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Coronavirus latest: Italy sees fewest daily deaths in 6 weeks

The country with Europe's highest fatality rate from COVID-19 has seen the lowest daily death toll since March 14. Along with Spain, Italy is seeing a decline in new infections. Follow DW for the latest.

  • Global infections of the COVID-19 pandemic near 3 million as deaths pass 205,000
  • Italy has reported its lowest daily death toll in 6 weeks
  • British PM Boris Johnson has returned to work after recovering from coronavirus
  • Germany's labor minister has proposed a legal right for people to work from home

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

23:59 We have now closed this live updates article. For the latest news see Monday's article here: Coronavirus latest: Germany warns against high expectations for EU presidency

21:38 In an internal memo, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury told staff to prepare for further job cuts as the company fights to survive amid widening economic fallout caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Airbus is "bleeding cash at an unprecedented speed," he said. Before the pandemic, the European aerospace giant was on the upswing as its primary competitor Boeing struggled to comeback from two 737 MAX crashes. 

Airbus employs approximately 135,000 people.

21:06 German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas appeared to walk back comments about Germany's EU presidency by warning against expecting too much from Berlin during the post-pandemic recovery.

In comments carried by the Monday edition of the Munich-based newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, Maas said it is necessary to "find a reasonable balance between ambitious aspirations and realistic goals."

His remarks come less than two weeks after he had called for an ambitious program during Germany's six months at the helm of the EU presidency. "We will make it into a coronavirus presidency in order to overcome the coronavirus and its consequences," he said earlier this month.

As Europe's powerhouse economy, Germany is often viewed as a political leader within the EU. With the economic fallout of the pandemic threatening to devastate European economies, many member states believe Berlin should take the opportunity to lead extensive financial assistance and streamline further integration of the bloc.

19:51 German Health Minister Jens Spahn says a contact tracing app to curb the spread of coronavirus currently in the works may still be weeks away.

Developing the app should be done "as quickly as possible, but also as securely as possible," Spahn told broadcaster ARD's "Tagesthemen" show on Sunday evening.

The app was supposed to be operational by mid April, but Spahn said he had "always pointed out that, from the experience with other digital projects, that it usually takes one, two, three weeks longer than some say publicly, because data security and data protection is so important."

It is important that these kinds of apps have clear rules about who has access and cannot be hacked, he added.

The German government on Sunday said it was developing a contact tracing app that stores data on users' phones instead of on a central database.

19:22 In Germany, government officials have denied to news agency DPA that Chancellor Angela Merkel and other senior politicians are going to hold talks with Lufthansa's CEO over a rescue package for the troubled airline.

"Reports on ministers meeting on Lufthansa at the beginning of next week are not accurate," government sources told DPA.

An earlier DPA report citing government sources said Merkel and fellow top level officials were considering a rescue package for Lufthansa worthbetween €9 and 10 billion ($9.7 to 10.8 billion).

Meanwhile, German carmaker Volkswagen is set to resume production at its Wolfsburg plant on Monday as the country eases certain lockdown restrictions. BMW and Mercedes-Benz are also making plans to restart production at their plants in Germany.

Watch video 02:01

German car plants begin to reopen

18:38 UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has returned to Downing Street, his London office and residence, after his battle with COVID-19. Johnson was rushed to hospital earlier this month after his symptoms worsened. He spent three days in intensive care, followed by two weeks of convalescence at his country home. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been deputizing for him in his absence, said Johnson was "raring to go."

18:32 New York State has seen the fewest daily number of deaths in April. Governor Andrew Cuomo said the 367 deaths reported Sunday were less than half the nearly 800 that occurred in a single day during the pandemic's peak. Cuomo also noted that the number of hospitalizations, which still topped 1,000, and the number of individuals put on a ventilator had dropped as well.

Watch video 01:38

Vulnerable New Yorkers bear brunt of coronavirus outbreak

17:53 Security forces in Comoros have used tear gas to disperse crowds gathered at two mosques, AFP reports. The incidents occurred on the island of Anjouan, a security official told the news agency.

The African island nation is one of the few countries in the world without any officially registered cases of coronavirus. Nevertheless, President Azali Assoumani has introduced measures aimed at stopping the spread of the virus, including a nightly curfew.

