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Coronavirus latest: Germany's infection rate drops below 1

May 12, 2020

Germany's infection rate has dropped below a key threshold, with authorities saying they don't expect a "renewed rising trend." The number of global deaths from the virus has reached 290,000. Follow DW for the latest.

Paramedic Andreas Hankel and Doctor Katharina Franz, of the rescue helicopter "Christoph Giessen", close the special isolation chamber "IsoArk"
Image: Reuters/K. Pfaffenbach
  • Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) says the country's infection rate has dipped to 0.94 after three consecutive days above 1.0.

  • In China, the city of Wuhan is to test its entire population after a new cluster of infections was discovered there
  • Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been hospitalized with COVID-19

  • The world has been marking International Nurses Day amid the global pandemic

  • There have been 4.25 million infections across the globe resulting in more than 290,000 deaths

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

23:59 We have now closed this article. For the latest news, please see Wednesday's live updates article here: Brazil's daily death toll hits new high

23:47 About 25,000 Venezuelan migrants have returned from Colombia to their home country due to the coronavirus pandemic, Colombia’s migration authority said. There are about 1.8 million Venezuelans in Colombia, most of whom fled because of the economic crisis and political unrest under President Nicolas Maduro. 

The migrants, many of whom depend on hawking or begging for their income, started to return on their own. Authorities have arranged for them to cross the border in restricted groups. Colombia currently has a total of 12,272 reported cases and a death toll of 493, while Venezuela has 422 reported cases and a reported death toll of ten. 

Venezuelans head home

23:00 A newly revised virus mortality model predicts that more than 147,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by early August. That figure marks an increase of nearly 10,000 from the last projection, issued by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

The projections are based on "key drivers of viral transmission like changes in testing and mobility, as well as easing of distancing policies," according to the institute.

21:58 Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro openly challenged governors who are protesting his decree to reopen gyms and hair salons, to file lawsuits against the move. Bolsonaro’s decision to reopen a large list of businesses was made in the belief that the economic damage of the lockdown outweighed the effects of the virus on the Brazilian population.

The Brazilian Supreme Court has previously ruled that state and local governments have the authority to order businesses to close, but Bolsonaro has used his presidential powers to override that local authority, by formally declaring the establishments "essential."

Brazil’s health ministry announced that it has processed 482,743 tests in official labs, amid a significant backlog.

Meanwhile, the Latin American country's registered cases rose to 177,589, according to the health ministry, surpassing Germany's 170,508 confirmed infections.

Brazil also declared 881 deaths in the last 24 hours, a record for a single day.

21:33 The outbreak in Mexico has resulted in the loss of some 555,000 jobs in April, according to figures from the country's Social Security Institute, which brought the total to 685,000 jobs lost since lockdown measures began in March.

The newly released figures do not include informal workers, who represent roughly 57% of the total workforce in the country.

Health authorities say infections are now at their peak, a situation that is expected to last at least until May 20. Mexico has recorded 36,327 cases, causing 3,573 fatalities.

21:00 Polish President Andrzej Duda published a video of himself rapping which has gathered over 4.3 million views on YouTube.

"They don't ask you for your name, they fight the sharp shadow of fog," Duda raps in a verse apparently referring to emergency workers fighting the coronavirus outbreak. "The strong hands of rescuers, all together - let's praise them!"

The 47-year-old conservative leader made the clip in response to a coronavirus fundraising challenge launched by Polish rappers. The online campaign, dubbed "Hot16Challenge2" calls on public figures to post a 16-verse rap and donate to a fund dedicated to medics.

At the end of the clip, Duda nominated Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to post a similar video.

Duda was the favorite to win the presidential election that was originally set for last weekend but was delayed due to the pandemic.

20:27 US Vice President Mike Pence will "keep his distance" from President Donald Trump "for a few days," the White House has announced. The decision comes after Pence's press secretary tested positive for the new coronavirus last week.

While announcing that Pence would be distancing himself from the president, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany emphasized it was Pence's "personal decision." It would also be up to Pence to decide how long would the distancing last.

Pence's spokeswoman, Katie Miller, is married to top Trump adviser Stephen Miller. Earlier on Tuesday, Trump himself said he "felt no vulnerability whatsoever" to the outbreak due to numerous tests in the White House. Both Trump and Pence are tested daily for COVID-19.

Three members of the White House coronavirus task force went into self-isolation since Miller tested positive.

20:11 A 20-year-old American landed in Frankfurt, Germany, and attempted to sneak past an airport security point by posing as a janitor. The man was apparently trying to circumvent the pandemic restrictions so he could see his girlfriend. For more on this, click here: US youth tries sneaking into Germany to see girlfriend

Here's the latest on what's happening in Europe:

Germany: After rising to over 1 for several days, Germany's infection rate has once again dropped below the threshold to 0.94. The rise in infections over the weekend sparked concerns over loosening COVID-19 restrictions in the country, with new outbreak hotspots arising in several German slaughterhouses. Many state leaders are continuing to push for relaxing further measures, including ending mandatory quarantine measures for travelers and loosening border restrictions. Looking ahead, Chancellor Angela Merkel will answer questions from lawmakers on Wednesday as well as hold talks with her Cabinet about border controls and other issues.

