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Coronavirus latest: Germany's infection rate rises again

Germany's R number rose to about 1.1, meaning that every infected patient passes the coronavirus to more than one other person. Meanwhile, protesters across Germany slammed isolation measures. Follow DW for the latest.

  • The virus reproduction rate hit around 1.1 in Germany, but officials warned of "insecurities" in predicting a long-term trend

  •  Thousands of people have demonstrated in German cities to protest the restrictions on public life that have been put in place

  • Former US President Barack Obama has described Donald Trump's handling of the outbreak as "chaotic"

  • Belarus has commemorated Victory Day with tens of thousands of people in close proximity

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

23:59 We have now closed this article. For the latest updates, see Coronavirus latest: More than 4 million global cases

21:52 In an escalation of his dispute with California officials, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has threatened to move the company’s factory and headquarters out of the state. Coronavirus restrictions by the Alameda County Health Department have stopped Tesla from reopening its factory in Fremont.

''Frankly, this is the final straw,'' Musk said on Twitter. ''Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately.'' He added that Tesla plans to file a lawsuit against Alameda County. 

An order, issued to curb the spread of coronavirus in the San Francisco Bay Area, forced the company to shutter its Fremont factory on March 23. The order was later extended until the end of May. Ever since the release of Tesla’s first-quarter earnings on April 29, Musk has spoken against the restrictions, calling them fascist. He has also asked the governments to stop taking away people's "freedom."

21:38 Authorities in the Indian city of Ahmedabad used drones and fire engines to spray disinfectant amid a surge in coronavirus cases and protests against a reinforced lockdown. Ahmedabad is a city of 5.5 million people in the western state of Gujarat. The city has recorded 343 of the nearly 2,000 deaths in India and approximately 10% of the country’s total cases.

As cases spiked on Friday, paramilitary forces were sent in to keep people off the streets but the situation soon turned violent as residents who had ventured out began pelting stones at police and paramilitary. Security forces resorted to firing tear gas and at least 15 people were arrested.

On Saturday, fresh clashes also erupted in Surat — Gujarat’s industrial center — when about 500 migrant workers, demanding to return home, hurled stones at the police. Surat has reported about 900 cases of COVID-19, making it the second hardest-hit city in the state.

21:34 A fire broke out in a Moscow hospital killing a female patient infected with the coronavirus, according to a "well-informed source" cited by the Russian news agency Interfax. The fire broke out in the Spasokukotsky hospital and reportedly hit the section treating coronavirus patients. Separately, Moscow deputy mayor Anastasia Rakova said nearly 300 people were evacuated due to the incident.

"All the patients have been moved to other areas of the hospital, some of them are being moved to other hospitals," she told reporters.

Russia has seen nearly 200,000 coronavirus cases and 1,827 deaths since the outbreak started, with 10,817 new cases reported on Saturday. The daily jumps in cases have stayed above 10,000 every day this week.

19:30 While announcing the new estimated R-value, Germany's Robert Koch Institute warned that the lower infection numbers prompted more statistical "insecurities." The report indicates the possibility of error between 0.9 and 1.34.

The indicated rise in R-value comes less than a week since Germany eased many of its restrictive measures on Monday.

19:03 Former US President Barack Obama has described Donald Trump's handling of the outbreak as "chaotic" in a conference call with former members of his administration, according to news agency Reuters.

Obama has largely avoided getting involved with the political shenanigans at the White House while Trump has frequently passed comment on the alleged inadequacies of his predecessor and the Democratic administration, primarily over a lack of medical supplies.

But in his phone call on Friday with 3,000 members of the Obama Alumni Association, people who served in his administration, he said: "It would have been bad even with the best of governments. It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset. of 'what's in it for me' and 'to heck with everybody else,' when that mindset is operationalized in our government," Obama said.

18:57 German Second Division football club Dynamo Dresden has sent its entire squad, as well as its coaching and support staff, into a two-week quarantine after two players tested positive for COVID-19.

As a result, the club will not be able to play for the next 14 days, meaning their fixture against Hannover 96 will not be going ahead as planned on 17 May at 13:30.

German soccer is set to resume on May 16 after almost two months of inaction.

18:40 The rate of infection in Germany (R) for SARS-CoV-2 has once again climbed over 1, which means that every infected person in the country on average infects more than one other person.