17:33 Germany is providing €300 million ($325 million) to help poorer countries in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the German Foreign Ministry has said. The funds come in response to a global call for aid from the UN. The body has appealed for some $2 billion to help curb the spread of coronavirus in 51 countries in South America, the Middle East and Asia.

"The coronavirus knows no borders," said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. "It particularly impacts the people who are especially at risk, because they live in war zones or refugee camps, or in countries with health care systems completely overwhelmed by the pandemic."

Read more: 'Pandemic populism': Germany sees rise in conspiracy theories

Watch video 01:47

Germany flies in seasonal workers to harvest asparagus

17:16 Turkey has confirmed 2,357 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, with 99 deaths. More than 2,800 people have now died of the virus in the country, officials said.

A total of 110,130 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Turkey, the highest figure outside Western Europe or the United States.

17:00 Auschwitz survivor Henri Kichka, 94, has died from COVID-19, his son said in a Facebook post. Kichka was one of the last people alive who survived the Nazi death camp, and one of the last Holocaust survivors in Belgium.

"A small microscopic coronavirus managed where the entire Nazi army had failed," his son Michel wrote. "My father had survived the Death March, but today his Life March ended."

For years after World War II, Kichka did not discuss his experience during the Holocaust, but later in life, he began giving lectures at schools and ultimately published a memoir of his time at Auschwitz.

16:55 The death toll from COVID-19 in France has risen by 242 to 22,845, the Health Ministry said. French authorities are currently mulling how to end a nationwide lockdown in place since March 17.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will present a plan to lawmakers for easing those restrictions, his office told the AFP news agency. An app for contact tracing infections will also be unveiled Tuesday.

The government has come up with 17 priorities for gradually lifting lockdown measures starting on May 11, including re-opening schools, allowing people to return to work, and supplying masks and sanitizers. However, critics, including teachers' unions, have questioned whether social distancing can still be practiced if restrictions are loosened.

16:08 Italy has recorded 260 new coronavirus deaths, its lowest figure since March 14. The country is Europe's worst-hit in the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 200,000 confirmed infections and more than 26,000 fatalities.

Read more: Doctors in Italy cry foul over coronavirus protection

15:26 The German government has changed course over which type of smartphone technology to use to trace coronavirus infections, backing an approach supported by Apple and Google.

Health Minister Jens Spahn and Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff, Helge Braun, told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that Berlin now favors a "decentralized software architecture" that would see data stored on users' phones instead of on a central database.

The comments effectively put brakes on a German-made alternative, which had faced growing criticism over its plan to store data on a central server. Hundreds of scientists signed an open letter last Monday warning that the technology could allow governments to gather personal information, leading to mass state surveillance.

Watch video 02:51

Data security in the coronavirus age

15:13 The coronavirus death toll in the UK has risen to 20,732, after recording 413 new fatalities, the Health Ministry said Sunday.

The news comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is preparing to return to work on Monday. Johnson was released from the hospital two weeks ago after having to spend a week in intensive care battling COVID-19. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been filling in for the prime minister, said Johnson was "raring to go."

Johnson, who has not been seen in public since recovering from the virus, has come under criticism for not taking action earlier to combat the spread of COVID-19. Opposition politicians say the country's high death toll could have been lower had the Conservative government imposed lockdown measures sooner.

14:31 Israel's health minister is stepping down amid backlash against his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Yaakov Litzman, an ultra-Orthodox politician, lacks formal medical training and has come under criticism for appearing ill-prepared at news conferences and reportedly resisting measures to tighten lockdown restrictions that would impact religious communities.

In a statement to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Litzman, who has served in the Health Ministry for much of the past decade, said he "decided not to return to the Health Ministry for a fourth time, and prefers to lead a sweeping
development for solving the housing crisis in Israel in the Housing Ministry.''

Litzman himself contracted coronavirus earlier this month, apparently after ignoring his own ministry's orders to avoid group prayer in public. He has since recovered.

Israel, which as recorded more than 15,000 cases of COVID-19 and roughly 200 deaths, began easing some lockdown restrictions on Sunday, allowing certain businesses to open. The government is also considering re-opening schools.