France: The number of coronavirus-linked deaths rose to 26,991 on Tuesday, with France's death toll now surpassing the total number of fatalities in Spain. The country logged over 348 new deaths during the last 24-hours. The figure is higher compared to prior days, but the pressure on hospitals is subsiding, with the number of patients in intensive care continuing to fall.

UK: The British government extended its support plan for workers who have been temporarily laid off, stretching its furlough scheme until October. Under the plan, which 7.5 million people have signed up for, workers will continue to receive up to 80% of their wages up to £2,500 ($3,100; €2,800) per month. Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the royal family paid tribute to nurses on International Nurses' Day, posting videos and chatting with healthcare workers. Meanwhile, the latest data compiled by Reuters revealed that at least 20,000 people have died in care homes in England and Wales due to the virus.

Russia: President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, has tested positive for COVID-19 and is being treated in hospital. Peskov is one of several government officials to have fallen ill, although he said he was last in direct contact with Putin "over a month ago." Russia also became the country with the world's second-largest outbreak on Tuesday with over 230,000 confirmed cases.

Bulgaria: The country will not extend its state of emergency, which ends on Wednesday, and will slowly reopen museums and movie theaters as well as outdoor bars and restaurants. Although the measures have been relaxed, lawmakers agreed to keep certain restrictions including punishments for breaking quarantine. The Bulgarian government also announced plans to slash the value added tax on restaurants this year to help them recover from the outbreak.

19:40 The reproduction rate for the SARS-CoV-2 virus fell below the critical threshold of 1 to an estimated 0.94 on Tuesday. But what's the reproduction number R, and why do we need it to be less than 1? Here’s a video explainer.

What's the reproduction number R?

19:35 New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at least 52 children have been diagnosed with an inflammatory syndrome with potential links to the novel coronavirus. He said 10 other cases are pending confirmation.

"Since we put out our health alert, we've been getting more reports of cases of pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome related to COVID-19 in children," de Blasio said. "This is a major concern. Take this seriously."

New York City is one of the hardest-hit cities in the US, now considered the epicenter of the pandemic. Authorities have reported more than 27,000 deaths in the metropolitan area.

De Blasio said he has moved forward with plans to train some 2,500 contact tracers and ramp up testing to 50,000 per day.

"Testing is a decisive tool we need to fight this disease," he said. "We're doing everything we can to expand rapidly ourselves so we can beat back this disease."

19:20 Canada's public health agency reported more than 5,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government was "looking at stronger measures" to curb the outbreak.

He noted that the 80% of the deaths were of elderly people living in longterm care residences.

"We've seen heartbreaking tragedies in longterm care facilities and nursing homes right across the country — overworked staff, understaffed residences, grieving families," Trudeau said. "There are serious underlying challenges facing these facilities.

He said his government "will be there to help the provinces find last solutions."

19:00 Though it's controversial, the Bundesliga's return this weekend makes it the first European league to restart amid the coronavirus pandemic. With all eyes on Germany, DW runs through the teams, players, coaches and culture of the Bundesliga.

Newly recruited nurses attend a cap awarding ceremony at Sichuan Cancer Hospital in Chengdu,
Newly-recruited nurses in the Chinese city of Chengdu marked International Nurses Day with a special ceremonyImage: picture-alliance/Photoshot/L. Kun

18:50 The world is marking International Nurses Day amid the global pandemic:

Pope Francis praised the "courage and sacrifice" of healthcare workers in a special message, adding that nurses deserve to have their working conditions improved. The pontiff urged political leaders to "invest in healthcare as the primary common good, by strengthening its systems and employing greater numbers of nurses" to ensure enough care. Francis noted that many nurses have lost their lives during the pandemic.

— The UK royal family paid tribute to nurses and health workers in several countries across the world, with Queen Elizabeth leading the effort.

The royals talked to health workers on the phone and sent out video messages for the International Nurses Day, the 200th birthday of UK nursing icon Florence Nightingale. 

— The Czech Republic honored healthcare workers by sounding church bells for one minute at noon. "All who belong to the healthcare system are our heroes in the crisis situations," said Health Minister Adam Vojtech.

Germany's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier hailed the "enormous" effort put in by healthcare workers. According to a video published online, Steinmeier called a nursing home in the northern city of Bremen to speak with a nurse and a resident. He said that healthcare workers often work until their limits and beyond them. "And I would like all of us to remember what you are doing for this society even after the crisis," he added. 

— Unions and healthcare representatives in Germany urged for better pay and working conditions for healthcare workers, with some staging protests across the country.  The government had pledged to pay out one-time bonuses to healthcare workers of up to €1,500, but many have called for less "applause" and more deep policy changes to improve their position. 

