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Coronavirus latest: France, Germany propose recovery fund

May 18, 2020

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron propose a major financial recovery fund worth €500 billion. Restrictions are continuing to lift in Europe, with businesses and schools set to reopen. Follow DW for the latest.

Berlon | Videokonferenz Emmanuel Macron und Angela Merkel
Image: Reuters/K. Nietfeld
  • The number of cases worldwide now exceeds 4.75 million, with more than 315,000 recorded deaths
  • Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron propose a major European rescue fund, to come from an increased long-term EU budget
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping told the World Health Organization's annual assembly that he supports an international review led by the WHO
  • Lockdowns are being eased in Europe, with restaurants reopening in Italy and Denmark, while some children have returned to school in Belgium

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

00:00 We're closing this live updates article now. Read here for the latest.

21:35 US President Donald Trump said that he is taking a malaria drug to reduce symptoms should he contract COVID-19, even though there is no evidence the drug has any effect in fighting the virus. Trump said he has been taking hydroxychloroquine and a zinc supplement daily "for about a week and a half now."

The president spent a number of weeks pushing the drug as a potential cure for the novel coronavirus, despite several of his administration's top medical professionals urging caution. The drug has the potential to cause significant side-effects in some patients. Trump said his doctor did not recommend the drug to him, but he requested it from the White House physician. The president told reporters: "I started taking it, because I think it's good. I've heard a lot of good stories. "

Meanwhile, Trump continued his attack on the World Health Organization (WHO), saying he would make a decision on financing soon, having previously said he would withdraw from funding the UN’s health body.

Asked why he had not addressed a virtual meeting of the WHO's annual assembly earlier in the day, he replied: "I chose not to make a statement today. I'll be giving them a statement, sometime in the near future, but ... I think they've done a very sad job in the last period of time."

21:01 The United Arab Emirates said holders of valid residency visas who are abroad but have relatives inside the country can begin returning from June 1, according to Emirates News Agency. The Gulf country suspended entry of valid residence visa holders who were abroad from March 19.

The country will also extend a nightly curfew by two hours from this week after reporting an increase in daily cases of the coronavirus, said an official. The curfew will now start at 8 p.m. local time (16:00 UTC) instead of 10 p.m. and continue to run until 6 a.m. The UAE on Monday reported 832 infections and four deaths from the virus to take its count to 24,190 with 224 deaths.

20:25 South Sudan's first vice president, Riek Machar, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, his office posted on its official Facebook page.

The former rebel leader's wife, Defence Minister Angelina Teny, and "a number of his office staff and bodyguards" have also contracted the virus that has so far infected 339 people in South Sudan, the statement read.

Machar "has issued a public statement declaring that he is found positive, and from today will self-quarantine in his residence for the next 14 days." The vice president's office added that he was "healthy and with no symptoms."

Though the number remains relatively low, aid agencies have become alarmed in recent days over a surge in the number of infections in South Sudan. So far the African country has registered six deaths from COVID-19.

18:30 The Supreme Court in Pakistan has called on the government to drop some of the remaining restrictions imposed on businesses, even though the country's number of coronavirus cases is increasing.

In its decision, which is binding, the court said the coronavirus "apparently is not a pandemic in Pakistan" and questioned why fighting it was "swallowing so much money."

The court has requested shopping malls be reopened if health authorities do not object, and called for businesses to be allowed to open on weekends.

Pakistan has registered a total of 42,125 infections, with 903 coronavirus-related deaths. Those figures are relatively low for a country with 212 million inhabitants, but its caseload has been accelerating of late. 

17:35 Italy has reported fewer than 100 coronavirus-related deaths in a day for the first time since March 9. A nationwide lockdown was enforced the following day, with many key restrictions being lifted starting this Monday. The number of cases increased by 451, bringing the total to 225,886. It was the smallest daily increase in infection numbers since March 2.