Authorities in Germany and across the world aim to keep the value below one, which would indicate a long-term drop in infection rates. The R number was 0.65 as recently as Wednesday. A previous jump over the 1.00 line prompted doubt into the government's strategy of easing the lockdown.

On Saturday, Germany's official Robert Koch Institute put the R-value at 1.1. However, the researchers noted that statistical variations prevented them from judging if the number of new infections would continue to drop or start rising again.

"The rise of the estimated R-value makes it necessary to monitor the development very carefully in the coming days." the institute said.

18:30 Egypt's strongman Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi signed off on reforms that give him and the country's security agencies extra powers, with the government saying the changes were needed to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Out of 18 amendments approved by el-Sissi on Saturday, only five are clearly related to public health.

The reform allows the president to suspend classes at schools and universities and quarantine people coming in from abroad in order to contain the virus. They also empower el-Sissi to postpone taxes and utility payments. However, they also include expanded powers to ban both public and private meetings, protests, celebrations, and other gatherings. Military prosecutors will also have the authority to investigate incidents on the president's orders.

18:08 In South Korea, more than 2,100 nightclubs, discos and bars were closed in the Seoul area after several clubgoers were linked with spreading the infection. Earlier on Saturday, health officials reported 18 new cases, all but one of them linked to a single 29-year-old man who visited three nightclubs last Saturday before testing positive. However, 16 more cases were confirmed in Seoul alone since then.

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said the bans would stay in place until the city authorities conclude that the infection risk has been meaningfully lowered.

He also said the authorities have been working to contact nearly 2,000 patrons of the clubs frequented by the 29-year-old patients and other venues nearby. So far, the officials have only reached 637 of them.

17:50 France has recorded 80 coronavirus deaths in the previous 24 hours, officials say, marking the lowest daily increase since early April. The relatively low daily death toll follows 243 deaths recorded on the previous day, and the 179 deaths reported on Thursday.

The country's health ministry also announced that the number of patients treated at intensive care units went down by 56 and is now at 2,812. This is less than half of the April 8th peak of 7,148.

The number of patients hospitalized with the new coronavirus continued its weeks-long decline and is now at 22,614.

The EU country is set to start easing lockdown measures on Monday.

17:20 Three children in New York have died from a rare inflammatory disease which has been tied to COVID-19, Governor Andrew Cuomo has said.

Cuomo had on Friday announced the fatality of a 5-year old linked to the novel virus and a syndrome that shares symptoms with Kawasaki, a disease that results in a fever and mainly affects children under 5 years of age. It was the first known death connected to the rare disease in New York and now Cuomo has confirmed two more deaths from the inflammatory condition.

"This is the last thing that we need at this time, with all that is going on, with all the anxiety we have, now for parents to have to worry about whether or not their youngster was infected," Cuomo said at his daily briefing.

Meanwhile, over the last 24 hours, a further 226 people have died from the novel coronavirus.

17:00 The head of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has gone into self-quarantine after coming into contact with a person who tested positive for the new coronavirus, the agency said. The now-isolated FDA chief Stephen Hahn was tested after learning of the contact and his results came back negative, according to the officials.

Separately, the press secretary of US Vice President Mike Pence, Katie Miller, tested positive for the virus. In addition to being Pence's spokeswoman, Miller is married to top Donald Trump aide Stephen Miller.

Both Trump and Pence are tested daily for the new coronavirus. There have been no reports on either of them being infected.

16:50 Health authorities in Italy have reported 1,083 new cases for a total of 218,268 coronavirus infections. They also upped the death toll by 194, bringing the total number of fatalities to 30,395.

The latest figures indicate the continued decline of the epidemic in the European country. The number of new infections is lower than the 1,327 cases reported yesterday and the 1,401 on Thursday, while the death toll is also significantly lower than the 243 fatalities on Friday and the 274 on Thursday.

Even with the decline, Italy remains the third-heaviest hit nation by coronavirus deaths, behind the US with 77,344 fatalities and 31,662 lives lost in the UK.

The number of recovered patients has exceeded 100,000 and is currently at 103,031, according to Italian officials.

