May 19 coronavirus news

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9:53 a.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Wuhan officials said they tested more than 1 million people in a week

From Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

A medical worker prepares to perform a coronavirus test in Wuhan on Tuesday.
A medical worker prepares to perform a coronavirus test in Wuhan on Tuesday. Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

The central Chinese City of Wuhan conducted more than 467,000 coronavirus tests on Monday, authorities said today.

Wuhan started conducting city-wide coronavirus testing on its citizens last week after health officials detected several new locally transmitted cases despite a strict 76-day lockdown that was intended to eliminate Covid-19 from the city where the virus is thought to have first emerged.

Wuhan has now conducted over 1.3 million coronavirus tests since May 12, the city's Municipal Health Commission said.

The latest numbers: China reported six new cases of novel coronavirus Monday, including three locally transmitted cases, the National Health Commission said Tuesday.

The three locally transmitted cases include two infections in Jilin province, and one infection in Wuhan, Hubei province, authorities said.

In addition, 17 new asymptomatic cases have been reported, it said.

The total number of reported cases in the country is now more than 84,000, according to a Johns Hopkins tally.

9:19 a.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Prestigious medical journal rejects Trump's virus report allegation

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio

One of the world's most prestigious medical journals, the Lancet, has responded to US President Donald Trump's recent letter to the World Health Organization.

In a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, threatening to permanently withdraw funding and cancel US membership, Trump also name-checked The Lancet as warning of the virus in early December. In a statement today, the Lancet said it did not publish a report about the new virus in December.

"The Lancet published no report in December, 2019, referring to a virus or outbreak in Wuhan or anywhere else in China," the statement read.

"The allegations leveled against WHO in President Trump’s letter are serious and damaging to efforts to strengthen international cooperation to control this pandemic. It is essential that any review of the global response is based on a factually accurate account of what took place in December and January," the Lancet added.
8:55 a.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Trump threatened to pull funding from WHO. Here's how health officials have responded to the letter.

From Max Ramsay in London

Delegates attend the 73rd World Health Assembly via video conference in Beijing on Monday.
Delegates attend the 73rd World Health Assembly via video conference in Beijing on Monday. Zhang Yuwei/Xinhua/Getty Images

A resolution sponsored by the EU, among others, calling for a global inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic response has been adopted with no objections at the WHO’s World Health Assembly today.

The part of the resolution that had been considered contentious called for “a stepwise process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” at “the earliest appropriate moment”, with the purpose “to review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to Covid-19”.

About Trump's letter to WHO: Meanwhile, President Trump on Monday redoubled his criticism of the WHO, threatening to permanently withdraw funding and cancel US membership even as it deals with a devastating global pandemic.

In a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Trump said he would permanently halt financial contributions if the WHO does not "commit to major substantive improvements in the next 30 days." Trump temporarily suspended funding to the organization last month.

The World Health Organization today acknowledged receipt of the letter from Trump.

"We are considering the contents of the letter,” a WHO statement sent to CNN said.

China called on the US to "stop the blame game" on Tuesday, while the EU said "it is not the time for finger pointing". Leaders of several countries, including France and Germany, also stressed the importance of the WHO's work in battling the pandemic during the World Health Assembly meeting.

8:43 a.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Germany and neighbors agree to gradually remove border restrictions

From Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media during a press conference in Berlin on Monday.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media during a press conference in Berlin on Monday. Andreas Gora/Pool/Getty Images

German chancellor Angela Merkel and the central European leaders on Tuesday agreed on gradually reopening border crossings and lifting controls as soon as the coronavirus pandemic allows.

The announcement came after Merkel and the Prime Ministers of the Visegrad nations — Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia — spoke today, according to a statement by the German Chancellor's spokesperson Steffen Seibert.

The leaders ''had an intensive exchange of views on the respective measures for further containment of the Covid-19 pandemic'," the statement said, adding that ''they agreed it was in their interest to gradually remove existing border restrictions and controls as soon as the pandemic situation allows.''

In a subsequent bilateral meeting between Merkel and Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, the two leaders confirmed they want to reduce restrictions on people and businesses in border regions as soon as infection rates allow. The two countries share a 817-kilometer (or 506-mile) border. 

10:16 a.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Nearly 10,000 people with coronavirus died in care homes in England and Wales

From Sharon Braithwaite in London

A nurse puts on her personal protective equipment (PPE) at the Wren Hall care home in Nottingham, England, on Monday, April 20.
A nurse puts on her personal protective equipment (PPE) at the Wren Hall care home in Nottingham, England, on Monday, April 20. Frank Augstein/AP

Almost 10,000 people with Covid-19 died in care homes in England and Wales in care homes in England and Wales up to May 8, the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Tuesday in a report.