18:02 The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany's public health authority, said the infection rate has dipped under the threshold to 0.94 after three consecutive days above 1.0.

An infection rate over 1.0 means more people are contracting the deadly pathogen than those who already have it. Authorities feared that a prolonged duration of an infection rate above the threshold would force them to re-impose lockdown measures.

However, the RKI sought to downplay the weekend surge in infections, saying it would begin issuing a "smooth" rate of infection, sometimes called the R number, to deal with fluctuations in reporting from local and state authorities.

RKI Vice President Lars Schaade said the new figure would be "better suited to illustrate longer-term trends" in the outbreak within Germany's borders.  

"So far, we do not expect a renewed rising trend," the RKI said, referring to Tuesday's rate.

17:45 German state leaders are pushing to end mandatory quarantine measures for travelers coming back from abroad after a court suspended the rules in one state.

The leaders of the western states of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and Saarland said they want to do away with the rules, saying the current COVID-19 situation doesn't justify a general quarantine order for all travelers.

NRW state premier Armin Laschet called the measures "anti-European," but said he wants to discuss easing the rules on a nationwide level.

German police officers stand at the French-German border between Kehl and Strasbourg
German police officers stand at the French-German border between Kehl and StrasbourgImage: picture-alliance/E. Cegarra

On Monday evening, an administrative court in the state of Lower Saxony ruled that there were no grounds for the blanket requirement. Instead, the court said the law allows for only certain groups of people to be told to quarantine, such as if they are sick or deemed at risk.

Under current rules, anyone arriving in Germany from abroad must go home and self-isolate for 14 days. There are exceptions for people who went on short trips, commuted to their job across the border or were transporting goods.

17:25 A 113-year-old Spanish woman, believed to be the oldest living person in the country, has recovered from the coronavirus, according to her nursing home. Maria Branyas was first diagnosed in April and was isolating in her room.

"She survived the disease and is doing fine," a spokeswoman for the residence told the AFP news agency. "She feels good now, she took a test last week and the result was negative."

In a video shown by Spanish TV3, Branyas described the staff as "very kind, very attentive" and said she was lucky to enjoy good health.

Read more: Spain — 113-year-old woman beats coronavirus

Several other residents of the home in the eastern Spanish city of Olot passed away from the virus. 

Branyas is not the only centenarian to fight off COVID-19 last month. 106-year-old Connie Titchen was released from a UK hospital after beating the infection.

17:20 In her meeting with party members, it's reported that Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany should take further steps in helping hard-hit EU countries back to their feet.

That includes assisting with finances, Merkel said. As Europe's economic powerhouse, Germany is viewed as a political leader that could spearhead the post-pandemic recovery, especially as it takes the reigns of the European Council presidency in July.

However, not everyone is on board. Wolfgang Schäuble, veteran policymaker and president of Germany's lower house Bundestag, said Berlin should not continue to solve problems by throwing money at it. He warned that circumstances in Germany will change dramatically in the wake of the pandemic.

17:02 German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reportedly voiced support for relaxing border controls, but cautioned that the measures will take time.

In a meeting with members of her conservative CDU/CSU bloc, Merkel said she wants to move towards normalizing the situation within Europe's visa-free Schengen area. Any reopening measures would be a two-step process that would need to be coordinated with Germany's neighbors.

She emphasized, however, that France will not be reopening its borders until at least mid-June.

German states have been pushing for the federal government to end Germany's border controls by May 15. Merkel will discuss the border situation with her Cabinet on Wednesday.

16:52 A woman working at Victoria railway station in London died of the novel coronavirus after she was spat on by a man who claimed he was carrying the deadly pathogen.

The 47-year-old woman, named Belly Mujinga, worked at the station's ticker office but was on the concourse when the man assaulted her and another colleague. Both women fell ill with the virus within days.

Read more: Coronavirus: UK rail worker dies after carrier spit on her

Due to an underlying respiratory illness, her condition turned grave and she was put on a ventilator. Fourteen days after the incident she was pronounced dead. British police have opened an investigation.

"We are shocked and devastated at Belly's death," said Manuel Cortes, her trade union's general secretary. "She is one of far too many frontline workers who have lost their lives to coronavirus."

16:34 With most borders still closed in the EU, the EU Commission is set to present "guidelines" for their "gradual and cautious" reopening, said the Commission's representative Monique Pariat.

The initial goal will be to expand exceptions granted to international workers and family members of foreign residents. A draft document also urges lifting border controls in the areas where there is a comparable number of coronavirus cases on both sides of the border, and where there are enough hospital beds and test capacities available. Last week, the Commission urged the EU states to prolong the halt on the EU's external borders until mid-June.

15:52 Hundreds of German businessmen aim to fly back to China on a charter flight on May 25, according to business and diplomatic sources cited by Reuters.

