Coronavirus latest: Germany extends social distancing | News | DW | 26.05.2020
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Coronavirus latest: Germany extends social distancing

The German government has said it will keep social distancing restrictions in place until June 29. European countries are easing lockdown measures as they gear up for the summer holidays. Follow DW for the latest.

  • Germany is extending its social distancing rules aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus to June 29

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin claims his country has passed the peak of its coronavirus outbreak on the same day the country recorded a record spike in deaths.

  • European countries are easing lockdown measures as they gear up for the summer holidays

  • More than 5.5 million cases have been recorded globally and at least 348,000 people have died from COVID-19

23:15 The Berliner Ensemble theater company in the German capital has offered a glimpse at its new and spartan seating arrangements for the coming season in its main theater, the "großes Haus." The image shows pairs of seats and single seats, with large spaces in between. Capacity will of course be drastically reduced in a building that usually accommodates more than 400 visitors.

The image was captioned, "New reality: this is how the großes Haus will look in the coming season." 

19:58 Two virus outbreaks have now been traced to Amazon warehouses in Germany.

The company says it has introduced over one hundred new safety measures, which a major workers’ union says is still too little, too late. Read more here from DW.

19:40 The German government has postponed the debate on lifting of travel restrictions in Europe, media group Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) says, citing government sources.

The topic will now be discussed at the next cabinet meeting on June 3.

RND reported that the postponement was in response to protests from Angela Merkel's sister conservative party CSU, which governs in the southern state of Bavaria. 

The CSU fears that a wide reopening of travel could encourage a renewed wave of coronavirus infections. Bavaria's state premier Markus Söder and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, both members of the CSU, were the ones who expressed their reservations, according to RND. 

19:30 The coronavirus reproduction rate — the so-called R number — has dipped below 1 in Berlin after reaching 1.37 on Monday.

The figure had also been above the key threshold across the weekend.

The latest figures indicate that 10 people in the city infected with the coronavirus would statistically pass it to 9 other people in total, indicating a long-term drop.

The R-value shows the infections from eight to 13 days previous to the analysis. The authorities in Germany and across the world aim to keep the value below 1 in order to keep the pandemic under control.

Germany has been gradually easing coronavirus restrictions since the first week of May. The R value for the whole country was also under 1, according to Germany's official Robert Koch Institute.

19:22 Germany is set to extend its coronavirus distancing measures until June 29, the country's government says.

The measures allow up to 10 people or members of two households to meet in public. Authorities also recommend "to keep the number of people with whom a person is in contact with to a minimum" and to meet in the open when possible to reduce the transmission risk.

The public should maintain hygiene and distancing rules even when meeting at home, officials said. The number of people should correspond with the size of the room and it and "sufficient airing should be provided."

Watch video 03:25

Germany: Learning to live with the pandemic

The decision to maintain social distancing orders comes after representatives of 16 German states discussed the issue with the Chancellery on Tuesday.

Read more: Thuringia: Germany's coronavirus guinea pigs?

Previously, Thuringia Premier Bodo Ramelow said his state might be the first to lift the restrictions alltogether on June 6, but later seemed to go back on those comments. On Tuesday, Thuringia said it reserves the right to pass measures that differ than the ones recommended by the national government in the public space, if the spread of infection allows it.

19:02 Germany's Health Minister Jens Spahn has urged people with health issues to go to the doctors despite their fears of the coronavirus.

Previously, German doctors reported a dramatic drop in patients during the lockdown, including people suffering from cancer or serious cardiovascular issues.

Talking to public broadcaster ARD, Germany's Health Minister Jens Spahn said it was "important" for patients to get professional treatment. "When in doubt, it is always better to go see a doctor, especially when there is a problem or when it is about a checkup related to a chronic illness," he said.

Separately, doctors' associations warned that missed appointments could amount to large-scale health issues down the road.

Read more: Coronavirus destroys lives of stroke, heart attack and cancer sufferers

18:35 The Spanish government has denied firing a senior police official over his criticism of health chiefs. 

