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Image: picture-alliance/AP Images/M. Meissner

Coronavirus: Austria implements travel ban for German state

June 24, 2020

Austria's foreign office has advised against all but essential travel to North Rhine-Westphalia, after a meat processing plant in the state became the center of a major outbreak. Follow DW for the latest.

  • Austria implements partial travel ban for the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Russia marks 75th anniversary of end of WWII, over a month after the event was delayed amid coronavirus fears
  • US will not cut back on COVID-19 testing, says disease expert Anthony Fauci
  • India's health ministry has reported nearly 16,000 cases in the past 24 hours
  • Over 9.2 million confirmed cases globally, with over 475,000 deaths recorded

All updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

23:59 We're drawing this live updates article to a close. Click here for the very latest.

23:30 US Democrats will hold their presidential nominating convention virtually with the help of live broadcasts and streaming, officials have announced. 

"Unlike this president, Joe Biden and Democrats are committed to protecting the health and safety of the American people," said Party Chairman Tom Perez, referring to President Donald Trump’s push for a traditional convention in North Carolina even as the country battles a pandemic.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to accept the Democratic nomination in person but the party has not indicated whether an in-person audience will be present for the convention, which is scheduled for August 17-20 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

Delegates have been asked to avoid traveling to the city for the event, which usually draws thousands of people to crowded arenas, even during unprecedented times like the Civil War or World War II.

"Vice President Biden intends to proudly accept his party's nomination in Milwaukee and take the next step forward towards making Donald Trump a one-term president," said Jen O'Malley Dillon, Biden's campaign manager.

22:52 The mayor of the German city of Gütersloh, Henning Schulz, has slammed Germany's biggest meat producer Tönnies for poor working conditions that apparently led to a massive coronavirus outbreak.

His remarks come after over 1,500 workers tested positive for the coronavirus in a Gütersloh meat processing plant, prompting the authorities in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia to put Gütersloh and the neighboring Warendorf district under lockdown.

Read more: Gütersloh mayor Henning Schulz slams meat producer after massive outbreak

"My feelings are somewhere between anger, sadness and exhaustion. At the moment we are giving the most human power we can put in to solve the situation," Schulz told DW.

"I'm angry with the company, Tönnies. I'm angry with the system, behind it," he said. "I'm angry with the system of sub-sub-subcontractors which is totally intransparent."

City under lockdown: Henning Schulz, Mayor of Gütersloh, speaks to DW

Together, the two districts are home to around 628,000 people.

22:45 Brazil has recorded 42,725 new infections, taking the total number of confirmed cases to nearly 1.2 million, the health ministry said on Wednesday.

The second worst-hit country in the world also registered 1,185 new deaths from the virus, which takes the death toll to 53,830.

Beachgoers enjoy Ipanema beach amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Rio de Janeiro
Beachgoers enjoy Ipanema beach amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in Rio de JaneiroImage: REUTERS

22:10 Stocks on Wall Street are down sharply as data emerged showing new COVID-19 cases in the US have climbed to the highest level in two months

Investors had been optimistic for a relatively quick economic turnaround. Economic data has pointed to a recovery from the spring lockdowns that are being eased across the world.

However, the S&P 500 was down 2.7% in afternoon trading Wednesday, relinquishing all of its gains for the month. The selling followed a skid in European stock indexes. It accelerated around mid-morning on news that New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut would require visitors from states with high infection rates to quarantine for 14 days.

Technology firms have been leading the market resurgence as the economy bounced back from a plunge in March. They accounted for the biggest slice of the market's retreat on Wednesday. There were also heavy losses for the financial, health care, communication

services and industrial sectors.

21:00 Brothels in the Netherlands will be allowed to reopen on July 1, the country's Prime Minister Mark Rutte said

The red light district had been closed for more than three months due to the coronavirus pandemic and was slated to reopen on September 1.  

The government had previously allowed hairdressers and masseurs to reopen earlier. But now, Rutte said "all work involving (physical) contact" would be authorized.  

Sex workers have been encouraged to verify that their clients do not have COVID-19 symptoms prior to their visit. 

"Everyone is very happy with the news that we can finally reopen," said Felicia Anna, president of the union of sex workers in Amsterdam's red light district.  

"We have no more money," she told the Dutch news agency ANP. 

 The Netherlands has had some 50,000 reported COVID-19 infections with more than 6,000 deaths. 

17:29 Medical oxygen for COVID-19 patients is running short, according to UN health chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 

The coronavirus can deprive the body of oxygen, which can lead to organ failure and death. Patients with severe symptoms come to rely on artificial oxygen to survive the disease. 

"Demand is currently outstripping supply," Tedros said, pointing out that a few companies dominate 80% of the oxygen market. 

The WHO has said it estimates that the world currently needs about 620,000 cubic meters of oxygen per day. The UN health organ has said it has been buying oxygen concentrators for countries that need them the most 

The WHO chief said he expected the global tally of coronavirus infections to hit 10 million next week.

16:26 This year's Berlin Marathon has been canceled, as organizers were not able to find a suitable alternative date due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement comes as the New York Marathon also announced its cancellation of the event in 2020. 

The cancellation of the Berlin Marathon is the first since 1974. Berlins race, which attracted 62,000 runners in 2019, had already been postponed from April to September 27. 

"Due to the weather conditions alone and shortening days, it's very difficult to hold the Berlin Marathon... before the end of this year," said race director Juergen Jock. 

"The question of whether athletes will be able to travel internationally again by then cannot be answered now," he added. 

The New York City marathon which was scheduled for November 1 has also been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers said. 

"Canceling this year's New York City Marathon is incredibly disappointing for everyone involved, but it was clearly the course we needed to follow from a health and safety perspective," said Michael Capiraso, president and CEO of race organizers New York Road Runners. 

The event usually attracts more than 50,000 participants and hundreds of thousands of spectators. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio welcomed the move. "I applaud New York Road Runners for putting the health and safety of both spectators and runners first. We look forward to hosting the 50th running of the marathon in November of 2021," de Blasio. 

The city of New York was the hardest-hit area by the coronavirus, when the US epidemic began in the spring.  

15:12 Africans began participating in a COVID-19 vaccine trial for the first time, as Britain's University of Oxford distributed its trial injections to volunteers on the ground in South Africa. The large-scale Oxford trial is also being conducted in the UK and Brazil.  

The African continent has nearly 325,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, as countries have loosened restrictions under pressure from citizens who have experienced economic hardship as a result of lockdown. South Africa has nearly one-third of Africa's confirmed cases with more than 106,000, including more than 2,100 deaths.  

The pandemic was delayed in Africa ''but is picking up speed very quickly,'' the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief John Nkengasong said. Shortages of testing materials and medical supplies remain a challenge and threaten to make Africa could the world's next hot spot. 

''Unless we act now, Africa is at risk of being left behind on the global vaccine," Nkengasong warned. 

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged that the initial supply of any COVID-19 vaccine be deployed where it's most needed, rather than based on the ''ability to pay.'' 

14;48 The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said it predicts the global economy to shrink by 4.9% this year. The estimate is significantly worse than the 3% drop it had estimated in a previous report in April. 

This would mean the pandemic would fuel the worst annual contraction since the post World War II period. 

The pandemic is disproportionately hurting low-income households, the IMF said, ''imperiling the significant progress made in reducing extreme poverty in the world since 1990.'' 

In recent years, the proportion of the world's population living in extreme poverty had fallen below 10% from more than 35% in 1990.  

But the COVID-19 crisis threatens to reverse this progress, the IMF warned, adding that more than 90% of developing and emerging market economies will suffer declines in per-capita income growth this year. 

For the US, the IMF predicts that the nation's GDP will plummet 8% this year, also more than its April estimate of a 5.9% drop.  

The figure would also represent the worst annual decline since the U.S. economy demobilized in the aftermath of World War II. 

The IMF forecasted a decline in growth this year of 10.7% for the 19 European nations within the euro currency union, that is also higher than the 8% drop it predicted in April. 

10:57 A total of 28 from 211 migrants rescued last week by German aid organization Sea Watch have tested positive for coronavirus, reported Italian news agency Ansa.

The aid organization's ship, Sea Watch 3 rescued the migrants from three different boats in the Mediterranean, before entering Sicily's port at the weekend.

Those that tested positive have been moved to quarantine ship "Moby Zaza," — moored just off southern Italy's Porto Empedocle, in Sicily.

A Sea-Watch spokesperson said that the organization has still not received official confirmation from the authorities about the coronavirus cases.

10:00 About a third of Italians would not get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, if a vaccine were to be successfully developed, a new study has shown.

The poll, conducted by IXE research institute, recorded 61% of Italians would get the vaccine. A further 6% answered that they were unsure, reported Germany's dpa news agency, citing the study.

The survey also found that just over half the 1,000 Italians questioned were in favor of current rules on social distancing and face masks, as opposed to 33% who said they should be relaxed and 8% who want them abolished entirely.

Northern Italy was initially one of regions worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic after Wuhan, China, but the crisis has eased in recent weeks.

09:30 Several municipalities along Lower Saxony's northern coastline are considering introducing a visitor ban for would-be holidaymakers from the districts of Gütersloh and Warendorf in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Local lockdowns have been re-introduced in the two towns and their surrounding districts, in a bid to contain an outbreak at a meat processing plant. So far, over 1,300 infections have been linked to the plant.

"We are currently in the consultation phase with colleagues from Leer to Wesermarsch," said Sven Ambrosy, county commissioner of Friesland, a district in Lower Saxony.

Ambrosy called for an urgent solution before the start of the school holidays. It would look at how to minimize risk of infection while people continue to travel from areas where local coronavirus lockdowns are in place.

Germany's 16 states could agree on nationwide travel restrictions for residents from certain areas. Alternatively, individual municipalities within Germany should be allowed to implement bans on holidaymakers arriving from at-risk areas, suggested Ambrosy.

He criticized North Rhine-Westphalia, saying it was incomprehensible that restrictions have been tightened locally while no restrictions have been implemented on residents traveling further afield.

Regional officials are in consultation with legal experts to work out a system of tax relief for businesses should a travel ban be implemented in the Lower Saxony districts.

A woman hands over diapers to Tönnies employees and their families who are quarantined in their apartments behind fences in Verl, Germany
Tönnies meat processing plant employees and their families have been quarantined in their apartments.Image: picture-alliance/AP Images/M. Meissner

08:50 Bulgaria is extending its pandemic state of emergency until mid-July, following a jump in registered cases, said Health Minister Kiril Ananiev.

The average daily number of people infected with coronavirus rose, after the government eased some restrictions.

"We have an increase of the intensity of the epidemic and an increase of coronavirus spread," Ananiev told a government meeting.

The country has no plans to bring in tougher measures, but will step up checks on social distancing and face masks.

Travel bans for most countries outside the EU will remain in place.

Read more: Coronavirus in the Balkans: Can disasters defeat hatred?

08:20 Brothels, bars and karaoke will reopen from next month in Thailand, said the country's officials.

Customers will be required to log in to the government's online tracking application or sign in to a logbook on every visit, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesperson for the government's coronavirus task force.

Some foreign travelers that have registered for a 14-day state quarantine will be allowed into the country from next week. The group includes those with work permits, investors and business executives.

Internet cafes are included in businesses permitted to reopen and shopping malls will have their 9 p.m. curfew lifted.

The new measures were announced as  around 100 people staged pro-democracy protests in Thailand's capital Bangkok. The event was technically illegal under COVID-19 social-distancing regulations.

07:44 Tokyo has reported 55 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, the largest number since early May. Earlier, Tokyo's governor Yuriko Koike warned that it was likely to record "quite a large number" of new coronavirus cases, after an outbreak was discovered at an office.

This did not mean an immediate return to restrictions on businesses, said officials.

07:30 Austria has implemented a partial travel ban for the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia amid an outbreak at a meat plant.

"Above all, our neighbor Germany has proven with the outbreak in North Rhine-Westphalia just how quickly another dramatic situation can arise," said Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

He added that he hoped the virus outbreak would not spread further in Germany.

07:19 Soldiers are arriving on Moscow's Red Square ahead of Russia's military parade, marking 75 years since the end of World War II in Europe. The Victory Day parade should have gone ahead on May 9, but was postponed over coronavirus fears.

The parade is now taking place a week before a public vote on controversial constitutional reforms.

Read more: Moscow celebrates delayed 75th anniversary of end of WWII

Authorities called on the public to watch the event from home to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus.

Around 14,000 troops from 13 countries are taking part in the event, as well as war veterans who have been quarantined ahead of the event in sanatoriums. They will be seated at socially-distanced intervals in the stands on Moscow's Red Square.

07:00 Coronavirus remains a risk, said German Health Minister Jens Spahn, as two municipalities in Germany were placed back in lockdown, following an outbreak at a slaughterhouse in the Gütersloh district.

"We're seeing that if we make it too easy for this virus, it spreads very quickly again — we're not only seeing that in Gütersloh — we've also seen it in Göttingen, in Leer, in Bremen and at churches and family celebrations," said Spahn talking on German broadcaster ARD's Morgenmagazin show.

Both Gütersloh and the neighboring area of Warendorf in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia have been placed back in lockdown after an outbreak at the Rheda-Wiedenbrück meat processing plant, operated by German meat giant Tönnies.