China reportedly offered to waive protective measures for about 500 to 1000 managers and executives and their families, allowing them to enter the country without the two-week quarantine. The German Chamber of Commerce in China is now working with Lufthansa to organize a charter flight from Frankfurt to Shanghai on May 25. The passengers will allegedly be required to present a negative coronavirus test at least 48 hours before the departure.

Germany's Foreign Ministry is examining the offer. Previously, the ministry repatriated over 220,000 German nationals due to the coronavirus and advised against global travel until June 14.

15:42 The German pharmaceutical company Biontech said the first results of its coronavirus vaccine trials would likely be ready in late June or July. Biontech is collaborating with the US-based Pfizer to build up production capacities that would allow millions of doses to be ready by the end of the year. The researchers are currently testing four potential vaccines in clinical trials in Germany and the US, said Biontech chief Ugur Sahin. The human trials started in April.

A Biontech laboratory
Biontech, of Mainz, Germany, and US-based Pfizer are collaborating to build production capacityImage: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Albrecht

15:22 Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert in the US, told the Senate that he is "concerned" about states and cities trying to reopen too quickly without adhering to guidelines set out by health experts.

"The consequences could be really serious," Fauci told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

"There is no doubt even under the best of circumstances, the cases will appear," he added, emphasizing that testing and contact tracing will be key before reopening further sectors of the economy. Fauci told the New York Times ahead of the hearing that reopening too early would lead to "needless suffering and death."

The death toll in the United States is also "almost definitely" higher than the official figures currently show, Fauci said.

"There may have been people who died at home who did have COVID who were not counted as COVID," he noted.

Fauci also cautioned that hoping for a vaccine to be available for the start of the school year in August or September would "be a bridge too far."

"Even at the top speed we're going, we don't see a vaccine playing in the availability of students to go back this term," he said.

15:17 The World Health Organization (WHO) has said there are treatments that limit the severity of the length of COVID-19, but that they are "in very early studies."

"We do have potentially positive data coming out we need to see more data to 100%," the agency's spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters, without naming the treatments.

At the same time, the WHO sought to calibrate expectations for a vaccine, noting that coronaviruses in general were "very tricky" and that vaccines against them were difficult to produce. Over 100 potential vaccines are currently in development, with several products in clinical trials.

Researchers were looking into remdesivir and other anti-viral drugs as possible medication for coronavirus patients.

COVID-19: three different approaches to a vaccine

14:55 Can the coronavirus attack the brain? And what's Germany doing now to slow the spread? Listen to DW's science podcast for a different angle on the coronavirus pandemic.

14:42 Lebanon is to go back to "full closure" after easing some restrictions on public life, the government said on Tuesday.  After imposing lockdown in mid-March, the country has allowed for restaurants, hair salons, construction sites and other locations to reopen last week with some restrictions still in place. However, the government has since witnessed a new infection spike

The closure will start on Wednesday night. Supermarkets and pharmacies are set to stay open.

The government will also re-evaluate its five-stage plan to reboot the economy, according to Information Minister Abdel Samad.

The Middle Eastern country with the population of under 6.9 million has so far seen 870 infections and 26 deaths.

14:30 With a vaccine still months away, French researchers are currently looking into an eyebrow-raising treatment for preventing COVID-19 — nicotine.

"Every morning I was noting whether a patient was or was not a smoker — and then I have seen that we had virtually no current smokers who were hospitalized," Zahir Amoura, professor of internal medicine and one of the authors of a paper on nicotine and COVID-19, told DW.

French researchers and the World Health Organization have strongly warned people against taking up smoking as a way to prevent the virus. The effects of nicotine, however, are still unclear — with France approving clinical trials at lightning speed.

Check out DW's video report for more on the nicotine research in France.

13:55 In Italy, several regions are planning to reopen beaches to visitors, including Emilia-Romagna, which is also intending to allow bars, restaurants and hairdressers to resume business on Monday after weeks of lockdown. Venice and Liguria also want to reopen beaches from Monday.  

However, visitors to the beaches will still be required to adhere to strict regulations, with health authorities stipulating that rows of sun umbrellas should be spaced 5 meters (16 feet) apart and social distancing should rules apply even in the water.

Italy has one of the highest rates of coronavirus infections and deaths in the world.

People walk along the beach of Ladispoli, a coastal town some 30 kilometers north of Rome
Ladispoli is one of the few beaches near Rome that has allowed residents to practice activities like fishing and walkingImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Medichini

13:35 Here is a roundup of the latest coronavirus news from Asia and the Pacific:

In China, the city of Wuhan is to test its entire population after a new cluster of infections was discovered there after a weekslong lull in what was the original source of the coronavirus pandemic.

The task will be a mammoth one in the city of 11 million, which reopened on April 8 after 76 days under lockdown.

Six new cases were reported on Sunday and Monday in a residential compound, amid fears of a second wave of a pandemic that killed almost 4,000 people in the city after first emerging there in December.

