May 18 coronavirus news

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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.

3:56 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

China's Xi Jinping to address opening of World Health Assembly

From CNN’s Shanshan Wang in Beijing

Chinese President Xi Jinping will address the World Health Assembly today via video conference, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Xinhua said Xi will speak at the opening ceremony at the invitation of World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

A big part of the meeting's agenda is a draft resolution signed by 100 countries calling for an independent "evaluation" into the coronavirus pandemic.

While the draft does not single out China, Beijing has been facing mounting international scrutiny for its initial handling of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Read more about the meeting:

3:46 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

India and Bangladesh are already suffering with coronavirus. Now a super typhoon is heading their way

From CNN's Swati Gupta and Joshua Berlinger

A powerful cyclone that formed in the Bay of Bengal is headed directly for the India-Bangladesh border, bringing with it the potential for major destruction and upheaval in two countries that are still battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cyclone Amphan has strengthened to the equivalent of a strong Category 4 Atlantic hurricane, or a super typhoon in the West Pacific. Amphan is packing winds of 150 mph (240 kph), though forecasters expect the storm will weaken before making landfall late Wednesday near the Ganges River Delta.

Even if the storm hits after weakening, it could cause significant damage. Amphan is forecast to make landfall near poor, densely populated areas with notoriously unreliable infrastructure. If it lands in the low-lying delta, there is also the potential for major storm surges, perhaps even as high as 30 feet (9 meters).

Natural disasters are tragically common in this part of the world, but this could be the first powerful storm ever to hit India and Bangladesh amid a global health emergency.

Read the full story:

3:33 a.m. ET, May 18, 2020

El Salvador's President calls for dialogue amid rift with parliament -- but refuses to reopen economy

From CNN's Merlin Delcid in San Salvador and Daniel Silva in Miami

El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele addressed the nation Sunday night regarding his decision to extend the country's coronavirus-related state of emergency through executive order.

"No matter how much the business community shouts, it's not time to open up," Bukele said on national radio and television. 

The decision was met by fierce backlash from the Legislative Assembly, which was not consulted prior to the announcement. In order to calm the conflict between the President and the legislative and judicial powers, Bukele used the address to call for dialogue on all sides.

Lawmakers, from both left-leaning and right-leaning parties, have come out in opposition to Bukele and have scheduled an extraordinary plenary session later today to vote on a new emergency law, which will include plans to gradually reactivate the economy. 

El Salvador's Attorney General's Office also formally opened an "unconstitutionality decree" with the Supreme Court, saying Bukele evaded the powers of the Legislative Assembly.

The country has officially recorded more than 1,300 coronavirus cases, including at least 30 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.