13:52 Labor Minister Hubertus Heil wants to establish a legal right to work from home in Germany, he said in an interview with Bild am Sonntag.

He aims to propose the legislation, which would allow employees to choose to work remotely if feasible, this fall. Initial estimates suggest that the proportion of the workforce working from home has risen from 12% to 25%, or about 8 million people since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

''Everyone who wants to and whose job allows it should be able to work in a home office, even when the corona pandemic is over,'' said Heil. ''We are learning in the pandemic how much work can be done from home these days.''

Under the law, people could choose to switch entirely to working from home or to do so for one to two days per week, he said. The idea, however, is not new. Heil's Social Democrat party made calls in December, months before the coronavirus pandemic took hold in Europe, for the establishment of a right to work from home.

Read more: Will the coronavirus crisis drive digitization in Germany?

Watch video 03:12

Lockdown in Germany: Toilet roll, 'home office' and data privacy

13:30 The coronavirus pandemic will change the relationship between the state and the economy in Germany, Wolfgang Schäuble, the former finance minister and current president of the Bundestag, told Der Tagesspiegel newspaper. Schäuble also warned against the idea that government bailouts alone could save the economy.

"There is this sense ... at the moment of a spreading feeling that we can solve every problem through unlimited state funds, and we will get the economy going again with a stimulus package," he said. "The state cannot replace revenue in the long run."

Schäuble also advocated tackling the growing wage disparity in Germany, noting that this would mean higher prices for consumers, but "one has to accept that."

12:50 Two mink farms in the Netherlands have been put into quarantine after animals there were found to have been infected with coronavirus, officials said. The mink were tested for the disease after showing difficulty breathing. They are believed to have been infected by an employee who had COVID-19.

The Dutch Agriculture Ministry is urging people to report other cases of coronavirus in animals, however, it said the likelihood that the mink could pass COVID-19 on to other animals or humans on the farms in question was "minimal."

The farms were located east of the city of Eindhoven, in North Brabant province, a coronavirus hotspot in the Netherlands. There are more than 37,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, with 4,409 deaths.

11:40 Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke wants Germany's top soccer league to resume as soon as possible, with games played without fans, he told Sky TV.

The football season has been suspended since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the league hopes to restart in May. However, the Bundesliga is still awaiting government permission, with a political meeting to discuss the issue planned Thursday.

"If we don't play for the next few months, the whole Bundesliga will go downhill. Then it will no longer exist in the form we have known it," said Watzke.

"Of course, I know many fans say there will be no atmosphere in the stadiums and that will also come across on TV. That's absolutely clear. [But] this is about saving football."

A long delay in the season restarting could also mean that some German football clubs go bankrupt, he said.

For all the coronavirus-related sporting news, check out DW Sports

11:05 German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned against reopening European tourism destinations too quickly, adding that Europe needs to establish a common set of criteria to decide when it's safe to travel.

"A European race to see who will allow tourism travel first will lead to unacceptable risks," Maas told the weekly Bild am Sonntag newspaper. 

"We have already experienced what an infection cluster in a popular holiday destination can do to the home countries of the tourists," said Maas, citing the high infection rate at the Austrian ski resort of Ischgl, where hundreds of tourists are believed to have been infected with coronavirus in the early months of the outbreak.

"We must not let the hard-won successes of the last few weeks be ruined," said Maas.

10:45 Spain's daily coronavirus death toll dropped to 288 on Sunday, the lowest figure since March 20. The new figure, which marks a significant decrease from Saturday's toll of 378, brings the country's total number of deaths to 22,902.

Spain, which has the third-highest number of deaths after the United States and Italy, also took steps to ease its lockdown measures, which have been in place since March 14.

In Spain, only adults have been allowed to leave the house for essential purposes, while children have been confined to the indoors. However, from Sunday, children under 14 are allowed to go out once a day, for one hour between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., and within one kilometer (0.6 miles) of their home.

All Spaniards will be allowed out for exercise and to take walks starting next weekend, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Saturday. The government is also expected to unveil its broader lockdown exit plan on Tuesday, Sanchez said.

