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Coronavirus: Europe mulls easing lockdowns

April 14, 2020

As infection rates slow and deaths subside, some countries are relaxing restrictions. Germany will soon announce its decision. US President Trump has directed a halt to US payments to the WHO. Follow DW for the latest.

Coronavirus Italien Rom Lockerung Ausgangssperre
Image: Reuters/A. Lingria
  • US President Donald Trump has announced the US would suspend its funding to the World Health Organization
  • Voters in South Korea head to the polls amid strict hygiene measures
  • IMF predicts global recession larger than the 2009 financial crash in 2020
  • The number of infections worldwide nears the 2 million mark, with more than 120,000 reported deaths
  • India and France have announced they are extending lockdown restrictions
  • Germany considers easing lockdown restrictions as soon as next week. More than 125,000 cases are confirmed in the country. 

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

23:45 The US Treasury Department said on Tuesday that the country's major airlines have tentatively agreed to terms for $25 billion (€22.8 billion) in federal aid to pay workers until September 30. 

The aid includes cash and loans, with the government set to become a minority shareholder in the airlines.

The industry, which employs about 750,000 people in the US, has collapsed amid the coronavirus pandemic and faces mass layoffs without federal aid. 

The deal includes the nation's six largest airlines – American, United, Delta, Southwest, Alaska and JetBlue – and four smaller carriers. 
"Our airlines are now in good shape," said President Donald Trump. "And they will get over a very tough period of time that was not caused by them."

Last month, Congress approved a $2.2 trillion stimulus plan, which includes the $25 billion in aid for the airlines.

22:36 US President Donald Trump said he is at least temporarily halting funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) pending a review, accusing the UN health body of "covering up" the coronavirus pandemic and inadequately responding to the spread of COVID-19. 

Had the WHO done its job in getting medical experts into China, the outbreak could have been contained, Trump said at a White House press conference. 

Trump said that the world depends on the WHO to make sure that accurate information about health threats is shared in a timely manner. He added that the WHO had "failed in its basic duty and must be held accountable," and that the agency knowingly stood behind China’s "disinformation" about the virus. The United States is the UN health body's largest funder.

21:46 New York City's coronavirus death toll was revised to over 10,000 on Tuesday. The new figure includes 3,700 deaths that are presumed to be due to the virus but were never tested, according to the city's health department. 

"Behind every death is a friend, a family member, a loved one. We are focused on ensuring that every New Yorker who died because of COVID-19 gets counted," said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot.

New York has been the epicenter of the United States' coronavirus pandemic, where medical workers have reported shortages of tests, personal protective equipment and other medical supplies.

21:33 South Koreans hit the polls despite coronavirus fears on Wednesday (local time), with voters adhering to strict hygiene measures. 

Almost 44 million people are registered to cast their ballots in national parliamentary elections, and are required to do so wearing face masks and disposable gloves. Voters' temperatures are also being taken, and they are obligated to adhere to social distancing measures. 

The leading Democratic Party of President Moon Jae-in, whose approval ratings have increased amid the coronavirus pandemic, is expected to win most of the votes.

South Korea has been praised internationally for its swift response to the outbreak, which has left 222 people dead and infected at least 10,564 people.

21:15 Malawi is set to implement a 21-day lockdown from midnight on Saturday. President Peter Mutharika made the announcement on Tuesday during a televised national address, in which he urged citizens to "fully comply with the measures" for the good of the southeastern African country. 

So far, Malawi has a total of 16 confirmed cases and two recorded deaths. 

"All our neighboring countries have coronavirus cases and lives are being lost. If we are not careful, Malawi can lose up to 50,000 lives. We need to act more now," said Mutharika.

21:05 Between 10% and 20% of US coronavirus cases are doctors, nurses and other health care workers, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The data is important new information but is not necessarily surprising, according to Dr. Anne Schuchat, who directs the CDC’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Health care workers have, however, been hospitalized at lower rates than general patients. Workers have about a 10% hospitalization rate, as opposed to a rate of 21% to 31% in overall cases, according to the CDC. The low rate of hospitalization could be due to the younger age of healthcare workers and the prioritization of testing for such workers, the report said. 

The United States has almost 599,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and a death toll of more than 25,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

20:41 The governor of Rio de Janeiro, Wilson Witzel said he tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday. 

