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Coronavirus: Germany lifts Sweden travel ban

July 14, 2020

Sweden was the last EU country with a travel ban from the German Foreign Ministry. Meanwhile, a new study says deaths from HIV and malaria could rise due to the pandemic. Follow DW for the latest.

  • Germany has lifted a travel ban on Sweden
  • California begins shutting down again as cases surge
  • Deaths due to malaria, TB, HIV could spike, says study
  • The World Health Organization warns pandemic has the potential to get far worse

All updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

Tuesday's live coverage has ended, follow Wednesday's news here

23:00 The German Foreign Ministry has issued a travel warning for neighboring Luxembourg, due to a rise in new coronavirus cases. The warning is in place "for non-essential, particularly tourist travel to Luxembourg," the ministry said, noting that the number of new infections had risen above 50 cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days.

Germany's disease agency, the Robert Koch Institute, had previously designated Luxembourg as a high-risk area.

The Foreign Ministry said that border controls between Germany and Luxembourg would not be imposed. However, officials in the state of Saarland, which borders Luxembourg, have urged people who must regularly travel to the country to get tested for COVID-19.

21:00 The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US, Anthony Fauci, said decisions on reopening schools in different regions of the country should be left to local officials. He said it would depend on regional dynamics of the COVID-19 crisis and that there was no harm in reopening schools in areas with minimal outbreak.

"We should try, as the default, to get the kids to stay in school," Fauci said during an interview at Georgetown University.

Speaking of the WHO, Fauci said that it was an imperfect organization, and hoped that it could resolve differences with the US.

Read more260 million children miss out education: UNESCO

Tales out of school

20:20 The European Union is to temporarily relax rules on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to remove one obstacle to the speedy development of a coronavirus vaccine. The Council of the European Union announced that as of Saturday, COVID-19 medications containing GMOs can undergo clinical trials without first being subject to tests for their environmental risks.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn welcomed the announcement, saying, "This directive will ensure that clinical trials in the EU can begin without delay and that no valuable time is lost."

The loosening of restrictions will last for as long as the COVID-19 outbreak is regarded as a pandemic by the WHO or considered a public health emergency by the European Commission.

Read moreDo we really need next-gen genetically modified foods to feed the world?

19:40 A Tunisian woman was handed a six-month prison sentence and a fine on Tuesday for posting a satirical text online about the novel coronavirus that imitated the format of a verse from the Quran.

Emna Charki, 27, was found guilty of offending religion and "incitement to hatred" for posting the parody on Facebook on May 4.

The post was entitled "the Corona Surah," a surah being a chapter of the Quran. It contained one passage calling on readers to "follow science and ignore traditions" in a phrase modeled on the style of the Islamic holy book.

Amnesty International has condemned her trial, saying the post was "a humorous text that imitates the verses of the Quran to make fun of the COVID-19 situation" and that it even contained an appeal "for staying home and washing hands."

Charki, who has 10 days to appeal, has said she did not make the post up and was just sharing it. She has received death and rape threats since sharing the post. 

17:32 Germany has lifted a travel ban on Sweden as the number of COVID-19 cases in the Scandinavian country has dropped in July after spiking in June.

Sweden said it would lift its warning against non-essential travel to Germany, Poland and Andorra starting Wednesday.

Sweden was the last EU country with a travel ban from the German Foreign Ministry.

However, the EU said Tuesday it was set to follow a German proposal to remove Serbia and Montenegro from its list of safe countries for non-essential travel as COVID-19 cases have spiked in the Balkans.

17:30 The Deputy Minister of Health of Somalia, Mohamed Said Abdilahi, told DW about the impact of COVID-19 on the country's health system. During the interview, Abdilahi expressed his relief that the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab now recognizes the full impact of the novel virus, after the group initially claimed Muslims could not be infected.

"I'm so happy that al-Shabaab is recognizing now that coronavirus exists, because what we remember at first is that they were claiming that this disease is for non-Muslims," said Abdilahi said.

"So this is a good thing that at least they recognize that the coronavirus doesn't know religion and doesn't know language and doesn't know culture. So it says something it's a message that I welcome."

17:15 The US state of Florida has again set a new one-day record for COVID-19 deaths, with 132 reported on Tuesday — marking a 10% increase from the previous record set Thursday.

Florida is currently one of the hardest-hit US states by COVID-19, with a rolling seven-day average of 81 deaths per day, which puts it only behind Texas for the current daily rate of COVID-19 deaths.

Medical experts had been predicting a surge in fatalities as Florida's daily reported COVID-19 infection rates have gone from around 2,000 daily, to more than 12,000 in the past month.

16:50 Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said he is "not hopeful" that a deal on a €750 billion EU coronavirus rescue plan will be closed at an EU leaders' summit discussing the bloc's budget starting Friday in Brussels.

Rutte told the Dutch parliament Tuesday that despite a series of recent meetings with EU leaders on getting the package passed, he was "quite gloomy about how things will go."

The Netherlands leads the so-called "frugal four" states, which also include Austria, Denmark and Sweden. They want the rescue package to contain loans rather than grants to pandemic-hit countries like Italy and Spain.

Rutte said the Netherlands supports conditional loans based on tough economic reforms for countries receiving aid. He also said the Netherlands should have the right to veto any aid grant if the country receiving aid does not carry out reforms.

"That's where the balance is," he said, referring to the negotiations. "You will have to find it. I'm not so hopeful about that at all."

16:15 Israel's Health Ministry has admitted to mistakenly sending an estimated 12,000 people into lockdown through its COVID-19 text message warning system.

A controversial mobile phone movement-tracking program resumed at the end of June to combat rising case numbers.  On Tuesday, Israel reported 1,681 new coronavirus cases, a record high for the country.

The following week, tens of thousands of people were texted by Israel's domestic intelligence agency with a warning they had been in contact with a COVID-19 case and should self-isolate.

A government hotline was then flooded with 26,000 calls, the vast majority of which were to protest the isolation order. Around 12,000 were then exempted.

A Health Ministry employee said they would have to believe people who told the ministry they were at home during the alleged COVID-19 contact.

16:08 US airlines saw an 89% drop in the number of passengers on board throughout May compared with the same month last year, the US Transportation Department has revealed.

The 20 largest US airlines carried 7.9 million passengers in May 2020, down from 74.8 million a year before.

Nevertheless, the drop was not as steep as the one experienced the previous month. US airlines carried more than twice as many passengers in May than in April, when passenger numbers fell 96% in comparison with April 2019.

13:20 German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would support local travel restrictions within Germany to contain COVID-19 hotspots and keep people from traveling from affected districts.

Speaking during a meeting with Bavarian State Premier Markus Söder, Merkel said Germany's states and the federal government should continue working closely together on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany's states will now discuss with the federal government the next steps on how to deal with travel within Germany in the case of a local outbreak.

Following a COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown in the western German district of Gütersloh, Austria said it would deny entry to people from district. The travel ban was lifted this week.

During the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in Germany, the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein barred entry from other states.

Under Germany's reopening guidelines, a district with 50 new COVID-19 infections per 100,000 inhabitants is required to reintroduce lockdown measures.

12:55 Cyprus is threatening to fine or turn away incoming passengers who fail to complete online arrival forms that are aimed at preventing a resurgence of the novel coronavirus.

The warning came after the EU state lifted a commercial flight ban to the on June 9. The majority of its single-digit daily reported COVID-19 cases since then have been among incoming travelers to the popular holiday destination.

Passengers arriving without a valid online pass faced two choices: "either to enter the Republic and pay the out-of-court fine of €300 ($340), or, to return to the country of their departure," said the Transport Ministry.

The online Cyprus Flight Pass form is part of authorities' efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic while allowing some international arrivals in a bid to boost its vital tourism sector.

The form must be filled out online 24 hours before boarding, irrespective of the departure country.