A Spanish child in a mask looks out a window (picture-alliance/dpaEuropa Press/Ó.J. Barroso)

Looking out the window is the most Spanish kids have been able to do during the six-week lockdown

10:20 China has confiscated over 89 million low quality face masks, a government official said on Sunday.

China's market regulators inspected almost 16 million businesses and seized the face masks as well as 418,000 pieces of protective gear as of Friday, said Gan Lin, deputy director of the State Administration of Market Regulation.

Inspectors also seized ineffective disinfectants, worth over 7.6 million yuan (€65,358; $70,720).

Demand for masks and protective equipment has spiked amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected almost 3 million people.

In an effort to curb the production of shoddy products, China released new rules on Saturday that even non-medical masks must adhere to national and international quality standards.

The seizures follow complaints that Chinese manufacturers are exporting faulty protective gear around the globe, although it was unclear what amount of the confiscated goods were destined for other countries.

Last week, the Canadian government said that about 1 million face masks purchased from China failed to meet proper standards for health care professionals. Last month, Dutch health officials recalled over 500,000 Chinese masks, which had already been sent to hospitals, after complaints that they did not close over the face properly or had defective filters.

China produces more than 116 million masks per day and has exported more than 1 billion masks this year, according to official figures.

09:15 Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus outbreak first began, said all coronavirus patients have now been discharged from the city's hospitals.

"The latest news is that by April 26, the number of new coronavirus patients in Wuhan was at zero, thanks to the joint efforts of Wuhan and medical staff from around the country," National Health Commission spokesman Mi Feng said at a briefing on Sunday.

The virus is thought to have originated at a market in the city in December.

In total, the city had reported 46,542 cases of the virus, or 56% of all Chinese cases, and 3,869 deaths, 84% of the national total.

The northeast border province of Heilongjiang is the current coronavirus hotspot in China. A large number of imported cases imported from Russia have been reported there.

On Sunday, China said it had recorded 11 new infections on the mainland in the past 24 hours.

07:50 The Australian government has launched COVIDSafe, a controversial contact tracing app intended to help control the spread of the coronavirus, but which also raises questions about data privacy.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said Sunday that the app "assists in the early alert and finding of people who may have been in contact with a person who is positive with a diagnosis."

The data is "encrypted and no one has access to that — not even yourself, no Commonwealth officials," Hunt said. "It is also prohibited by law."

Developing the app was a joint effort taken on by the conservative Australian government and the medical community. It is based on similar Tracetogether software in use in Singapore.

Several other countries, including Germany, are considering the use of phone apps to track the chain of coronavirus infections.

The app tracks Bluetooth connections with other phones that come within 1.5 meters (5 feet) of the user. It then notifies if there was contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus. The encrypted data, which is stored on a central server located in Australia, is sent to state health authorities.

The app will make it quicker and easier to trace contacts with public health workers, Australian Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said.

"It is only for one purpose, to help contact tracing, if someone becomes positive. That is all it is for and all that will be used for," he told reporters.

The app is available to download on a voluntary basis starting Sunday.

Australia has 6,711 confirmed coronavirus infections and has recorded 83 deaths.

Recently, the spread of the infection there has slowed: just 117 new cases were recorded in the last seven days.

Watch video 03:36

Interview: Can a cellphone tracking app pave the way out of the coronavirus crisis?

07:00 Seventeen police officers in Peru have died from the new coronavirus, which they contracted while enforcing national lockdown measures, officials and state media said.

Earlier this week, authorities confirmed that at least 1,300 officers had tested positive for COVID-19. Peru has a total of about 140,000 police officers.

"We have 17 deceased police officers nationwide, 11 of them in Lima," said Interior Minister Gaston Rodriguez on Saturday. Rodriguez was sworn into office a day on Friday after the number of police infections came out and his predecessor resigned. It is unclear whether the news was the reason for the resignation.

A state news agency said the high figure is linked to "the exposure that police officers have when intervening with people who violate the measures issued to contain the spread of the coronavirus."

The interior minister said 50 million soles ($14.7 million, €13.7 million) had been earmarked "for the purchase of protection elements such as masks and gloves" for Peru's police.

Lockdown measures have been in place in Peru since March 16.