A customer buys takeaway ice cream at the Venchi ice cream parlour (AFP/M. Medina)

Stir-crazy Italians are free to stroll and even buy an ice cream after weeks of strict lockdown

16:30 The UK’s COVID-19 death toll has risen by 346, taking the total number of deaths from the virus to 31,587, Transport Minister Grant Shapps said at the government's daily news briefing.

Meanwhile, Britain's deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tan, revealed at the same briefing he was "confident" the "R" number, a measure of the rate of contagion, was below 1 across the country.

The R number, or effective reproduction number, measures the average number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to. A figure of less than 1 suggests a reduction in the number of people contracting the virus and may lead to a relaxation of lockdown measures, as seen in some European countries recently.

16:25 More than 180 workers in a German meat-packing plant have now tested positive for the coronavirus, medical officials said on Saturday. The plant in the town of Coesfeld near the Dutch border has been shut by the authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state. Over a dozen workers have been hospitalized. Another meat-packing plant in the same state also saw 33 workers test positive. State authorities have ordered all abattoir workers to be tested. Separately,  a slaughterhouse in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein reported an outbreak in another meat-processing facility in Bad Bramstedt, where 109 people tested positive.

Union officials blame the outbreaks on the employers. The companies rely on cheap foreign labor, mostly from southeastern Europe, who are often housed in workers' barracks with limited hygiene capacities.

"They live too close to one another," said Thomas Bernhard from the hospitality union NGG

15:45 The Danish-controlled Faroe Islands said they had "no active" coronavirus cases on Saturday. The autonomous North Atlantic archipelago, with a population of around 48,500 people, has seen 187 infections since the outbreak reached the islands in early March. All of the infected patients have since recovered and no fatalities have been reported.

"Our tough battle has paid off." said the Faroe Islands' Prime Minister Bardur a Steig Nielsen. He praised the people for respecting hygiene rules their willingness to transform their daily lives and said they would "soon be able to get back to normal daily life as much as we can under these abnormal circumstances."

15:20 Some 3,000 people have protested in downtown Munich, accusing politicians and medical workers of spreading panic and infringing on the population's rights.

The police said the event was reported and pre-approved by the authorities, but only for up to 80 participants. They added that the protesters failed to adhere to social distancing rules, but the police decided not to disperse the gathering "on the grounds of proportionality" as the participants were not violent. Another large protest was reported in Stuttgart.

Over two-thirds of German residents support the need for social distancing, according to the latest research published by the official BfR Institute. However, this still marks a sharp drop from the numbers reported in March, when 92% supported the restrictions.

Demonstration in Munich (picture alliance/dpa/P. Kneffel)

Police decided not to disperse the gathering in Munich "on the grounds of proportionality"

Separately, the police in Berlin detained 30 people protesting before the German parliament. The group also criticized coronavirus restrictions. Police deployed 100 officers to the scene, according to authorities.

15:00 As Spain prepares to ease restrictions further for about one half of its population, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez warned that the "struggle goes on" and would continue until a vaccine is found.

"We've managed to retake 99% of the ground lost to the virus," Sanchez told the nation.

On Monday, selected regions that are home to about 51% of the Spanish population will reopen bars, restaurants, shops, museums, gyms and hotels. The easing will not include Madrid and Barcelona.

Spain's death toll continued to drop according to figures announced on Saturday, with 179 coronavirus deaths compared to the 229 on the day before and over 900 seen during the peak in early April.

14:50 China's medical system showed "shortcomings" when faced with the coronavirus spread, one of the country's top health officials has said.

"The novel coronavirus outbreak was a big test that revealed China still has shortcomings in its major epidemic prevention and control system, public health systems and other aspects of (the emergency) response," Li Bin of China's National Health Commission told reporters.

He pledged that the country would create a "centralized, unified, and efficient" leadership system that would allow it to respond more quickly. Health officials were discussing how to implement big data, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and other technologies for disease prevention.

14:15 More than 1,000 people lined up on Saturday in Geneva to collect food parcels, the Reuters news agency reports.

The Swiss business hub is one of Europe’s wealthiest cities and the scale of people demonstrates the effects of coronavirus on working poor and undocumented immigrants.

The socially-distanced line of people stretched more than a kilometer outside an ice rink. Volunteers used the makeshift venue to hand out around 1,500 parcels. Some people started queuing as early as 5 a.m.

Charity Caritas says that more than 1 million people in Switzerland are at risk of poverty, in a country of 8.6 million.