Meanwhile, France reported 131 coronavirus deaths, taking its total to 28,239, while the number of coronavirus patients in hospital ICUs dipped just below 2,000 for the first time since March 22.

17:25 Turkey will impose a four-day lockdown around Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr next weekend, said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The religious holiday marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and is typically celebrated with family members. This year, the authorities will impose a curfew to curb the spread of the coronavirus infection.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan also said that schools would only reopen in September. He called on Turks to adapt to "the new order" of a "controlled social life."

Mosques are set to reopen for worship on May 29.

17:00 Qatar Airways cabin crew will have to wear protective suits and passengers will be required to use face masks on board, the Middle East air carrier said in a statement. Crew have already been wearing face masks and gloves while on board but will now also wear suits over their uniforms, while face masks would be mandatory for passengers from May 25.

Meanwhile, two of the world’s major airlines are beginning to open up global routes.

Finnair will reopen routes between Europe and Asia in July. Beijing and Shanghai will be among the first long-haul destinations, alongside Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, Bangkok and three Japanese routes, the airline said in a statement. 

The move makes Finnair one of the first European airlines to resume intercontinental routes, after the Lufthansa Group announced on Friday it would restart 19 long-haul flights by early June.

In the United States, Delta Air Lines will resume flying several major routes in June, including Salt Lake City to Mexico City.

16:45 Ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc is to cut 3,000 more jobs following an initial announcement of 3,700 job losses earlier this month.

Citing the pandemic, Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said in an email to employees that Uber had suffered a near-total collapse.

Nearly two-thirds of the multi-national company's revenue is generated in the United States and Canada, where lockdown measures were implemented in the middle of March. Uber said that trip requests had plunged 80% globally through the month of April, but were beginning to pick up.

Khosrowshahi also said Uber would gradually close its office in Singapore over the next 12 months, and move to a new "hub" in the Asia-Pacific region. In addition, Uber would be shutting some 45 offices, including the one at Pier 70 in San Francisco.

16:25  The number of people who have died from the coronavirus in the United Kingdom has risen by 160, to 34,796, the health department said on Twitter. A total of 246,406 people have tested positive for COVID-19, up 2,684 on the previous day's figure.

Meanwhile, testing for the coronavirus is to include all those with symptoms over the age of five, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced. He said anyone with a persistent cough, a high temperature or the loss or change of taste or smell, could now book a home kit or appointment on the government's website.

16:20 The recovery fund proposed by France and Germany will be given out as grants, not loans, said France's Macron.

"What is sure is that these €500 billion will not be repaid by the beneficiaries," Macron said in a video conference with Angela Merkel. The president said that mechanisms for reimbursement would be decided with the input of European Commission.

In turn, Germany's Merkel said it was "not only fair but also necessary" to immediately earmark the funds "that we will gradually repay through several future European budgets."

Paris and Berlin stopped short of proposing the so-called "coronabonds" scheme and instead endorsed securing the funds from existing European financial mechanisms. Even so, the idea might raise eyebrows in fiscally conservative countries such as the Netherlands, which was one of the staunchest opponents of pooling eurozone borrowing.

16:03 European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the proposal from Merkel and Macron: "It acknowledges the scope and the size of the economic challenge that Europe faces, and rightly puts the emphasis on the need to work on a solution with the European budget at its core."

Spanish MEP Luis Garciano, with the Ciudadanos party in Spain that's part of the ALDE liberal alliance in the European Parliament, also welcomed the proposal, saying it was a clear step forward. He also welcomed the change from loans to grants — one major sticking point for EU member states.

15:48 When asked by DW about coronavirus conspiracy theories and the crisis' effect on boosting authoritarians in the EU, Macron said "unfortunately, there will always be these extremists, those who believe authority is better then democracy."

He warned that fear of the virus can turn to "hate against others."

"We, the chancellor and I, both believe that the democratic idea, the European dream is the pillar of our identity and our response," he said. "We cannot give way when it comes to our principles."

