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Coronavirus: German reproduction rate spikes 60%

June 21, 2020

The rate at which the virus spreads from an infected person to others has risen significantly above a critical level for keeping the pandemic in check. Germany's R-rate now stands at 2.88. Follow DW for the latest.

German health workers in full protective gear
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/D. Inderlied

  • Germany's virus reproduction rate has climbed significantly for a second day
  • Spain, one of the worst affected countries, has reopened its borders after 14 weeks
  • US President Trump asks health officials to test less to improve statistics
  • Brazil has surpassed 50,000 deaths

All updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

22:35 Coronavirus deaths in Brazil, the world’s second worst-affected country, have topped 50,000.

With 641 new fatalities reported on Sunday, Brazil reached a total tally of 50,617. The country has recorded 1,085,038 cases since the beginning of the outbreak.

Read moreAs coronavirus and deforestation soar in Brazil, groups take Bolsonaro to court

21:45 The World Health Organization has reported its highest single-day rise in COVID-19 cases, with roughly 183,000. The greatest tally was from Brazil, which had 54,771 new infections, followed by the US, which reported 36,617. India reported over 15,400 cases.

Experts say the rising numbers could be due factors including increased infections and more widespread testing.

The death tally increased by 4,743, more than two-thirds of which came from the Americas.

21:00 Dutch police have now said they detained about 400 protesters demonstrating against the government's social distancing measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The police said on Twitter that a large number of those detained had been let go.

The peaceful protest was disrupted when a group of football fans clashed with riot police. Mayor Johan Remkes of The Hague said, "This has nothing to do with protesting or the right to freedom of speech. This group was deliberately trying to disturb public order."

Hundreds had gathered at the city center in The Hague, carrying placards and holding hands to protest against the 1.5 meter distancing rule, among other restrictions.

19:26 Saudi Arabia has ended a nationwide curfew and lifted restrictions on businesses, including hair salons and cinemas, after three months of stringent curbs, despite a spike in infections. Prayers were also allowed to resume in mosques in the holy city of Mecca, state media reported, just weeks before the annual hajj pilgrimage is due to start.

International flights and religious pilgrimages, however, remain suspended and social gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited, according to the interior ministry. But Saudi Arabia's General Commission for Audiovisual Media announced the reopening of cinemas across the kingdom with strict guidelines on social distancing.

The kingdom, which has the highest reported coronavirus infections in the Gulf, has seen a spike in cases after it began a phased easing of stringent lockdown measures in late May. On Sunday, the total number of infections rose to 157,612, while the death toll climbed to 1,267, according to data from the health ministry.

19:19 Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte says his government will take another week to work out a national plan for a post-coronavirus recovery. The PM is navigating choppy political waters, with an economy set for a record recession and major job losses, amid growing tensions within the governing parties.

Although it's been badly battered by the pandemic, Italy expects to receive at least €172 billion ($192 billion dollars) in loans and grants from the European Union to turn around its economy. 

"We will take another week with the ministers to re-elaborate the Relaunch Plan in the light of the suggestions that have come and are coming," Conte said, referring to inputs from a nine-day conference which ended Sunday.

19:02 Bulgarian tennis player Grigor Dimitrov says he tested positive for the novel coronavirus, a day after he pulled out of the second round of Novak Djokovic's Adria Tour.

"I want to reach out and let my fans and friends know that I tested positive back in Monaco for Covid-19," Dimitrov posted to Instagram. 

He had earlier pulled out of the Adria Tour leg in Zadar, Croatia, after a loss to Croat Borna Coric. Dimitrov cited fatigue and weakness.

The final of the Zadar tournament, which should have pitted Djokovic against Russia Andrei Rublev, was scrapped. 

Djokovic organized the tournament in Belgrade as the rest of the tennis world remains locked down. Critics blasted the initiative over obviously lacking health protocols at matches.

Read more: Coronavirus and sports: Fans set to return in France

17:48 Dubai says it will allow foreign visitors to enter from July 7, while those with residency visas will be able to enter from Monday in a further easing of its coronavirus lockdown.

Those arriving will have to have international health insurance and present certificates to show they had recently tested negative for the virus or would undergo tests on arrival, government media office said in a statement on Sunday.

Citizens and residents would be permitted to travel abroad from Tuesday, it added.

"The new announcement will allow thousands of people affected by the worldwide restrictions in passenger air traffic since the start of the pandemic to resume their travel plans," the Dubai media office said in the statement.

The announcement comes more than two months after the United Arab Emirates introduced strict measures to curb the spread of the virus, which forced Dubai's economy — which heavily relies on retail, tourism and hospitality — into freefall.

17:15 Germany's coronavirus reproduction rate has jumped to 2.88 — almost three times what it needs to be to contain the outbreak. The reproduction rate, or 'R' value, estimates how many people an infected person passes the virus to. Experts say a rate of less than one is needed to eliminate the disease.

Figures released by the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases on Sunday said the average four-day reproduction rate jumped from 1.79 on Saturday, to 2.88. The 7-day 'r' value, which tends to fluctuate less dramatically, increased from 1.55 on Saturday to 2.03 on Sunday. 

The institute stressed that the increases were mainly due to local outbreaks in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where more than 1,300 workers at a meat-processing plant were recently found to have been infected.

"Further developments need to be monitored closely during the upcoming days, especially in regard to whether case numbers are increasing outside of outbreak contexts," the institute said in its daily report.

16:50 Dutch media is reporting that police have arrested more than 100 people at a protest against social distancing measures in The Hague

Several hundred demonstrators had gathered in the city’s Malieveld area on Sunday to object to the government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Police said they moved to disperse the crowd and asked protesters to go home when the atmosphere turned violent. 

"The remaining demonstrators on the Malieveld who refused to leave have all been arrested," the police tweeted on Twitter, without saying how many people had been detained. At one point, officers deployed water cannons to bring the situation under control.

A woman is sprayed with water cannon
Image: picture-alliance/ANP/R. Van Lonkhuijsen

16:22 Britain says it is seeking new powers to allow it to intervene in foreign takeover bids that could endanger the country’s ability to respond to public health emergencies such as the coronavirus outbreak.

"These powers will send an important signal to those seeking to take advantage of those struggling as a result of the pandemic that the UK government is prepared to act where necessary to protect our national security," Business Secretary Alok Sharma said in a statement. 

The proposed changes will be put before Parliament on Monday. If passed, they would allow the government to scrutinize foreign takeovers of certain companies, such as vaccine research firms.

The government said the economic fallout from the pandemic had left some critical businesses vulnerable to hostile buyouts by "malicious parties."

Last month, Germany also announced new rules designed to allow the government to block foreign takeover bids for healthcare companies and safeguard the supply of vital medical products.

Read more: Coronavirus: Germany adopts powers to block foreign takeovers in health sector

16:04 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned of a return to lockdowns if people don't observe measures designed to curb the coronavirus.

Israel has more than 20,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and has seen a significant jump in infections over the past few days. At least 305 people have died since the start of the outbreak.

Speaking at the start of the government's weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu said he would be weighing possible steps to ensure the situation doesn't get worse. 

"If we don't change immediately our behavior regarding wearing masks and keeping distance, we will bring upon ourselves, against our will, a return to lockdowns," he said. "None of us wants this."

16:00 The mayor of the German city of Göttingen says residents of a quarantined housing complex will be allowed to leave their apartments if they test negative twice for the coronavirus. The measure is an attempt to diffuse tensions after riots broke out at the site on Saturday. 

"If they test negative twice, groups of two or three maximum can leave by signing in and out," Mayor Rolf-Georg Köhler said.

Police said they used pepper spray to restore order on Saturday after dozens of frustrated residents gathered at a fence surrounding the property and pelted officers with household items, bottles and stones.

The complex, which houses some 700 people, was put under forced lockdown on Thursday when tests showed around 120 residents had COVID-19. Many of the apartments are believed to be crowded, with large families living in cramped conditions, according to municipal officials.

14:40 Dutch police have used water cannon and horses to disperse anti-lockdown protesters gathering without a permit in The Hague. 

"This has nothing to do with a normal demonstration,'' the city's police said in a Twitter message, adding that "the atmosphere is grim'' and warning people to stay away from the city center.

It was unclear exactly how many people had ignored the mayor's plea to not turn up for a demonstration against the government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Helmeted police with shields were seen sealing off certain areas as a water cannon vehicle made its way through.

14:28 China has banned imports from a top US poultry producer and ordered a Beijing Pepsi factory to close as authorities clamp down on food production and distribution amid a new coronavirus cluster in the capital.

Imports of frozen chicken from Tyson Foods were "temporarily suspended", the General Administration of Customs said, after a virus outbreak was found at one of the company's production facilities in the US. Products from the firm that have already arrived in China will be confiscated, the statement said.

US food and drinks giant PepsiCo was also ordered to shut down one of its snack-making plants in Beijing after several employees tested positive, company spokeswoman Fan Zhimin said.

On Friday, officials announced a nationwide campaign to inspect all fresh products coming from "high-risk countries" following reports of new virus clusters at plants in Germany and the US.

Health officials reported 22 new cases in Beijing on Sunday, most of them linked to a wholesale market in the capital. More than 220 people have so far tested positive from clusters that have been traced to chopping boards used to handle imported salmon at the city's Xinfadi market.

More than two million Beijing residents have been tested for the virus.

14:19 Serbians are going to the polls in Europe's first national election since coronavirus lockdowns took effect three months ago. Polling stations have been equipped with face masks and hand sanitizers for use by the country's electorate of almost 6.6 million, many of whom were expected to skip voting - partly because of fears of infection.

By 2 p.m. local time (1200 UTC) turnout for the parliamentary election was 26.5% compared to 29.7% at the same stage of voting four years ago, according to election commission figures.

The ruling conservatives, led by President Aleksandar Vucic, are expected to win a comfortable majority. Voters largely back efforts by his coalition to push for Serbian membership of the European Union while maintaining strong ties with Russia and China.

Serbia, which has a population of 7.2 million, has reported 12,894 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 261 deaths. It was among the first European countries to start opening its borders on May 22 and all lockdown curbs have since been lifted.

13:40 Iran has reported over 100 new coronavirus deaths for the third day in a row, health authorities confirmed. 

After reporting 116 new fatalities on Sunday, Health Minister Said Namaki stressed that the outbreak had not yet peaked in the hard-hit country. 

"Even in provinces where we think the first coronavirus wave is behind us, we have not yet fully experienced the first wave," he said, according to reports from semi-official news agency ISNA.

Experts in Iran and abroad have expressed skepticism about Iran’s official coronavirus figures, with many believing they could be much higher than reported.

13:00 Despite 1,300 workers at a meat processing plant in northwestern Germany testing positive for the coronavirus, the state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschet said a new comprehensive lockdown for the district is not yet required.

There is "an enormous pandemic risk," Laschet told a news conference on Sunday. However, the infection is, for the time being, localized at the Tönnies slaughterhouse in Rheda-Wiedenbrück, near Bielefeld, and there's been no "significant jump" to the wider community. 

While "we cannot rule out a comprehensive lockdown, as long as we do everything we can to ensure that it does not skip over to the general population, we can make use of other, more targeted measures," he added.

As of Sunday, 1,331 of the plant's employees — many of whom are from Romania or Bulgaria — had tested positive, according to local health authorities. Some 6,500 employees and their families have bee ordered into quarantine

Local authorities said the virus may have spread quickly among workers because many of them live together in cramped company-provided accommodation.

Germany's reproduction rate of novel coronavirus infections jumped to 1.79 on Saturday, a sharp increase from 1.06 the day before, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for public health, far above the level needed to contain it over the longer term.

Protesters wave banners outside the slaughterhouse in Rheda-Wiedenbrück
Around 60 environmental activists protested outside the slaughterhouse, complaining about working conditions and animal welfare issuesImage: Getty Images/AFP/I. Fassbender

10:56 India marked International Yoga Day with small events, amid the coronavirus pandemic. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also commented that the virus has made yoga even more relevant, both to mental and physical health.

"Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the world is realizing the need of yoga now more than ever," Modi said in Hindi in a video speech shared on social media. "COVID-19 virus attacks our respiratory system. Pranayam [breathing exercises] helps the most in making our respiratory systems strong."

Since 2014, Modi has pushed an initiative to reclaim the practice as a historic part of Indian culture.

The event, proposed by Modi and adopted by the United Nations in 2014, is observed mostly in India, but also worldwide on the Northern Hemisphere’s summer solstice. 

India also reported a record single-day spike of 15,413 new infections, bringing the nationwide total to over 410,451. The country has an official death toll of 13,254.

10:14 Iran’s health minister said that the country’s coronavirus outbreak would last until 2022, the Isna news agency reported.

Health Minister Saeed Namaki said that according to official estimates, Iranians would "have to live with the coronavirus for another two years," and likened the virus to an animal, saying that it would "bite and kick."

