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Coronavirus: India extends world's biggest lockdown

India's government is to separate the country into three zones, with a different set of distancing measures for each. Meanwhile, UK doctors are worried about a rare condition linked to COVID-19. Follow DW for the latest.

  • India has extended its nationwide lockdown for another two weeks
  • The European Commission chief tells DW that countries must support an EU funding initiative to find a coronavirus vaccine
  • The German government could gain a 25% stake in Lufthansa from any bailout, local media reports
  • International Labor Day protests have taken place virtually, organized by trade unionists and workers

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 Saturday updates here: Coronavirus latest: Almost 3,000 crew in quarantine aboard German cruise ship

23:32 Anthony Fauci, the top health official who has been leading the coronavirus investigation unit for the US government, will not testify next week to a congressional committee examining the Trump administration's response to the outbreak, according to an official statement from the White House.

The US government issued a statement after a spokesman for the House of Representatives committee holding the hearing said the panel had been informed by White House officials that Fauci had been blocked from giving evidence.

"While the Trump administration continues ist whole-of-government response to COVID-19, including safely opening up America again and expediting vaccine development, it is counter-productive to have the very individuals involved in those efforts appearing at congressional hearings," White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement to news agency Reuters. "We are committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time."

21:56 Texas has started easing lockdown measures despite recording its highest single-day death toll to date.

Stores, restaurants, movie theaters, malls, museums and libraries were allowed to reopen in the Lone Star State. Each location, however, can only be filled to 25% of its capacity.

Meanwhile, public swimming pools, bars, gyms, beauty salons, massage parlors, bowling alleys, video game arcades and tattoo shops remain closed.

Immediately prior to the reopening of some businesses, State Governor Greg Abbott sounded a note of caution, tweeting that "Texans should continue to practice social distancing" and follow health guidelines. "Face coverings are not mandatory, but encouraged to protect the lives of individuals at high-risk."

21:53 Blood pressure medication does not increase the likelihood of contracting the novel coronavirus, nor does it make you more prone to becoming seriously ill from the disease, three major studies have revealed.

There had been concern due to animal studies that certain medicines might increase the body's levels of a protein called ACE2, which the novel virus latches on to when it invades human cells, increasing the risk of getting infected from the virus that has wreaked havoc across the globe since the turn of the year.

However, the three new studies, which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), showed this not to be the case. Each research project involved reviewing the records of thousands of COVID-19 patients, either on or not on the blood pressure medication.

"We saw no difference in the likelihood of a positive test with ACE inhibitors, with angiotensin receptor blockers," Harmony Reynolds of the NYU Grossman School of Medicine who led one of the investigations that involved about 12,600 people told news agency AFP.

21:10 Three people at Bundesliga club FC Cologne have tested positive for COVID-19. The news comes as a blow to those hopeful of a return to action for Germany's top flight football.

In an official statement, the football club kept the names of the individuals a secret and didn't reveal what their roles were within the club. None of the three displayed any symptoms and they will all spend 14 days in isolation at home, the club said.

Read more: Coronavirus: German public turning against Bundesliga return behind closed doors

Tests have been carried out this week on players, coaches and other staff at Bundesliga clubs ahead of a planned return, firstly to full team training, then to competition, possibly as early as this month.

There hasn't been a match played in Germany's top division since March 8.

19:55 Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte apologized to Italians over delays in welfare payments from various coronavirus hardship schemes intended for families and businesses. He said the late payouts amounted to more than €50 billion ($55 billion).

"I apologize on behalf of the government and I assure you that we will continue to press for payments and funding to be completed as soon as possible," said Conte on Facebook. He added that the funding mechanisms to distribute the funds were proving "complicated."

Economic activity ground to a halt in Italy after its government ordered non-essential businesses close from March to slow the spread of the virus. So far, 27,967 people have died in the country — a death toll second only to the US. But, after months of lockdown, people in several sectors will return to work on Monday.

19:43 While most German workers have marked Labor Day online due to the pandemic, more than 1,000 people rallied in the Berlin neighborhood of Kreuzberg. They ignored a ban on public gatherings of more than 20 people, despite thousands of police being deployed in the German capital. 

A camera crew working for German broadcaster ZDF was attacked in the center of the city, German news agency DPA reported, with four people hospitalized with injuries, according to initial reports. Police said the crew was assaulted by a group of seven people, a number that was later revised up to 15. Six people had been arrested, they said. The reason for the attack was not immediately clear. 

19:39 All state schools in New York State will remain closed for the rest of the academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said during a daily coronavirus briefing.

Schools have been shut since mid-March. The order included the New York City public school system — the nation's largest with over a million students. Cuomo's announcement comes despite hospitalizations and the daily death toll falling to its lowest level in more than a month.

Cuomo said he did not think schools were ready to re-open and ordered them to come up with a plan to keep their buildings clean and limit outbreaks. "To say, 'We're going to figure out that plan and put it in place in the next few weeks' is virtually impossible," Cuomo said. "We don't think it's possible to do that in a way that keeps our children safe."

19:09 Measures implemented by many countries to slow the spread of coronavirus have largely put an end to mass gatherings of people. But in Lisbon, Portugal, the General Confederation of the Portuguese Workers (CGTP) – Portugal's largest union – got special government permission to stage a May 1 Labor Day rally.

The union ensured that social-distancing guidelines were adhered to, using red and white tape to mark where the several hundred protesters could stand.

"This Labor Day is different from the others. The golden rule is to respect social distancing," the CGTP blasted through speakers during the event.

19:03 France has reported the lowest number of daily deaths in more than five weeks. The country saw 218 coronavirus deaths on Friday, while 141 fewer people were being treated Friday in intensive care units, top health official Jerome Salomon said. The number of ICU patients peaked at 7,200 on April 9.

France has the fourth-highest death toll in Europe, with 24,594. The government has announced the country's strict lockdown will be eased from May 11, but the pace will be slower in harder-hit areas such as the greater Paris area and the northeast quarter of the country.

18:40 Politicians in Spain have slammed the attendees of a public event in Madrid, which saw a crowd of politicians, journalists, and health workers gathering to mark the closure of a field hospital.

Videos of the guests showed them posing close to one another in front of a crowd of jostling photographers, despite a strict nationwide lockdown still being in force. One clip showed Madrid regional president Isabel Diaz Ayuso giving an accolade to a man who was not wearing a mask.

"There must have been around 1,000 people... (social) distance was not respected and nor were the protocols which the Spanish and the Madrid regional governments keep stressing on television," leftist Madrid lawmaker Pablo Perpinya complained in a video tweet.

Separately, Spanish health officials reported 281 deaths of COVID-19 patients for a total of 24,824. This is the lowest daily death toll since March 20th, signaling a further slowdown in the outbreak. For the previous six days, the daily toll hovered around 300 fatalities.

Watch video 01:56

Migrants struggle against coronavirus in Spain

18:11 Schools in Ireland will only reopen in September, says acting Prime Minister Leo Varadkar while presenting a five-stage plan to restart the economy. The country will stay in lockdown until the plan starts on May 18. "We need two more weeks of tight restrictions to weaken the virus further," he said on Friday.

Varadkar said it would be possible to meet in small groups once the lockdown is lifted and that some retailers would be allowed to reopen. Sporting activities and outdoor work are also set to resume after May 18. However, he noted there would be a "long term need" for social distancing until a vaccine and treatment for the new coronavirus are available.

The prime minister also warned that the government might reimpose some of the restrictions if the virus rebounds.

18:08 Cubans sat out their traditional mass march through Havana’s Revolution Square on Friday, and instead celebrated the country’s most important holiday from home under the motto "my house is my square."

