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Coronavirus digest: World Health Summit kicks off virtually from Berlin

The online event will focus on international cooperation to stem the rising infection rates. Elsewhere, tougher restrictions are coming into force in some European countries. Follow DW for the latest.

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German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who launched the World Health Summit from Berlin, has called for international cooperation in stemming the coronavirus pandemic and railed against "vaccine nationalism."  The summit, which lasts until Tuesday, is being held online due to the rising infection rate in Germany.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also spoke at the opening ceremony on Sunday evening. Ahead of the event, a few thousand coronavirus conspiracy theorists gathered in Berlin to protest the summit.

WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told DW that despite the COVID-19 crisis, countries cannot neglect deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

"When you're faced with a shock like this pandemic, very few health systems have been able to cope," she said. "Most health care workers have been diverted and must provide essential health services."

Swaminathan stressed the necessity for governments "to continue to focus on these other diseases," calling them "killers that haven't gone away."

Here's a roundup of major developments around the world.


In Germany, this week's talks on how to proceed between Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional state premiers have been brought forward to Wednesday, as cases remain persistently high. According to a report in the mass-circulation Bild newspaper, Merkel's government is planning what the paper calls a "lockdown light," focusing on limitations on bars, restaurants and public events. Whatever the government is planning can only be announced after talks with the states.

Bars and restaurants in Italy will have to close by 6 p.m. from Monday. Cinemas, theaters, gyms, swimming pools, ski resorts and concert halls may not open at all. High school students will return to online classes.

Switzerland reported more than 17,000 new coronavirus infections over the weekend. The country's health minister said new restrictions that "will likely last a long time" would be announced on Wednesday. The country has logged more than 60 new infections per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, surpassing its own threshold to be labeled a risk area.

The Bulgarian president, Boyko Borissov, reported feeling a "general malaise" on Sunday after testing positive for COVID-19. 

Bars and clubs in the Bulgarian capital Sofia were also closed from Sunday until November 8 in order to slow down the rapidly increasing infection rate in the southeastern European country.

Slovakia has completed the first phase of its antigen testing program in the hardest hit regions of the country. After testing tens of thousands of people over the weekend, the government hopes to extend the program to the rest of the five million strong population.

Russian authorities reported a record number of 17,347 new cases in the previous 24 hours on Monday, including 5,224 in Moscow alone. The total number of recorded cases was over 1.5 million.


In Australia the city of Melbourne began to come out of a four-month-long strict lockdown after 24 hours of no new cases being recorded and a week since the last death associated with COVID-19. The population of 5 million are once again allowed to go out freely after the stay-at-home order was lifted.

Dozens of new cases, of unknown origin, were recorded in the northwestern Xinjiang region of China over the weekend. Authorities discovered 137 asymptomatic cases following a drive to test 4.75 million people in the Kashgar area.


In the United States, New York became the fourth state to surpass half a million cases as the country sees a renewed surge in infections and hospitalizations.

Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred said the clubs have amassed $8.3 billion (€7 billion) in debt due to the effects of the coronavirus. "The economic losses (this season) have been devastating for the industry," said Manfred.

Manfred was concerned about the future of the league, saying "it's going to be difficult for the industry to weather another year where we don't have fans in the ballpark and have other limitations on how much we can't play and how we can play."

Former Brazilian football star Ronaldinho announced on Instagram on Sunday that he had tested positive for coronavirus, but was so far "asymptomatic". He said he would go into isolation in his hotel until his condition improved.

jf, ab/msh (Reuters, dpa, AP, epd, EFE)