July 27 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt, Ed Upright, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, July 28, 2020
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6:41 a.m. ET, July 27, 2020

Germany warns of new spike in Covid-19 infections as it tries to contain large farm outbreak 

From CNN’s Fred Pleitgen in Berlin

A person stands near a farm in Mamming, Germany, on July 27.
A person stands near a farm in Mamming, Germany, on July 27. Armin Weigel/dpa/AP

Germany’s center for disease prevention, the Robert-Koch-Institute, has called a general rise in Covid-19 infections in the country “very disturbing” and says it is “monitoring the situation very closely.”

The spike comes as authorities in Bavaria are working to contain a large-scale outbreak among seasonal workers on a vegetable farm in the town of Mamming. Authorities announced on Sunday that 174 laborers -- about a third of all seasonal workers on site -- had tested positive for the virus. 

At a press conference Sunday, Bavaria’s health minister, Melanie Huml said that local authorities have placed the farm, which employed seasonal workers from Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Ukraine, on complete lockdown. The workers who tested positive had been separated from the rest of the laborers, and local police and a private security firm were monitoring the quarantine, Huml added. 

Farming "test offensive": As part of a new “test offensive,” Huml also announced that workers in other agricultural companies in Bavaria will be tested. “The goal of the new test program is to prevent large outbreaks like the current one in Mamming. At the same time we want to increase the health protection of the workers there,” she added. 

Huml also announced that all of the around 3,300 residents of Mamming will be able to get voluntary coronavirus tests free of charge.

The Robert-Koch-Institute said Saturday it recorded 815 and 781 infections on subsequent days at the end of last week.

“Before, the number was considerably lower around 500 new cases per day,” the institute said in a press release. It blamed the rise mostly on a higher number of larger gatherings in Germany, but also on people returning from holidays abroad.

“A further deterioration of the situation urgently needs to be prevented. This can only be achieved if the entire population continues to cooperate, for instance by always maintaining distancing and hygiene rules,” the institute said. 

The seven day reproductive rate in Germany is currently 1.16, while the four day r-rate is 1.22, according to the Robert-Koch-Institute

6:03 a.m. ET, July 27, 2020

A North Korean coronavirus outbreak might be the biggest threat Kim Jong Un has ever faced

Analysis from CNN's Joshua Berlinger

Health officials disinfect a corridor at the Pyongchon District People's Hospital in Pyongyang, North Korea, in April.
Health officials disinfect a corridor at the Pyongchon District People's Hospital in Pyongyang, North Korea, in April. Kim Won Jin/AFP/Getty Images

The ruling Kim dynasty of North Korea has for decades predicated their regime on the notion that only they can protect the Korean people from the outside world, be that capitalists, the United States or other hostile forces.

Now, according to Pyongyang, a new threat has arrived -- the first publicly reported suspected case of Covid-19 within North Korea's borders.

Return of a defector: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un convened an emergency meeting Saturday after it was reported that a defector who fled the country three years ago had returned to the North Korean city of Kaesong, while possibly infected with coronavirus, according to state-run newswire KCNA.

Authorities in South Korea confirmed Monday that a defector had crossed the highly militarized border into North Korea. The South Korean Health Ministry said the man was not a known coronavirus patient or a close contact of one, but local police said the man was being investigated for a sex crime.

KCNA said the defector had symptoms of Covid-19, but did not confirm if he had been testedClose contacts of the suspected case were being examined and quarantined, but KCNA warned of a "dangerous situation" developing in Kaesong that could lead to a "deadly and destructive disaster."

'Zero' coronavirus cases: Few experts believe that North Korea, a country of nearly 25 million people which shares a border with China, could have escaped the effects of a pandemic that has infected more than 16 million people worldwide and killed nearly 650,000.

It's possible North Korea has simply not identified existing cases due to a lack of testing, or has successfully managed to isolate small clusters of cases and is not reporting them.

But if this defector does test positive and causes a major outbreak, Covid-19 could turn into one of the biggest threats Kim has faced in his nearly nine years of rule.

What's at stake: The virus has proven to be one of the most difficult and deadly challenges for leaders across the planet, but for Kim it is uniquely worrying.

Experts say that North Korea's dilapidated healthcare infrastructure is unlikely to be up to the task of treating a large number of patients sickened with a new virus that the global healthcare community does not fully understand.

Read the full analysis:

5:43 a.m. ET, July 27, 2020

After U-turning on Spain, UK is monitoring Germany and France travel bridges closely

From CNN’s Duarte Mendonca in London

A passenger arrives at Gatwick Airport in Crawley, England, on Saturday, July 25.
A passenger arrives at Gatwick Airport in Crawley, England, on Saturday, July 25. Dominic Lipinski/PA Images/Getty Images

The UK government is monitoring the coronavirus situation in Germany and France “closely” as it continues to review the travel bridges to many popular holiday destinations, a junior health minister said Monday.

"We have to keep the situation under review and I think that is what the public would expect us to do," Helen Whately told Sky News, when asked specifically about reports that Germany and France could follow Spain’s sudden removal from the UK’s allowed travel bridge list.

"If we see rates going up in a country where at the moment there is no need to quarantine, if we see the rates going up, we would have to take action because we cannot take the risk of coronavirus being spread again across the UK," Whately said.

UK reverses Spanish travel corridor: On Saturday, the UK government unexpectedly announced that all people returning from Spain would be required to self-isolate for two weeks, reversing its previous stance with immediate effect. 

The abrupt reversal followed a rise in the number of coronavirus cases in Spain, where authorities reported more than 900 new infections on both Thursday and Friday.

Asked about the decision to remove Spain from the UK travel bridges list, Whately said Monday that people “should be aware that we are in a situation of global pandemic.”

“We put in place the travel bridges because people wanted to be able to travel but we did say at the time that we had to keep it under review and that’s exactly what we’ve done with Spain and what we saw with Spain was a very rapid increase in the rate of coronavirus cases and we had to take rapid action,” Whately added.

5:19 a.m. ET, July 27, 2020

France reaches same daily level of cases as when lockdown began easing, says health minister

From CNN’s Pierre Bairin in Paris 

Medical staff work during a coronavirus free screening operation outside the Arcachon railway station in southwestern France, on July 24.
Medical staff work during a coronavirus free screening operation outside the Arcachon railway station in southwestern France, on July 24. Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

France has reached the same daily level of coronavirus cases as when its lockdown began easing on May 11, Health Minister Olivier Veran told the French newspaper Le Parisien in an interview Sunday.

He said the country is not yet in a second wave of the pandemic, but cases are rising sharply.

“We have seen, for a few days, the number of positive cases rise sharply while it has been falling for 13 weeks. It has reached the same daily level today as when the confinement was lifted,” Veran told Le Parisien.

Surge in young patients: Veran said screening has shown a large number of patients are younger than the previous wave, and in a tweet Sunday appealed to young people in particular to maintain vigilant.

“The rate of asymptomatics is extremely high. This is particularly the case in Ile-de-France where we see young people arriving who have been infected without knowing how,” Veran told the newspaper.

Possibility of local lockdowns: French Prime Minister Jean Castex said Saturday that he wants to avoid a national lockdown at all costs because it would have a too negative impact, socially and economically. He suggested France could instead have localized lockdowns, as have been used in Germany and the UK.

On Friday, the Health Ministry said the coronavirus reproductive rate in France has risen to 1.3.

“With a number of daily cases exceeding 1,000, we have returned to levels comparable to those at the end of the confinement period. We have thus erased a good part of the progress that we had made in the first weeks of deconfinement,” a press release from the Ministry said, adding that “the virus is circulating throughout the country.”

France has had more than 217,000 confirmed infections and more than 30,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The French Health Ministry has now scrapped the charge for coronavirus PCR tests, which determines if someone is infected with Covid-19, to encourage more people to get tested.

The French government announced last week it will distribute 40 million face masks to the poorest citizens after mask wearing was made compulsory in all indoor spaces in the country.

8:29 a.m. ET, July 27, 2020

Hong Kong makes it compulsory to wear masks in public. Offenders face fines of up to $645

From CNN's Vanesse Chan in Hong Kong

People are seen wearing face masks at a wet market Hong Kong on Saturday, July 25.
People are seen wearing face masks at a wet market Hong Kong on Saturday, July 25. Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto/Getty Images

In Hong Kong, mask wearing will be compulsory in all indoor and outdoor public spaces from Wednesday midnight until August 4, authorities announced on Monday. 

Hong Kong Chief Secretary Mathew Cheung announced four new social restrictions as the city struggles to contain its locally dubbed "third wave" of Covid-19 infections. On Monday, the city recorded its sixth straight day of over 100 local cases.

Failure to comply with the mask ordinance may result in a fine up to 5,000 Hong Kong dollars ($645). People with "reasonable excuses" such as medical conditions or children under two will be exempt. 

Dining at restaurants is also banned, though they can still provide takeout services. Group gatherings in public will be limited to no more than two people -- down from four previously -- and premises with “high risk of infections” such as swimming pools and sports venues will be shut.

“Sacrifice the short-term convenience for long-term health,” Cheung said. 

He added Hong Kong has been using the correct strategy to deal with the virus -- a “lift and suppress” method based on expert advice and scientific evidence. Cheung said the city is facing a high risk of community outbreak and urged people to reduce social interaction as much as possible. The coming two to three weeks are critical for containing the outbreak, he said.

When asked about the possibility of a lockdown, Cheung said the measure would cause too much inconvenience and difficulty. He said he believed the current measures are “appropriate.” 

As of Monday, Hong Kong has recorded a total number of 2,778 Covid-19 cases and 20 related deaths.

4:27 a.m. ET, July 27, 2020

South Korea records 25 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Gawon Bae in Seoul

A medical worker collects a sample from a visitor at a hospital's walk-thru testing center in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday, July 24.
A medical worker collects a sample from a visitor at a hospital's walk-thru testing center in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday, July 24. SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg/Getty Images

South Korea confirmed 25 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, nine of which were locally transmitted, according to the country's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The country also recorded one fatality from the virus on Sunday, bringing the death toll to 299.