15:33 The EU's recovery fund is aimed to reinforce the bloc's "technological sovereignty" by having top level manufacturers and companies capable of keeping pace with counterparts in US, China, and other parts of the world, France's Macron and Germany's Merkel said while presenting the plan.

15:22 Germany and France announced a recovery program worth €500 billion ($543.7 billion) on Monday, saying that the funds would go to hardest-hit sectors and regions in the European Union. 

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the plan was a "short-term" response to the crisis and the that long-term solution, including EU reforms, would be discussed later, "because Europe must develop further."

The program also suggests giving the European Commission authority to borrow money in the EU's name. France's Macron says this was the first time Germany and France agreed on a need for a joint EU debt. The issue of joint borrowing, pushed by countries like Italy and Spain, but rejected by Germany and Netherlands, has been the main obstacle in the EU's push for a united economic response.

14:55 Slovakia will reopen shopping malls, theaters and cinemas on Wednesday, albeit under certain hygienic conditions, Prime Minister Igor Matovic said on Monday. 

Bratislava will also make it easier for residents to travel to eight other countries as of Thursday, without requiring a negative test for COVID-19 or a 14-day quarantine period upon return, Matovic said. The countries where smoother travel will be permitted are the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland and Hungary, as well as Croatia, Germany, Switzerland and Slovenia. Matovic, however, did not mention another of Slovakia's neighbors, Ukraine, in his list.

14:45 The global economy is only likely to recover partially next year, IMF's Kristalina Georgieva told the Reuters news agency.

"Obviously that means it will take us much longer to have a full recovery from this crisis," she said, without providing fresh estimates.

Last month, the IMF said that the economic impact of the pandemic will the heaviest since the 1930s Great Depression. Data received since then pointed to "more bad news," Georgieva said. The global lender is due to come out with new forecasts in June.

Georgieva told Reuters that the IMF would likely revise downward its projection of a 3% contraction in global GDP in 2020, with a smaller 2021 rebound likely than the IMF's previous prediction of 5.8% growth. 

14:15 The WHO's independent oversight body has praised the UN agency for demonstrating "leadership" and making "important progress" in its pandemic response.

The committee added that "an imperfect and evolving understanding is not unusual during the early phases of a novel disease emergence" and that many uncertainties remained. 

The UN officials described the WHO's emergency program as "too modest." They added that the WHO would need about $1.7 billion for the next stage of the pandemic fight until the end of the year, leaving it with a funding gap of $1.3 billion.

13:50 Moscow has been working to secure medical aid from the US to help with the coronavirus pandemic, said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, after Russia sent aid to the US in early April.

On Monday, Ryabkov said that US President Donald Trump had promised that Washington would be ready to help once the US was mass producing ventilators.

"This possibility was welcomed with gratitude from our side, this issue is now being worked on." Ryabkov was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency. "We consider mutual help to be a straight-forward matter."

His comments come after Russia's health officials declared the country had reached a "level of stability" in infection spread. The daily increase in infections has stayed below 10,000 in the last three days, but the country now has 290,678 confirmed cases, making it the second heaviest-hit country in the world by caseload. The US, whose population is roughly twice as large as Russia's, leads the list with nearly 1.5 million confirmed cases.

13:28 Croatia's parliament has voted to dissolve itself and trigger early elections, after Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said that his government had "achieved all key ambitions" in the last three years.

The right-wing HDZ party will pursue a new mandate "aimed at the country's economic recovery," the prime minister added.

Croatia is an EU member and a popular tourist destination within the bloc, boasting over 1,200 islands and an immense stretch of the Adriatic coastline. While the country has been easing its anti-pandemic measures, travel restrictions and canceled visits from abroad are likely to deal a massive blow to its economy. 

It now falls to President Zoran Milanovic, from the rival SPD, to set an election date within the next 60 days. Both the HDZ and the SPD have seen a popularity boost during the coronavirus crisis, with HDZ enjoying 30.2% support to SPD's 27.8%, according to recent polls.