''I will continue working,'' said Witzel in a video that he posted to his official Twitter account. ''I request once again that you stay at home. This sickness, as you can all perceive, does not choose and spreads rapidly.''

Witzel’s comments follow several remarks made by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to downplay the virus. Bolsonaro has called for the confinement of only high-risk individuals, and has opposed a lockdown in favor of avoiding an economic crisis. 

He has repeatedly referred to coronavirus as a ''little flu,'' and promoted the use of an anti-malarial drug that has not been proven to prevent the disease. 

Brazil currently has more than 24,000 confirmed cases and a death toll of 1,378 according to Johns Hopkins University.

20:36 Here is the latest from European countries considering relaxing lockdown restrictions:

Germany: While the rate of new cases has declined for the fourth day in a row, several state premiers have spoken about the possibility of lockdown restrictions being relaxed next week.

Germany’s current restrictions are set to run out this Sunday, April 19. Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Cabinet are set to meet on Wednesday to discuss what should happen after that.

Schools in Germany’s most-populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia could reopen in as little as a week, authorities confirmed.

Czech Republic: The Czech Republic announced a plan to slowly return to normal by June 8, the trade minister has announced after a cabinet meeting.

The gradual relaxation of measures has already seen some stores reopen on Monday, and more and more will be allowed to return to business at two-week intervals. Restaurants, hotels and shopping malls will be the last to open.

Austria: Austria this week became one of the first European countries to lift some lockdown restrictions. Small retailers have reopened and people are allowed to go shopping, as long as they are wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing measures.

Shopping malls, larger stores and hairdressers are set to reopen from May 1, while restaurants and hotels could be reopened in mid-May, according to Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

Italy: After Italy saw a slow in the number of new infections, it is considering when lockdown restrictions could be lifted. Some non-essential stores have reopened on a trial basis.

However, the nationwide lockdown of the hardest-hit European nation will remain in place until May 4. Several regional governors, such as in Lombardy, have refused to consider relaxing measures.

Spain: A government spokesman has said that Spain is successfully "flattening the curve" on coronavirus, although they still have a "long way to go." Spain has the most confirmed cases in Europe and has had lockdown restrictions in place for a month.

Spain has shown no sign of relaxing measures until at least April 26, when the official state of emergency runs out. Some industrial and construction work has been allowed to recommence.

Lithuania: The Baltic country of Lithuania will make a decision on Wednesday about when to lift lockdowns, but Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has indicated that the process may gradually begin in the days to come.

"The proposal envisages that non-food stores and suppliers of household and repair services can reopen," Skvernelis wrote in a Facebook post.

France: The French government confirmed that it will unveil a plan to begin an "exit strategy" by May 11. President Emmanuel Macron extended the lockdown to May 11 on Monday, but now his government says they hope they will be able to announce how things will proceed well before this date.

19:26 US first lady Melania Trump spoke with her German counterpart on Tuesday to discuss the coronavirus pandemic and express solidarity with Germany and the rest of Europe.

Elke Büdenbender, the wife of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, described the call as "a special gesture of transatlantic friendship," according to a statement sent to news agency dpa.

"I very much hope that the situation in your country will soon improve and turn for the better," Büdenbender told Trump, according to the statement.

The US first lady tweeted after the call that the two had discussed the developments of the virus "as well as some of the disinformation that has emerged." 

Her husband, US President Donald Trump, has come under fire in recent weeks for spreading incorrect information about the virus, including touting the effects of an anti-malaria drug as a potential treatment for the virus despite inadequate testing.

19:08 France has summoned the Chinese ambassador in Paris after several controversial statements from him. 

"I made clear my disapproval of certain recent comments when the ambassador ... was summoned this morning," Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement. He said the comments were not in line with the "quality of the bilateral relationship" between the two countries.

Le Drian was referring to repeated statements from the embassy to boast the "success" of the Chinese government in the battle against the coronavirus and to criticize Western responses to this pandemic.

A statement published on the Chinese embassy's website was heavily critical of the European response, accusing politicians of seeking to make a scapegoat of China.

"When the cuttlefish is in danger, it spits out its ink to blacken the water and takes the opportunity to flee. This is a tactic well known to some Western political and cultural elites. They simply wanted to blame China for their own inability to deal with the epidemic and the many tragedies that followed, and in this way 'whitewash' themselves," the Chinese statement said.

18:45 In Italy, 602 new deaths were reported, up from 566 the day before. However, the rate of new infections slowed from 3,153 to 2,972, the smallest daily tally since March 13.