Volunteers distribute bags with food and essential products received from donations at Vernets ice rink (Reuters/D. Balibouse)

While Geneva is one of the richest cities in the world, there have always been people living precariously

14:05 Belarus has held a large military parade to mark the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, bucking the trend among ex-Soviet countries. While Russia decided to postpone its own, much larger event due to infection concerns, Belarus' strongman Alexander Lukashenko doubled down on the event, saying that his country "simply cannot cancel the parade."

"And think what the people would say," Lukashenko said last week while announcing the parade would take place. "Maybe not immediately, but after a day or two, they will say we were scared."
Belarus has refused to declare any kind of restrictions on public life due to the virus.

Watch video 01:31

Russia holds scaled-down Victory Day celebration

13:40 The British government has told airlines it will introduce a 14-day quarantine period for most people arriving from abroad to try to avoid a second peak in the coronavirus pandemic.

While the government is yet to officially announce the move, Airlines UK, which represents many British airlines, said the move required a "credible exit plan" and should be reviewed every week. Airport operators are concerned about the "devastating impact" it may have on the aviation industry.

Critics have pointed to other countries that introduced such quarantine practices with the beginning of lockdown, which the UK went into seven weeks ago. In that time, hundreds of flights have arrived from abroad, with no requirements for quarantine or health checks for any of the passengers arriving.

The move is expected to be officially announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday in a widely-anticipated address to the nation, which many Brits hope may see some easing of restrictions.

The UK is the worst-hit country in Europe with 212,629 confirmed cases and 31,316 dead.

12:40 German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged to support the cultural sector, which has been severely affected by the lockdown measures introduced almost two months ago.

Hygiene was of paramount importance when reopening theatres, concert halls, opera houses and other venues, Merkel said, and that plans are evolving to ensure safety measures will be in place when the sector finally opens its doors.

Read more: Coronavirus — Germany's music, arts scene desperate for 'crucial' help

"We are excited to take first steps towards normal everyday life, especially in the cultural sector," Merkel said in her weekly video message to the nation.

The lockdown that began in March, including the closure of cultural venues, has been particularly tough on artists, Merkel said, adding that her government was "considering" which supportive measures will be necessary for artists to help them endure this difficult time.

Watch video 02:18

Germany reopens more businesses, albeit cautiously

11:50 Germany's coronavirus lockdown has prompted many to try their luck at setting records within their own four walls. RID, the institute responsible for registering records set in German-speaking countries, said that people practicing martial arts had been particularly active in submitting new record attempts.

RID chief Olaf Kuchenbecker told the DPA news agency that submissions included an attempt to crush as many cans as possible within a set time and an attempt to smash coconuts with your elbow. One Austrian national was able to reduce eight 28-centimeter pans into rolls of metal within one minute.

The most well-known attempt at setting a world record in recent weeks saw 1,320 people record the song "Rock You Like a Hurricane" by the Scorpions within the confines of their homes. The performances from more than 40 countries were edited together by music teacher Jens Illemann in the German state of Schleswig Holstein and the finished product is to be released on Youtube later on Saturday.

11:02 China has admitted "shortcomings" in its public healthcare system that were exposed by the emergence of the novel coronavirus. Li Bin, deputy director of China's National Health Commission, made the rare admission, saying authorities were not adequately prepared for the outbreak. He said Beijing would now build a "centralized, unified and efficient" leadership system that would allow it to respond more quickly and effectively to any public health crisis in the future.

China has faced criticism both at home and abroad for downplaying the virus and concealing information about the outbreak when it first emerged in the central city of Wuhan in December.

On Friday, Beijing said it would support a World Health Organization-led review into the global response to the coronavirus outbreak — once the pandemic is over.

Read more: Does US-China coronavirus blame game threaten scientific investigation?

Watch video 03:00

Coronavirus: Returning to work in China

10:43 At least three people have been killed and several others wounded in Afghanistan during a protest demanding more coronavirus aid. Protesters in Ghor province gathered saying they had not received the food packages of flour and rice, donated by a charity.

Police opened fire after protesters damaged property near the governor's
office in the provincial capital Firuzkoh and attacked the security forces, provincial councilor Abdul Basir Qaderi told Germany's DPA news agency. Warning shots and water cannon had failed to disperse the protesters, he said.

