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Coronavirus: Excess fatalities in Italy higher than expected

May 4, 2020

Italy's mortality rate rose well beyond the official coronavirus death toll. And a study found that the German infection rate may be 10 times higher than reported. Follow DW as it happened.

A funeral takes place in Catania
Image: Reuters/A. Parrinello
  • German researchers estimate that only one in 10 COVID-19 cases have actually been diagnosed
  • The number of confirmed infections across the world in now more than 3.5 million while the death toll from the virus has now exceeded 250,000
  • Tensions between the US and China have gone up a notch after a leaked intelligence document claimed Beijing "intentionally concealed the severity" of the outbreak
  • Germany continues to ease its restrictions with the reopening of some schools and businesses
  • EU-led donor conference raises billions towards vaccine efforts

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

23:59 We have now closed this live updates article. For all the latest coronavirus news,check out our Tuesday updates here:

23:00 As Germany continues to slowly relax its lockdown measures, some states have started taking matters into their own hands ahead of talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday.

Beach vacations for German tourists at the Baltic Sea could be possible by the end of May, after the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania announced plans to re-open its tourism sector. Under the plan, restaurants will re-open on May 9 for residents in the state, with hotels and vacation homes due to follow on May 18. The current ban on travelers from other areas of Germany is due to lift on May 25 — in time for the Pentecost holidays.

The northern state of Lower Saxony also released sweeping plans to reopen restaurants, bars and Biergartens on Monday. Hotels and hostels are also due to re-open on May 25, with their maximum occupancy capped at 50%.

The eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt has already loosened restrictions to allow its residents to meet in groups of up to five people.

The differing plans have caused friction among Germany's 16 states and the federal government, with Merkel's government urging for a central strategy in loosening coronavirus restrictions.

22:20 The number of deaths from the novel coronavirus has now exceeded a quarter of a million around the world, with some 3.5 million infections reported, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University.

The deliberate concealment of outbreaks, low testing rates and the strain placed on health care systems by the disease all mean the true scale of the pandemic is undoubtedly much greater.

21:45 Germany's border controls with several neighboring countries have been extended until May 15, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced. The strict measures affect Germany's borders with Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Denmark, as well as flights from Spain and Italy.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the border controls help to contain the spread of the virus by "breaking up infection chains."

The measures, which have been in place since mid-March, only allow border crossings at certain points. Travelers who are not German citizens or permanent residents are only allowed to enter with "a valid reason for travel." Trucks carrying goods are permitted to enter, as well as EU-citizens who need to pass through Germany to travel home.

Despite the extension, looser border restrictions could be on the horizon. Starting on May 15, the border with Denmark will be reopened step-by-step, said Daniel Günther, the state premier of Schleswig-Holstein, following talks with Seehofer.

German hair salons reopen

20:25 Tech giants Apple and Google have said they intend to ban the use of location tracking in apps that use a new contact tracing system that the companies are developing to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

Last month, Apple and Google, whose operating systems power 99% of smartphones, said they would collaborate to create a system that notifies people when they have been near someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. 

Only public health authorities will be allowed to use the technology, the companies have said, which uses bluetooth signals from phones to detect encounters. It does not use or store GPS location data. 

But developers working on official coronavirus apps have sought to use the technology themselves, saying they needed the GPS location data along with the new contract tracing system to track outbreaks. 

But Apple and Google have said they will not allow the two technologies to be used together. Public health authorities will instead have to rely on a more basic workaround that detects encounters using Bluetooth sensors. 

The goal is protecting privacy and preventing governments from using the technology to compile data on their citizens, Apple and Google said. 

The companies said Monday they will only allow one app per country to use the contact system, a measure intended to encourage wider adoption.

19:54 The World Health Organization (WHO) says that US President Donald Trump has provided no evidence to support "speculative" claims that the coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab

"We have not received any data or specific evidence from the United States government relating to the purported origin of the virus — so from our perspective, this remains speculative," WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said in a virtual briefing.

The scientific community believes the deadly virus spread from animals to humans late last year, possibly from a meat market in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Trump has claimed to have proof that the virus originated in a Wuhan laboratory, and on Sunday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there was "enormous evidence" supporting this claim, which China has denied. 

"Like any evidence-based organisation, we would be very willing to receive any information that purports to the origin of the virus," Ryan said, stressing that this was "a very important piece of public health information for future control.

"If that data and evidence is available, then it will be for the United States government to decide whether and when it can be shared, but it is difficult for the WHO to operate in an information vacuum in that regard," he added.

19:29 US President Donald Trump's administration privately projected the country would see a steady rise in deaths over the next several weeks, reaching 3,000 daily deaths on June 1, the New York Times reported. 

The newspaper said it obtained an internal White House document with the projections, based on government modeling, pulled together in chart form, by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It forecasted some 200,000 new cases each day by the end of May, up from about 25,000 daily cases now.  

The projections come as Trump is pushing states to reopen their economies. 

But the White House pushed back on the release of the document. ''This is not a White House document nor has it been presented to the Coronavirus Task Force or gone through interagency vetting,'' said Judd Deere, a White House spokesman. ''This data is not reflective of any of the modeling done by the task force or data that the task force has analyzed,'' Deere added. 

''The president’s phased guidelines to open up America again are a scientific driven approach that the top health and infectious disease experts in the federal government agreed with,'' he said. 

19:00 In Britain, studies have show that most people who had the new coronavirus develop antibodies, but experts say it is too early to know whether this results in immunity

"The overwhelming majority of people so far called back who've had definite COVID-19 infection have got antibodies in their blood stream," England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said at daily news conference.

"By and large the signal is that people get antibodies. The next question is, do those antibodies protect you from further infections. And we just haven't had this disease around...for long enough to know the answers to that with any surety."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the government was in talks with Swiss pharmaceuticals company Roche over antibody testing

18:57 German lawmakers will not discuss the introduction of a coronavirus immunity certificate when they meet on Thursday to discuss coronavirus regulation, German Health Minister Jens Spahn has said. 

"Society should calmly weigh and debate the question of whether, in times of corona, an additional immunity certificate makes sense," Spahn said on Monday in Bavaria. He said he'd asked the German Ethics Council to issue an opinion on the subject. 

"For the time being, we don’t want to rush or legally regulate this ongoing debate," he said. 

People retain the right to receive a copy of the results of an antibody test, should a doctor perform one on them, he said. The health minister also spoke out against requiring coronavirus vaccinations, should one be developed. 

"It is my impression that most citizens would immediately vaccinate themselves voluntarily as soon as a vaccination against the coronavirus is available," he said. "Where voluntary action achieves the goal, there is no need to legally require it."

General Secretary of Germany’s Social Democrats Lars Klingbeil spoke out against introducing such a certificate. "We don’t want society to be divided up by immunity," he told German daily the Neuen Osnabrücker Zeitung, adding that it would be "completely counterproductive to reward those who got themselves infected because they didn’t adhere to the social distancing rules, and to punish those complied."

"That is exactly what would happen if an immunity ticket became a free pass for restaurants, football, or other events," he said.

18:36 Football clubs across Europe are returning to the pitch, with the Spanish and Portuguese leagues both announcing the reinstatement of regular trainings and a possible summer restart. Spain's top two divisions are set to return to individual training this week, for the first time since activity was halted due to the coronavirus lockdowns. La Liga said it aimed to re-start the season in June.

The Spanish league said clubs would follow a protocol that had been agreed to with the country's sports and health authorities, to guarantee the safety of players and staff. Players will undergo COVID-19 testing before they can return to training facilities. 

In Portugal's first league, top clubs, including Porto and Benfica, resumed training this week. The league is hoping to restart on May 30. Prime Minister Antonio Costa gave his blessing for trainings last week, as he announced plans to relax the country's coronavirus lockdown. Porto said that the players underwent medical tests and were divided into three groups for practice, to conform with social distancing guidelines. 

Meanwhile, the French League (LFP) announced that it needed to take out a state guaranteed loan to pay clubs in its top two tiers. The LFP ended its 2019-20 season on Thursday, with Paris St Germain being awarded the Ligue 1 title and Lorient crowned Ligue 2 champions by default. The decision to end the season has angered some clubs, with Olympique Lyonnais saying they will seek millions of euros in damages, as they face being deprived of European competition for the first time in a quarter of a century. 

Germany has not yet reached a decision on whether to restart its league, as the country emerges from its own lockdown. While the government will make the determination on Wednesday, the league has been plagued with bad news in the meantime. The DFL (German Football League) said it had carried out 1,724 coronavirus tests at the 36 clubs in the top two divisions and recorded 10 positive tests. The league had to announce the testing after three members of the F.C Cologne tested positive for COVID-19. DFL said "individual compliance with hygiene rules as a basic requirement" was the key to continuing training and potentially reopening the league. But one member of Hertha Berlin was suspended after a video surfaced showing him shaking hands with other teammates, violating these rules. 

Read more: Bundesliga and Premier League players express growing concerns over restart

16:39 Austria's unemployment rate rose to historically high levels due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to official figures. The unemployment rate, which in Austria is calculated to include those in training, stood at 12.8% at the end of April, up from 8.1% in February. Hotels and restaurants were the hardest-hit industries, which saw a 130% rise in unemployment, followed by construction, with a 98% increase in unemployment.

The mountainous Tyrol region was particularly hit, as its critical ski season had to be ended early due to the pandemic. The unemployment there rose by 108%. Austria was the first European nation to impose border control, on its neighbor Italy, to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The country instituted a lockdown in mid-March and is now in the process of progressively lifting restrictions on movement.

14:27 European leaders pledged billions of euros in a digital fundraiser for coronavirus and were well on their way to reaching the goal of raising €7.5 billion ($8.2 billion). European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen said the fundraiser aims to pool resources from governments and philanthropists around the world to develop a vaccine and treatments, with the ultimate goal of making them universally available at affordable prices.  

The EC, which hosted the event, kicked it off by promising €1 billion. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel both pledged €500 million and €525 million respectively, on their countries' behalf. 

Some 40 countries, along with UN and philanthropic bodies, which included the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and research institutes attended the virtual fundraising event. 

But the US was notably absent, sending no official representative to the meeting. 

The fundraiser continues.

Read more: EU leaders pledge billions for coronavirus vaccine virtual fundraising conference

14:03 Poland is unlikely to hold its presidential elections this weekend, Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin told Radio Zet. Previously, the government decided to hold an all-postal ballot on the 10th of May in order to minimize the risk of a coronavirus infection. However, the law allowing this procedure still has to pass through the Senate, the upper house of the parliament, which is controlled by the opposition. The rivals of the ruling Law and Justice party want the vote to be postponed until after the pandemic.

"May 10 is a difficult date to meet," Deputy PM Sasin said on Monday. "If the law takes effect May 7, it will not be possible to get the voting procedure ready."

Sasin said the government was considering moving the election by one or two weeks.

The incumbent Andrzej Duda is leading the polls ahead of the vote, but his main challenger Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska has called on the voters to boycott the procedure. Opposition leader Donald Tusk, who previously served as the Polish prime miniister and the president of the EU Council, has also urged boycott.

13:34 Italy's mortality went up by nearly 40% this year, compared to recent years, national statistics agency Istat said. The numbers reveal the toll that the coronavirus epidemic has had in Europe's hardest-hit nation. 

More than 90,000 people died from February 20 to Mar 31, a 38.7% increase from the average of approximately 65,000 during the same period, from 2015 to 2019. 

The coronoavirus was found to have caused an excess mortality of 25,000, even as only 13,710 deaths were officially linked to COVID-19. The remaining fatalities could either be undiagnosed coronavirus cases or instances where people with other conditions were not treated properly due to the health system being overwhelmed by the epidemic, Istat noted. 

More than 90% of the excess mortality was found in municipalities with high coronavirus infection rates, in the north of the country.  

13:29 Stores started reopening in Greece on Monday, with customers allowed into hair salons, opticians, florists, and book stores under strict distancing rules. Churches also reopened their doors but only for solitary prayer. 

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis praised Greeks for showing "discipline and a very high sense of responsability and solidarity" but also urged them to be "doubly  careful" going forward.

Police inspected buses and metro stations to ensure passengers wore face masks and also entered businesses to check if customers were keeping at a distance from one another. More retail stores are to follow suit next Monday.

Other countries, including Germany and Italy, also eased their lockdown today.

12:54 China's state television slammed the "insane and evasive" statement by US State Secretary Mike Pompeo, who on Sunday said there was "enormous evidence"that the new coronavirus had originated in a Chinese lab.

The US diplomat did not present any basis for the claim during the interview with ABC news on Sunday. He also appeared to contradict himself, claiming at one point that "the best experts so far seem to think it was manmade" and then agreeing with a US report which noted that the scientific consensus was that the virus was not manmade.

He also said that Beijing's alleged attempt to play down the pandemic during its early stage was "a classic Communist disinformation effort."

Last Thursday, US President Donald Trump also indicated he saw evidence of the virus stemming from a lab in Wuhan. On the same day, US intelligence community issued a statement that endorsed the "wide scientific consensus" that the virus was natural. However, the Office of Director of National Intelligence also said they continue to "rigorously examine" new information about the issue.

The theory of the virus' lab origins was repeatedly rejected by the experts from the World Health Organization.

12:39 The number of COVID-19 related deaths throughout the African continent has surpassed 1,800 with more than 44,000 cases of the disease registered in 53 countries. Only Lesotho and the partially recognized de facto sovereign state of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in the western Maghreb have not yet reported any cases of COVID-19.  

According to the African Union's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of deaths rose from 1,754 to 1,801 in the past 24 hours while infections increased from 42,713 to 44,483. The total number of recovered patients climbed from 14,152 to 14,921.

North Africa remains the region most affected by the disease, with 1,112 deaths and 16,926 registered cases. In West Africa, there are currently 288 recorded deaths and 11,871 infections. Southern Africa accounts for 145 deaths and 7,241 cases of COVID-19.

South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria contain about half of the continent's coronavirus cases and more than two-thirds of all coronavirus-related deaths. Egypt reported 429 deaths and 6,465 infections, South Africa registered 131 deaths and 6,783 infections, Morocco recorded 174 deaths and 4,903 cases and Nigeria has 87 dead and 2,558 infections to date.

12:05 Germany's easing of lockdown measures went into effect on Monday, with churches and schools reopening alongside hair salons, museums, and zoos. Take a socially-distanced stroll with us through some of the main changes in pictures: 

11:55 Scientists from the German University of Bonn who conducted a study in a known early cluster of the outbreak in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) estimate that only one in 10 coronavirus cases have actually been diagnosed.

The scientists analyzed the small municipality of Gangelt's infection fatality rate (IFR), then started far more detailed surveys and testing of the local sample than has been possible nationwide to date — seeking to find how many cases in the area were either symptomless or so mild that they went unreported. 

The results of the study showed that the number of coronavirus infections was in fact five times higher than registered in Gangelt and that 15% of the community had been infected following carnival season. The study found that 22% of all the reported infected coronavirus patients in Gangelt showed no symptoms.

Based on their findings, the virologists estimate that as many as 1.8 million might have contracted the virus nationwide to date, a figure around 10 times higher than the known number. 

11:06 The German government should attach climate-friendly conditions to the coronavirus aid provided to companies, said the head of Germany's environmental agency.

"If we only concern ourselves with here and now and forget the much bigger climate crisis, it will come back to haunt us," Dirk Messner told newspaper die Welt.

Messner also dismissed the idea of offering car buyers state-provided bonuses, which some have suggested as a means of boosting Germany's car industry. Instead, Germany should invest money into infrastructure for electric cars, he said.

"If we apply funds properly, it would be the greatest stimulus program since the beginning of the industrial revolution - not only in Germany but in [all of] Europe," he said.

He warned against allowing the aid to "cement" the existing power structures and urged using the economic response to protect the climate and make more efficient use of resources.

"If we postpone it now, the climate change will be unsolvable," Messner said.

09:30 Hong Kong's economy contracted by 8.9% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year — the worst contraction since modern records began in 1974, official figures showed Monday.

While the city was already suffering prior the pandemic following months of protests and the knock-on effect of the US-China trade dispute, fallout from the coronavirus has pushed the Chinese special-administrative region into its deepest recession since 2009.

08:45 Manufacturing activity in the eurozone collapsed in April as government-imposed lockdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus forced factories to shut down and consumers to stay indoors, a new survey showed on Monday.

IHS Markit's final Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for the eurozone declined to 33.4 from March's 44.5 — its lowest since the survey began in mid-1997.

The steep decline came despite unprecedented amounts of fiscal stimulus from governments to safeguard economies devastated by the pandemic as well as the European Central Bank's boosting of its quantitative easing program.

07:40 Italians were once again allowed to take walks and visit their relatives on Monday following an eight-week lockdown. Restaurants can now offer takeout and more stores have been opened.

"We are feeling a mix of joy and fear," Rome resident Stefano Milano told the AFP news agency, adding he was looking forward to visiting his parents and in-laws.

"But we are also worried because they are old and my father-in-law has cancer, putting him into the high-risk group," he added.

The easing of measures varies between Italian regions, with restaurants and bars in Veneto and Calabria opening up their terraces even before Monday.

The country of roughly 60 million people has recorded nearly 29,000 coronavirus deaths, making it the worst hit in Europe.

07:05 The EU has approved €7 billion ($7.7 billion) of urgent aid from France to its flagship airline Air France.

The measure includes a state guarantee on loans on a shareholder loan to provide "urgent liquidity" to the company, said EU Commission vice-president Margrethe Vestager.

"Member States can design measures in line with their policy objectives & EU rules: [France] has asked for certain green commitments," she wrote on Twitter.

