May 12 coronavirus news

By Veronica Rocha, Elise Hammond and Melissa Mahtani , CNN

Updated 0532 GMT (1332 HKT) May 13, 2021
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10:51 a.m. ET, May 12, 2021

CDC ensemble forecasts predict decrease in Covid-19 cases and deaths over next 4 weeks

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Ensemble forecasts published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention project that the number of newly reported Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths will decrease over the next four weeks.

The forecast predicts a total of 591,000 to 602,000 deaths reported by June 5.

The previous ensemble forecast, published May 5, projected up to 600,000 deaths would be reported by May 29.

11:33 a.m. ET, May 12, 2021

White House Covid-19 adviser tells Americans unsure about vaccination to "look at India"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

A health worker walks through a Covid-19 ward at the SRN hospital in Allahabad, India, on May 3.
A health worker walks through a Covid-19 ward at the SRN hospital in Allahabad, India, on May 3. Sanjay Kanojia/AFP/Getty Images

Following concerns regarding vaccine hesitancy in the US, White House Covid-19 senior adviser Andy Slavitt told people who may be uncertain about getting vaccinated to talk to their doctors and people they know who are vaccinated. He also told them to compare the downward trends in the virus here to what’s happening in India, where there is less vaccine availability and a massive, ongoing public health crisis. 

“We know that some people make very quick decisions about whether to get a vaccine or not and some people want a little more time to consider whether they should or not. There's no right or wrong way to do this. If you have a question you want answered, ask your doctor. If you want to talk to one of the 150 million people who have been vaccinated and see the experience, do that,” he said during an appearance on MSNBC. 

“Look at the data, look at India, and see the results of what happens when you can't get vaccinated. So we're going to just continue to make it easier and easier for people to one, get the questions answered, and two, take away every inconvenience that would possibly get in the way,” he continued.

He touted progress in vaccinations, which he said has happened more quickly than expected, and pointed to new resources announced Tuesday, including Lyft and Uber rides to vaccination sites.

Slavitt declined to project a total percentage of Americans that the administration believes can and will be vaccinated.

He did not otherwise preview the President’s 3:30 p.m. ET remarks, when Biden is set to provide an update on Covid-19 response and vaccinations.

10:08 a.m. ET, May 12, 2021

Switzerland aims to open indoor restaurants from May 31

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

People sit outside at a restaurant in Lausanne, Switzerland, on May 3.
People sit outside at a restaurant in Lausanne, Switzerland, on May 3. Robert Hradil/Getty Images

Switzerland hopes to allow restaurants to open their indoor spaces as of May 31, a Swiss government news release says. This can happen if infection numbers allow for it, the statement says.

The Swiss government says the epidemiological situation is getting better, regarding Covid-19 numbers, hospitalization as well as stress on intensive care units.

As of May 31, indoor events can hold 100 instead of 50 people, and outside the numbers can go from 100 now to 300 people.

But, the Swiss government says, dancing events remain off-limits.

Regarding working from home, from May 31, there is no longer an obligation to work from home if employees get tested regularly.

The Swiss branches of government, the cantons, the parliamentary commission in charge, amongst them, will decide on May 26 if the situation is good enough to go ahead with these changes.

10:03 a.m. ET, May 12, 2021

Education secretary pushes to reopen schools: "There's no reason to wait any longer"

From CNN's Elizabeth Stuart

Students attend in-person class at a school in Los Angeles, California, on April 13.
Students attend in-person class at a school in Los Angeles, California, on April 13. Xinhua/Getty Images

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona is pushing school districts to reopen for students this spring, before the school year ends, recognizing that some areas have just weeks left in the school year.

"Every day that passes is a wasted opportunity," Cardona told CNN's Brianna Keilar on Wednesday. "Even two to three weeks being with your classmates, being with your teacher helps students be prepared for summer learning experiences and the fall. There's no reason to wait any longer."

Cardona acknowledged that the disproportionate access to in-person school is widening the achievement gap amongst students, where remote school is the only option, or where Black and Brown students are not going in-person due to school hesitancy.

Addressing the question of whether some school district may not even fully reopen by the fall, Cardona said "the science is there" to show that schools can reopen safely.

"We really need to work with our partners at the state and local level to make sure we're helping address whatever issues are preventing [reopening]," Cardona said.

In some areas, teachers' unions have pushed back against reopening, threatening to strike, or refusing to come back to the classrooms that they said were not safe. Cardona said while he cannot mandate schools to reopen, he can offer support.

"At this point, this is about students. This is not about you know, whatever challenges folks are having, adults are having. This is about getting students into school. I can tell you unequivocally, I've had conversations with the American Federation of Teachers and the NEA, they want students safely in school too," Cardona told Keilar.

In regards to whether schools should start to eliminate mask mandates for students, as is being done in some districts, Cardona said school officials need to recognize that while going back to school is safe, the pandemic is not yet over.

8:01 a.m. ET, May 12, 2021

Don't call B.1.617 the 'Indian variant,' says India

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi

India’s health ministry has objected to the use of the phrase the "Indian variant" to refer to B.1.617, a coronavirus variant first identified in India.

“Several media reports have covered the news of WHO [the World Health Organization] classifying B.1.617 as variant of global concern. Some of these reports have termed the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus as an 'Indian Variant,' " the health ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

WHO classified B.1.617 as a variant of concern on Monday.  A “variant of concern” label indicates that the identified variant may show, among other indicators, evidence of increased transmissibility or evidence of increased severity.

“This is to clarify that WHO has not associated the term “Indian Variant” with the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus in its 32-page document,” the statement said, citing a report released by WHO on Tuesday about the variant.

"In fact, the word 'Indian' has not been used in its report on the matter,” the statement said.

Emphasizing that the word "Indian" was never used by the World Health Organization in such a context, the ministry said media reports that use the term are “without any basis, and unfounded."

"WHO does not identify viruses or variants with names of countries they are first reported from. We refer to them by their scientific names and request all to do the same for consistency," WHO South-East Asia said in a tweet on Wednesday,

The tweet also tagged the accounts of leading Indian media outlets as well as the country's health ministry and the Press Information Bureau.

7:54 a.m. ET, May 12, 2021

Former Italian PM Berlusconi hospitalised with Covid-related illness

From Livia Borghese in Rome

Italy's former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, speaks at the Chamber of Deputies on February 9, in Rome, Italy. 
Italy's former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, speaks at the Chamber of Deputies on February 9, in Rome, Italy.  Livio Anticoli/Pool/Insidefoto/Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images

Italy's former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has been hospitalised with a covid-related illness, just weeks after being discharged.

Berlusconi was admitted to San Raffaele Hospital in Milan due to “consequences of Covid,” his “Forza Italia” party press office told CNN. Berlusconi is president of the party.

Berlusconi, 84, contracted the virus in September last year, and spent 24 days in the same hospital. He was discharged on April 30.

The party press office described his medical condition as “good,” but did not give further details. 

8:26 a.m. ET, May 12, 2021

What are some of the factors behind India's vaccine shortage?

From CNN’s Swati Gupta in New Delhi

A health worker prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine on May 11, in New Delhi, India.
A health worker prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine on May 11, in New Delhi, India. Amal KS/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

India is in the grip of the world's worst Covid-19 outbreak, with the death toll and daily case numbers continuing to increase and break records.

As essential medical supplies run low, countries and corporations around the world have come to India's assistance. But countries are also putting restrictions on travel with India as the situation worsens.

India has so far administered 175,171,482 vaccine doses. But the race is still on to get more jabs in arms as new variants wreak havoc on the country.

Here, CNN's Swati Gupta looks at some of the factors behind India's vaccine shortage:

  • Exporting vaccines. In January, once India approved its homegrown vaccine Covaxin and Covishield -- as the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is known domestically -- the government began to rapidly export a large number of doses through the COVAX program, meeting their personal commitments to multiple countries. 

  • Raw materials. There is currently a shortage of raw materials for the Serum Institute of India, which is producing Covishield. India has been largely dependent for those on the US, which had placed a temporary ban on exports. The US lifted the ban partially on April 25. But it will take a while for the materials to reach India.   

  • Overwhelming demand. India has opened up vaccination drives in phases over the past three months to high-risk citizens. But on April 19, as the second wave was rapidly gaining hold, the Indian government announced that from May 1 all adults between 18-44 years of age can apply for vaccination. With the already strained supply, the country has added millions of people to the list of eligible candidates for a vaccine -- which has further strained states now scrambling to keep up with the overwhelming demand.   

  • Issues in coordination between state and federal governments. Due to poor coordination between the state and federal governments, certain states are complaining that they are not receiving the much-needed vaccines which the federal government had promised to supply. The gap in demand and supply is most apparent in the state of Maharashtra, which has been forced to shut down some of its vaccination centers as they have run out of vaccines.

6:48 a.m. ET, May 12, 2021

UK records 'largest number' of B.1.617 cases outside of India, WHO says 

 From Sharon Braithwaite in London

The Covid-19 variant, B.1.617, first identified in India in October has been now found in 44 nations, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The United Kingdom is the country outside of India that has reported the largest number of cases of the variant, WHO said Wednesday in its weekly epidemiological update.

Outside of India, the United Kingdom has reported the largest number of cases sequenced as B.1.617 sublineages, and recently designated B.1.617.2 as a national variant of concern," WHO said.

On Monday, WHO classified it as a variant of concern, a label that indicates that the identified variant may show, among other indicators, evidence of increased transmissibility or evidence of increased severity.

When asked about this variant, England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said on Monday during a press conference that "we don't know if this is going to cause significant problems in the autumn."

The UK is set to remove most social distancing restrictions on May 17.

Read more about variants:

6:48 a.m. ET, May 12, 2021

US issues 'Do Not Travel' advisory for Nepal

From CNN's Chandler Thornton

The United States Embassy in Nepal has issued a Level 4 "Do Not Travel" notice for the country amid the spread of Covid-19.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Nepal due to COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country," the embassy said in a travel advisory Wednesday.

The embassy added that it is awaiting approval from the Nepali government for charter flights to take US citizens out of the country. 

Commercial flights are not departing Nepal and the government has extended the flight suspension through May 31.

The embassy said its services are closed during Kathmandu's lockdown, which is currently in effect until May 27.