12:38 World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has announced there will be an independent probe into his agency's performance during the pandemic.

"I will initiate an independent evaluation at the earliest appropriate moment to review experience gained and lessons learned and to make recommendations to improve national and global pandemic preparedness and response," he said at the WHO annual assembly.

The UN agency has been heavily criticized by US President Donald Trump, who accused it of pro-China bias. The US suspended funding to the WHO last month.

12:35 Around 70 new coronavirus cases in France have been linked to schools, a week after around one third of French students went back to school.

Some schools were opened last week and another 150,000 junior high students went back today.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer sounded the alarm, telling French media that children may be a greater danger of contamination in schools. Seven schools in northern France have been closed following the latest outbreak.

12:00 The coronavirus pandemic should serve as a "wake-up call" to the world, UN chief Antonio Guterres has said.

The secretary-general said COVID-19 is the "greatest challenge of our age," and demonstrated that countries need to work more efficiently together.

"It is time for an end to the hubris," Guterres said. "We have seen some solidarity, but very little unity in our response to COVID-19."

"Many countries have ignored the recommendations of the World Health Organization," he added.

11:23 Chinese President Xi Jinping has announced that China will contribute $2 billion ($1.85 billion) to the World Health Organization (WHO) over the next two years to help with pandemic response.

Xi was speaking via video link at the WHO’s first online assembly. He stressed the importance of vaccine development and deployment of vaccines in China.

US President Donald Trump previously announced a suspension of US funding of the WHO, claiming it has mismanaged the outbreak and covered up China’s mistakes.

11:10 In a video address to the WHO’s first-ever virtual assembly, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that international cooperation was the only way to forge a path forward. "No one country can solve the crisis alone," she said. "We must act together."

She said she was "convinced" a solution could be found, and would be found much quicker if the "world works together." She emphasized, however, that any solution must be accessible and affordable for everyone.

Merkel further stressed the need for a better early warning system. It has been widely reported that officials in the Chinese city of Wuhan knew in late 2019 that the situation was becoming dire, but were too nervous to tell national authorities until the situation was already out of hand. Beijing has been accused of initially trying to suppress information about the coronavirus through early 2020.

11:00 In the US, the coronavirus pandemic has presented a challenge to the homeless, who number more than half a million people. They lack health care and even basic hygiene tools, like access to water. DW's Oliver Sallet has this report from Washington, D.C.

Coronavirus hits homeless hard in US

10:41 Indonesian President Joko Widodo has said the government has no plan to ease restrictions any time soon.

"It is mistaken to think that the measures have been eased," Widodo told a cabinet meeting. Speculation has become widespread in the country of 267 million that restrictions on public life would be eased in the coming days. The head of the country’s COVID-19 task force also suggested last week that people under the age of 45 could return to work soon.

Jakarta and other larger cities have become busier ahead of Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim festival that marks the end of Ramadan.

The number of cases in Indonesia rose to 18,010 on Monday, and 1,191 people have died.

10:23 Ireland has begun to ease its coronavirus lockdown- Staff have returned to outdoor workplaces and some shops resumed trade. Sports facilities also reopened.

People will also be allowed to meet in small groups in public for the first time in two months. 

"The virus has not gone away," Health Minister Simon Harris wrote on Twitter. "Just because it’s open doesn’t mean we need to go," he warned. Ireland, like much of the world, is worried about a possible second wave of infections.

Ireland had had 24,112 confirmed cases and 1,543 people have died.

10:10 The UK has added the loss of taste and smell to its official list of COVID-19 symptoms, along with fever and a continuous cough. Experts hope the step could help pick up around 2% more cases of coronavirus.

"Our basic case definition, which has for some time been new continuous cough or fever, will change to new continuous cough or fever or anosmia," Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, told reporters in London.