"The city is in a military situation now," Qaderi added. "There are tanks on the roads."

A spokesman for the provincial governor said that gunmen were seen among the protesters. 

Ghor is one of the most deprived, undeveloped, and insecure provinces in the country.

10:00 The daily coronavirus death toll in Spain has fallen to 179, down from 229 on Friday, according to the country’s health ministry. The overall death toll currently stands at 26,478, while confirmed infections rose to 223,574.

The country's health minister has said the government will begin lifting restrictions on movement — in place for nearly two months — for just over half of the country’s population starting next week. Health Minister Salvador Illa on Friday said that areas that have met requirements for easing restrictions account for 51% of the country’s 47 million people. 

From Monday, those areas will be free to reopen outdoor seating areas at smaller restaurants and bars to serve 50% of their normal capacity. Gatherings in groups of up to 10 people, family reunions, outdoor markets, church services, and museum openings will also be permitted. 

The Madrid region, with over 64,000 confirmed infections, and large parts of Catalonia, with more than 51,000 cases, have not qualified for the partial lifting of restrictions.

09:38 Over 5,000 people gathered late Friday night in the Slovenian capital of Ljublijana to protest restrictions imposed by the government to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Smaller rallies took place in other cities, the country’s press agency reported Saturday. 

In the capital, demonstrators rang bells outside of the parliamentary building to express their discontent with the measures. Restrictions, imposed since mid-March, are gradually being lifted, but a ban on gatherings and protests remains in force. 

The rallies also protested alleged corruption in the right-wing nationalist government of Prime Minister Janez Jansa. The government is reported to have procured anti-coronavirus products from abroad by way of a local distributor. The distributor, which is closely linked to top government officials, is suspected of over-charging.

09:26 Germany’s Bundesliga soccer players will only be allowed to celebrate a goal with "brief elbow or foot contact" when matches resume again on May 16 after weeks off due to the coronavirus. 

Citing an internal German Football League (DFL) document, German newspaper Bild reported that players were instructed to avoid high fives, hugging, and spitting, and that there would be no child mascots, no handshakes, and no team photos. Teams will also come out of the tunnel at different times. 

The document requests that players on the bench wear masks and that they leave seats empty between each person. 

"The coach may remove the nose and mouth mask to call out instructions, as long as he keeps a minimum distance of 1.5 meters (5 feet) from all other people," Bild wrote, citing the document. 

Time spent in the locker room should be limited to a bare minimum of "30 to 40 minutes" for each individual.

Watch video 01:44

Germany's Bundesliga gears up to restart play

09:05 German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says Europe must acknowledge that it "wasn't well-prepared" for the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement marking Europe Day, Maas said that initially most countries, including Germany, were focused on coping with the outbreak at home.

While defending the national response as "necessary, in order to safeguard our ability to act and then also help others," Maas said the European Union had "grown in the crisis."

The EU's sluggish response has given way to cross-border medical aid, a massive financial support package and coordinated scientific research programs. 

Maas called the solidarity provided by EU member states "unique in the world," adding that Germany wants the bloc to emerge from the crisis stronger. Berlin takes over the six-month rotating presidency of the 27-nation EU on July 1.

Read more: Coronavirus latest: EU wants bloc's borders sealed until June 15

08:30 Amid a rise in home deliveries during the lockdown, a Dutch startup is flouting years of tradition in Germany by providing a groceries-to-your home service on a Sunday, when all shops are normally closed.

The online grocery store Picnic had previously offered Sunday deliveries exclusively to health workers. "Now we want to expand Sunday deliveries to include all customers," Picnic founder and director Frederic Knauft told Die Welt

As a response to the coronavirus outbreak, in early March, the German government gave supermarkets the option to open on Sundays in order to reduce supply shortages. But all major supermarkets rejected the offer, saying it would overburden their staff. Sunday openings would have also caused conflicts with trade unions and the Christian church in Germany, both staunch advocates for keeping shops closed on Sundays. 

Picnic, however, has taken up the offer. A test phase of Sunday deliveries is now taking place in the city of Viersen in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Watch video 01:44

08:11 The United States has blocked a United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution urging a ceasefire in war-ravaged countries, to focus resources on the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

US diplomats told reporters later that ongoing disagreements with China were a factor in this decision, which Washington has accused of repeatedly blocking resolutions.