Authorities in South Korea are tracing nightclub visitors using mobile phone data after a spike of new cases in such venues in Seoul's Itaewon district.

Volunteers spray disinfectant on a street in the international district of Itaewon in Seoul
More than 100 new coronavirus cases linked to clubs and bars in the international district of Itaewon have been confirmedImage: picture-alliance/Yonhap

Several of the affected clubs in the district are gay clubs, leading the authorities to promise anonymity to those found to have been in danger of infection, as homosexuality is widely stigmatized in the country.

The new cluster prompted authorities to delay the reopening of schools planned for this week, while clubs and bars in Seoul, the neighboring province of Gyeonggi and the cities of Incheon and Daegu have been closed.

India has reopened its railway network on a very small scale, with just 30 trains of the normal 20,000 that run each day resuming services. The relaxation of restrictions comes despite a continued fast rise in new infections, with more than 3,600 cases recorded on Monday after a record of more than 4,000 on Sunday.

People line up to board trains outside New Delhi railway station in New Delhi,
India is reopening some of its colossal rail network as the country looks at easing its lockdownImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Swarup

New Zealand has said it is standing by its schedule election date of September 19 despite the coronavirus threat. The Electoral Commission on Tuesday unveiled measures designed to allow the polls to take place safely.

The country has been one of the most successful in the world at staving off the coronavirus pandemic, having had just 1,487 cases and 21 deaths. A strict lockdown was imposed before the pandemic could take root in the country, which is also helped by its island status.

Bangladesh has reported the first confirmed COVID-19 fatality in the country's overcrowded prisons. The victim was a 53-year-old prisoner awaiting trial. Authorities say inmates who shared a cell with him have been isolated.

Singapore is to temporarily shut down the second of its four terminals at Changi Airport from May 16 because of the small number of passengers amid the pandemic.

In the Philippines, a two-month lockdown is to be eased, with more businesses, some public transport and shopping malls opening from Saturday, but the capital, Manila, remains under strict stay-at-home orders until the end of May.

13:10 Demonstrations in the German state of Thuringia will soon be allowed to take place with an unlimited number of protesters.

Officials in the eastern German state scrapped the current cap of 50 participants. As of Wednesday, outdoor protests will be allowed to take place without participant restrictions. The number of people who are allowed to protest indoors is still limited to 30.

Thuringia state officials emphasized that demonstrations will still be taking place under strict measures to limit the threat of exposure to the virus.

Protests against measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 have popped up across Germany, raising concerns about participants becoming radicalized with far-right ideologies. Thomas Kemmerich, the head of Thuringia's business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP), made headlines for taking part in one of the protests — leading to calls for him to resign.

13:00 Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been hospitalized with COVID-19, according to Russian news agency Interfax. Peskov is quoted as saying: "Yes, I’m sick. I’m being treated."

Read more: Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov infected with coronavirus

The news came a day after Putin said he was easing some of the country’s lockdown restrictions amid a slowing rate of infection. Despite this announcement, the latest numbers suggest that cases in Russia have surged to put it second behind the United States for the most infections in the world. There are 230,000 confirmed cases in Russia and over 2,100 deaths – though some have suggested the number could be far higher as the government clamps down on media reports about the pandemic that contradict official statements.

12:45 The European Commission has signed a deal with Dutch electronics giant Philips to procure thousands of new ventilators for at least 25 member states, both parties have confirmed.

Last week, as the deal was being hammered out, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said that Philips "has a production capacity of 15,000 units per week," according to officials who participated in the online meeting. However, no specific amount has been ordered or delivered yet.

Hospitals in hard-hit countries like Italy and Spain often struggled without enough ventilators in the crucial months of March and April, but many member states have now passed the peak of the virus’ spread. As the EU struggled with coordination at the time, despite a March 17 agreement for joint procurement of ventilators, many countries have been left on their own to procure ventilators and protective equipment of healthcare workers.

11:59 While Sweden has significantly fewer coronavirus restrictions than neighboring countries, it also has a higher number of coronavirus related deaths, with many of the fatalities occurring in nursing homes, the German broadcasting group ARD reported. Almost 2,900 of the now more than 3,200 coronavirus deaths in Sweden were aged over 70. The majority of the victims were aged between 80 and 90 and many of them had been in nursing homes.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said that the country's elderly have not been adequately protected in the face of the pandemic. 

Some workers in nursing homes had continued going to work in the first weeks of the pandemic, even though they felt ill. Care home workers also suffer from a continuous shortage of protective medical equipment and clothing, ARD reported.

11:47 Germany's state development bank, KfW, said on Tuesday that the country's economic output is likely to have temporarily dipped by some 20-25% amid coronavirus restrictions, with the lowest point reached in April — if no second wave of the pandemic occurs.

KfW chief economist Fritzi Köhler-Geib said the economy would not fully recover till fall 2021, with total economic fallout amounting to €300 billion ($324.51 billion), roughly equivalent to Denmark's total GDP.

11:40 World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a UN Economic and Social Council video briefing on Monday that there are around seven or eight "top" candidates for a vaccine to combat COVID-19 and that work on them is being accelerated.

Two months ago, it was assumed that the development of a vaccine would take another 12 to 18 months. Tedros said that research efforts were bolstered by the €7.4 billion ($8 billion) pledged a week ago by leaders from 40 countries, organizations and banks. However, the WHO chief said that the amount is still not enough and that additional funds are required to speed up the development of a vaccine and "to make sure that this vaccine reaches everyone."

Tedros did not idenfity which were the most promising candidates.

11:17 A further 82 employees of a slaughterhouse in Birkenfeld near Pforzheim in the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg have tested positive for the coronavirus, a spokeswoman for the Enzkreis district office said. 

The new cases brings the total number of employees who are or were infected with the virus to around 400 – almost a quarter of the slaughterhouse's approximately 1,100 employees. 

Almost 150 employees have recovered and are allowed to work again. 

The Enzkreis district office has provided some infected employees with alternative temporary accommodation after they were found to be living in crowded conditions.

COVID-19 outbreak in German abattoir

Read more: Coronavirus breaks out in third German slaughterhouse

11:01 Spain has ordered a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all travelers arriving from abroad as of May 15 as the country emerges from one of Europe's strictest coronavirus lockdowns.

The measure applies to all travelers, including Spanish citizens returning to the country. Only those entering Spain to work as health staff, truck drivers, airplane and ship crew members and cross-border workers are exempt from the quarantine.

Travelers will only be authorized to go outside for grocery shopping, to visit health clinics, or in case of "situation of need." The quarantine is set to last until at least May 24, when the country's emergency is also due to end.

10:58 Berlin has completed the construction of a coronavirus emergency hospital equipped with some 500 beds and more than 100 ventilators in just six weeks. The new hospital unit, built on the grounds of the capital's Messe trade fair, cost €43 million euros ($47 million). 

Construction began in mid-March when the spread of the coronavirus was growing exponentially. Berlin's senate now says the hospital might never have to treat any patients as regular hospitals with intensive units say 40% of their beds are still available (around 8,000 free beds).

10:01 Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told DW that an international inquiry headed by the UN Secretary-General is the only way to get to the bottom of how the coronavirus pandemic began. He added that the investigation must be carried out before China restricts access to its scientists even further. He has also accused US President Trump, Fox News, and the rest of the Murdoch media empire of stoking global outrage in a time when solidarity is needed.

Rudd pointed to an "early notification or lack thereof" in China, as well as reluctance from provincial authorities to report the outbreak to national authorities as the first big mistake. 

"My own view is that in order to get to the bottom of this, we need to have an independent international inquiry," he said.

"You should have questions about how the WHO has performed.

"But this rolling artillery barrage of accusations in both directions doesn't help to get us to the fundamental scientific truths of what transpired here."

09:14 Local clusters of coronavirus cases in China in recent days indicate that it is premature to ease containment measures, the National Health Commission has said. Mi Feng, the health authority’s spokesman, warned that while prevention and control efforts have normalized, it does not mean counter-coronavirus restrictions can be relaxed.

Wuhan reported its first cluster of coronavirus infections on Monday since its lockdown was lifted a month ago.

08:48 Germany’s center for disease control, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said at a press conference that it will issue a "smooth" rate of infection reproduction (R0) number in the future to account for fluctuations and lags in reporting. The current number is also influenced by large spikes in concentrated areas, and may not represent the situation for the whole country.

In recent days, the R number for Germany has risen above 1, causing concerns as the country’s 16 federal states begin lifting lockdown measures. The relaxation was announced when the R number was at a relatively low .65.

However, due to the lag, the current numbers represent the infection rate from April 28 to May 3.  The R0 number indicates how many other people a infected person passes the virus to.

Read more: Germany: Infection R-rate still above 1, but restrictions still lifted

08:26 A new study from Germany’s Hans-Böckler Foundation has said that some 50 million EU and Swiss inhabitants have been reduced to part-time work since the crisis began. The highest number of applications to reduce working hours was recorded in France at 11.3 million, while Germany had the second most with 10.1 million applications. This accounts for some 26.9% of the German economy, which is about the EU average at last count. 

Countries in eastern Europe that have not been hit as hard by the pandemic, such as Poland and Slovakia, have seen relatively few people have to reduce their working hours.

08:13 State authorities in Hamburg have given the green light for restaurants to reopen on Wednesday, as long as physical distancing and hygiene rules are observed. People from two households will be allowed to sit at one table and servers must wear gloves and facemasks. Hamburg follows the northern states of Lowery Saxony and Mecklenburg-Lower Pomerania, where restaurants have been open since Monday. 