Cyprus is operating a three-tier traveler entry scheme, categorizing departure country, according to regularly-updated epidemiological data. Different measures are in place for visitors from each category.

The country is marketing itself as a relatively safe holiday destination in the face of the pandemic, having reported 1,022 coronavirus cases and 19 deaths and having tested over 10% of its population.

12:35 France could make wearing face masks indoor public spaces mandatory in the coming weeks, said President Emmanuel Macron, amid growing concerns that coronavirus infections are rising.

"I would like to make masks mandatory in all enclosed public spaces," he said in a televised interview, saying such a measure could come into force from August 1.

Masks must be worn in France on public transport, but Macron acknowledged that mask wearing was "a little spotty in enclosed public spaces."

There were indications that the virus is slightly accelerating, said Macron. He pointed to the virus reproduction rate, the "R" ratio, that has risen above one in France. This means that a single person infected with COVID-19 is likely spreading the disease to others.

11:30 Israel's Health Ministry confirmed 1,681 new coronavirus cases, a record high for the country. Israel was widely praised for taking swift action early in the pandemic by closing its borders and imposing other restrictions to contain the virus. Since reopening the economy and schools in May after a more than month-long lockdown, however, the number of new cases has steadily increased.

Health Ministry Director General Hezi Levi said every effort is being made to avoid another lockdown.

"A general lockdown is, without a doubt, one of the tools that we try our utmost to avoid reaching for,'' he told Israel Radio, but he added that a lockdown was still an option.

Israel has recorded over 40,000 cases of the coronavirus and 365 deaths.

11:18 India has announced two further lockdowns in a bid to control spiraling COVID-19 cases.

The northern Indian state of Bihar, which has a population around 125 million people, will go into a 15-day coronavirus lockdown to combat coronavirus, its deputy chief minister said Tuesday.

Bangalore in the south is due to go into a week-long lockdown.

"Bihar government has decided on a 15-day lockdown from July 16 to July 31. All city municipalities, district headquarters, block headquarters will stay under lockdown. The guidelines are being finalized," Sushil Kumar Modi tweeted.

Latest figures for India show 906,752 confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 23,700 deaths.

10:45 Austria has expanded its ban on flights arriving from certain countries. Ten new countries with high coronavirus infection levels will be added to the list: Belarus, China, the UK, Iran, Portugal, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine. Bans on travelers from the Lombardy region of Italy and the district of Gütersloh in western Germany will both be lifted, after local outbreaks caused local lockdowns in these areas.

Coronavirus at German meat plants

09:42 Belgium has reported no new coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24 hours for the first time since March 10.

The country was hard-hit by the virus, recording a peak daily death toll of 343 on April 12. But after imposing a lockdown, the country sharply reduced new infections.

The country has since begun easing restrictions.

The total number of deaths reported by the national public health institute Sciensano remained at 9,787. Out of a population of 11.5 million, that works out to around 850 deaths per million — the worst in the world apart from the tiny city-state of San Marino, reported news agency Reuters.

The Belgian coronavirus reproduction rate, a key figure that shows the average number of infections caused by each person with the virus, remained below 1 at 0.86.

Belgian officials are set to meet on July 15 to discuss the further easing of lockdown measures.

Twins in India set up coronavirus relief effort

09:20 The COVID-19 pandemic saw Swiss watch manufacturing group Swatch record its first half-year loss in its history.

The corporation announced a loss of 308 million Swiss francs, ($327 million, €287 million) from January to June, compared to a profit of 415 million francs in the same period last year.

The group also closed 260 of its shops and laid off 2,300 employees in the same period.

Sales of its brands, which include the Omega, Longines and Tissot, suffered a 43.4% decline, reported the Biel-based company.

"The group's management is convinced that the sales and profit situation will improve quickly in the coming months, parallel to the further easing of COVID-19 measures in the countries," the company said. It is looking towards growth in the Chinese market to boost sales.