The pandemic and the resultant limitations on international movement have put considerable strain on a series of commercial airlines. 

06:42 After recovering from COVID-19, British Defense Minister Ben Wallace said suffering from the coronavirus was "bloody awful."

Wallace said he lost the senses of taste and smell while self-isolating for eight days in his London apartment around one month ago.

"It wasn't severe but it mentally taps your will because it comes and goes, it ebbs and flows," he told broadcaster Sky News.

06:31 Vietnamese pupils returned to class on Monday after a three-month break prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Monday also marks the 18th straight day without any new domestically transmitted infections or fatalities in the Asian country.

Students were required to have their temperatures checked before entering classrooms. 

"I'm very happy and excited because it's boring being at home," 11-year-old Pham Anh Kiet told the AFP news agency. "I feel safe when I wear a mask and have my temperature checked, I am not afraid of being infected."

The country with a population of over 95 million has recorded only 271 coronavirus cases and zero deaths, partly due to the government's extensive quarantine measures and thorough contact-tracing efforts


Teachers and students stand up for Vietnamese national anthem as they start a new week in Dinh Cong secondary school in Hanoi, Vietnam Monday, May 4, 2020.
As in Germany, schoolchildren are returning to Vietnamese classes on MondayImage: picture-alliance/dpa/H. Dinh

06:19 In Japan, the government will seek to prolong the state of emergency until the end of May, said Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishmura in parliament on Monday. The previous emergency order was due to expire this Wednesday.

Earlier on Monday, Nishmura urged a group of infectious disease experts to come up with "examples of a new way of life" amid the pandemic. He also warned that it would take "a long time to deal with this infectious disease."

Under Japanese law, governors can call on people to stay at home and businesses to stay shut during the state of emergency, but there are no punishments for those who refuse to comply.

05:00 Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro again criticized the country's lockdown measures on Sunday, as the known number of cases in Latin America's worst-hit country passed 100,000. 

"The destruction of jobs by some governors is irresponsible and unacceptable. We will pay a high price in the future," Bolsonaro said at a rally in the capital Brasilia. The president has repeatedly clashed with regional governors, in charge of deciding how to respond to the virus, on their handling of the outbreak. 

The president also attacked Congress and the courts in the wake of the resignation last week of his justice minister, Sergio Moro, and the Supreme Court's decision to block Bolsonaro's chosen successor last week. 

"We have the armed forces on the side of the people, for law, order, democracy and freedom," he said. "Enough with the interference."

Despite his praise for the armed forces, the former general Bolsonaro stopped short of the call made by some demonstrators for the closing of the Supreme Court and Congress and increased powers for Brazil's military.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro greets supporters during a protest against the president of the Chamber of Deputies Rodrigo Maia, quarantine and social distancing measures, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brasilia, Brazil May 3, 2020.
Bolsonaro has also lost two prominent Cabinet members in recent weeks, in part over his handling of the pandemicImage: Reuters/U. Marcelino

04:30 The number of confirmed cases in Germany has increased by 679 to 163,175, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases. Sunday's figure was 114 lower than the previous day, as the number of new cases in Germany continues to decline. The reported death toll rose by 43, bringing the total to 6,692.

03:57 New Zealand and Australia are looking into the possibility of a "travel bubble" allowing movement between the two countries, according to New Zealand's foreign ministry.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will participate in a meeting of Australia's COVID-19 cabinet on Tuesday, the Australian government confirmed, increasing speculation that two-way travel could be imminent.

"The idea of a bubble with Australia was floated two weeks ago, and this is an example of the sort of action that could happen within it, while always ensuring the protection of public health," New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters said in a statement. "Officials in both countries are considering all aspects of the trans-Tasman concept, and planning how this could happen more broadly," Peters added.

03:51 Taiwan's Foreign Ministry has stated that the government has "not yet" received an invitation to participate in this month's World Health Organization (WHO) convention of global members.

However, the Taiwanese government will endeavor to take part in the assembly right up "until the last moment," ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said in a statement.

Taiwan's inability to gain membership at the WHO is mainly down to China not recognizing it as a separate state, merely as one of its own provinces. This has angered Taipei, though, which says its omission has created a glaring gap in the battle against COVID-19, thus weakening global efforts.

Read more: Coronavirus: Does Taiwan's exclusion from the WHO endanger public health?