The head of the Guardia Civil, Diego Perez de los Cobos was removed on Monday, with opposition parties slamming the move as retaliation for the conflict with health emergencies coordinator Fernando Simon. 

According to the El Pais newspaper, the Guardia Civil had sent a negative report on Simon's decision to allow a March 8 rally in Madrid. The rally was held just days before the country went into lockdown. Some epidemiologists say the gathering played an important role in spreading the virus, and a court is now looking into the issue.

The government denied it was punishing Perez de los Cobos. At a news briefing, Interior Minister Fernando Grande Marlaska said it was merely "a change of teams, a natural replacement process based on confidence."

However, the Guardia Civil's second-in-command Laurentino Cena quit in protest over the sacking, saying that the decision violated the chain of command.

18:18 Traders have returned to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) after a two-month closure due to the pandemic.

Only about 80 people were allowed to take part in the first round of the relaunch, with all of them wearing masks and separated by plexiglas. The traders are also required to have their temperature taken before entering, The NYSE urged floor participants to avoid public transport while commuting to the Wall Street site.

"We are starting cautiously, with new safety measures to limit the strain on the healthcare system and the risk to those who work beneath our roof," said NSYE chief Stacey Cunningham.

In recent years, the focus of stock trading has moved to computers and AI, allowing the market to function even during the lockdown. However, the reopening ceremony led by Governor Andrew Cuomo marks an important symbolic moment for the country shaken by the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis. 

17:58 World Health Organization officials have said they consider the Americas to be the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, pointing at fast-growing outbreaks in countries like Brazil.

Speaking during a video conference, Carissa Etienne, WHO director for the Americas and head of the Pan American Health Organization, said the number of COVID-19 cases in Brazil over the past seven days was the worst to date — propelling the country to second overall behind the US.

17:40 Spain will start a 10-day mourning period for the nearly 27,000 coronavirus fatalities on Wednesday.

The Spanish head of state, King Felipe VI, is set to hold an official ceremony to honor the victims. Flags will be flying at half-mast at over 14,000 public buildings across the country.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said tomorrow would start the "the longest period of mourning in our democracy" referring the to the era following by the death of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

He added that the memory of the victims "will always remain with us."

Separately, government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero said that eight out of ten victims were "older than 70, they were those who helped build the country that we know today."

While the pandemic is subsiding in Spain, the country's death toll remains fifth-highest in the world. With over 236,000 infected, Spain also faces the fifth-largest caseload in the world.

Watch video 03:23

Spanish charities struggle to meet demand for food aid

17:28 The German government wants to inject billions of tax payers' money into Deutsche Bahn, as the long-troubled rail operator struggles with the lack of passengers amid the coronavirus crisis, German media has reported. While Deutsche Bahn still operates long-distance trains amid the pandemic, the company said passenger numbers were between 10% and 15% of their normal levels.

While the exact amount of state funding was not immediately clear, the DPA news agency said Deutsche Bahn could get between €6.9 billion and €8.4 billion ($7.57 billion to 9.21 billion) from the German state, which is the company's single shareholder. Additionally, the railway operator would be required to save some €2 billion on wages in the next four years.

The troubled company would also be allowed to borrow more money, as it looks to obtain some €8 billion in loans before the end of the year.

The plan has yet to be approved by the German parliament and the EU Commission before going into effect.

16:56 Doctors in Germany have seen a dramatic drop in patients with serious health conditions seeking medical help, for fear of contracting COVID-19 in the clinics.

Cardiologists and oncologists reported that 50% of their patients had canceled appointments, including people with severe cardiovascular disorders and cancer sufferers. 

This could have a serious long-term impact, they say. Read more here.

16:28 Celebrated British author J.K. Rowling has published the first two chapters of a new fairy-tale, "The Ickabog", online for children to read "during these strange, unsettling times."

The work is not linked to the famous Harry Potter novels, Rowling said on Twitter, and instead focuses on "truth and the abuse of power."

"The themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country," she added.

The story will be available for free and without registration at a dedicated website New chapters would appear gradually until the story is complete on July 10. Rowling called on children to illustrate the book.