The new figures come as Italy is mulling the point when it might relax lockdown restrictions. Some small businesses were allowed to reopen this week.

The total number of deaths in Italy stands at 21,067, the second most in the world after the US. There have been 162,488 confirmed cases since the outbreak came to light in Italy for the first time on February 21.

17:55 German clothing giant Adidas has secured a €3 billion ($3.3 billion) government loan, largely from the state-owned development bank KfW. Due to the worldwide store closures, the highly profitable company has lost many sales. As a condition for the loan, the company has agreed to cancel dividends for as long as the loan runs. The company recently back-tracked from an announcement that it would stop paying rent for its stores.

17:15 The French government will, by May 11, unveil a plan for removing nationwide restrictions.

"The President of the Republic has asked the government to prepare a complete exit plan, a comprehensive plan, I will have the opportunity to present it when it is ready, well before the date of May 11," Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told the National Assembly. "But it must be developed in consultation with many stakeholders to be truly up to the challenge."

The head of government said that by "around May 11, we will have been able to reduce the number of patients in intensive care, we will have been able to allow the hospital to regain a form of capacity in the face of the unprecedented stress, in the face of the intensity of the first wave."

He said schools could "gradually" reopen, but would likely operate in a different manner to before.

"There is a real imperative [to reopen schools], but it cannot be at the cost of health." He said he had to ensure that social inequality was not worsened by the lack of access to education. 

After four weeks in lockdown, French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday extended restrictions until May 11.

16:26  Schools in Germany's most-populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), may start opening in as little as a week. State Education Minister Yvonne Gebauer and State Family Minister Joachim Stamp told the dpa news agency that the state was planning to loosen restrictions after the Easter holidays. One week later, it would start allowing the first day-care centers to resume operating. 

Gebauer said it was her "firm goal" to reopen schools after the current week of holidays, primarily to enable them to hold examinations and allow students to graduate. This would make NRW the first German state to commit to a concrete timeline for reopening schools. 

Details were thin on the timeline for schools, but day care centers would be opened in stages. The first step would be to return the oldest children who are about to start school. With a "manageable number" of children, hygiene measures could then be introduced in a playful manner before the younger ones could be reintegrated "in several steps."

"A permanent lack of early childhood education and care would be socially irresponsible," said Stamp. 

State premiers will meet with Angela Merkel tomorrow to decide on how and when to start loosening restrictions. NRW State Premier Armin Laschet earlier called for unity among the 16 states on how to do so. 

15:23 Group of Seven (G7) nations are in favor of temporarily suspending debt repayments for poor countries, they announced on Tuesday. Finance ministers and central bankers said they approved the idea, but only if G20 governments also agreed. Representatives said they were "ready to provide a time-bound suspension on debt service payments" owed to their governments "if joined by all bilateral official creditors in the G20 and as agreed with the Paris Club."  The initiative aims to "provide liquidity support to help these countries deal with the health and economic impacts of the crisis."

The G7 also called for more contributions to International Monetary Fund programs to support the poorest countries, and said debt relief efforts should include private creditors on a voluntary basis. 

The G7 includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

14:25 Italian police fined a woman in Rome €400 euros ($440) for taking her pet turtle outside for a walk and breaking the country's strict coronavirus confinement rules. 

"The woman was walking with a turtle," Rome police announced in a statement. Unlike dogs, turtles are not considered as a "justifiable reason" to be caught outside the home during the coronavirus lockdown, police spokesman Nunzio Carbone told French news agency AFP.

Carbone said the turtle was "as big as a pizza" but not wearing a leash. The 60-year-old turtle walker is among the record 30,000 people who received fines over the Easter holiday period.

14:02 Cycling's biggest event, the Tour de France, has been indefinitely postponed. The three-week Tour was meant to start in the Mediterranean city of Nice on June 27, but organizers say it is impossible for this to happen now. France has canceled all public events with large crowds until mid-July. Organizers will meet with cycling's governing body at the end of the month, when they will decide whether to cancel or reschedule the event. The event was last canceled in 1946, when France was recovering from WWII. It was also stopped during WWI.

13:40 German automobile manufacturer Audi, a brand of the Volkswagen Group, has resumed some production in Europe following a three-week halt. 