Anosmia technically refers only to a loss of smell, but since smell and taste are closely related on a neurological level, Van-Tam says it will be defined as a loss of taste and smell.

10:00 The EU, along with several other countries, has called for an independent evaluation of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) response to the coronavirus pandemic. They want the evaluation to "review experience gained and lessons learned."

The resolution has the support of more than half of the WHO’s member states and will be discussed later this week. The health agency is holding its assembly virtually this year.

Australia has called for an independent inquiry into the WHO's handling of the crisis and US President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the organization, saying they helped China hide the extent of the outbreak.

09:15 Many archaeological, historical and religious sites across Greece and Italy have reopened this morning for the first time in two months.

The Acropolis in Athens and all other open-air historical sites opened in Greece, admitting a handful of tourists. The Acropolis saw 2.9 million visitors last year and is one of Greece’s top tourism spots. Only limited visitors are allowed and social distancing regulations will be maintained and Greece is not expecting to reopen indoor museums until at least June 15.

In Rome, St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican reopened to visitors as Italy began to ease Europe’s longest-running lockdown. A handful of visitors had their temperatures checked before they entered.

Pope Francis is not yet expected to lead any public religious ceremonies either in the basilica or in the Vatican square. The pontiff has been leading masses online which have been streamed to Catholics around the world. Other Italian churches will open up, including the Duomo cathedral in Milan which hosted its first Mass on Monday morning.

08:42 The EU’s medicines agency has said an initial authorization for the drug Remdesivir as a COVID-19 treatment could be granted in the coming days.

"It might be that a conditional market authorization can be issued in the coming days," European Medicines Agency (EMA) chief Guido Rasi told a hearing of the EU Parliament in Brussels.

The EMA had already recommended a compassionate use of the drug, meaning it can be administered to patients before it has full authorization. Remdesivir is produced by US pharmaceutical company Gilead.

What is remdesivir?

08:33 The German cabinet has postponed a meeting to discuss outbreaks of coronavirus at slaughterhouses, hours after a further 92 people tested positive at a center in Lower Saxony. A government spokesperson said that cabinet members needed to seek more advice on the topic.

Labor Minister Hubertus Heil had been set to lay out new regulations on slaughterhouses in Germany which would aim to improve working and living conditions for the employees, many of whom are migrant workers from eastern Europe.

The cabinet meeting will now take place on Wednesday.

08:15 French President Emmanuel Macron is set to hold a video conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel later on Monday. The two leaders plan to present a new French-German initiative relating to the EU coronavirus recovery plan.

The EU is negotiating a plan to tackle the economic fall-out of coronavirus on member states.

08:00 German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is due to hold a video conference with several of his counterparts across the EU later to discuss efforts to reopen borders and restart the tourism economy. Travel and tourism account for a major part of GDP in member states like Italy, Croatia, Spain, and Greece.

07:45 The Spanish cabinet is due to approve a program to grant a basic income to the poorest to face the economic impact of the coronavirus impact, the social security minister confirmed this morning.

The €3 billion ($3.24 billion) program is set to help at least one million families, José Luis Escrivá told Spanish media.

The news comes as Reuters news agency reports that Spain is planning to attempt to avoid cheap European Union bail-out funds. The EU is offering €240 billion in its new rescue fund, but Spain wishes to avoid the stigma of resorting to a rescue fund, according to government sources.

07:06 India has reported its biggest single-day surge in coronavirus cases. The country now has the most cases in Asia. There have been 5,242 new cases in the last 24 hours and 157 deaths, meaning India has had 96,169 cases overall and 3,029 people have died.

The surge comes a day after the government extended the nationwide lockdown of the country’s 1.3 billion people for at least two weeks. Authorities have said that the new infection surge may be down to migrant workers returning to India’s small towns and villages in recent weeks.

Flights, schools, hotels and restaurants remain closed until at least May 31.

06:30 Another large coronavirus outbreak has been reported at a German slaughterhouse, shortly before the German cabinet was set to discuss the risk of coronavirus in the meat industry.

