May 26 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0409 GMT (1209 HKT) May 27, 2021
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10:30 a.m. ET, May 26, 2021

Current approach to preventing Covid-19 at the Olympics is "dangerous," US expert says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

A security guard walks in front of the Olympic Rings on May 9 in Tokyo.
A security guard walks in front of the Olympic Rings on May 9 in Tokyo. Eugene Hoshiko/AP

The approach to preventing Covid-19 at the Tokyo Olympics is a dangerous one, and recommendations for protecting the athletes should be reviewed, according to Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

The first problem, Osterholm said on CNN’s New Day today, is that the vaccines aren’t available for many of the participants, or they aren’t being used. This is a particular problem for people younger than 18 — vaccines aren’t approved for that age group in many countries, although there are athletes in that age group.

“We’ve got to address the vaccine issue immediately,” he said. 

Second, he said that there has been very little planning for how to address aerosol spread of Covid-19. 

“There's virtually been no planning for how are we going to move people in buses, or putting three people to a hotel room, or where do they eat and what kind of respiratory protection do they have. In fact they noted each country should bring their own face masks,” he said. 

Osterholm — who along with other public health experts wrote a piece on the Tokyo Olympics in the New England Journal of Medicine Tuesday — said that they are calling for an emergency review of all the recommendations that have been made and how to handle the games as safely as possible.

“I’d give them a chance right now. I think that we all want the good news with the Olympics, I think no one at this point wouldn't want to have that torch lit and to see us come back together,” Osterholm said when asked if he would cancel the games.

“But I think that the approach they're taking right now is virtually a dangerous one if they don't change many of the recommendations they have and for how they're going to protect athletes and their support team members. I think this is a real challenge," he added.

8:20 a.m. ET, May 26, 2021

France will introduce mandatory quarantine for travelers coming from the UK

From CNN's Lorraine Poupon and Barbara Wojazer

France will establish a mandatory quarantine for travelers coming from the UK, French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal told journalists after the weekly government meeting Wednesday.

“There is a new situation in the UK because of the so-called Indian variant,” Attal explained.

“France will establish a mandatory isolation period for people coming from the UK,” he added.

 Details of the decision will be laid out in the coming hours, Attal said.

3:00 a.m. ET, May 26, 2021

India's Covid-19 cases surpass 27 million

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

Swab tests are collected from passengers at New Delhi Railway Station in Delhi, India on May 25.
Swab tests are collected from passengers at New Delhi Railway Station in Delhi, India on May 25. Naveen Sharma/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

India reported 208,921 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, bringing the country’s total confirmed caseload past 27 million.

Wednesday’s tally brings the nation’s number of confirmed cases to 27,157,795, according to figures released by the Indian health ministry.

The country also reported 4,157 fatalities on Wednesday, with the total coronavirus death toll now at 311,388. 

India reported fewer than 200,000 new cases for the first time in over a month on Tuesday -- a significant fall from reporting more than 400,000 cases daily earlier this month.

As of Wednesday, India has administered more than 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, according to the health ministry.

1:06 a.m. ET, May 26, 2021

"Black fungus" cases rise to 10,000 in India, minister says

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

Cases of "black fungus" in India have risen to 10,000, the junior minister responsible for chemicals and fertilizers on Tuesday.

The disease, called mucormycosis, is a rare and potentially deadly infection that is increasingly being detected among recovered Covid patients in the country, especially those with diabetes. 

“We started seeing it all of a sudden from the second week of May and within 15 days it has reached 10,000 cases,” minister Mansukh Mandaviya told local media ANI.

At least 120 deaths have been recorded in Maharashtra state, home to the most populous city Mumbai, according to CNN affiliate CNN-News 18. The state’s health minister Rajesh Tope said 2,245 cases of the disease have been recorded in Maharashtra alone. 

Meanwhile, several states faced a shortage of the drug Amphotericin B, which is used in the treatment of black fungus.

“If a disease spreads so much and with such speed, India did not have that much (required) medicine production,” Mandaviya said, adding an order had been placed to import 700,000 vials of the drug.

At least eight states, including Maharashtra, have declared black fungus a notifiable disease in accordance with state government directives to notify all cases.

Read more on black fungus:

2:01 a.m. ET, May 26, 2021

WHO reports 14% drop in global Covid-19 cases

From CNN Health's Lauren Mascarenhas

There were 4.1 million global Covid-19 cases reported in the week ending May 23 -- a 14% decrease from the previous week, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported Tuesday.

WHO also reported 84,000 new Covid-19 deaths worldwide, a 2% decrease from the prior week.

The largest decline in new cases and deaths was in the European region, the report noted. However, WHO warned global Covid cases remained high overall.