One hundred employees returned to the assembly line in the Hungarian city of Gyor, an Audi spokesperson said, adding that it would operate just one shift, instead of the usual three per day. A few hundred engines will be manufactured per day, as opposed to the normal 8,000.

Physical distancing between workers will be enforced, and workstation plexiglass dividers and protective equipment provided. Buses transporting workers to the plant will be continuously disinfected.

Audi plans to resume production in the German city of Neckarsulm and the Belgian capital Brussels on April 20, as well as in the German city of Ingolstadt on April 27. Production remains on hold at other locations.  

South Korean carmaker Hyundai restarted work at its Nosovice plant in eastern Czech Republic, its only plant in the European Union.

13:33 A photo of senior German politicians crammed into an elevator in clear violation of social distancing recommendations has been circling online. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn, Head of the Chancellery Helge Braun, Hesse's state premier Volker Bouffier, and other state figures are among 10 people jammed into an elevator at the University Hospital in Gießen, north of Frankfurt. The photo was first shared by journalist Bodo Weissenborn. Spahn responded to the Tweet, saying: "Clearly, this could have been better. Keep your distance even with a face mask. And next time just take the stairs." 

13:10 The world will enter its deepest recession in a century, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted. Global output will drop by an estimated 3% in 2020. For comparison, global GDP shrank just 0.1% during the global financial crisis.  

However, if the virus is contained there could be a rapid turnaround with growth of 5.8% in 2021, the IMF's World Economic Outlook predicts.

The authors said that the fast-changing pace of the pandemic made it difficult to predict and that there were "severe risks of a worse outcome," due to the "extreme uncertainty around the strength of the recovery."

Read more:  IMF anticipates worst economic blow since the Great Depression

"Much worse growth outcomes are possible and maybe even likely," the report cautioned, "if the pandemic and containment measures last longer, emerging and developing economies are even more severely hit... or if widespread scarring effects emerge due to firm closures and extended unemployment."

12:58 Various state premiers in Germany have expressed caution about relaxing restrictions any time soon. 

Lower Saxony's Stephan Weil warned against a comprehensive easing of restrictions: "None of us should be under the illusion that we will get our old life back from next week." He said there may be some gradual easing, taken step by step and under close evaluation. "However, it will be some time before we can go to big concerts together again, for example." He said public opinion seemed more in favor of maintaining restrictions — which was confirmed by recent nationwide polling.

Hesse's Volker Bouffier said the federal and state governments would probably agree to relax restrictions on retail and wholesale trade. But he said he was skeptical about recommendations to reopen primary schools first, saying Hesse would be more likely to open schools for older students first as they were more likely to comply with social distance and hygiene regulations. Echoing Lower Saxony, he said any loosening of restrictions would be taken slowly and would be in consultation with other states. 

Berlin's Michael Müller said any loosening wouldn't happen until at least April 27 or May 1. Before the economy could properly restart, he said that the safety of workers would have to be guaranteed. 

Armin Laschet, the premier of Germany's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, called for unified action by the 16 federal states in loosening restrictions. 

The country's state premiers will meet with federal chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday to discuss how to move forward. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn has called for common standards. "A uniform framework will ultimately ensure a high level of acceptance among the population," says Spahn. He said he expected commonality on basic lines, adding that although the states should "march in step … that doesn't mean they do everything the same."

11:45 The German foundation Patientschutz has called for Germany to develop a uniform process in how it counts coronavirus deaths. 

"Three months after the first infection in Germany and we still don’t have standardized rules," the foundation’s director Eugen Brysch said Tuesday, adding that correct figures are important to understand how the virus progresses. Byrsch called for post-mortem testing to be required in cases where the virus had not yet been diagnosed. It is "not reasonable" to talk about moving away from coronavirus restrictions to public life without the facts of the situation being clear, Byrsch said. 

Not all hospitals in Germany verify whether all patients who die had coronavirus. 

11:15 Union leaders in Bangladesh have said at least 10,000 garment workers across dozens of factories have been fired due to the impact of coronavirus. "The number is going up almost every day," trade union leader Babul Akhtar said in an interview with DPA. Bangladesh is second only to China as being the largest apparel maker worldwide, with factories in the country reporting that about $3.5 billion in purchases have been canceled or suspended since March due to the outbreak. 

10:40 Iran has reported that the number of daily coronavirus deaths in the country, in the last 24 hours, has dropped to below 100 for the first time in a month. "Unfortunately, we lost 98 of our compatriots infected with the disease... but after a month of waiting, this is the first day that the death toll has been double figures," Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said in a televised news conference.