As of Monday, a total of 14,175 people have been infected with Covid-19 in South Korea; 971 people are in quarantine, while 12,905 have recovered.

Among all reported cases in the past two weeks, 62.6% were imported, 21% were locally transmitted, 6.2% are still being traced and 1.6% were related to imported cases, according to the KCDC.

Starting from Monday, people traveling from high-risk countries designated by the South Korean government must be tested upon entering the country and again before they are allowed to leave quarantine.

Eight repair workers who tested positive are related to Russian vessels in the southeastern port of Busan. Five were asymptomatic, while three showed symptoms around the same time, according to the KCDC. 

Health authorities said they are discussing plans to charge foreigners for coronavirus treatment, as the increase in imported cases could burden South Korea’s medical system and virus control efforts.

8:29 a.m. ET, July 27, 2020

The US has a fourth of global Covid-19 cases, but some local leaders say they won't enforce mask mandates

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

The United States has a fourth of global coronavirus cases and as officials work to slow its rampant spread, face coverings remain a point of contention as some local authorities are declining to enforce mandates.

Florida: Police in Miami -- what experts call the country's coronavirus epicenter -- issued more than 300 citations in 10 days to individuals and businesses that aren't abiding by the local mask order. 

"The growth rate (of cases) has shown flattening since we implemented the masks in public rule and we're following the advice of our healthcare professionals and our hospital administrators who are telling us that what we have to do now is focus on enforcement," Miami Mayor Francis Suarez told CNN on Sunday. "We created a special task force just for that and we've been issuing hundreds of tickets over the course of the week."

The county has reported more than 100,000 coronavirus cases -- more cases than all but 12 states. Over the weekend, ICUs were at 137% capacity and there were about 334 patients on ventilators, about a 64% increase in two weeks, according to county data.

While Florida's governor hasn't ordered a statewide mandate, Miami-Dade County announced earlier this month it was tightening restrictions around its order on face coverings by punishing violators with a $100 fine.

Indiana: A statewide mask order went into effect Monday morning, but sheriffs in at least four counties said they wouldn't enforce the mandate, according to CNN affiliate WXIN.

"If a disturbance or other issue were to develop, deputies would respond as always; however, we will not respond solely for allegations of a violation of the executive order," said Johnson County Sheriff Duane Burgess, according to the affiliate. 

Ohio: The governor issued a statewide mask order last week, and one sheriff already said earlier this month he wouldn't be enforcing any sort of mandate, according to CNN affiliate WLWT.

"I can tell you this -- I am not the mask police. I am not going to enforce any mask-wearing. That is not my responsibility. That is not my job. People should be able to make those choices themselves," said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones.

Read the full story:

3:27 a.m. ET, July 27, 2020

China reports its highest number of local Covid-19 infections since March

From CNN's Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

A health worker takes a swab sample test for Covid-19 at a makeshift testing center in Dalian, China on July 27.
A health worker takes a swab sample test for Covid-19 at a makeshift testing center in Dalian, China on July 27. Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

China recorded 57 local Covid-19 cases on Sunday, the highest number the country has seen since it brought the coronavirus largely under control in March, according to figures released by the National Health Commission on Monday.

Among the locally transmitted cases, 41 were found in the far western region of Xinjiang, where the coronavirus resurfaced on July 15 after nearly five months of no new cases.

The remaining cases were discovered in the country's northeast, including 14 in Liaoning province and two in Jilin province.

Sunday's figure is the highest number of local infections the country has reported since March 6, surpassing the daily spikes during a coronavirus outbreak in Beijing last month.

On Sunday, China also recorded four imported cases and 44 asymptomatic infections. The country does not include asymptomatic cases in its overall tally of confirmed infections.

As of Monday, China has reported a total of 83,981 confirmed cases, including 4,634 deaths, according to the NHC.

2:48 a.m. ET, July 27, 2020

What it's like to stay at a beach resort in Thailand right now

From CNN's Karla Cripps

For travelers around the world, visiting a tropical beach resort in Thailand feels like a far-off dream right now due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. 

The country's borders remain closed to international tourists and plans for an aviation "bubble" with other nations continue to sputter. 

Thailand's tourism sector, which contributes close to 15% of its GDP according to the World Bank, has been severely impacted. 

For the moment, domestic travelers are infusing some much-needed cash into the ailing industry. Thailand hasn't reported a locally transmitted Covid-19 infection in more than 50 days, giving travelers a sense of security as they hit the road. 

Though destinations like Koh Samui and Phuket continue to suffer from the lack of overseas visitors, resort towns within driving distance of Bangkok are taking advantage of locals' urge to travel following weeks of lockdown. 

The seaside town of Hua Hin: Located about a 2.5-hour drive from Bangkok, it's Thailand's first beach resort, having become a popular retreat for royalty and upper-class families in the early 1900s. Today, you'll find a wide mix of accommodation offerings, from guest houses to five-star luxury properties, including many big global brands. 

CNN Travel recently visited three different high-end Hua Hin properties -- all experiencing high occupancy rates -- and spoke with their managers to find out how they're adapting to Thailand's post-Covid realities and what guests can expect during a stay.

Read the full story: