May 14 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth and Brad Lendon, CNN

Updated 0002 GMT (0802 HKT) May 15, 2021
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5:54 a.m. ET, May 14, 2021

After three week of silence, Indian Prime Minister finally speaks out about Covid-19 disaster

From CNN’s Swati Gupta in New Delhi

Relatives embrace next to the body of a person who died due to Covid-19 at a crematorium in New Delhi on May 11.
Relatives embrace next to the body of a person who died due to Covid-19 at a crematorium in New Delhi on May 11. Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has -- for the first time in three weeks -- addressed the devastation caused by the second wave of the pandemic.

Tens of thousands of people have died across the country as hospitals ran out of basic supplies, unable to cope with the rising number of patients. 

Speaking at a virtual farmers’ benefits meeting, Modi said:

In front of us is an invisible enemy and this enemy has many faces. Because of coronavirus, we have lost a lot of our loved ones."

This was the first time the Prime Minister has publicly addressed the crisis that has crippled the country for the past three weeks. 

In his last national address in April, Modi had insisted that the country should not go under lockdown despite a rise in Covid-19 cases. 

Modi's government has come under severe criticism for its preparation for, subsequent handling of and response to the second wave as hundreds died due to a shortage in oxygen supply, hospital beds and medicine. 

Modi defended his government, saying:

In different parts of the country, Covid hospitals are being constructed quickly. Using new technology, we are setting up oxygen plants. In far flung areas of the country, oxygen trains are working to deliver oxygen.

Modi also touted India's vaccination program, saying that 180 million vaccine doses have been administered. He asked Indians to get the shot when it's their turn. 

But as multiple states had to partially suspend their vaccine rollout this week due to shortages, Modi told the nation “India is not a country which loses hope."

"Neither India nor any Indian will lose hope. We will fight and win,” he said.

2:22 a.m. ET, May 14, 2021

Singapore tightens Covid-19 curbs on social gatherings, dining for one month as cases rise

From CNN’s Sophie Jeong in Hong Kong

People dine at a restaurant in a shopping mall in Singapore, on May 14.
People dine at a restaurant in a shopping mall in Singapore, on May 14. Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images

Singapore will tighten restrictions on social gatherings and public activities after Covid-19 clusters emerged in the past two weeks, the country’s Ministry of Health announced Friday.

For four weeks, from May 16 to June 13, gathering sizes and the number of household visitors will be reduced from five people to two people, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Working from home will be the default at workplaces, and dine-in food and beverage establishments will only be able to offer takeaway and delivery options. 

“A pattern of local unlinked community cases has emerged and is persisting,” the statement said.
“We need to act decisively to contain these risks as any one leak could result in an uncontrolled resurgence of cases.”

The number of new cases in the community has increased from 48 cases in the week before to 71 cases in the past week, the Health ministry said Thursday, while the number of unlinked cases in the community has increased from seven cases in the week before to 15 cases in the past week.

In total, Singapore has reported more than 61,000 cases and 31 deaths over the course of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

3:24 a.m. ET, May 14, 2021

J. K. Rowling's charitable trust donates money to help people hit by India's Covid crisis

J. K. Rowling's charitable trust is lending its support to those affected by India's coronavirus outbreak.

In a tweet, the UK-based Sikh International humanitarian relief organization Khalsa Aid said it was "delighted & humbled" to have received a "generous, six-figure donation" from Volant Charitable Trust, which was set up by "Harry Potter" author Rowling.

The money would go toward Khalsa Aid's Covid relief work in India, the organization said.

"We are humbled by the support for our humanitarian work," it added.

Rowling retweeted Khalsa Aid's tweet Thursday, UK time, thanking everyone who had bought "The Ickabog," a book written by Rowling and illustrated by children following a competition run during lockdown. Net royalties from the book are donated to Volant to help medical and frontline charities supporting vulnerable groups impacted by Covid-19, according the "The Ickabog" website.

"As a result, my charitable trust continues to be able to support those worst affected by the pandemic," Rowling said.

8:22 a.m. ET, May 14, 2021

Doctors' union in Japan calls on government to cancel Tokyo Games

From CNN’s Emiko Jozuka in Hong Kong

The Olympic Rings are displayed by the Odaiba Marine Park Olympic venue in Tokyo, Japan, on May 12.
The Olympic Rings are displayed by the Odaiba Marine Park Olympic venue in Tokyo, Japan, on May 12. Carl Court/Getty Images

A doctor’s union in Japan has urged the government to cancel the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

Members of the union went to Japan’s Health Ministry on Thursday to present a written request addressed to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

“It’s tough for the athletes, but someone has to say that the Games should be canceled. We made the request (to the government) as we think medical workers have to speak up,” Naoto Ueyama, the head of the national doctor’s union, said in a press conference on Thursday.  

In the written request, Ueyama cautioned that the Games could become a superspreader event as tens of thousands of athletes, coaches, officials and journalists come to Japan from around the world. Ueyama said that even if there are no spectators, the event could lead to the circulation of variants that are resistant to vaccines.

“It is impossible to hold a safe and secure Olympic Games" amid the coronavirus pandemic, wrote Ueyama. “I strongly oppose holding it.”

Ueyama added that Japan’s vaccination rate is the lowest among OECD countries. He also added that anger and confusion are rampant among Japanese health care workers, who are forced to work extra hours to fight the pandemic. 

The Opening Ceremony for the Games is set for July 23, but questions remain over how Tokyo can hold a massive sporting event and keep volunteers, athletes, officials -- and the Japanese public -- safe from Covid-19.

That concern has been amplified by Japan's battle with a fourth wave. The country’s coronavirus cases stand at 660,884 as of Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University. Several prefectures -- including Tokyo -- are under a state of emergency until the end of May.

8:22 a.m. ET, May 14, 2021

India has now reported more than 24 million Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Manveena Suri in Delhi

A health worker collects nasal swab for a Covid-19 coronavirus RT PCR test at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital on the outskirts of Siliguri, India, on May 13.
A health worker collects nasal swab for a Covid-19 coronavirus RT PCR test at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital on the outskirts of Siliguri, India, on May 13. Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images

India reported 343,144 new Covid-19 cases Friday, bringing the country's total to more than 24 million, according to figures released by the Health Ministry.

The country also reported 4,000 deaths Friday, meaning the total death toll is now at 262,317. Since April 28, the daily number of deaths has exceeded 3,000. 

On April 22, India recorded the highest daily increase of coronavirus cases in the world since the start of the pandemic with 314,835 new cases. Since then, the country has added more than 300,000 cases a day.

India has logged more than 4.8 million cases since the start of the month, when the total number of cases sat at 19,164,969.

Vaccines: To date, 179,177,029 vaccine doses have been administered in India. A total of 40,516,082 people have received both doses, equivalent to 3.1% of India’s 1.3 billion population being fully vaccinated, according to a press release issued by the Health Ministry on Thursday.

1:40 a.m. ET, May 14, 2021

India says it will have more than 2 billion Covid-19 vaccines by the end of the year

From CNN’s Swati Gupta in Delhi

Medical staff attend to Covid-19 patients in the ICU ward at the Holy Family hospital in New Delhi, India, on May 06.
Medical staff attend to Covid-19 patients in the ICU ward at the Holy Family hospital in New Delhi, India, on May 06. Rebecca Conway/Getty Images

Any Covid-19 vaccine approved by the FDA or WHO can come into India and companies can procure an import license within two days, the government stated Thursday.

“We have not stopped anyone. There is no pending import license. They (companies) have to see when they can supply to us,” said V.K. Paul, member of the Niti Aayog, a government-led think tank. 

India has been struggling to set up a steady vaccine supply. The national capital, New Delhi, and two states partially suspended their vaccine programs Thursday. 

The northern Indian state of Punjab announced Thursday that it will independently join the COVAX alliance to ensure their vaccine supply. 