03:32 The European Commission is to host a video pledging conference among leaders on Monday in the hopes of raising billions of euros towards developing a vaccine, as well as other treatments against COVID-19.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will host the meeting from Brussels and it is set to commence at 3 p.m. local time (1300 GMT). It is expected that at least €7.5 billion ($8.3 billion) will be pledged in the process. The funds will predominantly be distributed to established international health organizations and research networks.

Attendees will include German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

US President Trump has already expressed his confidence at finding a vaccine before the year is out but German Health Minister Jens Spahn was less optimistic, saying it "could take years" before one is developed.

03:00 Many business sectors have reopened in parts of Malaysia as Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's government hopes to kick-start the country's ailing economy. However, the decision has split public opinion as some fear that by easing the restrictions, the risk of a second wave of infections is significantly increased.

Nine of the Malaysia's 13 states, including the richest state Selangor, either refused to reopen or restricted the list of businesses that can function. Large gatherings and interstate travel remain banned.

The rate of infections has fallen sharply in recent weeks but a slight rise of 227 cases was reported over the weekend, sparking fears of a renewed wave in the country. Malaysia has so far registered 6,298 cases, with its death toll currently standing at 105.

02:40 US Vice President Mike Pence has admitted he made a mistake by not wearing a face mask when visiting patients at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota last week.

Pence came in for some heavy criticism for not wearing the mask as many said it undermined efforts to slow the spread of the virus that has resulted in the deaths of more than 67,000 Americans.

During an appearance at a town hall event with President Donald Trump on US broadcaster Fox News, Pence said: "I didn't think it was necessary, but I should have worn a mask at the Mayo Clinic."

The vice president added that as well as for health reasons, wearing the mask carried an important symbolic weight as well. "It's really a statement about the American people, the way they have been willing to step forward, practice social distancing and wear masks in settings where they can't do that," he said.

Meanwhile, Trump fielded questions from citizens in a virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, and was keen to stress the importance of restarting the nation's economy, saying "we have to reopen our country. We have to get it back open safely but as quickly as possible,'' Trump said.

01:48 New Zealand has not registered any new cases in its daily update for the first time since March 16, the health ministry announced at a news conference.

There were no additional fatalities from the virus, so the death toll remains at 20, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said.

The total number of confirmed cases in New Zealand currently stands at 1,137.

01:46 China reported three new cases for May 3, up from two the day before, data from the national health authority showed. All of the new infections were imported, according to the National Health Commission.

The commission also said 13 new asymptomatic cases for May 3 had occurred, an increase of one from the previous day.

The number of confirmed cases in China now stands at 82,880, while no new fatalities from the disease were reported, meaning the death toll remains at 4,633.

01:44 Global cases have now surpassed 3.5 million, with almost a third of those coming in the United States, the hardest-hit country in the world, according to the Johns Hopkins Institute.

From scrambling for vaccines to notions of "immunity passports," the world continues to struggle in its fight to come to terms with the virus that has caused the deaths of almost a quarter of a million people.

Just over four months since reports first emerged of a SARS-like virus in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has since spread across Asia, ripping through Europe and causing devastation in the US. More than 200 countries have reported infections.

Read more: What is life like in post-lockdown Wuhan?

Lockdowns have been implemented like dominoes across the globe, with varying degrees of stringency and success, though some of these are now being gradually relaxed.

Senior politicians, actors and sports stars have all been struck down with COVID-19 while sporting events have been canceled and global travel has ground to a halt in an effort to prevent the virus spreading.

00:44 Mexico's health ministry has reported 1,383 new cases and 93 more deaths. The country now has 23,471 infections while its death toll stands at 2,154.

Of Mexico's 32 federal entities, only two have registered fewer than 100 infections, deputy health minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said at a news conference.

00:19 President Donald Trump said he is "very confident" that the US will have a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year.

Trump also said he would urge the reopening of schools and universities in September, saying "I want them to go back."

Read more: US chief diplomat Pompeo backs coronavirus Wuhan lab claims

00:05 Germany's schools will begin reopening later today in a further lifting of measures in the country. Barber shops and other salons are also set to open their doors after being closed for almost two months as part of the lockdown measures imposed by the government.

The relaxation comes as Germany reported on Sunday its lowest number of new coronavirus infections and deaths since March 31.

There were 890 additional infections, taking the total to 164,967, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Fatalities rose by 76 to 6,812 and the death rate remained at 4.1% of those infected.

Read more: Coronavirus: German international schools on the brink

00:00 Catch up on yesterday's coronavirus news here: Coronavirus latest: Russia reports record 10,000 new cases

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.

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jsi/shs (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa, KNA)