June 12 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Steve George, Helen Regan and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

Updated 0322 GMT (1122 HKT) June 13, 2020
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9:43 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

US surgeon general urges protesters to take coronavirus precautions

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

 

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House on May 26 in Washington.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House on May 26 in Washington. Win McNamee/Getty Images

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said he wants people who decide to protest against racial injustice to do so as safely as possible during the pandemic — and he said he understands why the protests are being prioritized.

"I understand the anger, the frustration, the fear and why people feel that they need to prioritize going out and protesting," Adams told Politico's Dan Diamond during an episode of the podcast "Pulse Check" on Thursday. 

"If you are going to go out, then we want you to take precautions," Adams added. "We want you to try to stay six feet apart from each other whenever you can. We want you to wear a face covering. We want you to practice good hand hygiene, including carrying hand sanitizer."

Adams also advised to bring as little with you as possible, because if you are carrying a backpack or multiple layers of clothing, for instance, those items would need to be disinfected.

"What I've always said for anyone going out is that if you're going to go out, know your risk and know how to stay safe. It's important for people to know that there are communities where we are seeing upticks and spread and the coronavirus is still here — it is still deadly, it is still contagious," Adams said.

"If you choose to go out in that setting, you need to understand whether or not you are someone who is at higher risk — someone with chronic diseases, someone who is older, again 94% of mortality is over the age of 60," Adams added. "You need to understand if you're living with someone who is at risk, because the last thing you'd want to do is go out and protest and then bring coronavirus home to your vulnerable loved one."

9:47 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

42,000 people to participate in the next phase of this Covid-19 vaccine trial

From CNN Health’s Elizabeth Cohen and Wes Bruer

The phase 3 trial of the Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed by University of Oxford is underway, and is expected to include 42,000 people when the Oxford-led trial is combined with a phase 3 trial led by its partner, AstraZeneca.  

In phase 3, Oxford is enrolling 10,000 people in the UK, and AstraZeneca is enrolling 30,000 in the US. On June 2, the Brazilian government approved the inclusion of volunteers in their country, with 2,000 volunteers to be tested there.

The AstraZeneca portion of the phase 3 trial will begin in August, according to the National Institutes of Health, which will be conducting and funding the trials. 

Participants in the phase 3 group will “receive one or two doses” of their Covid-19 vaccine candidate, or another licensed vaccine that will be the control group. 

WATCH:

9:12 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

TSA screens more than half a million for first time since pandemic hit

From CNN's Greg Wallace 

Passengers queue up in to pass through the south security checkpoint in Denver International Airport on June 10 in Denver.
Passengers queue up in to pass through the south security checkpoint in Denver International Airport on June 10 in Denver. David Zalubowski/AP

More than 500,000 people crossed through US Transportation Security Administration checkpoints on Thursday, the first time the numbers have climbed above that mark since travel cratered this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The 502,209 people TSA reported screening is still well below typical levels — nearly 19% of the 2.7 million the agency screened on the same Thursday last year. 

The passenger rates have steadily risen since bottoming out at about 3% of last year’s traffic – less than 100,000 daily travelers — in mid-April.   

Airlines are operating more flights than at that point, and each plane is also carrying more passengers. 

Airlines for America, representing the major US carriers, said Thursday that the average departure carries 57 passengers, compared to 50 the group reported on Monday and fewer than 20 at the low point. 

8:46 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Coronavirus mutations not expected to influence vaccine efficacy, WHO chief scientist says

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

Alissa Eckert/Dan Higgins/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Alissa Eckert/Dan Higgins/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

All viruses mutate — including the novel coronavirus. But as the world now races to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, the coronavirus mutations are not expected to alter vaccine efficacy during this race, said World Health Organization chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan.

"The mutations have not been shown to be in those regions of the virus — the spike protein, the receptor binding domain — that are going to alter the efficacy of a vaccine so far," Swaminathan said on Friday during a live Q&A broadcast on WHO's social media pages.

Swaminathan added that "viruses keep on changing and we have to keep an eye on that."

Currently there are about 200 vaccine candidates in development around the world, with 10 in human trials — four in the United States, five in China and one in the United Kingdom — and 126 in preclinical trials globally, according to WHO.

Regarding how the coronavirus may differ across countries due to mutations, "the virus may be slightly different but it’s not so different that the vaccine will not work," Swaminathan said.

"It’s also good to have vaccine trials in many different countries because you have different populations, different genetics, different risk factors and WHO very much would like to see the candidates that are being developed now being tested in many countries."

8:42 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Thailand will ease more lockdown restrictions on Monday

From CNN's Kocha Olarn in Bangkok 

Passengers sit next to empty seats with social distancing signs on a train at Tanyong Mat railway station in the southern Thai province of Narathiwat, on June 11, following the lifting of coronavirus travel restrictions.
Passengers sit next to empty seats with social distancing signs on a train at Tanyong Mat railway station in the southern Thai province of Narathiwat, on June 11, following the lifting of coronavirus travel restrictions. Madaree Tohlala/AFP/Getty Images

Thailand's Ministry of Public Health announced that the country will begin phase four of easing lockdown restrictions according to a spokesperson on Friday. 

Thailand's Ministry of Public Health and the Center for the Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said that on June 15, some schools can resume classes with social distancing and people will be able to dine and drink alcohol in restaurants. Bars and clubs will remain closed.

A CCSA spokesperson said that in phase four there will no longer be a countrywide curfew, but Thailand's border will remain closed.  

The spokesperson also said the CCSA committee had discussed the principle of Thailand could open a "travel bubble" with selected countries, but there was no conclusion on whether visitors would have a mandatory quarantine on arrival. 

China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Middle Eastern countries would be considered for the travel bubble.

Travelers would have to be tested for the virus in their origin country, tested again on arrival, and purchase health insurance. Business travelers and medical tourists would be prioritized. 

8:42 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

WHO scientist: "A vaccine would be the best way out of this pandemic"

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

World Health Organization (WHO) Chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan is pictured during a news conference  in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 12.
World Health Organization (WHO) Chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan is pictured during a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 12. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Having a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine available for the world is currently the "best way" to beat the coronavirus pandemic, according to World Health Organization chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan.

"Everyone is waiting for a vaccine because it’s clear that a vaccine would be the best way out of this pandemic. If you can vaccinate enough people — let’s say 50% to 60% of people become immune — the virus can stop spreading from one person to another," Swaminathan said on Friday during a live Q&A broadcast on WHO's social media pages.

Currently, there are about 200 vaccine candidates in development around the world, with 10 in human trials — four in the United States, five in China and one in the United Kingdom — and 126 in preclinical trials globally, according to WHO.

"Vaccine development normally takes 10 to 20 years. So here we’re talking about developing a vaccine in 12 to 18 months, but we have to be sure each step of the way that we establish that this vaccine actually works -- which we call efficacy, which means that it protects against infection -- and safety. These are the two properties of the vaccine. It should be safe in the sense you do not want a vaccine to cause more problems than what it’s supposed to protect against," Swaminathan said. 

"The other thing that WHO is working on is developing an allocation framework because we don’t want to be in a situation where there are some doses of a vaccine but they’re not available to everyone, they’re just available to a few people in a few countries. So this is where global solidarity comes in," Swaminathan said.

"Our member states are discussing, how do we make a fair and equitable allocation? So that, let’s say you have 50 million doses to begin with -- who are the people who need it the most? It shouldn’t be limited by country but it should be: Is it the most vulnerable? The frontline workers that we see are getting infected? Is it the elderly? The people above 60 or 65? We need to have a consensus on that."

8:35 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Spain announces plans to revive tourism as lockdown measures ease

From CNN's Tim Lister

A general view shows the RIU Concordia Hotel in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, on June 10, as the Balearic Islands prepare to welcome tourists from parts of the European Union beginning on June 15.
A general view shows the RIU Concordia Hotel in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, on June 10, as the Balearic Islands prepare to welcome tourists from parts of the European Union beginning on June 15. Jaime Reina/AFP/Getty Images

The Spanish government has provided new details of a program to begin opening up parts of the country to European tourists as coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

From next Monday, travellers from other parts of the European Union will be allowed to travel -- on specified air routes -- to the Balearic islands, which include the holiday destinations of Majorca and Ibiza.

Tourists will only be allowed to visit parts of Spain that are already in "Phase Three" of the process easing lockdown -- and where the rate of coronavirus infection is lower than nine per 100,000 people -- without going into quarantine. 

The place where tourists start their journey must have a similarly low rate of infection. Tourists must have evidence of round-trip travel and stay at least five nights.

In other parts of Spain, arrivals from abroad still have to quarantine for two weeks.

Those arriving must be residents of the state from which they leave. In other words, a British citizen could not travel to Germany and then onwards to Spain.

On Tuesday, the Balearic regional president announced the region would receive 10,900 German visitors in the second half of June in a “pilot project” to test tourism safety measures during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both the origin and destination airports must be part of a program run by the European Union Agency for Air Safety. that stipulates measures to avoid infection at airports.

The Spanish government expects to open up the rest of the country for tourism next month as the easing of lockdown measures continues. Spain is the world’s second-most visited country.

7:19 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Australia's PM announces further easing of social distancing restrictions in July

From CNN's Anna Kam in Hong Kong and Angus Watson in Sydney

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on June 12.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on June 12. Sam Mooy/Getty Images

Australia will continue to ease social distancing restrictions in July, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday.

The enforcement of restrictions is up to state governments, which will introduce changes in their own timeframe. Morrison’s announcement Friday came after a joint meeting with state leaders.

"Stage 3" of the relaxation would allow bars and restaurants to increase the number of patrons to one per four square meters and ticketed stadium events would be able to hold 10,000 seated spectators.

Morrison also announced that these "stage 3" restrictions should include the lifting of internal border closures. 

Queensland on Friday immediately announced that it would open its border on July 10. South Australia will allow domestic travelers in from July 20.

Australia has a total of 7,290 confirmed coronavirus cases and 102 known deaths.

8:07 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Italian PM questioned by prosecutor of Bergamo -- the area hardest hit by coronavirus

From CNN's Ben Wedeman, Hada Messia and Sharon Braithwaite

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte attends a press conference at Chigi Palace in Rome, on June 11.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte attends a press conference at Chigi Palace in Rome, on June 11. Handout/Filippo Attili/Chigi Palace Press Office/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has been questioned by the prosecutor of Bergamo, Lombardy, on the outbreak of coronavirus in the region.

The prosecutor arrived Friday morning at Palazzo Chigi, the seat of the Italian government, to question Conte as an “informed person on the facts.”

The investigation was launched by the prosecutor after many complaints were filed with the prosecutor's office by a group of people whose loved ones died of coronavirus.

Lombardy, in Italy's north, was the region worst affected by the virus.

The government has been accused of being late in imposing a lockdown on two towns in the region -- Alzano and Nembro -- when outbreaks happened there in early March.

This is the first legal action over coronavirus against the Italian government.

Conte told reporters Wednesday that he was not worried about the questioning.

“I will say everything that I was made aware of,” Conte said. "The citizens have the right to know and we have the institutional responsibility to respond in all the institutional departments and in front of citizens. If there is a case by the Prosecutor of Bergamo it is right that even the Prime Minister makes himself available as an informed person on the facts."

The prosecutor has already questioned Silvio Brusaferro, head of the Italian Health Institute and president of the scientific and technical committee appointed by the government to advise on the fight against coronavirus when the epidemic started.

The prosecutor will question Health Minister Roberto Speranza and Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese on Friday.

The leader of the Lombardy regional government was questioned earlier this week.

This post has been updated to correct when the Health Minister and Interior Minister are being questioned.