At least 92 workers at a slaughterhouse in Dissen in Lower Saxony have tested positive, the city of Osnabrück announced late on Sunday. Those infected and members of their households have been placed in quarantine and production has been stopped.

The German "Corona Cabinet" was set to discuss changes to workplace safety regulations with a particular eye on slaughterhouses after over 200 people were infected in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia last week. Concerns have been raised about the working and living conditions of slaughterhouse workers, where many of the employees are eastern European temporary workers.

The Food, Beverages and Catering Union has called on the government to take this opportunity to impose "fundamental reform" in the industry and give new "crystal clear" regulations for slaughterhouses.

Read more: Coronavirus: 'Modern slavery' at the heart of German slaughterhouse outbreak

COVID-19 outbreak in German abattoir

06:00 Two of Europe's top football leagues were set to begin training again this morning, but only one will go ahead.

Italy’s Serie A has postponed the start of training as clubs continued to disagree about the government-imposed medical rules. Several Italian top clubs already had plans in place for individual training or for training in small, socially distanced groups, but were hoping to expand the group sizes.

The main point of disagreement regards the government's insistence that the whole team must quarantine for 14 days should one team member test positive. Serie A was hoping to recommence games on June 13 but with training postponed this may be unlikely.

In Spain, La Liga will push ahead with training in groups of up to 10. The government announced Saturday that Spanish sports teams can return to activity regardless of the state of lockdown in their region.

"It is very important that all teams are training at the same level and we are grateful that is now the case," La Liga president Javier Tebas told Spanish television.

Spain has gone without organized soccer since March 12; Italy since March 9. Germany’s Bundesliga became the first major European league to resume action over the weekend.

Will the coronavirus kill the heart of German football?

05:19 New Zealand will launch a contact-tracing app on Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed. The "digital diary" will help people to record their personal movements, although the data will not be shared with anyone except for the user.

"It's just in case in the future you find yourself with COVID-19, you’ve got an easy reference to tell you where you’ve been over a period of time," Ardern said.

The island nation began easing regulations in late April and schools, restaurants and cafes have begun to reopen. New Zealand registered no new cases on Monday and, with around 1,500 cases overall, has recorded only 19 this month after a two-month lockdown period. The government says 21 people have died from the virus in the country of five million.

04:00 Several countries across Europe are rolling back COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, here's a breakdown of what's reopening:

Italy: Restaurants, bars, hair salons, museums and most shops will once again open their doors after two months of lockdown. St. Peter's Cathedral is also reopening for visitors and people will once again be allowed to travel freely through their region.

Spain: In Madrid and Barcelona, shops under 400 square meters can reopen although people will have to make appointments before visiting. Trips to museums will also be allowed. In other areas of Spain, larger shops will be allowed to reopen while residents on four Spanish islands will be allowed to exercise whenever they want.

Portugal: The country is moving into the second phase of its plan to relax restrictions. Customers can once again dine in restaurants and cafes and pastry shops. Daycares will also reopen, while students in 11th and 12th grade will return to school.

Belgium: Primary and secondary schools are reopening for students in their final year, albeit under strict social distancing rules. Museums and zoos can also reopen, although they must sell time-specific tickets online. Sports clubs can resume training as long as there are no more than 20 people present.

Poland: Restaurants, cafes, bars, food courts and beauty salons are reopening under strict health and social distancing protocols. The number of people allowed to use sports facilities and public transport will also be increased.

Greece: Visitors can once again visit the Acropolis in Athens. Students attending secondary school can also return to class.

03:20 The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 342 on Monday, up to 174,697 in total. The Robert Koch Institute reported 21 deaths, bringing the total deaths to 7,935.

The reproductive rate at which the virus spreads — at 0.87 over the past week — has remained below the crucial value of 1, the institute said.

In western Germany, 70 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus at a home for refugees, the district government in Cologne said on Sunday. 