“Despite a declining global trend over the past four weeks, incidence of Covid-19 cases and deaths remain high, and substantial increases have been observed in many countries throughout the world,” the report said.

India reported the highest number of new cases by far -- 1,846,055 -- though that was a 23% decrease from the week prior.

In an update on virus variants of concern, WHO reported new evidence showing that community transmission from March to April in the UK was higher for the B.1.617 variant first identified in India than for the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the UK.

The report also cites research showing the B.1.617 variant may cause Covid-19 vaccines to lose some capacity to neutralize the virus.

“Virus evolution is expected, and the more SARS-CoV-2 circulates, the more opportunities it has to evolve,” WHO said.

WHO emphasized the importance of virus control measures to manage the spread of variants.

3:04 a.m. ET, May 26, 2021

Hawaii surfing competitions to resume as outdoor mask mandate ends

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Surfer John John Florence rides the waves at Sunset beach on the North shore of Oahu, Hawaii on May 1.
Surfer John John Florence rides the waves at Sunset beach on the North shore of Oahu, Hawaii on May 1. Brian Bielmann/AFP/Getty Images

Hawaii is dropping its statewide mask mandate for outdoor activities and relaxing a ban on "ocean sports" competitions, allowing popular surfing events to resume in the US state.

The state has consistently maintained some of the strictest Covid-19 rules in the US, including heavy restrictions on travel to the islands.

In a news conference Tuesday, Hawaii Gov. David Ige said the mask mandate will be dropped "effective immediately" and people will no longer be required to wear one while outside.

The mask mandate, however, will stay in effect for most indoor activities.

But Ige said changes to travel restrictions could also be on the cards.

“If our vaccination program is successful, I expect to make changes to our Safe Travels program next month,” Ige said.

The state also said Tuesday that a ban on ocean sports competitions will be lifted June 1. Additionally, state capital Honolulu is being given permission to restart other organized sports.

“I’m very, very pleased, very happy to have both the team sports and baseball and soccer now… just in time for summer," Ige said.
11:06 p.m. ET, May 25, 2021

South Korea to ease some Covid-19 restrictions for vaccinated people

From CNN’s Yoonjung Seo in Seoul, South Korea

South Korea will lift some of its Covid-19 preventative measures for vaccinated people, including mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said on Wednesday. 

“People inoculated with at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine will not be obligated to wear face masks in outdoor spaces and will not be restricted from using outdoor facilities or entering religious facilities starting July 1,” Kim said. 

Those fully vaccinated will also be exempt from restrictions limiting the number of people who can use facilities such as restaurants, cafes, and wedding venues.

Starting June 1, people with at least one vaccine dose will not need to comply with the current ban on family gatherings of eight or more. 

South Korea’s Covid-19 preventative measures are expected to be adjusted at the end of September when more than 70% of the country’s population is expected to have had at least one vaccine dose.

More than 3.9 million people have received their first dose and more than 1.9 million people are fully vaccinated, according to a news release from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

South Korea reported 707 new Covid-19 cases from Tuesday, according to the KDCA. The country has recorded a total of 137,682 cases, including 1,940 deaths, since the pandemic began.

11:01 p.m. ET, May 25, 2021

The world's biggest vaccine maker is stalling on exports. That's a problem for the planet's most vulnerable

From CNN's Julia Hollingsworth

When Uddhab Gautam got his first vaccine dose back in February, Covid-19 cases in Nepal were low.

Now, three months later, coronavirus infections in the Himalayan nation have spiraled out of control, leading to a shortage of hospital beds and oxygen, and sending most of the country into lockdown.

But despite needing it more than ever, the 67-year-old retired banker has no idea when he'll get his second dose of Covishield, the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII).

"As an older person, I'm afraid of contracting the virus," he said from his home in Nepal's capital Kathmandu. "I have chosen to stay indoors."

Gautam's predicament is similar to one shared by millions worldwide: as India's own coronavirus crisis has spiraled, SII -- the world's largest vaccine maker -- can no longer export its goods.

Last week, the SII said it wouldn't restart deliveries to COVAX, a worldwide initiative aimed at distributing vaccines to countries regardless of wealth, until the end of this year.

While SII's decision will be a lifeline for India, which is still reporting about 200,000 new cases a day, the delay poses a huge problem for developing countries that depend on COVAX to control large outbreaks of their own.

The world is already 140 million doses short -- and by the end of June, that gap will have reached 190 million shots, the United Nations children's agency, one of the partners in COVAX, said last week. There is currently no timeframe for resolving the shortage, UNICEF said.

That creates a very real problem, not just for countries with limited access to vaccines where cases are exploding, but also for the whole world.

"We are concerned that the deadly spike in India is a precursor to what will happen if those warnings remain unheeded," UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said in a news release last week. "The cost for children and families will be incalculable."

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