The author also pledged to donate her royalties to "projects and organizations helping the groups most impacted by Covid-19."

15:55 Portugal and the UK are exploring the creation of a secure "air bridge" for tourists.

This could allow British visitors to avoid a coronavirus quarantine, two Portuguese sources familiar with the situation say. 

Britain is the main source of tourism for Portugal, whose economy is tourism-dependent and has been hard hit by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns at home and abroad. 

Last year, more than 16 million foreign tourists visited Portugal, almost 20% of them were from Britain. The tourism sector accounts for nearly 15% of Portugal's gross domestic product. 

Authorities are trying to salvage at least part of the critical summer season. 

Read more: Germany calls for opening of internal EU borders by June

The UK, however, has instituted a mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers arriving from abroad — including UK citizens — from June 8 and beyond. 

Brits on the Algarve

Britain is the main source of tourism for Portugal in normal years

One source has said that talks between the two countries for a travel deal are at an initial phase. Another said the air corridor could be enabled for both Portuguese tourists visiting Britain and vice versa. 

"Given the relevant reciprocal interests, the foreign ministry is confident that it will be possible to agree on a solution that meets these interests, especially concerning the coming summer season," the Portuguese Foreign Ministry has said. 

Portugal has registered 30,788 COVID-19 infections, which resulted in 1,330 deaths. The figure is far lower than several European countries and just a fraction of its neighbor Spain. 

15:05 Brazil's Federal Police raided the official residence of Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel, a former federal judge and a rival of President Jair Bolsonaro, as part of an alleged corruption probe linked with the coronavirus pandemic. The security forces also raided the governor's personal home.

An ongoing investigation pointed at possible embezzlement of public funds, police said in a statement, citing apparent irregularities in contracts for an emergency field hospital which involved health officials. However, the authorities did not say if Witzel was himself suspected of wrongdoing.

Witzel said there was "absolutely no participation on my part in any type of irregularity." He also took a swipe at Bolsonaro, saying that "interference by the president of the republic has been made official."

In turn, Bolsonaro denied any previous knowledge about the raid on Tuesday, saying he had "just heard about it on the news."

"Congratulations to the federal police," he told reporters. His office declined to issue an official comment.

14:51 UK carmaker McLaren has said it will cut 1,200 jobs due to the lockdown prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We deeply regret the impact that this restructure will have on all our people, but especially those whose jobs may be affected," the company's executive chairman Paul Walsh said, noting that the firings would have "a significant impact on the shape and size of our F1 team."

Following a 2017 deal to use Renault-supplied engines, McLaren finished the 2019 Formula One season fourth in the teams' championship, behind Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull Racing Honda. The 2020 season is yet to start.

14:25 Saudi Arabia will allow mosques to open for Friday prayers, the country's state broadcaster says, over two months after the places of worship were closed to slow down coronavirus spread. The country's Ministry of Islamic Affairs has now announced the mosques will be allowed to open 20 minutes before the Friday prayers and would close 20 minutes after they finish.

The anti-pandemic measures muted the Eid ad-Fitr celebrations last weekend, with only a small number of worshipers allowed to gather at the Great Mosque in the sacred city of Mecca.

This week, the authorities said pandemic restrictions would be lifted in three stages, with the current 24-hour curfew to be shortened on Thursday and eventually lifted from June 21 everywhere except for Mecca.

Kaaba at the Grand Mosque which is almost empty of worshippers

The Grand Mosque, almost empty of worshippers, after Saudi authorities suspended pilgrimages

14:09 Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed his country has passed the peak of its coronavirus outbreak on the same day the country recorded a record spike in deaths.

At a video-conference with Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, Putin noted that several countries were offering to help Russia fight the pandemic.

"Truth be told, the peak here has apparently already passed, according to experts," Putin said.

With over 362,000 cases, Russia is the third-heaviest hit country in the world by caseload, behind the US and Brazil. The country's officials reported 8,915 new cases on Tuesday and a record number of fatalities at 174.

The Russian strongman also said that the Victory Day parade, which was set to be held on May 9 but was postponed due to the pandemic, will now be held on June 24. The day will mark the 75th anniversary of the original WWII victory parade "when the fighters — who fought around Moscow, protected Leningrad, struggled in Stalingrad, freed Europe, and took Berlin by charge — walked the Red Square."

Putin added that the parade would be held under strict safety measures.

"The risk for all of its participants should be brought to a minimum, and preferably eliminated," he said.

13:54 Hungary's government expects that the state of emergency will end on June 20, the country's Justice Minister Judit Varga says.

Meanwhile, the government is preparing to submit a bill to end the extraordinary powers, ostensibly to deal with the pandemic, that the lawmakers gave the Cabinet in late March.

Earlier this month, Hungary's strongman Viktor Orban said he was prepared to give back the extra powers "at the end of May."

Watch video 26:06

Is the Hungarian response to the COVID-19 pandemic a move to cement authoritarianism in Europe?

13:20 China is planning to step up its preparedness for armed combat and other tasks as the coronavirus pandemic takes its toll on national security, reported state TV citing Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The country's performance in fighting the new coronavirus has proved the success of military reform, Xi was quoted as saying. He added that the armed forces should explore new ways of training amid the pandemic.

He made the comments during a plenary meeting of the delegation of the People's Liberation Army and People's Armed Police Force, taking place on the alongside of the annual session of parliament.

12:36 Bavaria residents who show coronavirus-like symptoms will be able to get tested within the next 24 hours, said the state's Premier Markus Söder. They would receive their results within 48 hours, he added.

Also, those without symptoms will be able to get a virus test within 48 hours and could expect results within a week, Söder added.

The premier also said that all employees, patients, and residents in the state's clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes would be tested regularly.

Commenting on the drastic easing of measures proposed by Thuringia Premier Bodo Ramelow, Söder said it would be a "fatal signal." He added that the numbers in Bavaria were stable and that it was too soon lift restrictions.

"We don't want to jeopardize this stability," he said.

11:49 COVID-19 will amplify the health risks of what is expected to be another record-breaking hot summer in the globe’s northern hemisphere, the UN’s weather agency has said.  The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on Tuesday called on governments to come up with plans for keeping people safe during heatwaves without increasing their exposure to the coronavirus. 

"We’re currently experiencing one of the hottest years on record," said WMO spokeswoman Claire Nullis Kapp in a virtual meeting in Geneva. "COVID-19 amplifies the health risks of hot weather for many people, and it complicates the task of managing it."

The UN is teaming with non-governmental organizations to call for better preparedness in order to keep people safe when the heat hits. 

Spanien Coronavirus Lockerungen Strände

Much of Spain is moving into phase two of a three-stage rollback

The organizations will issue an information series that covers topics such as ventilation, vulnerable populations, and personal protection equipment. The goal is "to alert decision-makers to try to help them manage the duel challenge of heat and COVID," said Nullis Kapp.

In some areas, typical strategies for putting up with a heatwave, like going into air-conditioned indoor public spaces, do not conform with public health guidance issued since the start of the coronavirus crisis. 

A widespread heatwave is currently in full swing in India, where temperatures have reached 47.5 degrees Celsius (117.5 Fahrenheit) in the city of Churu in the northwestern Rajasthan state. 

"India is experiencing a heatwave, and this is at the same time as India is relaxing the lockdown measures," said Nullis Kapp. "Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and more intense because of climate change. This is putting increasing stress on human health and human health systems," she added.

11:30 Germany’s Minister of State for Europe says it is in Germany’s own interest to help fellow EU member states by contributing to a huge shared stimulus package. 

"Particularly an export-orientated country like Germany is very dependent on our partners, our neighbors in the European Union making a quick recovery," the Minister, Michael Roth, said before a meeting with EU counterparts on Tuesday.

"Therefore, what we like to call solidarity isn't just a generous gesture of the supposedly stronger towards the supposedly weaker. Solidarity is in everyone's interest," he said.

Germany and France jointly proposed a €500-billion ($549-billion) recovery fund last week and the European Commission, which is expected to present its own proposal on Wednesday, has signaled it has a similar plan in mind. 

Austria, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands, however, remain opposed to the idea of paying the funds out in the form of grants. These four countries would prefer to provide cheap loans rather than have to keep track of countries’ spending. 

The European Commission has said its own proposal, which would require unanimous support from the 27 EU member states, is comprised of a mixture of grants and loans. 

Countries particularly hit by the coronavirus, like Italy and Spain, have argued that taking out more loans to help their countries recover would exacerbate their already-excessive debt levels.

Read more: Coronavirus: France, Germany propose €500 billion recovery fund

11:04 The world-famous archaeological site Pompeii in Italy has reopened to the public as coronavirus restrictions are lifted in the country. 

However, the attraction, which registered 4 million visitors last year, currently has more guides than visitors. 

The well-preserved ancient city, which was covered in volcanic ash almost 2,000 years ago after the explosion of nearby Mount Vesuvius, is Italy’s second-most popular tourist site after the Colosseum in Rome. 

Despite reopening, Pompeii was nearly empty on Tuesday. Foreign tourists are still prohibited from entering Italy until June. 

Visitors that do come will have to reserve tickets in advance and have their temperatures checked by a thermal scanner when they enter.

Read more: Germany calls for opening of internal EU borders by June

09:54 A minister from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has resigned over the controversy surrounding his top aide’s cross-country trip made during a coronavirus lockdown, the first resignation linked to the scandal. 

Minister for Scotland Douglas Ross quit on Tuesday in protest of Dominic Cummings remaining in his post. 

"I have constituents who didn't get to say goodbye to loved ones; families who could not mourn together; people who didn't visit sick relatives because they followed the guidance of the government," he said in a Twitter statement announcing his departure.

"I cannot in good faith tell them they were all wrong and one senior advisor to the government was right."

Douglas said that Cummings’ interpretation of government orders was "not shared by the vast majority of people."

Douglas’ resignation undermines ministers' attempts to move past the crisis, which has dominated British politics in recent days. The move puts greater pressure on Cummings, who on Monday held a press conference in which he attempted to justify driving with his wife and son 264 miles (425 kilometers) across England during the height of the coronavirus lockdown. 

Responding to Douglas’ resignation, Downing Street said it "regrets" his decision.

Read more: Boris Johnson rejects calls to fire top aide for breaking lockdown

09:52 Russia has reported its highest coronavirus death toll yet. The coronavirus death toll in Russia reached 3,807 on Tuesday, up 174 from the day before, a new daily record. With 362,342 cases, Russia has the third-highest number of infections in the world after the US and Brazil. 

The number of new cases in the country has been dropping steadily, however. Health officials also announced Tuesday that more than 12,000 people had recovered in the past 24 hours. 

Russia’s death rate is much lower than in countries with a similar infection rate, leading some to speculate that the government is underreporting coronavirus deaths. 

Health officials have said the discrepancy is partly due to the fact that only deaths directly caused by the virus are counted. Many countries count the death of anyone infected with coronavirus towards the tally.

09:48 The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem has reopened, over two months after closing due to the coronavirus outbreak. A group of priests from different Christian denominations were present as the church was open. 

Built on the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born, the church in the Israeli-occupied West Bank had been closed since March 5 when a coronavirus outbreak was detected in Bethlehem. Only 50 people will be allowed in the church at a time a visitors must wear face masks and keep a safe distance from each other, a joint statement from the churches that control the site said. 

Kissing or touching the stones of the church is forbidden, it said. 

The outbreak in Bethlehem began with a group of visiting Greek tourists. Church authorities had the Church of the Nativity sterilized after it was made known that the tourists had visited the church as well. 

Separately, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, built on the spot where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, has also partially reopened.

Some 400 cases of coronavirus and two related deaths have been reported by the Palestinian authority in the West Bank. Most cases were traced to Palestinians who worked inside Israel. 

Israel’s Health Ministry, meanwhile, has reported over 16,700 infections and 279 related deaths.

Read more: Jerusalem: An eerily different Easter in the time of coronavirus

09:05 German consumer confidence has improved slightly after a sharp fall caused by the coronavirus crisis. However, the indicator remains in record negative territory. 

Market research firm Gfk on Tuesday said its German consumer confidence forecast barometer for June registered at minus 18.9 points, an improvement from May, when the barometer hit minus 23.1 points after experiencing a 25 point drop. 

The June level is still the second-lowest value ever measured by the survey since it was created in 1980, GfK said. 

"Step-by-step reopening of many businesses has definitely helped prevent any further erosion," GfK expert Rolf Buerkl said.

"But uncertainty remains high among consumers. They believe the German economy is far from out of the woods and expect to be hit by a serious recession."

A sub-index reflecting people’s expectations for the economic outlook in Germany also improved slightly but remained in negative, while openness to making purchases crawled back into low positive territory. 

The figures reflect GfK’s poll of around 2,000 people between May 6 and 18.

08:09 For the seventh day in a row, India has reported a record spike in the number of coronavirus cases. The country’s health ministry reported 145,380 total confirmed infections as of Tuesday, up 6,535 from the day before. The death toll currently stands at 4,167. The recovery rate has also risen above 40%, officials said. 

The majority of cases are concentrated in the neighboring states of Maharashtra and Gujarat in central India. An uptick in infections has also been seen in some of the country’s poorest eastern states, where migrant workers have returned to their native villages from India’s largest cities after lockdown restrictions put many out of work. 

The number of coronavirus cases in India has increased as lockdown measures have been eased. A small number of domestic flights resumed in India on Monday after a two-month hiatus.

07:40 Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd has said it will start a new clinical trial in India to test a combination of the anti-viral drugs favipiravir and umifenovir as a potential cure for COVID-19. 

The study aims to enroll 158 hospitalized patients with moderate COVID-19 infections in India, the company said. 

Favipiravir was approved for use as an anti-flu drug in Japan in 2014. Umifenovir is licensed as a treatment for some types of flu infections in China and Russia. 

Glenmark is already testing just favipravir as a potential treatment. It expects the results of that trial, which was also conducted in India, by July or August. The drug is also being tested in other countries. 

India is among the nation’s most affected by the coronavirus. The death toll from the infection reached 4,167 on Tuesday. 

The Mumbai-headquartered pharmaceutical company said it had received approval from Indian regulators to trial the drug combination. 

"The two antiviral drugs have different mechanism of action, and their combination may demonstrate improved treatment efficacy," the drugmaker said.

Read more: WHO stops clinical test for malaria drug hydroxychloroquine

06:53 Singapore’s economy could shrink by as much as 7% this year, the worst economic contraction since the country’s independence in 1965. The government said Tuesday that Singapore’s key exports sector had taken a massive hit from the coronavirus. The city-state is considered a bellwether of global economic health. The historic contraction highlights the gravity of the difficulties countries are facing due to the deadly virus. 

The warning came just hours before Singapore’s deputy prime minister is expected to unveil a new stimulus package for the city's economy, which has been impaired by countries around the globe spending months in lockdown. 

The trade ministry’s Tuesday forecast was a downgrade from the 4% contraction predicted in March. The update followed after official data revealed the economy had shrank 0.7% on-year in the first three months of the year, and 4.7% from the previous quarter. 

Because the financial hub is one of the world’s most open economies, it tends to be hit hardest and earliest during global shocks. 

The shutdown of major markets like the US, Europe, and China have hit demand for exports, while international travel restrictions have harmed Singapore’s key tourism sector. 

The trade ministry said "significant uncertainties" persist despite some economies restarting as lockdowns are slowly lifted. 

"First, there is a risk that subsequent waves of infections in major economies such as the US and eurozone may further disrupt economic activity," it said. "Second, a growing perception of diminished fiscal and monetary policy space in many major economies could damage confidence in authorities' ability to respond to shocks."

06:12 South American airline Latam is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it deals with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused a steep downturn in air travel.

On Tuesday, the Santiago, Chile-based carrier said it and some of its affiliated companies had started the reorganization effort in the US. 

Latam said it hopes the bankruptcy process will allow the airline to reduce its debt and find new financing sources so that it can continue operating. 

Passenger and cargo flights will continue and employees will still be compensated, it said. 

The filing includes parent company Latam Airlines Group S.A. and its affiliates in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and its businesses in the US. It excludes affiliates in Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.

05:20 Germany wants to lift its global travel warning for tourists from 31 European countries starting from June 15, should coronavirus conditions allow it. In a paper from Germany’s foreign ministry shared Tuesday morning by news agency dpa, the government said it wants to relax the warning for tourists from all EU countries, the UK, and the four Schengen countries outside of the EU, namely Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein. 

Initial details for the potential easing of restrictions were laid out in a draft paper from the Foreign Ministry entitled "Criteria for Facilitating Intra-European Tourism." The measure could be approved by German ministers as early as Wednesday. 

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on March 17 had announced a global travel warning for people seeking to come to Germany, the first move of this kind in the country’s history. Such warnings had previously been applied almost exclusively to war-torn regions such as Syria and Afghanistan. 

Lifting the travel warning in time for summer vacation is a signal that cross-border vacation can be expected in Europe in the coming summer months. 

"The revitalization of tourism is important for both travelers and the German tourism industry as well as for the economic stability in the respective destination countries," the paper from the Foreign Ministry said. 

The current comprehensive travel warning would be replaced by individual travel guidances for each country. 

To avoid a spike in cases of coronavirus, the German government is in favor of a set of EU-wide rules, for example a cap on the number of acceptable new infections. Germany would reinstitute certain restriction measures should this limit be surpassed.

04:40 Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled part of an economic plan to revive Australia's economy. "At some point, you got to get your economy out of ICU," said Morrison.

Under the 'jobmaker' plan vocational skills would be improved to cater to industrial needs. Morrison also said that Australia's borders would not open up "any time soon", but it was still in talks with New Zealand over a safe travel zone between the two countries. Morrison also said that neither he nor his cabinet would take a pay cut, despite being among the highest paid political leaders in the world.

03:26 The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has risen by 432 to 179,002 in the last 24 hours, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). Forty-five more people have died, bringing the death toll to 8,302.

Here are the German figures from the past several days:

Monday, May 25: 289 new cases; 10 new deaths
Sunday, May 24: 431 new cases; 31 new deaths
Saturday, May 23: 638 new cases; 42 new deaths
Friday, May 22: 460 new cases; 57 new deaths
Thursday, May 21: 745 new cases; 27 new deaths
Wednesday, May 20: 797 new cases; 83 new deaths
Tuesday, May 19: 513 new cases; 72 new deaths
Monday, May 18: 342 new cases; 21 new deaths

03:15 A school in the Australian city of Sydney has closed its doors again after a pupil tested positive for COVID-19, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reports. The closure on Tuesday came just one day after students went back to class full-time.

A spokesperson told the ABC that Waverley College in Sydney's east had been "almost completely evacuated," and that anyone who had come into contact with the student had been contacted.

Most students in the states of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria returned to school on Monday following weeks of distance learning.

Australia has just over 7,100 coronavirus cases and 102 deaths — far lower tallies than those recorded in many other developed countries of comparable size. The government says it aims to lift most social distancing measures by July.

02:55 Open-air swimming pools, concert halls, cinemas, casinos and gyms will be allowed to reopen in the western German state of Rhineland-Palatinate from Wednesday. The low number of coronavirus cases there means outdoor events with up to 100 people will also be able to go ahead, the state chancellery said, but social distancing and hygiene measures must still remain in place. 

Germany's 16 states are gradually easing coronavirus restrictions, but some are eager to move faster than others. On Tuesday, the state governments of North Rhine-Westphalia, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Berlin are due to hold their own discussions about how to proceed, ahead of talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday. New coronavirus infections have been falling steadily in Germany amid a raft of measures set to expire on June 5 — such as physical distancing and an obligation to wear masks on public transport and in shops.

The premier of Thuringia, Bodo Ramelow, caused an uproar when he suggested over the weekend that he wanted to reconsider rules on social distancing and wearing masks, saying he wanted to transition from "crisis mode" to "standard mode." He asked whether the existing methods remained relevant, "when in half of my constituencies, there is no longer a single infection." Saxony too has said it wants a "paradigm change" on coronavirus rules if infections stay low. You can read more about Germany's debate over relaxing restrictions here:  

Thuringia: Germany's coronavirus guinea pigs?

02:25 Germany's Deutsche Post is planning to offer COVID-19 tests to thousands of its employees — even if they're showing no symptoms. Board member Tobias Meyer told the Rheinische Post newspaper that testing would be carried out as a precautionary measure "particularly at larger facilities," giving more than 10,000 people the chance to get a diagnosis.

Meyer said the company had already tested 5,000 employees in Germany after concerns about potential encounters with infected individuals. Of those tested, more than 20 were found to have the virus, and many of them showed no symptoms. For that reason, it's likely "we have more infected people around our business premises than previously suspected," Meyer said.

Deutsche Post is Europe's largest mail delivery service and the biggest courier company in the world.

02:00 US biotech firm Novavax says it has started first-phase human trials of its experimental coronavirus vaccine in Australia, with preliminary results expected in July. 

During the first phase, which began on Tuesday, 131 volunteers from the cities of Melbourne and Brisbane will be injected to test the safety of the potential vaccine, named NVX-CoV2373. Thousands of candidates in several countries, and from a broader age range, will then be recruited for the second phase of trials.

Novavax research chief Gregory Glenn told a virtual press conference that the aim was to make a proven vaccine available to the public by the end of the year. The company could manufacture at least 100 million doses this year and 1.5 billion in 2021, he said. The Novavax project is one of about a dozen experimental vaccines currently in development around the world; their potential efficacy is yet to be determined.

Read more:  Coronavirus vaccine human tests show initial promise

01:35 China has registered seven new coronavirus infections on its mainland, all of them imported cases involving travelers from overseas, according to the country’s health authorities. The National Health Commission said in a statement that it had also recorded 29 new asymptomatic cases, down from 40 one day earlier. The novel coronavirus first broke out in central China in December. Since then, a total of 82,992 people in the mainland have been infected, while 4,634 people have died.

01:30 Brazilian broadcast giant O Globo and newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo say they will temporarily stop sending their journalists to the presidential palace in Brasilia owing to safety concerns.

The papers said reporters waiting outside the official residence to interview President Jair Bolsonaro faced harassment and verbal attacks on a daily basis from government supporters waiting in the same spot. The papers said hostilities had escalated in recent days, and that they would temporarily suspend coverage of the palace until the safety of their staff could be guaranteed. 

Bolsonaro himself has been heavily critical of the media, accusing journalists of spreading false information about the coronavirus, a disease he has described as a "little flu."

00:07 The United States has decided to bring forward a ban on travelers from Brazil, which has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world behind the US.

A White House statement said the measure, initially planned for May 28, will now come into force two days earlier — to start at the stroke of midnight Wednesday. It did not give a reason for the change, but said the restrictions would help ensure foreign nationals do not bring more virus cases to the US.

00:03 The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned Brazil against reopening its economy too soon, saying some coronavirus restrictions should stay in place.

The plea came as the country for the first time reported a higher daily death toll than the United States. Brazil registered 807 new fatalities on Monday, the Health Ministry said, bringing the overall toll to 23,473. By comparison, 620 people died in the US, which currently has more than 98,000 deaths — the highest toll for an individual country in the world.

WHO executive director Michael Ryan said Brazil's "intense" transmission rates meant the government should be careful about easing restrictions before it had the capacity to carry out enough testing. On Monday, Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria said he would start loosening restrictions in Brazil's largest state economy on June 1. Meanwhile, Rio de Janeiro's mayor, Marcelo Crivella, said churches would be added to the list of "essential services," meaning people in his city would soon be able to attend services, despite most businesses remaining shut.

Read more:  Coronavirus: Brazil headed for catastrophe

00:00 Catch up on yesterday's coronavirus news here:  Coronavirus latest: Spain eases restrictions in big cities

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.

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nm/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)


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