More than 1,300 people have tested positive for the virus at the facility.

The renewed lockdown was important to protect both those affected and people in the wider region, Spahn said. An outbreak at a parcel hub in Heinsberg demonstrated "how quickly a local cluster can spread into the wider community."

06:27 Top UK-based medics have signed an open letter to the British government, warning of a second infection wave as the country eases restrictions.

"While the future shape of the pandemic in the UK is hard to predict, the available evidence indicates that local flare-ups are increasingly likely and a second wave a real risk," the medics said in the letter, published in the British Medical Journal. 

Derek Alderson, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians and Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, were among those who added their names to the letter.

The medical professionals warned that "substantial challenges remain" in fighting the virus. They called for a review into virus-prevention measures with the aim of preventing deaths while restoring the hard-hit economy.

The UK announced that bars, restaurants and hotels could all reopen in early July. The country has the third highest virus death toll in the world.

When lockdown measures hit in April, the UK's GDP contracted by 20% compared to the same month in 2019, according to official statistics released in June.

06:00 France's Orly airport will reopen on Friday after a three-month coronavirus pandemic shutdown, but with just a fraction of its normal flights.

There will be 70 takeoffs and landings from the airport just outside of capital city Paris — compared with 600 a day before the virus crisis grounded aircraft worldwide.

In total 25 destinations will be served, including the Caribbean, Reunion Island, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Iceland and Croatia. The first plane is set to leave on Friday for Porto, Portugal at 6:00 a.m. local time (0400 GMT).

Officials expect around 8,000 passengers to pass through Orly's four terminals when the airport reopens — less than 10% of the daily average of around 90,000.

Increased traffic in July will depend on whether Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia reopen their borders.

05:25 India has recorded a spike of just under 16,000 cases in a day, reported the country's health ministry.

Latest figures show 15,968 new cases and 465 deaths, taking the total up to 456,183 cases. The death toll stands at 14,476, reported the health ministry.

Maharashtra, New Delhi and Tamil Nadu states are the worst-hit states, accounting for nearly 60% of all cases in the country. New Delhi is causing particular concern, criticized for poor contact tracing and lack of hospital beds.

Delhi faces health care crisis

04:59 Tokyo has warned it will record "quite a large number" of new coronavirus cases after an outbreak was discovered at an office.

"Clusters in the workplace have become a big problem lately," Tokyo's Governor Yuriko Koike said, reporting the expected figures. She added that test results from the unnamed company were expected to add to the seven infections previously found at the office.

A further 10 positive results are expected following group testing in Shinjuku — an area of the Japanese capital known for its night life.

Read more: Coronavirus: Is working from home becoming the new normal in Japan?

04:40 Australia has recorded its first COVID-19 death in more than a month in the southeastern state of Victoria. The victim was a man in his 80s. His death came as Victoria logged a steady increase of cases, sparking fears of a second infection wave.

"When we get additional cases, there will be a risk of people dying or be at risk of further cases being hospitalized and going to intensive care," Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters in Sydney.

"That’s why we need to get on top of numbers," added Sutton.

In the past 24 hours, Victoria has reported 20 new cases, up from 17 new cases on Tuesday and 16 on Monday. There are now just under 1,900 cases in the state, with several hundred of these identified as cases transmitted within communities.

Authorities believe the recent uptick has been caused by family get-togethers attended by people with mild symptoms. In a bid to regain control over the outbreak, Victoria at the weekend announced it was extending its state of emergency for another month and reimposing restrictions on gatherings.

02:50 Germany has reported 587 new infections, taking the total number of virus cases to 191,449, according to data released by the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases on Wednesday.

The death toll has also risen by 19, with the total number of virus fatalities standing at 8,914.

02:40 American professional baseball organization Major League Baseball and the players’ association have struck a deal to hold a shorter, 60-game season in 2020 after the regular 162-game season was postponed in March over virus fears. 

"Major League Baseball is thrilled to announce that the 2020 season is on the horizon," Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "(We) are excited to provide our great fans with baseball again soon."

MLB players will be back for spring training by July 1 and the season may begin on July 23 or July 24, according to the organization.

The players’ association also said that "all remaining issues have been resolved."

01:50 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has criticized the "total lack of coordination among countries" over the pandemic response, adding that working separately will not defeat the virus. 

Emphasizing global coordination, the UN chief said that countries need to realize that by acting in isolation "they are creating the situation that is getting out of control."

Instead, he said countries may be able to mitigate the political, economic and social impact of the virus by coordinating their responses to the pandemic as the virus moved from China to Europe and North America and, now, Latin America, Africa and South Asia. 

Guterres highlighted that "bringing them together, putting together their capacities, not only in fighting the pandemic in a coordinated way but in working together to have the treatments, testing mechanisms, the vaccines accessible to everybody, that this is the way we defeat the pandemic."

"I am frustrated, of course, with the lack of international cooperation at the present moment," Guterres said, "But I hope that the new generations will be able to make things change in the future."

01:26 Mexico has reported a record daily increase in infections with 6,288 new cases reported on Tuesday. The health department also reported 793 deaths in the country, as the total number of deaths in Latin America cross 100,000, according to AFP and Reuters tallies of registered deaths. 

Mexico has had a total of 191,410 cases and 23,377 deaths from the virus, but authorities say the figures may be higher due to low testing rates. The rate of infections has been particularly high among health care professionals, accounting for around 20% of the country’s total infections.

01:23 China has reported 12 new infections on Wednesday, as the Beijing outbreak shows signs of getting under control. The country has reported a total of nearly 85,000 confirmed cases and 4,640 deaths since the outbreak in the country began.

Three of the new cases were imported, while seven and two were registered in Beijing and the neighboring Hebei province respectively. Nearly 260 recent cases have been linked to the Xinfadi wholesale market in Beijing, which sent the city into another lockdown.

01:11 Australia reported its first coronavirus-related death in over a month on Wednesday, after an elderly man died from the virus in the state of Victoria overnight. 

Authorities in Victoria are struggling to contain increasing virus numbers, with another double-digit increase registered for the eighth consecutive day. The 20 new cases have taken the state’s total infections to nearly 1,900.

Australia has largely been able to curb the spread of the virus with a little over 7,500 cases and 103 deaths. However, the increase in the number of infections in Victoria has sparked fears of a second wave.

01:02 Colombian President Ivan Duque has announced that country's virus lockdown will be extended till July 15. The country has reported over 73,500 infections and 2,404 deaths. 

"The current conditions of obligatory isolation, where we are returning to productivity and moving towards the re-opening of businesses, will continue as they are today until July 15," Duque said.

The country went into quarantine towards the end of March but some restrictions have now been relaxed. The government allowed local mayors to use their discretion for opening businesses like salons as well as cultural institutions like libraries and museums.

The government is set to begin testing a reopening of other sectors, including restaurants and religious places, in areas where no infections have been reported. International flights remain suspended till August 31.

Before the new extension was announced, the lockdown was set to be lifted on July 1.

00:16 The White House Correspondents’ Association has canceled its annual dinner scheduled for August amid virus concerns, it announced on Tuesday.

"With great regret, we will have to cancel our planned dinner on Aug. 29," the WHCA said in a statement.

After consulting authorities, "We've concluded that it is just not possible to put on the kind of dinner that promotes the best in journalism and allows our guests to comfortably and safely enjoy themselves," the statement added.

The annual dinner provided the US president with an opportunity to give an often self-deprecating address, before a comedian steps in with jokes about the media and politicians. 

However, President Donald Trump has skipped the dinner each year.

00:12 Top immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted the US has "been hit badly," as cases in Florida, Arizona, and Texas continued to surge. He voiced concerns about rising community spread in some states and added  "the next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges."

Fauci warned that the US is "still in the middle of the first wave," but also praised how New York City brought the metropolitan area's cases down. 

"However, in other areas of the country we're now seeing a disturbing surge of infections,'' he said. 
Read moreUS: Fauci warning as EU considers prolonging travel ban

Fauci and other senior health officials also said they have not been asked to ease up on testing for COVID-19 following President Donald Trump's comments on conducting fewer tests due to the many positive results. "We will be doing more testing," Fauci, the US government's top immunologist, told a House committee.

The US has tested more than 27 million people, with some 2.3 million infections uncovered, and more than 120,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

00:03 Brazil is in the process of testing a coronavirus vaccine but no deal has been struck to get the experimental treatment if it works, interim Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said on Tuesday.

While other countries have secured millions of doses of the vaccine by Oxford University, Brazil is yet to make a deal, raising concerns about its virus response under President Jair Bolsonaro. The president has been criticized for defying social distancing recommendations and was also ordered to wear a mask by a federal judge when he steps out in the capital city of Brasilia.

Brazil has seen another spike in coronavirus cases, with close to 40,000 new confirmed cases, taking the total number of infections to 1,145,906. Brazil also recorded 1,374 deaths, taking the country's toll to 52,645, the health ministry said on Tuesday.

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.

see/stb (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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