In the morning, many went out on their balconies to sing Cuba’s national anthem, wave flags, and cheer for doctors and nurses battling the coronavirus outbreak. Cuba has one of the highest rates of doctors per capita in the world and has sent teams of medical personnel to over 20 countries to assist in the fight against the coronavirus. 

Normally around 1 million workers on the Socialist Caribbean island would join in the May Day march through the center of the Cuban capital, organized by the Workers’ Central Union of Cuba, the only union allowed in the authoritarian nation. 

Cuba has reported 1,501 coronavirus infections, resulting in 61 deaths thus far. 

Watch video 03:49

Sports at a distance - What could amateur athletes soon be able to do despite COVID-19?

18:00 Doctors in the UK published "a working definition" of a rare inflammatory syndrome affecting children that may be linked to COVID-19. The definition includes the type of symptoms that may be seen in these children, as well as diagnostic tests to be used in potential cases and advice on treatment. It is hoped it will help other physicians identify cases, said the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health in a statement.

Around 20 children in the UK and a small number across Europe, are thought to have had the condition that causes "features suggestive of sepsis" and could be linked to the COVID-19 virus. Possible cases have also been identified in the US and other countries.

Leading pediatricians stressed in the statement that the condition was "very rare." Children remain among the least affected group by COVID-19 and typically suffer only mild symptoms when infected.

17:27 Renowned medical researcher Sir Jeremy Farrar has told DW that any vaccine against Covid-19 must be "a vaccine for the world". The director of the Wellcome Trust says a functional vaccine could be ready before the end of 2020, but the aim must be to make it available to all countries.

Sir Jeremy also warned that work to develop a vaccine should be alongside diagnostic and treatment efforts: "We would be unwise to put everything into the vaccine camp and not also produce the drugs and diagnostics that are required."

Watch video 12:04

How do you create a coronavirus vaccine?

17:17 UK Health Minister Matt Hancock says the country has met its goal of 100,000 tests a day by the end of April. He told a news conference that 122,347 tests were achieved in the 24 hours up to 9 a.m. on Friday, calling it an "incredible achievement." 

However, although 122,347 tests were made available, just 73,191 people were tested, officials figures showed. The government, which has been under fire for not carrying out enough testing, said it counted testing kits that were sent out in the mail, rather than the number of returned tests.

The UK's death toll is third highest in the world, behind only the US and Italy. It now stands at 27,510, after 739 more people died after testing positive for COVID-19, said Hancock.

16:18 European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has urged countries to unite to help fund the development of coronavirus vaccine. In an interview with DW, she said: "It's important that we have a strong response to the coronavirus because we know it knows no borders, it knows no nationalities, and we can only defeat the virus with a vaccine. For that, we need global coordinated action."

Her comments come ahead of an international pledging conference starting on Monday, hosted by the EU, to raise €7.5 billion ($8.2 billion) in initial funding to "kick-start" global cooperation in developing and deploying effective diagnostics, treatments and a COVID-19 vaccine.

Von der Leyen said the money was needed to build up the capacity to manufacture the vaccine in "zillions of doses" and "deploy to every corner in the world at a fair and affordable price." The amount the EU hoped to raise on Monday was just the start and more money would be needed "over time," Von der Leyen added.

Watch video 09:32

EU's von der Leyen: Coronavirus 'knows no borders'

15:35 Poland's incumbent president, Andrzej Duda, promised "an unbelievably high amount" of support for households and businesses struggling through the coronavirus crisis. He made the comments during a two-and-a-half hour-long televised speech on public television, ahead of a controversial presidential election on May 10, set to take place wholly by postal ballot.

Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) government claims the measure is necessary to stop the coronavirus spreading. But many have accused PiS of making the change for political interests rather than public health reasons. All of Poland's living former presidents, and many ex-prime ministers, said Thursday they will boycott the vote.

Duda said Poles who lose their jobs during the crisis would receive a monthly payment of 1,300 zlotys ($313, €285). Under usual circumstances, unemployment benefits range from 848-1,017 zlotys before taxes. A temporary additional benefit will pay 1,200 zlotys a month, part of measures to support the economy he said would amount to hundreds of billions of zlotys.

Poland has not yet officially reported an increase in joblessness because of the pandemic, but its labor ministry sees the unemployment rate doubling to around 10% at year-end. The finance ministry is forecasting an economic contraction of 3.4% this year, reported Reuters.

Watch video 01:33

Germany opts for step-by-step approach to easing lockdown

15:08 International Labor Day is traditionally marked by large protests and rallies organized by trade unionists and workers. But the coronavirus pandemic has made large physical gathering mostly impossible this time around. Unions have turned to the internet to mark the day virtually instead, using a variety of hashtags across social media to create a sense of community.

The world’s largest public service union federation, Public Services International, launched a 12-hour virtual May Day live stream to celebrate the public service workers who are keeping society going during the coronavirus pandemic. It encouraged people to post a solidarity message to frontline workers to social media, using the hashtag #VirtualMayDay.

In Germany, the Labor Day-related hashtags #TagderArbeit, meaning "labor day," #1Mai, and "#geme1nsam," meaning "together" with the letter "I" replaced with the digit "1" were trending on Twitter on Friday afternoon. Protest organizers including the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) hosted this year's Labor Day events online.

But other labor activists ignored stay-at-home advice. Berlin authorities deployed around 5,000 police officers across the capital to break up unauthorized protests or gatherings that violate social-distancing rules. In Hong Kong, where pro-democracy protests and riots raged throughout 2019, police dispersed around 100 Labor Day democracy protesters with tear gas, reported The Associated Press.

14:12 India's lockdown will be extended for two weeks beyond May 4. The government said restrictions will be eased in some areas, in view of "significant gains in the COVID-19 situation." India's coronavirus lockdown is the largest in the world. Beginning on March 25, some 1.3 billion people were told to stay at home.

Under its updated measures, the government has divided India into three zones: red zones with "significant risk of spread of the infection" and orange zones will continue to have intensified contact tracing, house-to-house surveillance, and no movement in or out except for medical emergencies and the supply of essential goods and services, the home ministry statement said. Green zones with either no cases or no confirmed cases in the past 21 days would see "considerable relaxations."

Travel by air, rail, metro and inter-state movement by road will remain banned. India has seen more than 35,000 coronavirus cases with 1,154 deaths.

Watch video 03:16

Health workers in India put at great risk for little pay

13:50 The head of Gilead Sciences — the company manufacturing the experimental coronavirus drug remdesivir — said on Friday he expected the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to act quickly over the company's application for approval. 

"We're moving very quickly with the FDA," said Daniel O'Day in an interview with US national broadcaster NBC's Today show. He added that collaboration between the firm and the agency had been "terrific."

O'Day also said Gilead Sciences understood its responsibility is to make a difference during the coronavirus pandemic. "I can assure you that we're all focused on making sure that we make this accessible and affordable to patients around the globe."

Remdesivir is a broad-spectrum antiviral medication that targets and inhibits the replication and development of a broad range of viral pathogens. It is currently is for "severe" coronavirus patients, who are hospitalized, O'Day told NBC. Gilead Sciences expects to have more than a million remdesivir treatment courses manufactured by December.

13:28 Budget airline Ryanair has announced a restructuring program that may see up to 3,000 jobs cut and bases closed in Europe amid the collapse of air travel caused by the pandemic. The budget airline also announced plans for unpaid leave and pay cuts of as much as 20%.

Cabin crew and pilot jobs will be hardest-hit by the restructuring but head office staff and support teams will also be affected, the airline said. The Irish carrier will begin talks with trade unions in July to discuss the cuts.

Ryanair will operate less than 1% of its flights from April to June and a maximum of 50% of its operating capacity from July to September.

"As a direct result of the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, the grounding of all flights from mid-March until at least July, and the distorted state aid landscape in Europe, Ryanair now expects the recovery of passenger demand and pricing will take at least two years," the company said in a statement.

Read more: Social-distance flying the new normal?

13:10 It could take up until the end of 2022 for the eurozone economy to regain pre-coronavirus crisis levels, the European Central Bank (ECB) said in a report released on Friday.

The report by the central bank of the 19 EU countries that use the euro came a day after ECB chief Christine Lagarde warned that the coronavirus is pushing the eurozone economy into an "unprecedented" peacetime slump.

In a worst-case scenario, the eurozone's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could still be at end of 2019 levels at the end of 2022. This would happen if the eurozone's economy shrinks by 12%. The eurozone's economy is on track to shrink by more than this in the second quarter of this year — the ECB expects a decrease of 15%.

The report also explored less dramatic scenarios: if the coronavirus crisis runs a milder course, a 5% fall in economic output this year can be expected within the EU's economic zone. It also specifies a middle-case scenario with an 8% economic decrease. If this happens, GDP would fall sharply in the short term, predicted the report.

Watch video 02:52

Emergency aid helps German small business stay afloat

12:55 The German government is in talks that would see it gain a 25.1% stake in airline Lufthansa, Der Spiegel reported on Friday. The weekly magazine said ministers were planning a €10 billion ($10.98 billion) bailout of the national carrier.

Of that total, 5.5 billion euros would be in the form of non-voting capital, for which the German government wants a coupon of 9%, the paper said. A further €3.5 billion in loans would be provided by state bank Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KFW). Der Spiegel also said Belgium, Austria and Switzerland might contribute
towards the bailout.

Lufthansa declined to comment but a government source confirmed to Reuters that negotiations were ongoing.

11:58 People working in jobs essential for keeping society running, such as medical personnel, care workers and supermarket staff, should be paid better and have better working conditions, the head of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) has said. In a video made for Labor Day on May 1, Reiner Hoffmann said, "Appreciation has a price as well," in an apparent reference to the recent public shows of gratitude to such workers during the coronavirus crisis. The deputy chair of the DGB, Elke Hannack, said this crisis had once more shown clearly what groups of workers ensured the survival of society. "Applause and warm handshakes aren't enough; we need these groups to be given a real boost," she said. This year is the first since the DGB was founded in 1949 that no demonstrations by unions are taking place for Labor Day amid coronavirus restrictions.

Watch video 02:47

Coronavirus: Going to the movies while sheltering in place

Read more: Labor Day: Germany deploys thousands of police to crack down on unauthorized protesters

10:55 At a "European Concert" given by the Berlin Philharmonic in the German capital, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has stressed the importance of art and culture, saying it has become clear in the current crisis that they are essential to life, much as food is. He said music, for example, was one of the best ways to express the way "Europe is our common home."  Steinmeier drew attention to the plight of people working in cultural fields who have been badly affected by the lockdown measures imposed to stem the spread of the coronavirus, warning that many people's livelihoods were in danger. "I hope very much that the help being given gets to where it is needed," he said.

Watch video 02:14

Artists perform online for their self-isolated fans

09:53 Spain's economy continues to be battered by the coronavirus crisis, with the government predicting that GDP in 2020 will shrink by 9.2% and unemployment will reach 19%. Spain, the eurozone's fourth-largest economy, experienced a 5.2% reduction in growth in the first quarter of 2020, ending an unbroken series of 25 quarters with positive growth going back to 2013.

The announcement comes as the official coronavirus death toll in Spain rose by 281 overnight to 24,824, the Health Ministry said on Friday. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases went up to 215,216 from a tally of 213,435 the day before. Spain declared a state of emergency on March 14 that entailed strict stay-at-home rules and has resulted in hundreds of thousands of workers being furloughed.

09:30 The central Chinese province of Hubei, where the novel coronavirus was first detected in late 2019, is to lower its coronavirus response level from the highest to the second-highest level as of Saturday, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Friday, citing a local official. The province has had 67,803 confirmed cases of the virus, with more than 3,000 deaths. Chinese health authorities reported just 12 new coronavirus cases across the country on Friday, six of which were said to be imported.

08:44 Russia has reported a record daily rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, with 7,933 new infections confirmed. There are now 114,431 confirmed cases of the disease in the country, according to the Russian coronavirus crisis response center. The official death toll rose by 96, bringing the overall number of dead to 1,169. The announcement comes after Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin publicly said he had been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus and would temporarily step down to recover. Mishustin was one of the main people in charge of coordinating Russia's response to the coronavirus pandemic. Cases of the disease in the country began to surge last month after a slow beginning to the outbreak.

07:18 The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Germany has risen by 1,639 since Thursday, with 160,758 now infected with the disease, according to data released Friday by the country's public agency for disease prevention and control. The death toll rose by 193 to 6,481, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said. RKI head Lothar Wieler said on Thursday that the number of dead was in all likelihood much higher owing to unreported cases and that Germany was still at the start of a "marathon" in its fight against the disease. Wieler said that most scientists believed there would be a second or third COVID-19 wave and that the virus "will remain in our country for months." The number of deaths recorded was 20 higher than the day before.

06:34 Germany should take the negative consequences of coronavirus lockdown measures more into account when considering when and how to loosen them, according to Armin Laschet, premier of the country's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia. Laschet told Focus magazine that businesses and workers were not the only ones to be badly affected by the measures, but also old people who were being denied the comforts of their families in their last days and patients who were having important operations postponed. He said that the threat of a deep recession and high unemployment should not automatically bring about relaxations, but called on politicians to "look more at the complexity of the whole situation." Laschet, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, is being seen as one of several possible candidates to run for chancellor in elections currently scheduled for 2021.

05:24 Australia will consider in a week's time whether to lift some of the restrictions on movement it has imposed, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. His announcement comes amid a slowing growth rate of new infections in the country, which has reported some 6,700 cases of COVID-19 and 93 deaths from the disease, far below the numbers in the US, Britain or Europe. Morrison also encouraged Australians to download an app that traces contacts of COVID-19 patients, calling it a prerequisite for mobility restrictions to be relaxed. Australians have already shown a wide readiness to download the app, which has raised privacy concerns. More than 2 million had done so by Tuesday after its launch on Sunday, according to Health Minister Greg Hunt.

Watch video 12:06

Privacy or movement? Can a coronavirus tracking app help get life back to normal?

04:53 China has reopened a number of public parks and museums in the capital, Beijing. Among the sites to allow visitors again is the Forbidden City, once home to China's emperors and now a popular tourist attraction. Only 5,000 visitors will be admitted daily at first, down from a previous 80,000. Parks are permitted to let in just 30% of the normal number of visitors. The change comes at the start of a five-day holiday beginning May 1 and in advance of China's rescheduled gathering of the National People's Congress on May 22.

03:47 For the first time since 1949, Germany's Trade Union Confederation (DGB) won't be taking to the streets to mark May Day, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of the usual large labor rights demonstrations, the DGB has organized a three-hour live broadcast online and on social networks. The program, starting from 0900 UTC, will involve well-known German musicians and public figures.

"I urgently warn businesses against now misusing the crisis for additional job cuts," DGB head Reiner Hoffmann told German news agency dpa. "When things pick up again, they will be missing those skilled workers."

03:38 More than 1 million people have recovered from COVID-19 worldwide, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

US has seen the most recoveries, with 153,947, followed by Germany with 123,500.

More than 3 million people have been infected with coronavirus. The global death toll stands at roughly 230,000.

03:05 Members of the leftist scene in Berlin are planning to "flood the streets" for Labor Day (May 1) protests, despite the coronavirus pandemic. 

Online, organizers in the Kreuzberg neighborhood have indicated they'll publish locations for spontaneous evening demonstrations. "We want to flood the streets with our anti-racist, anti-patriarchal and anti-capitalist message," they said. 

Berlin police say applications for more than 20 gatherings of a maximum of 20 participants each have been approved, and about 5,000 police officers will be deployed. Berlin authorities have warned they won't tolerate large gatherings of people. Left-wing adherents have also called for street protests in the cities of Hamburg, Frankfurt am Main, Munich and Stuttgart. In Hamburg, authorities have approved 38 applications for protests, and declined five. Leftist protests in Germany have in the past turned violent.

Read more:  Millions take part in Belarus civic labor day amid coronavirus

02:30 Here’s the latest coronavirus news from the Americas:

Hundreds of demonstrators in the US state of Michigan, some of them carrying guns, entered the capitol building to demand the Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, lift strict coronavirus lockdown orders. 

In Brazil, the Health Ministry on Thursday reported a record 7,218 confirmed new coronavirus cases in 24 hours. The country's total number of infections is now 85,380. According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, Brazil's death toll has reached 6,006.

National parks in Chile would start reopening next week, the country's Agriculture Minister Antonio Walker said Thursday, to give people a "well-being alternative" after weeks of lockdowns. 

In total, 21 national parks and wilderness areas were planned to reopen on Monday with the rest opened by the end of the month. The country's borders and tourist hotspots remain closed. The country is slowly easing quarantine measures and reopening its economy. Chile, population 19 million, has reported 16,023 confirmed coronavirus cases and 227 deaths. 

In Mexico, health officials on Thursday reported 1,425 new coronavirus cases and 127 new deaths in the country, bringing the totals to 19,224 cases and 1,859 deaths.

Meanwhile, one of Mexico's most famous protest singers, Oscar Chavez, has died at the age of 85 after apparently being infected with COVID-19. The country's culture secretary confirmed Chavez's death, but would not comment on local media reports saying it was due to coronavirus. Chavez's own personal Twitter account on Wednesday said he had been hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms. Chavez was best-known for his folk-style songs that took aim at Mexico's political elite and corruption.

Read moreCoronavirus: Mexican factories risk workers' lives

Watch video 03:35

Coronavirus lockdown widens Mexico's inequality gap

02:21 Starting Friday, people in Austria will no longer need a specific reason to leave their homes. The change is part of the government's plan to ease lockdown measures in place to curb the spread of coronavirus. 

People will still be asked to remain at least a meter apart from one another in public spaces, and gatherings of more than 10 people remain banned. 

Austrian authorities have urged the public to adhere to social distancing guidelines, in order to reduce the chance of another outbreak and the tightening of restrictions it would necessitate. 

Schools are set to open on Monday. The first restaurants are to begin opening in mid-May, while hotels, swimming pools and other recreational facilities are to open May 29.

Austria was one of the first countries in Europe to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by closing down public life. The country currently has roughly 15,000 infections, with 580 deaths. 

02:08 Health authorities in China reported 12 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, up from four infections the previous day.

Six of these were imported cases. 

Five of the new domestic transmission cases were in Heilongjiang and one in Inner Mongolia. 

China had not recorded any cases of domestic transmission a day earlier.

No new deaths were reported, keeping the toll at 4,633.

The total number of confirmed cases since the start of the outbreak is now 82,874.

00:06 The co-leader of Germany's Social Democratic Party, Norbert Walter-Borjans, has called for better pay for people who cared for the sick, drove buses or kept supermarkets running during the coronavirus pandemic, as the country marks Labor Day on Friday.  

"They have earned not only our recognition, but also significantly improved pay, fair and binding tariffs and secure jobs," he said of essential workers in comments to the Funke media group of newspapers.

Read moreGermany: Record number of workers on reduced hours

00:00 Catch up on yesterday's coronavirus news here: Germany eases COVID-19 restrictions on playgrounds, churches

Watch video 01:33

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.

js,se/shs,mm (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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