May 26 coronavirus news

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1:39 a.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Singapore cuts its economic forecast for the third time this year

From CNN's Michelle Toh in Hong Kong

A pedestrian rests in a park in Singapore earlier this month.
A pedestrian rests in a park in Singapore earlier this month. Roslan Rahman/AFP/ Getty Images

Singapore's recession may be much deeper than expected this year as the coronavirus pandemic continues to batter the wealthy city-state.

Officials there Tuesday slashed the country's economic forecast for the third time this year. GDP growth is now set to drop between 4% and 7% -- down from an expected decline of 1% to 4%, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The darkening outlook marks a major departure from just a few months ago. Earlier this year, Singapore was seen as one of the few countries that had its coronavirus response under control.

But it has recently experienced an alarming second wave of infections, leading to heightened restrictions. The island nation now has 31,960 confirmed cases, up from just a few hundred in March, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Singapore was already headed for recession last year as its exports slumped due to the US-China trade war.

Now, "we think the economy is already in recession," Sung Eun Jung, of Oxford Economics, wrote in a research note Tuesday.

To shore up the flagging economy, the government has deployed billions of dollars in stimulus measures.

A new package is also expected later on Tuesday, when Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat presents a relief plan for businesses in an address to parliament.

1:10 a.m. ET, May 26, 2020

South Korea has identified almost 250 coronavirus cases linked to a cluster from a nightclub district

From CNN's Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

A medical worker guides visitors to take a Covid-19 test in the nightlife district of Itaewon in Seoul on May 12.
A medical worker guides visitors to take a Covid-19 test in the nightlife district of Itaewon in Seoul on May 12. Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

There are now 247 cases of coronavirus in South Korea tied to an outbreak in Itaweon, a popular nightlife district in the capital of Seoul, health officials said.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said Tuesday that 83,000 tests have been conducted in connection with the outbreak. About 30% of the nearly 250 who were confirmed positive are asymptomatic, the KCDC added.

Many clubs in the district are popular with Seoul's gay community, and the outbreak sparked an outpouring of hate speech toward the country's already-embattled LGBTQ population.

12:45 a.m. ET, May 26, 2020

Peru seemed to do everything right. So how did it become a Covid-19 hotspot?

From CNN's Mariano Castillo

A priest at the funeral of Covid-19 victims at El Angel cemetery, in Lima on May 21.
A priest at the funeral of Covid-19 victims at El Angel cemetery, in Lima on May 21. Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images

Peru was one of the first nations in the Americas to introduce strict preventative coronavirus measures, including stay-at-home orders, curfews and border closings.

How, then, did it become one of the hardest hit?

As of Monday, Peru had more than 123,900 confirmed coronavirus cases and 3,600 deaths -- putting it second only to Brazil both in the number of cases and deaths in Latin America.

The two countries had handled the epidemic very differently: While Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro downplayed the dangers posed by the coronavirus, Peru's President Martin Vizcarra declared a nationwide state of emergency on March 15 that included mandatory self-quarantine, and shuttered the country's borders.

But the virus surged all the same.

About 85% of Peru's ICU beds with ventilators are now occupied, according to government figures, and overcrowding at hospitals is feared.

"This situation is not just a health emergency, but a health catastrophe, defined as a situation where the pandemic has overtaken the response capacity of the health sector," Dr. Alfredo Celis, of the Medical College of Peru, told CNN en Español.

Deep wealth inequality and poor aid distribution design are two reasons why. Read here to learn more.

12:22 a.m. ET, May 26, 2020

The US reported more than 19,000 coronavirus cases on Monday

A Marine Color Guard presents colors during a Memorial Day ceremony at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on May 25, in San Diego, California.
A Marine Color Guard presents colors during a Memorial Day ceremony at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on May 25, in San Diego, California. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The US now has at least  1,662,302 cases of coronavirus and 98,220 virus-related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

On Monday, Johns Hopkins reported 19,056 new cases and 500 fatalities. 

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

New York remains the hardest hit state, with 362,764 cases and 29,229 deaths. New Jersey, Illinois and California follow.

11:53 p.m. ET, May 25, 2020

This Chinese city has Covid-19 under control. Now authorities want to rank residents on their health

From CNN's Nectar Gan in Hong Kong

Imagine a smartphone app that has access to your medical records and assigns you a daily score based on your preconditions, recent checkups and lifestyle habits -- how much you've drunk, smoked, exercised and slept on any given day can all affect your points total, boosting or lowering your ranking.

That "health score" is then embedded in a digital QR code accessible on your cell phone, ready to be scanned whenever needed.

This is what the city government of Hangzhou in eastern China has envisioned for its 10 million residents, inspired by a "health code" system it adopted during the Covid-19 pandemic to profile people based on their risk of infection.

Across the globe, governments have stepped up the collection of personal data in their fight against the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 346,000 people and infected close to 5.5 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

But there are also fears that some of these extraordinary measures could be here to stay even after the public health crisis is over, posing a long-term threat to privacy.

Read more:

11:37 p.m. ET, May 25, 2020

South Korea reported 19 new coronavirus cases today. Mainland China found 11

From CNN's Vanesse Chan and Yoonjung Seo

People sit before the city skyline and Han River in Seoul, South Korea, on May 24.
People sit before the city skyline and Han River in Seoul, South Korea, on May 24. Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Health authorities in South Korea identified 19 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday. Three are believed to be imported, while the other 16 are thought to be locally transmitted.