Iran's total coronavirus death toll stands at 4,683.

09:57 Turkey has passed a law that will free tens of thousands of prisoners from overcrowded jails to prevent the spread of coronavirus among the detained.  Some 45,000 prisoners will be released temporarily until the end of May. The release period may be extended three times for a maximum of two months, each time. In addition, a comparable number of prisoners will also be released permanently under the legislation. 

Critics have slammed the bill for excluding those jailed on terrorism charges, which includes journalists and politicians who were imprisoned after a failed coup attempt in 2016.

09:36 "We shouldn't really be expecting to see the vaccine for 12 months or longer," a World Health Organization spokeswoman has said, adding that 90% of cases are coming from Europe and the US. "We are certainly not seeing the peak yet."

09:25 The coronavirus death toll in the UK could be 15% higher than previously indicated. New data released Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that as of April 3, COVID-19 was listed on the death certificates of 6,235 people in England and Wales. "When looking at data for England, this is 15% higher than the NHS numbers as they include all mentions of COVID-19 on the death certificate, including suspected COVID-19, as well as deaths in the community," said ONS statistician Nick Stripe.

Unlike the daily data shared by the government that show hospital deaths, the new figures include all community deaths, including nursing homes, for example. The most recent government figures indicated that 11,329 people had died from coronavirus in hospitals in the UK as of Sunday.

09:00  Robert Koch Institute's President Lothar Wieler spoke in favor of continuing Germany's practice of quarantining for 14 days people who arrive in Germany from other countries.

When responding to a question about whether there were plans to issue a certificate that verifies that someone who had the infection is immune to the coronavirus, Wieler said: "At the moment there isn’t anyone who knows if people who were already infected really are immune, and if they are immune, how long they are immune for."

RKI will make its information and knowledge available to Merkel and Germany's minister presidents as they discuss the future of restrictions to public life on Wednesday, as other experts and institutions will also do. But "it's not our decision" what will happen next, Wieler said.

08:27: Here is the latest roundup on COVID-19 in Asia:

Southeast Asia: Leaders of the 10 countries belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held their first video conference summit, vowing to tackle the novel coronavirus. They described the epidemic as the region's "gravest public health crisis" in 100 years.

Buddhist New Year cancellations: Malaysian police arrested 62 migrant workers for breaking lockdown rules by allegedly holding a street party over the weekend to celebrate Thingyan. The Buddhist New Year celebrations have been canceled due to the virus outbreak. Malaysian authorities arrested some 10,000 people for breaching quarantine measures. This year's annual water festival has also been canceled in Cambodia and Thailand, where the national holiday is known as Songkran. Thais usually celebrate Songkran from April 13 to 15 where usually crowds pack the streets and hold water fights. 

Singapore: The city-state reported its biggest jump in a single day with 386 new coronavirus cases, most of them linked to foreign workers who account for over a third of the country's workforce and many of whom live in crowded dormitories. The increase brings the total number of confirmed cases to 2,918.  All nonessential businesses and schools have been shut down in a partial lockdown until May 4.  Authorities are allowing teachers to resume using the video-conference platform Zoom, after it had been suspended last week when gatecrashers interrupted a class and used lewd language.

China: China said it has brought its domestic outbreak under control but risks a growing second wave of coronavirus cases brought in from abroad by returning nations. The country reported 89 new infections, 86 of which were imported from overseas.

India: The world's biggest lockdown has been extended until at least May 3, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced. "From the economic angle, we have paid a big price," Modi said in a nationwide address. "But the lives of the people of India are far more valuable."

Australia and New Zealand: The two nations have dismissed calls for an easing of coronavirus restrictions on travel and public gatherings, despite their successes in curbing the spread of the disease that has seen the number of new infections fall dramatically in the last two weeks. Meanwhile, in the Australian island state of Tasmania, local authorities ordered an investigation into reports of an "illegal" dinner party attended by medical workers that caused an outbreak of COVID-19 and forced two hospitals in the state to close.

08:05  The latest coronavirus figures in Germany show "some positive patterns," president of the Robert Koch Institute, Professor Lothar Wieler, said in the institute's daily press briefing. "The adopted restrictions are working. That is good news." He added, however, "There isn't yet a clear signal that the figures are decreasing."