08:00 Russia 6,248 new coronavirus infections, pushing its confirmed national total to 739,947, the fourth highest in the world. Officials said 175 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the confirmed death toll in Russia to 11,614.

07:15 Singapore's economy shrank 41.2% in the second quarter as the coronavirus sent the Southeast Asian financial hub into a recession for the first time in more than a decade. The quarter-on-quarter drop was the worst ever recorded in the city-state.

The worse-than-expected figures will set off alarms for other Asian countries that rely on trade as Singapore is often hit first before ripples spread across the region.

06:35 Disneyland Hong Kong has closed once more after reopening less than a month ago. The city will impose strict new social distancing measures beginning at midnight tonight, making it impossible for large groups of people to be together. The measures are the strictest since Hong Kong reported its first cases of the coronavirus.

Hong Kong Disneyland closes its doors
Hong Kong Disneyland closes its doorsImage: Reuters/T. Siu

06:15 Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases have increased by 412 to 199,375, disease agency the Robert Koch Institute has announced. The country reported four new deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 9,068.

Health Minister Jens Spahn on Monday warned Germans not to become complacent as borders reopened and restrictions were relaxed. The danger of a second wave is real but avoidable, he said. Germans began to flock to holiday destinations like the Spanish island of Mallorca in late June when most EU borders reopened.

Read more: Danger of coronavirus second wave in Germany is real but avoidable, health minister says

06:00 Global cases have passed 13 million as testing is ramped up and hot spots continue to emerge around the world. Here are the 10 countries with the highest numbers of confirmed cases:

1. United States — 3.363 million cases, 135,605 deaths, 1.031 million recovered

2. Brazil — 1.884 million cases, 72,833 deaths, 1.291 million recovered

3. India — 906,752 cases, 23,727 deaths, 571,460 recovered

4. Russia — 732,547 cases, 11,422 deaths, 503,168 recovered

5. Peru — 330,123 cases, 12,054 deaths, 221,008 recovered

6. Chile — 317,657 cases, 7,024 deaths, 286,556 recovered

7. Mexico — 304,435 cases, 35,491 deaths, 240,101 recovered

8. United Kingdom — 291,691 cases, 44,915 deaths, 1,384 recovered

9. South Africa — 287,796 cases, 4172 deaths, 138,241 recovered

10. Iran — 259.652 cases, 13,032 deaths, 222,539 recovered

05:03 Indian Prime Minister's Narendra Modi's coronavirus relief fund, valued at more than $1 billion (€881 million), dubbed The Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund and established five days after India entered a lockdown, has raised money through donations from members of the public. But Modi's office has refused to disclose information on donors or accountability, according to the Associated Press.

"They are stonewalling," said activist Saket Gokhale. "It's not a state secret and the government must answer the questions that are being raised."

The Indian government is also enjoying income from fines handed out for not wearing masks. Delhi police say they have issued more than 42,000 fines since March.

04:50 Several Australian states have tightened restrictions on movement as authorities struggled to contain a fresh outbreak. The state of South Australia closed its border to New South Wales while Queensland introduced a two-week quarantine for those who had visited several suburbs of Sydney.

"Our primary responsibility in South Australia is to the health, safety and welfare of all South Australians," state Premier Steven Marshall told reporters in Adelaide.

Victoria, which remains Australia's hot-spot of infections, has over 2,000 active infections, 270 new in the last 24 hours. Australia's total number of infections has passed 10,000. Over 4 million people in the city of Melbourne remain under lockdown.

04:35 Tokyo health officials have appealed to more than 800 theatergoers to get tested for coronavirus after a production starring members of a boy band was found to be the source of some 20 cases.

It is feared that the 190-seat theater in Tokyo's Shinjuku entertainment district may be the start of a new outbreak. Several other clusters of cases have been linked to cabaret clubs.

Overall, Tokyo reported 119 new cases on Monday, after four days when the daily tally exceeded 200. Japan has seen around 23,000 infections and about 1,000 deaths.