At a press briefing, Paul said that India had been in touch with Pfizer, Moderna and J&J since the beginning of the pandemic about distribution or manufacturing -- but the companies declined to work together.

“They said that we will talk about vaccine availability in the third quarter of 2021… We are hoping that they will come forward to import and make vaccines available in India,” added Paul. 

The Indian government has been scrambling to ensure a supply chain from two Indian vaccine manufacturers and has recently added Russia’s Sputnik vaccine into the chain. 

The Indian government has estimated that it will have 2.1 billion doses in the August-December period, including 750 million doses of Oxford’s AstraZeneca, 156 million of Sputnik and 550 million of Covaxin.

1:08 a.m. ET, May 14, 2021

As Covid cases rise, Nepal's Prime Minister is reappointed leader

From journalists Nishant Khanal, Kosh Raj Koirala and Asha Thapa in Kathmandu, Nepal, and CNN's Sugam Pokharel in Atlanta

Nepal's leader K.P. Sharma Oli speaks at parliament in Kathmandu, Nepal, on May 10.
Nepal's leader K.P. Sharma Oli speaks at parliament in Kathmandu, Nepal, on May 10. Nisha Bhandari/AFP/Getty Images

Nepal’s leader K.P. Sharma Oli was reappointed as the country’s Prime Minister Thursday after losing a vote of confidence earlier in the week as a deadly second wave of Covid-19 ravages the country.

What happened?

Nepal's cases have grown dramatically over the past month, with the country now reporting more than 9,000 new Covid-19 cases a day.

Critics said Oli could have done more to stop the second wave, which has stretched hospitals to breaking point. The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) -- which was earlier part of the ruling party --- withdrew its support for Oli's government.

Oli then sought a confidence vote in Parliament Monday -- which Oli lost.

That threw the country into political turmoil. Oli was forced to step down, and the opposition parties were given until Thursday to form a coalition government.

But the opposition parties failed to gather support of majority lawmakers to form the next government by the deadline set by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari.

What's next?

Oli will take an oath of office on Friday, according to Nepal's Office of the President.

The Prime Minister now needs to prove majority in Parliament within 30 days. If he fails to do so, the country will go to midterm elections so leaders can win a fresh mandate.

Why is this important?

Onlookers worry that Nepal could soon face a crisis as bad as neighboring India. Already, oxygen is in short supply and patients are running out of beds.

And in Nepal, which has a fragile health care system at the best of times, things may only get worse.

Despite that, some critics worry that Nepal's leaders are more concerned with politics than the unfolding health crisis.

8:23 a.m. ET, May 14, 2021

Hawaii governor says state’s public mask mandate will stay in place

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Hawaii Governor David Ige speaks at a community meeting in Pahoa, Hawaii, on May 7.
Hawaii Governor David Ige speaks at a community meeting in Pahoa, Hawaii, on May 7. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Despite new CDC guidelines issued Thursday saying it is safe for fully vaccinated people to be indoors without a mask, the governor of Hawaii says that state’s rules will not change right away.

“The statewide mask mandate -- my mask mandate -- continues to be enforced,” Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, said in a hastily scheduled news conference Thursday afternoon.

Masks are required in all indoor public spaces in Hawaii and are also required outdoors in situations where people cannot socially distance.

Ige said he’s concerned that unvaccinated people could take advantage of the new guidance and endanger others.

“I think that challenge is that it's impossible to determine who's vaccinated and who's not vaccinated,” he said.

The governor said the mandate could be changed if a practical way could be found to let people prove their vaccination status, but he hasn’t found one yet.

“For a law enforcement officer or someone to determine whether they have probable cause to stop someone who is wearing a mask or not wearing a mask becomes a real enforcement nightmare,” Ige said.

Ige also said the mandate can be revisited as more of the state's population gets vaccinated, but he would not commit to a specific percentage. “We won't have a hard-and-fast cutoff,” said the governor.