Washington also refused to support language contained in the draft to describe the World Health Organization (WHO). US President Donald Trump last month announced the US would suspend funding to the WHO, accusing the Geneva-based body of downplaying the seriousness of the outbreak in January and refusing to publicly condemn China's handling of the crisis.

07:35 Singapore has reported 753 new infections, its health ministry reported Saturday, bringing the city-state’s total cases to 22,460. The health ministry said the vast majority of new infections were migrant workers who live together in dormitories.

Officials have said the upsurge among foreign workers was expected amid ongoing virus testing at dozens of dorms that have been locked down. Singapore will allow selected businesses to operate on May 12 in a gradual rollback of a two-month lockdown that is expected to end June 1.

07:29 Chinese President Xi Jinping has written a letter offering to help North Korea fight the coronavirus outbreak, Chinese state television has reported.

In the note to his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un, the Chinese leader said he had significant concerns about the situation in the isolated country but that he was pleased that North Korea had achieved positive results in its attempt to slow the deadly infection.

Watch video 02:10

Asia's hawkers defy the coronavirus crisis

07:00 The northern German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has become the first to reopen restaurants, after weeks of country-wide closures due to the coronavirus. Other German states are expected to follow suit in the coming days and weeks.

Restaurants must follow strict hygiene and social distancing measures, including keeping 1.5 meters (5 feet) of space between dining groups. This means eateries will only be able to accommodate about half of their regular number of customers, according to the regional president of DEHOGA, the German Hotel and Restaurant Association, Lars Schwarz. He said he expects around one-third of restaurants in the area to reopen on Saturday. 

Restaurants are also only allowed to serve state residents. Schwarz recommended that diners call ahead to make reservations and said that at least one guest per table will be required to provide contact information in case an outbreak connected to the restaurant develops.

Read more: Coronavirus outbreak closes German meat-packing plant

Watch video 01:52

Germans head to the beer garden as lockdowns are lifted

06:21 A US federal court has halted a ban on mass gatherings from applying to in-person religious services in the state of Kentucky, opening a path for Sunday church services to take place. 

A temporary restraining order stops Governor Andy Beshear’s administration from enforcing a block on large gatherings "at any in-person religious service which adheres to applicable social distancing and hygiene guidelines."

The ruling sided in the case with Tabernacle Baptist Church in Nicholasville, Kentucky, but applies to all places of worship in the state. Two other federal judges had previously upheld the ban. 

In the new ruling, Van Tatenhove said the governor had "an honest motive" for safeguarding his state’s residents, but that he did not provide "a compelling reason for using his authority to limit a citizen’s right to freely exercise something we value greatly — the right of every American to follow their conscience on matters related to religion."

The judge said that Tabernacle had alleged irreparable injury and that the church was likely to succeed in its case.

05:28 The state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia has called for Germany to reopen its border with France

"The lockdown there [France] is ending on May 11," Armin Laschet told the German dailies Stuttgarter Zeitung and Stuttgarter Nachrichten. "That would be a good moment to signal to our neighbor that we’re striving for a collective European response to fighting the pandemic."

Laschet, who is also a candidate to lead Germany's center-right CDU party, called for Germany to reach out to Austria to discuss reopening that border. The last weeks were "too focused on the nation-state and too little on Europe," he said. Laschet has been in favor of keeping borders open since the beginning of the outbreak. 

Laschet’s comments contrasted with those of German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who recently said closed borders had been a "part of our success thus far in containing the virus."

Seehofer is seeing mounting pressure both in and outside Germany to open the country’s borders. The state premier of Saarland Tobias Han on Friday called for the borders with France to be opened, while Luxembourg and Austria have also called for their borders with Germany to be reopened.

Read more: Coronavirus: EU urges closing external borders until mid-June

04:47 European Union states are too reliant on non-EU countries for medical supplies, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier has said, a point that Germany will focus on when it takes over the EU presidency in July. 

"The current crisis shows that we have to avoid one-sided dependency and diversify international supply chains to a greater extent," Altmaier told Reuters in remarks published Saturday.  Europe needs to become less dependent on non-European suppliers of medical protection gear such as face masks, he added. 