07:26 Ryanair has announced it will run 40% of its planned flight schedule from July 1. It says passengers will be required to wear face coverings and will have to ask crew permission to use the toilet. This amounts to 1,000 flights per day on July 1, up from just 30 flights per day it is currently operating, it said in a statement.

The flights will cover 90% of its normal network, but at a reduced frequency. 

07:15 At least five COVID-19 patients have died in a hospital fire in the Russian city of St. Petersburg after a ventilator caught fire.

Read more: Russia: Ventilator fire in St. Petersburg hospital kills COVID-19 patients

07:05 Germany’s number of traffic accidents has decreased significantly  during the pandemic, according to data from the R+T insurance group. The company said it saw a 20% drop in claims in April compared to the same month last year, attributing the restrictions on people’s movement due to coronavirus measures to the decline.

Allianz insurers also reported a drop in accidents from mid-March to the end of April, as did DEVK-Versicherung and the Huk-Coburg insurance company. Meanwhile, the German Automobile Club (ADAC) reported around 200 fewer helicopter air rescues from January to the beginning of May in comparison to the same period last year, indicating a decrease of about 15%.

However, the ADAC data also showed that since the end of April, more vehicles have been on the road and the number of traffic jams increased compared to the end of March.

06:43 France’s economic activity nosedived 27% in April compared with its expected trajectory before the pandemic, the Bank of France announced.

The bank said the economy had been expected to grow 0.1% in the first quarter of the year, with the 27% decline counted from where it would have reached in April.

06:05 Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has warned that reopening the US economy too soon could lead to “needless suffering and death," the New York Times reported.

"If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to 'Open America Again,' then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country," Fauci said in an email to the newspaper, adding that opening the economy prematurely would set the US back to their "quest to return to normal." Fauci said he wanted to convey the message to the Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions committee.

05:36 The state premier of Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, has called for further relaxations of coronavirus containment measures including the reopening of Germany’s borders. He also demanded an easing of mandatory quarantine obligations for returnees from other European countries. Currently, anyone entering Germany from abroad must undergo mandatory quarantine for two weeks, unless they hold special permits such as commuters.

Laschet — one of the first top politicians in Germany to demand an end to coronavirus restrictions — has been met with criticism. CDU politician Norbert Röttgen urged for caution instead, pointing to the high number of infections in neighbouring countries.

"Premature relaxation encourages people to behave in ways that are not justified in view of the development of the pandemic. If this continues to develop in this way, setbacks are to be feared again with immense health, economic and psychological consequences," he told German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer recently announced that the federal government had agreed to continue the border controls until May 15.

05:31 The CEO of Germany’s umbrella organization for public health insurance companies has warned that they will need state support in order to avoid financial ruin. Doris Pfeiffer said that she had a long discussion with Health Minister Jens Spahn and they had agreed that "by the autumn at the very latest" state and federal officials will discuss a funding package for the health insurance industry.

Health insurance companies are facing falling revenues as customers are forced into unemployment or part-time work. They also bear part of the cost burden for the increased number of intensive care beds and coronavirus tests Germany is producing. However, the total financial burden on the industry is still not known, as many patients are putting off non-essential tests and procedures.

03:33 The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has increased by 933 to 170,508 while the reported death toll rose by 116 to 7,533, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.

It is a significant rise from the previous day, although numbers are often lower at the weekend due to delayed reporting.

A break down of recent daily numbers:

May 12: 933 new cases; 116 new deaths

May 11: 357 new cases; 22 new deaths

May 10: 667 new cases; 13 new deaths

May 9: 1,251 new cases; 147 new deaths

May 8: 1,209 new cases; 147 new deaths

May 7: 1,284 new cases; 123 new deaths

May 6: 947 new cases; 165 new deaths

May 5: 685 new cases; 139 new deaths

May 4: 679 new cases; 43 new deaths

May 3: 793 new cases; 74 new deaths

May 2: 945 new cases; 94 new deaths

03:13 South Korea has reported 27 new cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections to 10,936. Many of the new infections were linked to nightclubs in Seoul, where health workers are now trying to track down and test thousands of people who visited clubs in the capital. The country’s death toll stands at 258.

03:03 France has repatriated more than 150 Europeans who were stranded in Central America.

The passengers included 57 French and 18 Germans citizen, according to French ambassador to Panama Brice Roquefeuil. The emergency flight also included Italian, Dutch and Spanish citizens. The passengers were flown out of Panama and Honduras. 

A second flight is scheduled for Wednesday. 

02:29 Japan’s health ministry is expected to approve the first antigen, or antibody coronavirus testing kits, on Wednesday, a health ministry official said.

The move is part of an effort to boost the number of diagnostic tests available. Japan has 15,777 confirmed cases of the virus and a total death toll of 633.

Here is the latest from Latin America:

In Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro has declared that gyms and hair salons could stay open as essential businesses, despite a new surge in cases and deaths.