Wieler said that fewer new cases were recorded over the weekend. He cautioned that this is likely related to a slower reporting process linked to the Easter holiday. 

Germany has reported 2,969 total coronavirus fatalities. This represents a national coronavirus death rate of 2.4%. A continued increase in fatalities in Germany is due in part to an increase in outbreaks in nursing homes and in hospitals, where high-risk patients are located.

07:50 India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced earlier that lockdown restrictions will be extended until 3 May. DW correspondent Manira Chaudhary in Delhi says: "Overall, people are in support of this decision. Local leaders with whom Prime Minister Modi was holding discussions over the past one week said they were in favor of the extension even before it was announced today and medical experts are also saying they are in favor of the lockdown being extended."

"But there is a faction of the opposition and critics who are saying that while coronavirus is a big problem, poverty is also a huge problem in the country," Chaudhary adds. 

"In the coming few days, we can expect some more guidelines to be reviewed by the government. What we have to remember is that India is a country with a very, very high population density. We have people, living crammed in small areas and slums, where social distancing is not at all possible."

"When the forced lockdown was announced, we saw a modern mass exodus of migrant workers going back to the villages, possibly carrying the virus with them. So many experts are also saying that India has not seen its peak in the number of as yet, and in preparing for that the coming week again will be very important to see things turn around," Chaudhary said in Delhi. 

07:42 Covid-19 could keep German soccer stadiums empty for over a year, the president of the Leopoldina science academy has said. 
"It will certainly be many months, but it could also be up to a year and a half," President Gerald Haug said in a televised interview with German broadcaster ARD.  German soccer has been suspended since mid-March to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Officials hope to continue the season behind closed doors starting from May. Haug said it would "certainly be wise" not to allow fans to attend as long as there is no COVID-19 vaccine, which might not be ready until the end of the year.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of all German states will discuss on Wednesday how restrictions on the public should go forward amid the outbreak. German Football League members will meet Friday to decide how the leagues will proceed.

07:33 New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday said that the country is "over the peak" of its coronavirus outbreak. Four people died from COVID-19 the previous day in New Zealand, the country’s deadliest 24-hour period to date.  "We are successfully over the peak but that is not the same thing as being out of the woods," Ardern said, adding that the country is in the "most challenging week" of its month-long lockdown.

New Zealand has reported nine coronavirus deaths and 1,366 total cases. Six of the deaths were linked to a nursing home in the city of Christchurch.

7:00 The election of a new party leader for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) is likely to be delayed until the next planned party conference in December due to the coronavirus, current party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has said.
"My impression is that the nearer we get to the summer break with a possible special party conference, the less the need for a conference that will take place just a few weeks before the normal one," said Kramp-Karrenbauer. "We hope of course the situation will develop in such a way that we can have the regular party conference in December in Stuttgart," she added.

A special congress to select a new leader had been planned for April. It has since been canceled. The new leader would be positioned to run as chancellor in Germany’s next federal election in 2021. Merkel has said she will not seek a fifth term as the country’s leader.

06:40 French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has said he expects the French economy to contract 8% this year.

06:37 Austria on Tuesday became one of the first European countries to lift its lockdown measures, with a limited number of shops reopening. For DW's full story, click here

06:35 The UK has had around 1.4 million new welfare benefit claims amid the coronavirus lockdown. "It's now up to about 1.4 million," British Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said. The figure includes Universal Credit and job seekers' allowance or employment support allowance. "We are capable of processing and managing those claims," he added.

06:08 Poland’s health minister has said the country will start unfreezing the economy on April 19. "From the 19th we will slowly start unfreezing the economy," Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski said in a radio interview. 

Government spokesman Piotr Muller said that restrictions on shops are likely to be raised first, adding that an official decision will be taken on Wednesday or Thursday.

05:48 The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will release the latest edition of the World Economic Outlook on Tuesday. Previous global economic growth expectations of 3.3% for 2020 are expected to be revised down significantly. Large swathes of the global economy have been shut down to fight the spread of the coronavirus. 

"We expect the worst economic fallout since the Great Depression," IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said.

5:12 The number of coronavirus cases in Germany rose by 2,082 on Monday to a total of 125,098, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute. This marks the fourth day in a row that the number of new cases in the country has declined. Prior to that, Germany had seen four straight days where the number of new cases had increased. 

The death toll rose by 170 to 2,969 between Monday and Tuesday.

05:05 The unemployment rate in Australia is predicted to double to 10% in June because of the coronavirus crisis, new estimates from the country’s treasurer have forecast. This would be the first time Australian unemployment has reached double digits since April 1994. "The economic shock facing the global economy from the coronavirus is far more significant than what was seen during the global financial crisis over a decade ago," said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in a statement.

04:45 India’s nationwide coronavirus lockdown has been extended until May 3, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said.

A 21-day lockdown imposed on March 25 was scheduled to end today.

"Till May 3, every Indian will have to stay in lockdown. I request all Indians that we stop the coronavirus from spreading to other areas," the prime minister said in a televised address. The government will provide extensive guidelines on Wednesday.

Indian data shows that the country now has over 10,300 cases of coronavirus, with 339 fatalities among them.

04:37 Germany’s federal justice minister has spoken out against suggestions to isolate specifically older and chronically sick people as a way to fight the coronavirus, saying it would infringe on their fundamental human rights. 

"Every person is entitled to their rights, regardless of age," German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht told Germany’s RND news agency on Tuesday. "And it’s not at all the case that only certain groups are at risk. Young people can also become severely ill."
"Pitting generations against each other is certainly not the right approach," she said, adding that "locking up" certain demographic groups was not an option. 

Some German politicians have called for people over the age of 65 and those with chronic illnesses to be excluded from daily life during the coronavirus crisis, while younger people, who are thought to be at a lower risk for developing complications, could slowly return to normal life.

03:58 South Korea has reported 27 new cases, maintaining its streak of fewer than 100 cases for close to two weeks. The downward trend is apparent in the country’s epicenter of Daegu as well as neighboring towns. South Korea has recorded a total of 10,564 infections and 222 deaths. 

03:55 Japan has reported 390 new cases, bringing the total number of infections to 7,645. While the country is currently under a state of emergency, grocery stores and similar establishments are still seeing large groups of people as they attempt to stock up on necessities.

03:29 Here is the latest from across Latin America

Brazil: A new study has found that Brazil may have 12 times more cases than are being officially reported. The discrepancies have been attributed to low testing and long waits for results. Latest figures: 23,723 infected, 1,355 deaths, 173 recovered.

Mexico: Mexico recorded 353 new cases of the virus, which brought the country’s total to 5,014 infections. However, the country’s Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell has said that the number of infections may be much higher — even up to 26,500 cases. Latest figures: 5,014 infected, 332 deaths, 1,964 recovered.

Ecuador: The government of Ecuador has removed 771 bodies from the city of Guayaquil, the epicenter of the country’s coronavirus outbreak. The city has been dealing with a massive rise in death tolls that the public systems were ill-equipped to deal with, leading to multiple corpses being left in the streets. Authorities predict up to 3,500 COVID-19 deaths in the coming months. Latest figures: 7,529 infected, 355 deaths, 597 recovered.

Colombia: The country has reported 76 new infections and three deaths, bringing the total number of cases to 2,852. According to the health ministry, only 1,256 tests were conducted on Monday, lower than both Saturday (3,193) and Sunday (1,364). Latest figures: 2,852 infected, 112 deaths, 319 recovered.

Peru: In the five weeks since Peru’s first coronavirus infections were reported, the country has seen close to 10,000 cases and over 200 deaths. The progression of mortality, however, has fallen from 29% to 14%, with an exponential increase in testing over the past two weeks. Latest figures: 9,784 infected, 216 deaths, 2,642 recovered.

Chile: Health minister Jaime Manalich brought up the issues of mental health and domestic violence, as he discussed the need for "prudence and wisdom" while discussing quarantine measures. He also said that a blanket application of quarantines could lead to people disobeying the orders in hordes. Latest figures: 7,525 infected, 82 deaths, 2,367 recovered.

02:35 The World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that work is well underway to find a vaccine. The organization tweeted a declaration, including a list of experts, and said: "Under WHO’s coordination, a group of experts from across the world is working towards the development of vaccines against COVID-19." 

02:13 New Zealand has reported four coronavirus-related deaths, its highest daily death toll so far. With 17 new cases, the total number of infections has risen to 1,366.

"It is a sobering reminder of what is at stake here," the country’s Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said, as the death toll rose to nine. Six of the total number of deaths were from an aged-care facility in Christchurch.

New Zealand’s finance minister said that the country can keep its unemployment rates below 10%, even as the treasury department announced that the rate could reach 26% if tough lockdown measures were extended.