02:22 The World Health Organization (WHO) opens its first virtual assembly today, amid fears that tensions between the US and China could derail the strong action needed to address the coronavirus crisis.

The World Health Assembly, which has been trimmed from the usual three weeks to just two days, Monday and Tuesday, is expected to focus almost solely on COVID-19, which in a matter of months has killed more than 310,000 globally, and infected nearly 4.7 million.

Heads of state, government chiefs, health ministers and other dignitaries are expected to be involved

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday the event would be "one of the most important since we were founded in 1948."

The WHO under fire in the pandemic

01:52 China has reported seven new confirmed coronavirus cases for May 17, up from five a day earlier, the country's health authority says.

Of the new cases, two were from the northeastern province of Jilin, which borders Russia and is currently in a partial lockdown due to a flare-up in infections.

The total number of new infections in Jilin since the first case of the current wave was reported on May 7 is now 33.

China’s financial hub of Shanghai reported one new locally transmitted case for May 17, which is the city’s first since late March.

The other four new cases in the mainland involved travelers arriving from abroad to the northern Chinese region of Inner Mongolia.

The total number of confirmed cases in mainland China stood at 82,954 as of May 17, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,633. The country reported 18 new asymptomatic cases on May 17, compared with 12 the day before.

The tally of confirmed infections does not include people who test positive but who show no symptoms.

A woman walks past closed stores in Fengman District of Jilin City
A woman walks past closed stores in Fengman District of Jilin CityImage: picture-alliance/Xinhua/Y. Linyun

01:00 Japan has slipped into recession for the first time since 2015, according to official data.

The world's third-largest economy contracted by 0.9% in the first three months of 2020, following a 1.9% decline in the fourth quarter of 2019.

With the country's gross domestic product (GDP) dropping for two consecutive quarters, the decline meets the technical definition of a recession and puts Japan on track for its worst post-war economic slump.

The economic situation in Japan is believed to be even worse this quarter after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a nationwide state of emergency in April following a rise in COVID-19 cases.

00:32 In Canada, a jet taking part in a "pandemic show" to boost morale during the coronavirus outbreak crashed shortly after takeoff. One crew member was killed and another was seriously injured.

"It is with heavy hearts that we announce that one member of the CF Snowbirds team has died and one has sustained serious injuries,'' the Royal Canadian Air Force said in a tweet. The other crew member did not sustain life-threatening injuries, they added.

The crash took place in Kamloops, British Columbia with the jet reportedly hitting a residential home and sparking a fire. A video shot by a witness shows two Snowbirds jets taking off, with one almost immediately rearing up before plunging to the ground.

The US and Canada have been carrying out flyovers in particularly hard-hit regions in a bid to lift spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

First responders transport an injured person on a stretcher at the scene of the crash
First responders transport an injured person on a stretcher at the scene of the crash Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/Canadian Press

00:01 Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro flouted social distancing guidelines on Sunday, as his country faces one of the world's worst coronavirus outbreaks.

Wearing a mask, Bolsonaro posed for pictures with supporters and did a series of push-ups with paratroopers — some of whom stretched out their right arms and swore allegiance to the president and his family.

"This is a pure manifestation of democracy. I'm really honored by this," he said of the crowd of supporters who defied stay-at-home orders to take part in the rally.

Read more: Brazil overtakes Spain, Italy in COVID-19 cases

This weekend, Brazil's number of confirmed cases surpassed Spain and Italy — making the country the world's fourth-largest outbreak. With Brazil testing far less than other countries, experts warn that the actual number of cases is likely much higher than the official tally of over 240,000.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly downplayed the severity of the virus and pushed to reopen businesses. 

President Bolsonaro continues to downplay the virus and slammed lockdown measures
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Borges

00:00 Catch up on yesterday's coronavirus news here: Spain deaths drop below 100

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.

jsi, dj, tg,rs/msh (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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