Authorities in mainland China said 11 cases were identified in the country Tuesday.

Here are each country's totals, as per the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and China's National Health Commission:

South Korea

  • 11,225 total cases
  • 10,275 patients recovered
  • 681 patients being treated
  • 269 deaths

Mainland China

  • 82,985 total cases
  • 78,268 patients recovered and discharged from hospital
  • 4,634 deaths
  • 396 asymptomatic patients still under medical observation
10:47 p.m. ET, May 25, 2020

Singapore confirmed 344 new coronavirus cases on Monday

From CNN's Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

A volunteer packs personal protective equipment to be distributed to migrant workers on May 23 in Singapore.
A volunteer packs personal protective equipment to be distributed to migrant workers on May 23 in Singapore. Ore Huiying/Getty Images

Singapore reported 344 new Covid-19 cases on Monday -- all but six of which were located in foreign worker dormitories.

The government said in a statement that 99% of those cases are linked to known clusters.

Singapore initially appeared to have the pandemic under control, but a dramatic spike in cases among the city's foreign workers -- who live in small, cramped spaces where it is easy for the virus to spread -- forced authorities in the city-state to take drastic measures.

Singapore is home to about 1.4 million migrant workers who come largely from South and Southeast Asia. As housekeepers, domestic helpers, construction workers and manual laborers, these migrants are essential to keeping Singapore functioning -- but are also some of the lowest paid and most vulnerable people in the city.

The rate of infection among migrant workers appears to have slowed in recent days, and more appear to be recovering.

The numbers: Singapore has confirmed 31,960 Covid-19 cases and 23 virus-related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The government said Tuesday that 862 more patients were discharged from medical facilities, and that 15,738 have recovered.

Eight Covid-19 patients are in critical condition in ICUs, while upwards of 607 that are still in hospital are either stable or improving. The government said 15,592 patients who either have mild symptoms or are clinically well but still testing positive are being isolated.

Read more about the outbreak in the city's dormitories here:

10:20 p.m. ET, May 25, 2020

Space X astronauts spent three week in “ultimate quarantine”

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken, left, and Doug Hurley speak to the media after arriving at the Kennedy Space Center on May 20, in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken, left, and Doug Hurley speak to the media after arriving at the Kennedy Space Center on May 20, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

To further protect the crew of Space X’s first astronaut launch from any potential Covid-19 exposure, the company and NASA set up a three-week “ultimate quarantine” -- and outfitted them “looking like ninjas,” a mission official said Monday.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission is a flight test with crew, prior to certification of systems by NASA for operational missions to the International Space Station. 

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are expected to fly on the Crew Dragon spacecraft, lifting off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Wednesday.

“Making sure that the crew is healthy and isn't going to be bringing potential virus or anything up to the crew on station... this is a very serious process that people go through,” Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's commercial crew program, told reporters during a teleconference.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission is a flight test with crew, prior to certification of systems by NASA for operational missions to the International Space Station, the space agency said. 

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are expected to fly on the Crew Dragon spacecraft, lifting off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Wednesday.

“They're like doing the ultimate quarantine... They and all the people that have been interacting with them and working with them are suited and checked and tested and to make sure that Bob and Doug are going up to station safe... They look like ninjas."

9:54 p.m. ET, May 25, 2020

Top UK aide defends lockdown trip: "I don't regret what I did"

From CNN's Nada Bashir

Dominic Cummings.
Dominic Cummings. Jonathan Brady-WPA Pool/Getty Images

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top adviser, Dominic Cummings, has defended his actions after receiving widespread criticism for traveling more than 250 miles (402 kilometers) from his London home during the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, telling reporters on Monday that he traveled to Durham to ensure the welfare of his child.  

“I thought, and I think today, that the rules, including those regarding small children and extreme circumstances, allowed me to exercise my judgment about the situation I found myself in,” Cummings said during the televised briefing.

“I can understand that some people will argue that I should have stayed at my home in London throughout. I understand these views, I know the intense hardship and sacrifice the entire country has had to go through, however I respectfully disagree.” 

Cummings also told reporters that he believes his actions were “reasonable in these circumstances,” detailing the series of events which preceded his decision to leave London. 

“I was worried that if both my wife and I were seriously ill, possibly hospitalized, there is nobody in London that we could reasonably ask to look after our child and expose themselves to Covid,” the Prime Minister’s adviser said. 

“I don’t regret what I did…I think what I did was actually reasonable in these circumstances.”  

Some context: Following an investigation by the Mirror and Guardian newspapers, Cummings was revealed to have traveled to Durham – more than 250 miles from his home in London – during the lockdown, despite his wife having developed symptoms of coronavirus.

While Johnson has offered his support for Cummings, saying on Sunday that he believes his adviser acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity,” Cummings confirmed on Monday that he did not inform the Prime Minister of his decision prior to leaving for Durham. 

“I did not ask the Prime Minister about this decision. He was ill himself, and he had huge problems to deal with…I thought that I would speak to him when the situation clarified over coming days,” Cummings said.

“Arguably this was a mistake and I understand that some will say that I should have spoken to the Prime Minister before deciding what to do."