01:54 India’s Supreme Court has announced that private testing labs in the country will have to offer free coronavirus evaluations to those from economically weaker sections, amending an earlier decision that instructed private labs to test everyone free of cost.

The court fixed a Rs 4,500 ($60) cap on testing for people who can afford it. Government hospitals offer tests free of cost.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to address the country at 10 a.m. local time (4:30 a.m. GMT). A decision on extending India’s three-week lockdown, which ends on Tuesday, is expected during this address. Many states have already announced an extension of the lockdown till April 30.

Read more: COVID-19: Sex workers suffer during social distancing in India

01:47 The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revealed its executive board has given the green light for $1 billion (€915 million) in emergency funding for Ghana and $442 million (€404 million) for Senegal to enable both countries to fight the pandemic.

01:30 US Vice President Mike Pence said the country is testing over 100,000 people every day, as the total number of cases in the US rose to 581,679.

He said the Trump administration will put together new guidelines for all states and territories, as well as guidance for communities of color that have been impacted by the virus disproportionately. 

The vice president added that the country will have an antibody test for the virus "very soon," with at least four clinical trials underway for studying the use of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus treatments.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence
Vice President Mike Pence backed Donald Trump amid a backlash against the president's handling of the crisisImage: Reuters/L. Millis

01:22 The United States has reported 1,509 coronavirus-related deaths over the past 24 hours, a small fall from 1,514 a day earlier. The total number of deaths in the country has risen to 23,529.

01:18 Joe Biden has praised locals for coming out last week to vote in a Wisconsin primary he ended up winning. The presidential hopeful also expressed thanks for those that helped administer the election, particularly in the circumstances, but said "it never should have come to that. No one should ever have to choose between their health and our democracy. Instead, we saw Republicans willing to risk people's lives for their own political purposes."

00:59 Dozens of doctors and nurses briefly blocked a street in Mexico City to demand more protective gear. Health workers from the October 1 Hospital displayed handwritten signs while chanting they needed more help.

00:44 China’s Hubei province, formerly the global epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, has reported no new virus-related deaths in its daily update. China has so far reported a total of 3,341 deaths in the mainland.

The country has reported 86 new imported cases, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the mainland to 82,249.

00:34 A nursing home in Virginia has become one of the worst clusters in the United States, registering 42 deaths from the global pandemic. Out of the 163 residents of Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center near Richmond, 127 have tested positive.

00:28 France's Avignon theater festival has been canceled. As one of Europe's biggest arts festivals, this is only the second time that the festival has been canceled since it was founded in 1947.

"The conditions for the 74th edition from July 3 to 23, 2020 are no longer met today," organizers said in a statement. "We all shared hope as long as it was allowed, but the situation forces us to use a different scenario."

Macron: 'We must continue our efforts'

00:21 The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world is fast-approaching 2 million, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University.

00:10 US President Donald Trump has said that his administration was close to putting together a plan to reopen the country’s economy, as the number of coronavirus-related deaths in the US begins to plateau.  At the same time, many state governors are taking steps to reopen their economies without inputs from the president. During his coronavirus press briefing, he said that he will work with the states but the final call on reopening economies will be taken by the president.

"They can't do anything without the approval of the President of the United States," Trump said. "The President of the United States calls the shots," he said before saying his "authority is total. The governors know that."

After some friction with top government health expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said that more lives could have been saved if the US had acted more swiftly, Trump used the press briefing to show that all was well. Fauci said that Trump paid heed to the advice given by top medical experts and announced mitigation efforts to control the outbreak, despite pushback.

Trump also said that the country has enough ventilators to deal with the pandemic, despite demands for more. "They have all the ventilators they need," the president said. "We got them a lot of ventilators."

Trump defended his record on dealing with the outbreak by playing a video to illustrate the effectiveness of his administration's response before taking questions from reporters.

00:05 Welcome to DW's coverage of the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic. Catch up on all Monday's developments here.

In reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, unless otherwise specified, DW uses figures provided by the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Coronavirus Resource Center in the United States. JHU updates figures in real time, collating data from world health organizations, state and national governments and other public official sources, all of whom have their own systems for compiling information.

Germany's national statistics are compiled by its public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). These figures depend on data transmission from state and local levels and are updated around once a day, which can lead to deviation from JHU.

see/jsi (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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