In Latin America, Peru is second only to Brazil in terms of fallout from the coronavirus, with over 25,000 infections and 700 fatalities.

06:30 Germany reported 1,737 new infections, bringing the total to 154,175, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the country's public health agency. The RKI relies on figures reported by official health authorities, and not all health authorities reported their number of infections over the weekend, so the actual number could be much higher.

According to Johns Hopkins University, which collects data from national health authorities, local media and other sources, the number of infections is up to 156,513.

The number of coronavirus deaths rose by 140 to 5,640, according to the RKI, while Johns Hopkins lists the death toll as 5,877.

05:50 A pregnant woman in the United States had a baby while in a coronavirus-related coma, the New York hospital that treated her confirmed.

The woman was in the sixth month of pregnancy when on April 5 she was brought to the hospital with a bad cough. After her condition worsened, doctors chose to put her into a medically induced coma. On April 8, they made the decision to deliver the baby via Caesarian section,

"We chose to deliver the baby in order to lower the mother's need for oxygen," the woman's doctor told the US daily the New York Post. The woman came out of her coma on April 10. Her daughter has since tested negative for the coronavirus and both are now at home.

05:40 Health Canada, the country's department of health, has cautioned against the use of malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to prevent or treat COVID-19.

The drugs may cause serious side effects that include heart rhythm problems, the health department said, adding that they should only be used if prescribed by a doctor.

The warning echoes a cautionary statement made on Friday by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after the drugs were touted by US President Donald Trump.

"It is important that health care providers are aware of the risks of serious and potentially life-threatening heart rhythm problems that can occur with these drugs,'' the FDA said in a statement.

Doctors in New York have found that the drugs may alter the QT interval, or the time it takes the heart to charge between beats, potentially triggering a rhythm problem that can lead to sudden death.

Read more: Coronavirus studies: Chloroquine is ineffective and dangerous

05:20 The city of Beijing has banned "uncivilized" behavior, including not covering the mouth or nose when coughing or sneezing, as part of new regulations meant to improve public hygiene amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On its website, the city's government said offenders will be fined for such acts as not wearing a mask in public when ill.

The new regulations also require public places to put in markers intended to keep people at a distance of one meter (about 3-feet) from each other.

City residents must "dress neatly" and cannot go shirtless, a regulation that seems to target the "Beijing bikini" practice of men rolling the hem of their T-shirts up above their stomachs when the weather is hot.

"Uncivilized" behavior is already discouraged in Beijing, where public spitting, littering, walking dogs unleashed, throwing things from high buildings, public defecation and smoking in certain places is forbidden.

The new regulations passed Friday extend the list and also increase fines for littering, spitting, and public defecation to a maximum of 200 yuan ($28, €26), up from 50 yuan.

In the new regulations, the city encouraged police to report serious offenses, which could harm a person's social credit score, a controversial system recently implemented in China that is intended to rate how individual actions affect society.

05:00 Children's development could be impaired by the public restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus, according to the president of an association of pediatricians in Germany.

"There a psychosocial risk linked to prohibiting physical contact and keeping them cooped up at home," BVKJ President Thomas Fischbach told the dpa news agency. That risk increases over time, he said. 

If, for months on end, children aren't allowed to go to school or daycare or to meet their friends or go to the park, that's a significant interference in their lives, Fischbach added.

Thus far, the advisory bodies in charge of implementing or easing coronavirus restrictions in Germany have not consulted child welfare advocates when making their decisions, he said. He called for children's needs to be taken into account in such discussions going forward.

The president of the German Teachers' Association, Heinz-Peter Meidinger, said all students should return to class before the country's summer vacation begins. He suggested splitting classes and having students alternate between one week in school and one week of learning at home.

Earlier in April, Germany announced that some children would be allowed to return to school in May and that some stores could reopen. Parks and daycares remain closed.

02:40 Authorities in China reported 11 new cases and no news deaths, marking nearly two weeks without fatalities from the novel coronavirus. Although the coronavirus pandemic began in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Chinese authorities have managed to contain the deadly pathogen through heavy restrictions on public life.

However, critics have accused Beijing of failing to provide more information about the origins of the virus and how it managed to drastically reduce the rate of transmission.

02:07 Saudi Arabia announced plans to ease a nationwide curfew. By order of Saudi King Salman, the curfew is suspended from 9:00 am to 05:00 pm local time (0600 to 1400 UTC) until mid-May. 

As Muslims across the world participate in Islam's holiest month, Ramadan, the faithful has had to deal with stringent restrictions on gatherings. Saudi authorities said the new order also allows for limited commercial activities as of Wednesday. 

However, in Mecca, a 24-hour curfew will remain in effect, according to Saudi authorities.

Read more: Ramadan under lockdown: Muslims start an unusual month of fasting

01:46 Veteran lawmaker Wolfgang Schäuble, president of Germany's lower house of parliament, warned against subordinating everything to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic

In comments to the Berlin-based Tagesspiegel, Schäuble said that even though Germany's Basic Law is founded on the fundamental dignity of humans, "it does not exclude that we have to die."

"To simply shut everything down for two years would also have terrible consequences," including adverse social, economic and psychological effects, he said.

Although Germany has the fifth-highest number of confirmed cases in the world, it has managed to ensure continuity of health care without overloading its system. Schäuble, however, warned that many variables of the crisis were still in flux.

"None of us know what the effects of our actions will be, but politicians still have to act," he said. 

Germany has recorded nearly 6,000 deaths and more than 156,000 positive cases of the novel pathogen. German states, which are responsible for imposing restrictions, have decided to ease measures in a bid to cautiously return to public life.

00:41 Germany will promote decentralizing the software architecture for virus tracing apps, German Health Minister Jens Spahn and Chancellery chief Helge Braun told the Sunday edition of Die Welt newspaper.

Berlin would like an app that can be offered on popular mobile operating systems, such as Apple's iOS and Google's Android, while "at the same time integrating epidemiological quality assurance in the best possible way," the senior officials said.

A major debate around privacy and the potential for data abuse emerged in Europe when governments announced plans to develop contact tracing apps. An open letter signed by some 300 experts urged governments to rethink plans to store such data on centralized servers.

Instead, the experts called for a decentralized approach in which data is processed locally on smartphones. Spahn and Braun said they supported such an approach and one that would allow people to "voluntarily transmit data" to authorities.

Read more: EU push for coronavirus contact tracing suffers setback

00:33 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country would not rely on "immunity passports" to open up the country, repeating concerns from the WHO that such measures could undermine efforts to contain the outbreak.

"I don't think there are any plans that hinge on certain people or individuals being immune or having immunity to COVID-19," Trudeau said during a press briefing.

As countries across the globe ramp up so-called immunity tests to single out people who contain antibodies, the WHO cautioned against issuing "immunity passports." There is currently no evidence to suggest that exposure to the virus would prevent reinfection, the UN health organization said.

Read more: The immune system's fight against the coronavirus

Watch video 12:05

Who is immune and for how long?

00:23 Norwegian Culture Minister Abid Raja said the government is formally extending a ban on all events with more than 500 people until September.

"We cannot have big events that can contribute to more infections that will affect life and health," said Raja. "There is now a ban on major sporting events, festivals and concerts until June 15. That ban is now extended until September 1."

Norway has managed to avert a healthcare crisis by adopting precautionary measures to curb the outbreak early on. The Scandinavian country has reported more than 200 deaths and over 7,400 positive cases.

00:01 Nearly 200,000 companies have asked Italian authorities for permission to operate during a nationwide lockdown. The companies have argued that they fall under exemptions by either contributing to essential businesses or for being a strategic component of the national economy.

The Italian Interior Ministry said it has streamlined the procedure to allow companies to resume commercial activities, saying it "trusts the sense of responsibility of individual business persons."

Only a tiny fraction of companies have failed to enact appropriate social distancing measures, the ministry said, citing audits by local authorities.

Italy is the hardest-hit country in Europe with more than 26,000 deaths and nearly 200,000 confirmed cases. The southern European country was the first within the EU to enact nationwide lockdown measures, which were eventually adopted by other member states and tailored to their circumstances.

12:00 Welcome to Sunday's live updates article on the coronavirus pandemic. Read yesterday's updates here: Global deaths cross 200,000 mark

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.

ls/aw (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

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