Brazil registered 5,632 new cases on Monday and 396 deaths from the virus, according to its health ministry. The country now has over 163,000 confirmed cases and a death toll of 11,625. 

Mexico’s coronavirus death toll rose by 108, to 3,573 in total, while its number of confirmed cases rose by 1,305 to 36,327. The new figures mark a continuing decline in the country’s daily death toll since Thursday, when 257 fatalities were reported.

The new count follows claims made by a group representing Mexican pharmacy owners that people have been picking used surgical face masks out of the trash and reselling them. 

Face masks are frequently sold individually on the street by unlicensed vendors, and masks have become a much sought-after item amid the pandemic, with reports of shortages and price increases. The Mexican Pharmacy Owners Union subsequently advised people to cut their masks up before throwing them away. 

In Uruguay the crew of another virus-hit ship, the Australian-owned Greg Mortimer, will be allowed to disembark to quarantine in hotels, the government said. Dozens of crew on the ship, which was expected to dock in Montevideo, have been infected with the coronavirus. The country has 707 confirmed cases and a death toll of 19. 

The number of Guatemalan deportees who tested positive for coronavirus after a flight from the US has reached 71. Vice Minister of Health Erick Munoz told congressmen that 71 of the 76 deportees from an April 13 flight had tested positive. The government temporarily suspended deportation flights from the US following the first positive cases from the flight. Guatemala has 1,052 confirmed cases and a death toll of 26.

The number of confirmed infections in Chile passed 30,000, making it the fourth most infected Latin American country after Brazil, Peru and Mexico. Chile’s health undersecretary, Paula Daza, said the number of infections was 30,063 and the death toll was 323, according to daily newspaper La Tercera

01:49 China has reported just one new infection as re-opening measures gathered pace.

Beijing middle school senior students have returned to class and Shanghai Disneyland has opened its gates once more, albeit to a limited number of visitors.

Read more: Closed, canceled, downsized: Coronavirus hits Chinese culture

01:41 Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced that the automaker’s California assembly plant will be resuming operations, in defiance of official orders trying to curb the spread of COVID-19.

"Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules," Musk tweeted. "I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me."

Tesla Plant, California, USA
The Tesla Factory in Fremont, California Image: picture-alliance/newscom/UPI Photo/T. Schmitt

01:19 The Bundesliga returns this coming Saturday, albeit behind closed doors, and German fans are being warned to not congregate near the grounds.

Authorities have said matches could be halted if too many supporters gather outside the stadiums.

The Bundesliga is the first among Europe's top leagues to resume following the outbreak after two months of inaction. Other soccer federations will be closely monitoring progress in Germany, in the hope that they too can resume in the coming weeks.

01:09 US President Donald Trump said that his administration has ''met the moment'' and ''prevailed'' on coronavirus testing. Trump told reporters that everyone who wants a test can get one, although officials later clarified that he was referring to everyone who ''needs'' a test. 

The briefing followed reports that two White House staffers were infected with the novel virus. A subsequent order now means employees must wear masks when working in the West Wing, where the presidential office is located.

Trump also confirmed that Mike Pence had tested negative. The vice president took the test after his press secretary tested positive for COVID-19.

The daily briefing came to an abrupt halt after Trump had an argument with an Asian-American reporter. CBS News reporter Weija Jiang asked Trump why he insisted that the US was doing better than other countries when it came to testing for the virus. 

Trump replied: "They’re losing their lives everywhere in the world. And maybe that’s a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me, ask China that question, okay?"

"Sir, why are you saying that to me specifically?" she said.

"I'm saying it to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that," Trump said.

Where COVID-19 all began

00:54 India will reopen selected passenger trains on its giant railway network starting today after more than seven weeks of lockdown. Some 15 trains will run from the capital New Delhi, to other cities. The trains will also make return journeys at full capacity.

The Indian Railways announced a series of guidelines for passengers, including wearing a face mask, and installing the government’s contact tracing app, Aarogya Setu, on their phones. The announcement was made on the same day India recorded its biggest jump in coronavirus infections. The country has recorded 67,152 cases in total, with 2,206 perishing from the virus so far. 

India’s train network, which carries 20 million passengers daily, was shut in late March to prevent the virus from spreading.

00:14 All mosques in Iran are set to open temporarily on Tuesday, to make room for Ramadan prayer services, the official IRIB news agency reported.

The decision, which marks another step in the government’s efforts to ease restrictions, would allow for mosques to stay open for three days, commemorating specific nights of the holy month, IRIB quoted Mohammad Qomi, the director of the Islamic Development Organization as saying.

It was unclear if the mosques would remain open or not following the temporary opening, according to the Fars news agency. Iran is the Middle East’s hardest-hit country, with over 109,000 confirmed cases and a reported death toll of 6,685.

00:00 Catch up on yesterday's coronavirus news here:  Hard-hit Europe eases restrictions

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, adi/jsi (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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