"For this, we need a European industrial strategy to strengthen the industrial base in Europe, combined with good framework conditions, especially for small and medium-sized companies."

The economy minister cautioned that this new focus does not mean a "farewell to globalization."

"On the contrary, it underlines the importance of clear international trade rules that everyone must abide by," he said. He insisted that the new strategy must be in line with World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations. 

Germany is currently in the process of changing its foreign trade regulation to require that the government be informed when countries outside of the EU purchase stakes in key healthcare companies.

Watch video 05:12

Quiet city: Berlin during the coronavirus pandemic

04:32 Turkey has imposed a fresh weekend curfew in 24 cities and provinces. Residents of Ankara and Istanbul were among those ordered to stay home from midnight Friday. Only bakeries, pharmacies and grocery stores are allowed to remain open. However, the government still plans to loosen some of its restrictions from Monday, including the reopening of shopping centers and hair salons. Turkey has seen 135,569 confirmed infections and 3,689 people have died.

 

03:43 Magician Roy Horn, who was a part of the German entertainer duo "Siegfried & Roy," died at the age of 75 after contracting COVID-19, his spokesman Dave Kirvin said. Horn, an animal tamer and magician, gained notoriety for his appearances with white tigers and lions, alongside his partner Siegfried Fischbacher.

His career ended in 2003, when he was mauled by a tiger, inflicting injuries that he never fully recovered from. 

"Roy was a fighter his whole life including during these final days," his stage partner Fischbacher said in a statement.

03:25 South Korea registered 18 new cases of the coronavirus on Saturday — 12 of these were in Seoul.

While health authorities did not immediately release further details, the new transmissions are being linked to night clubs in the Itaewon entertainment district in Seoul.

On Friday, medical workers began contact tracing after a 29-year-old man who visited three nightclubs in the district last week later tested positive for the virus. 

At least 15 of the new transmissions were linked to him. 

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the government will employ ''all available resources'' to locate and isolate those infected.  

An administrative order has also been released advising nightclubs and similar facilities across the country to close for a month.

The total number of confirmed cases in the country has risen to 10,840, with 256 deaths.

Read moreCoronavirus: How major sports are returning in South Korea

02:24 Argentina on Friday extended its lockdown in the capital but relaxed restrictions elsewhere in the country.

A day before they were set to expire, social distancing measures in Buenos Aires were extended to May 24.

President Alberto Fernandez made the announcement in a television address, saying that he was "extremely proud" of citizens for adhering to strict social distancing protocols. He added that the measures helped the country achieve its goal of flattening the infection curve.

The mayor of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodriguez Larreta, announced that children will now be allowed to exercise outside on weekends when accompanied by their parents.

Argentines have been under a strict quarantine since March 20. In April, they were allowed to take short walks outside their homes during the day.

The country has reported a total of 5,611 cases of COVID-19 and 293 deaths.

02:07 The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has risen by 1,251 to 168,551, according to figures from the Robert Koch Institute released on Saturday. The total number of deaths rose by 147 to 7,369.

01:44 The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported 28,974 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 1,248,040. The number of deaths has risen by 2,180 to 75,477.

The US is the world's worst-affected country in the coronavirus pandemic.

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00:50 Mexico has reported 1,906 new coronavirus cases and 199 fatalities, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 31,522 and the death toll to 3,160. 

The new figures follow the murder of three sisters, all of whom were nurses working in Mexico's government hospital system. The women were found to have been murdered by strangling, authorities in the northern border state of Coahuila said. No motive has been determined yet, but the triple-murder has raised fears that a trend in attacks on health care workers is escalating further. 

In other parts of Mexico, nurses have been hit, kicked off public transport, and had cleaning fluids poured on them. Mexican health authorities have denounced the attacks and urged medical personnel not to wear uniforms or scrubs on the street to avoid being targeted.

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00:00 Catch up on yesterday's coronavirus news: EU wants bloc's borders sealed until June 15

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In reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, unless otherwise specified, DW uses figures provided by the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Coronavirus Resource Center in the United States. JHU updates figures in real-time, collating data from world health organizations, state and national governments and other public official sources, all of whom have their own systems for compiling information.

Germany's national statistics are compiled by its public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). These figures depend on data transmission from state and local levels and are updated around once a day, which can lead to deviation from JHU.

jsi,kp,lc,dv/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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