A total of 37,375 deaths involving Covid-19 were registered in England and Wales between December 28, 2019 and May 8, 2020, it added.

In England, the number of deaths involving Covid-19 in care homes -- which were registered by May 8 -- was 9,495, while in Wales the number of deaths was 480, the report said.

These figures are provisional and may not show a complete picture of the number of coronavirus deaths in England and Wales. 

There have been more than 22,000 excess deaths among care home residents in England and Wales as a direct or indirect result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report from the London School of Economics (LSE).

The ONS registered a decrease in deaths occurring in private homes and hospitals, but the percentage of deaths in care homes increased by 42.4% in the week ending May 8, the ONS said.

For the second week running, all regions in England and Wales showed a decrease in the percentage of deaths involving coronavirus, the ONS added.

CORRECTION: This post has been updated with care home death totals through May 8.

8:05 a.m. ET, May 19, 2020

70 schools in France closed due to spike in suspected coronavirus cases

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

French Education and Youth Affairs Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer wears a mask during a school visit in Paris, France, on May 11.
French Education and Youth Affairs Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer wears a mask during a school visit in Paris, France, on May 11. Joel Sagat/AFP/Getty Images

Seventy schools in France have closed after a spike in suspected coronavirus infections, the French Education Ministry told CNN Tuesday, adding that there have not been any confirmed cases in schools since they re-opened.

The schools "had to close their doors" after suspected Covid-19 cases appeared in the wider community, a ministry press officer told CNN.

"For example, if you take the city of Sens, 25 of the 70 schools we [talked] about are in the same city, because there was one case of [Covid-19] in that city," the ministry said.

This comes as the country navigates the tricky process of restarting its economy and easing its lockdown without causing a spike in new infections.

Some 40,000 schools have re-opened since last week, France's Minister of Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer told RTL radio station Monday.

Of the 1.4 million students who have returned to the classroom, 186,000 are middle schoolers in "green zones," which are French districts where the government has decided the epidemic no longer warrants restrictions to free movement.

7:45 a.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Australia says it does not want a trade war with China, as relations deteriorate

Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham
Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham Australian Broadcast Corporation

Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said Tuesday that his country is not interested in a trade war with China, after China announced crippling tariffs on Australian barley exports – a trade that is worth close to $600 million a year.

The tariffs are the latest development in the deteriorating relationship between Canberra and Beijing, which began when Australia called for an international inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic.

Even though the two sides say barley tariffs and the coronavirus inquiry aren’t linked, some are questioning whether Beijing’s latest move is economic payback.

"Australia is not interested in a trade war. We don't conduct our trade policy on a tit-for-tat basis. We operate according to the trade rules that we strongly support as a country and we will continue to do that. We acknowledge that China has a right to use anti-dumping laws and rules. We use those laws and rules at times as well. But it is a case where China, we are thinking in this case, has made errors of both facts and law in the application of those rules," Birmingham said. 

Australia's Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said Tuesday that Australia reserves its right to go to the World Trade Organization to mediate in the decision. 

7:32 a.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Russia's Prime Minister released from hospital after coronavirus treatment, state media reports

From CNN's Nathan Hodge

Russia's Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, center, during a video conference meeting on incentive payments for workers of medical organizations treating coronavirus patients in Moscow, Russia, on Monday, May 18.
Russia's Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, center, during a video conference meeting on incentive payments for workers of medical organizations treating coronavirus patients in Moscow, Russia, on Monday, May 18. Alexander Astafyev/TASS/Getty Images

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, who had stepped away from his post after being diagnosed with coronavirus, has been discharged from hospital and resumed his official duties, Russian state news agencies reported Tuesday.

Mishustin had held an online meeting and was preparing for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti said, citing Mishustin's press secretary.

Putin has been holding video conference meetings with cabinet members and other top officials in his government during the pandemic.

There are 299,941 confirmed cases of the virus in Russia and 2,837 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University figures.

7:28 a.m. ET, May 19, 2020

Shakespeare's Globe theater at risk of permanent closure due to Covid-19 lockdown

From CNN's Amy Woodyatt in London

William Shakespeare's Globe theater, the famous London playhouse where the playwright's shows were performed, faces permanent closure as a result of coronavirus lockdown measures, the theater and UK politicians have warned.

Lawmakers on Monday warned the UK government that the historic theater -- which has been closed since March due to coronavirus restrictions -- was faced with "insolvency and closure" as a result of the pandemic's impact on its finances.

The original Globe theater was built by Shakespeare's company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, in 1599, but was destroyed by a fire in 1613.

A replica of the playhouse was built in 1997, just meters from the original site on the banks of the River Thames, with historical records used for guidance.

The theater is almost identical in appearance to the original, but with modern features such as a concrete theater pit and roof-based sprinklers.

Read the full story here: