, on May 12.  Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

Singapore confirmed 305 new coronavirus cases as of 12 p.m. local time today, the country's Ministry of Health said.

The vast majority of new infections are work permit holders living in foreign workers dorms. Two cases are Singaporeans or permanent residents.

On Sunday, Singapore reported 682 cases. The Ministry of Health said the lower number of cases today is due to "fewer tests being processed as one testing laboratory is reviewing its processes following an earlier apparatus calibration issue."

Singapore has a total of 28,343 reported cases and 22 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.

Making up a significant portion of the Singaporean workforce, 1.4 million migrant workers live in the city-state, mostly employed in construction, manual labor and housekeeping. Of these, about 200,000 live in 43 dormitories, according to Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo.

Read more about the plight of Singapore's migrant workers:

4:36 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Wuhan has tested more than 400,000 people for Covid-19 since citywide campaign began

From CNN's Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Medical workers take swab samples from residents to be tested for coronavirus on May 15 in Wuhan, China.
Medical workers take swab samples from residents to be tested for coronavirus on May 15 in Wuhan, China. Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

The Chinese city of Wuhan has conducted more than 400,000 nucleic acids tests within the first three days of a citywide campaign to test all residents for Covid-19, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said today.

The testing drive comes after several new local cases were reported this month, sparking concern that the coronavirus could still be spreading in the city of 11 million people, where the virus emerged at the end of last year.

The number of tests conducted daily has also steadily increased from 72,791 on May 14 -- when the campaign began -- to 222,675 on May 16, local health authorities said. 

Who is being tested? The Wuhan government said that the citywide tests will apply to most permanent and temporary residents who were never tested before, and will exclude children under the age of 6. 

How will it work? The tests are conducted free of charge, and only those who test positive will be notified by authorities, the local government said. All samples will be stored in a secure and independent server to safeguard privacy, authorities added.

Last Thursday, leading Chinese business publication Caixin reported that Wuhan will carry out the citywide testing in waves. Over a period of 10 days, each district will stagger their tests in an effort to prevent a resurgence of the virus.

4:25 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

Merkel and Macron to present German-French economic recovery initiative

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron will discuss a German-French initiative for European economic recovery today, according to the German government's press office.

The two leaders will hold a video conference around 9:30 a.m. ET and will then hold a joint press conference around 11 a.m. ET.

4:08 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

One of Greece's most famous cultural sites has just reopened

From CNN's Elinda Labropoulou in Athens

Acropolis hill is seen on May 17 in Athens, Greece.
Acropolis hill is seen on May 17 in Athens, Greece. Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images

The Acropolis in Athens reopened for visitors today after temporarily closing due to the coronavirus outbreak.

More than 200 archaeological sites in the country will resume business today, according to the Greek Ministry of Culture.

They are the first cultural sites to return to normal operations, followed by open-air cinemas on June 1, museums on June 15 and art events on July 15, Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said.

The sites will operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time with safety measures, according to the instructions of the country's National Public Health Organisation.

These include keeping a distance of 1.5 meters (5 feet) between people and ensuring a maximum number of visitors per archaeological site.

There will also be special rules for sanitary facilities, while mask wearing and the use of hand sanitizer are recommended.