01:45 Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who tested positive for coronavirus a week ago, said he would be taking a new test on Tuesday because he is fed up with being in quarantine.

In an interview with CNN Brazil, he said that he was feeling well, had no trouble breathing and hadn't lost his sense of taste. He said that the results of the test "should be out in a few hours, and I will wait quite anxiously because I can't stand this routine of staying at home. It's horrible."

Read moreSchadenfreude in Brazil as Jair Bolsonaro gets coronavirus

During his weekly Facebook Live video, he told followers that he had been taking hydroxychloroquine everyday, after he started feeling unwell. The malaria drug has been pushed as a cure in some countries, but its effectiveness has not been proven.

Brazil is the second-worst affected country by COVID-19, after the US. The country has seen 1,884,967 cases, with 72,833 deaths, as of Monday. Bolsonaro has been criticized for downplaying the effects of the virus.

01:03 Singapore's economy shrunk into recession during the second quarter of 2020, as growth fell by 41.2% quarter-on-quarter. The country is facing its biggest economic slump ever this year. Virus-related lockdown measures have severely impacted its trade-reliant economy.

Data from Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry showed that the GDP fell 12.6% on a year-on-year basis. The full year GDP is expected to be in the range of -7% to -4%.

The government has pumped in $72 billion into the economy as a stimulus, to blunt the effect of the pandemic.

How the coronavirus affects the poor

00:35 The number of deportations of rejected asylum seekers in Germany fell dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic, the German Interior Ministry has said.

Nevertheless, "numerous states continue to refuse the entry of foreign nationals or restrict it to a few essential cases," the ministry told newspapers of the German Funke Media Group.  

The number of repatriations in the first five months of the pandemic dropped from 10, 951 to 5,022 compared with the same period from the previous year. In May there had been only about 150 repatriations.

Read moreGermany warns of 'wave of refugees' unless aid budget increased

The total number of people obligated to leave Germany increased from 245,597 to 266,605 within a single year (as of the end of May 2020).

"In view of the constantly growing number of asylum seekers, federal states should also resume and intensify the deportation of foreigners who are obliged to leave the country," conservative CDU politician Armin Schuster told Funke.

Bavarian state Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said that it was important to him "that we also return to normality in deportations in line with the decrease in infection figures."

Read moreGermany seeks reform of EU asylum

00:28 A study published in the Lancet Global Health journal predicted that lower and middle income nations could see a rise in deaths from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria amid the coronavirus pandemic. The global fight against COVID-19 is affecting already weak healthcare systems and causing severe disruptions.

The study, by the Imperial College London, said deaths from the three diseases could rise by as much as 10%, 20% and 36% respectively. The findings predicted that the greatest impact on HIV would be from interruption to supplies of the antiretroviral AIDS drugs taken by many patients to keep the disease in check.

"In countries with a high malaria burden and large HIV and TB epidemics, even short-term disruptions could have devastating consequences for the millions of people who depend on programmes to control and treat these diseases," said Timothy Hallett, a professor who co-led the study. He added that the effects could be mitigated if the countries worked to maintain core health services, and launched preventive measures against the diseases.

00:05 California governor Gavin Newsom ordered a retreat from the state's reopening amid a surge in cases. Restaurants, bars, wineries, movie theaters and zoos were asked to halt indoor operations statewide. Churches, salons and gyms have been closed in the hardest-hit counties.

On Monday, California's two largest school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, announced that they would not be resuming in-person classes when schools reopen during the fall.

The state was the first in the US to issue a mandatory stay-at-home order. Most businesses were allowed to reopen in May, but a surge in cases and hospitalizations resulted in restrictions being reimposed. Newsom has described his flexibility in opening and closing businesses as a "dimmer switch."

California has reported around 329,100 cases and more than 7,000 deaths. Cases have spiked by 47% during the last two weeks, with a 28% increase in hospitalizations.

00:00 Catch up on yesterday's coronavirus news 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.

kmm,ed,tg,mvb/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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