Iran faced one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the Middle East, with speculation over official figures and top government authorities falling ill and dying of the virus. 

Iranian authorities began lifting coronavirus-related restrictions in May, as the number of new infections eased. However, as people aren’t taking hygiene and social distancing measures as seriously, the number of cases has started to rise again.

Iran currently has 202,584 confirmed cases and an official death toll of 9,507.

09:38 Indonesia has reported 862 new coronavirus infections, bringing its total number of confirmed cases to 45,891.

Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto said the country recorded 36 more deaths, bringing the official toll of fatalities to 2,465 — the highest coronavirus death toll in East Asia outside of China. 

With a population of near 268 million, Indonesia has maintained one of the lowest coronavirus testing rates, stoking fears that the actual death toll and infection rate could be much higher than the reported figures.

09:36 Russia reported 7,728 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 584,680. That count is slightly lower than the day prior, which saw 7,889 new cases – a figure consistent with the results of previous days. 

The country also logged 109 new deaths, bringing the total death toll to 8,111.

Tracking coronavirus patients in Russia via app

06:40 China has reported 25 new cases, 22 of which were in Beijing, following an effort to test 2 million people. 

The cluster in Beijing has raised fears of a resurgence of the virus in China, which on some days has reported new cases in the single digits. Dozens of Beijing communities have been sealed off to contain the virus, while schools have been closed and residents told to avoid non-essential travel. 

So far, more than 220 people have tested positive in the new cluster. State news agency Xinhua said local authorities had set up more than 2,000 testing sites across the city to conduct so many COVID-19 tests. 

The most recent outbreak has been traced back to the Xifadi wholesale food market, which supplies more than 70% of Beijing’s fresh produce, raising fears over the safety of the city’s food supply.

China has reported 84,553 cases and 4,639 deaths since the start of the outbreak.

05:25 Germany reported 687 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 189,822, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). That figure is slightly higher than the day before, which saw 601 new confirmed cases. 

The institute also reported a death toll of 8,882.

The reproduction rate of coronavirus has also jumped to 1.79 – far above the level needed to contain the disease over the longer term – following a series of local outbreaks.

That figure marks a sharp increase from 1.06 on Friday. RKI has attributed the higher rate to outbreaks that can be linked to the Tönnies meatpacking plant in the state North Rhine-Westphalia, which saw over 1,000 workers test positive for the virus, as well as outbreaks in logistics centers, shelters for refugees and churches.

"Since case numbers in Germany are generally low, these outbreaks have a relatively strong influence on the value of the reproduction number," RKI said. "A nationwide increase in case numbers is not anticipated."

A reproduction rate, or 'R', of 1.79 means that 100 people who contracted the virus infect about 179 other people. A rate of less than 1 is needed to contain the virus.

05:00: Brazil's has recorded nearly 50,000 deaths from COVID-19. It has more than 1 million confirmed cases. The number of cases is likely much higher due to the low number of tests being conducted.

04:50 Spain has ended its 14-week lockdown. It was one fo the worst affected countries, with a death toll of more than 28,000 and more than 245,000 infections. Spaniards will be free to travel around the country. 

Tourists from Schengen countries can enter the country again, with travelers from everywhere else allowed back from July 1

Some restrictions remain, such as wearing a mask in shops, airports, on public transport and in other enclosed public spaces. Schools will not reopen until September.

04:45 Speaking at a contentious rally on Saturday, Trump said he had asked health officials to slow down coronavirus testing as it leads to a higher case count.

''When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases,'' he said. ''So I said to my people, 'Slow the testing down, please.' They test and test.'' He added that the US has tested 25 million people.

The rally was Trump’s first in 110 days, and was held despite concerns from local health officials that it could lead to an outbreak of the virus in Tulsa. Most of those in attendance also did not wear masks. 

Just hours before the rally, Trump’s campaign reported that six staff members who had been setting up the event had tested positive for the virus. 

His rival, Joe Biden later issued a statement. "In an outrageous moment that will be remembered long after tonight's debacle of a rally, President Trump just admitted that he's putting politics ahead of the safety and economic well-being of the American people – even as we just recorded the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in almost two months and 20 million workers remain out of work," the statement read.

The US has over 2.2 million cases, and a death toll of 119,719.

Visitors at Trump rally have no concerns about COVID-19

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.

lc/ng (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP)