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Coronavirus latest: US tally puts infections at over 1 million

The US has recorded over 1 million of COVID-19 infections, according to the Johns Hopkins Institute. Meanwhile, several countries across Europe are cautiously lifting some of the restrictions. Follow DW for the latest.

- COVID-19 cases in the United States pass 1 million, and US cases now account for nearly a third of the global total.

- Transmission rates in Germany have gone up from 0.9 to 1.0

- The organizer of the Tokyo Olympic Games says the event would be canceled if the pandemic is not under control next year

- France said it would only relax the lockdown if the infection rates stay below 3,000 per day

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

23:15 Nine inmates have died in clashes that erupted at a Peruvian jail after a number of fellow prisoners lost their lives to the coronavirus.

Authorities said the nine were killed when prison guards at Lima's Miguel Castro Castro facility opened fire. They added that more than 60 prison officials were also wounded in the unrest.

At least 13 prisoners have died from COVID-19 in Peru's overcrowded prison system, while more than 500 have been infected.

Across Peru, a total of 854 people have died from the virus, with more than 30,000 confirmed infections — the second-highest tally in South America behind Brazil.

22:40 The US death toll from the novel coronavirus has now surpassed the 58,220 Americans killed in the Vietnam War, according to the Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

COVID-19 has killed 58,365 people in the US and infected over 1 million — far more than in any other country.

About a third of the cases have been in New York state, followed by New Jersey, Massachusetts, California and Pennsylvania.

Some US states are starting to ease stay-at-home restrictions that have taken a heavy toll on the economy. But experts warn moving too fast could cause a new wave of infections.

Watch video 03:06

Trump and Biden trade blows over who is closer to China

22:08 The coronavirus death toll in Brazil has crossed the 5,000 mark. The total number of COVID-19 fatalities in the South American country have surpassed those in China.

According to the Health Ministry, a record 474 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours.

The latest figures show 71,886 cases of infections in the country.

Read moreCoronavirus in slums: Helpers left high and dry in infection hot spots

21:47 Films released solely on streaming platforms will be eligible for next year's Academy Awards as a result of major disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Movies traditionally have to be screened in a cinema in Los Angeles for at least seven days in order to qualify for Oscars consideration. But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said it would make an exception for 2021 owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, which has shuttered movie theaters and wrought havoc on the industry.

"The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theater. Our commitment to that is unchanged and unwavering," said Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson in a statement. "Nonetheless, the historically tragic COVID-19 pandemic necessitates this temporary exception to our awards eligibility rules."

The exemption only applies to next year's ceremony, which is scheduled to take place in Hollywood on February 28.

Read moreGerman Film Awards adapt to coronavirus crisis

21:33 Here is the latest from around Europe:

France said it would begin relaxing several lockdown measures starting May 11, but only if infection rates remain below 3,000 a day.   

Nonessential retailers will reopen, with shoppers urged to wear masks. The Paris metro will increase service, and masks will be required on public transport. Restrictions on long-distance travel will remain in place.  

Professional sports leagues in France, including football and rugby, will not restart before September. 

Over the past two weeks, the number of new COVID-19 cases per day has averaged at around 2,100, with the trajectory is heading downward. The last 3,000-count day was prior to April 15.  

Belgium's potato lobby is asking Belgians to cook up store bought French fries at home twice a week to support the potato industry as lockdowns keep "pomme frites" stands and restaurants closed.  

Belgium is the world's largest potato exporter, and the industry could face huge losses if surplus potatoes aren't sold this year.

Read moreWhen and how: Post-coronavirus travel in the EU is up in the air

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Tuesday that Spain's transition from coronavirus lockdowns towards a "new normal" will be a four-steprocedure that should conclude by the end of June. Each phase should last around two weeks in line with the incubation period of coronavirus. 

Lockdown easing began Monday, with children under 14 allowed to go outside for one hour with one parent.  On May 2, people will be allowed to leave their homes for walks or exercise.  

For the next step, bars and restaurants can reopen terraces with restricted capacity. Hotels and tourist accommodations can take in guests at a reduced capacity and with common areas closed.  

If cases do not spike following these steps, the next phases will reopen all shops with strict social distancing guidelines, along with a gradual lifting of travel restrictions.  

"The goal now is to continue to hold a sustained increase in cured cases and that the new daily infections remain in the 1% range," Health Minister Salvador Illa said.  

In Germany, Robert Koch Institute (RKI) President Lothar Wieler urged Germans to stay at home when possible and continue to follow the social distancing rules, despite the the country's relative "success" in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The RKI is wary of complacency as Germans begin to ease back towards normality, although wearing face masks is now compulsory on transport and in stores, and most large public events have been canceled.   

Germany has been recognized for widespread testing and maintaining a relatively low death rate, despite having over 156,000 COVID-19 cases to date.

21:21 The United Nations is warning that coronavirus lockdowns could result in 7 million unintended pregnancies and have a “catastrophic impact" on women and girls.

Data released by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) on Tuesday suggests that supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic could leave 47 million women in low- and middle-income countries without access to modern contraceptives. 

Analysis by the agency also estimates that six months of lockdowns could lead to 31 million additional cases of violence against women. Programs working to end female genital mutilation and child marriage are also being severely hampered by the coronavirus restrictions, the UN said.

While the figures are rough estimates, they show "the catastrophic impact that COVID-19 could soon have on women and girls globally," UNFPA director Natalia Kanem said. "Women's reproductive health and rights must be safeguarded at all costs."

21:08 The German Constitutional Court – the country's highest – ruled that the state of Saarland must immediately relax its restrictions on people leaving the house.

There are "currently no longer any sound reasons for the unrestricted continuation of Saarland's strict regulations banning people from leaving their homes," the judges decided.

Since March 21, the state government has banned people from leaving their homes except for specific reasons, such as traveling to work, grocery shopping or visiting the doctor.

Meeting family members, as well as spending time outdoors will now be possible, as long as the necessary social distancing measures are observed. National guidelines advise keeping a 1.5 meter distance when meeting people not living in the same household. A spokeswoman for the court said that the decision of the constitutional judges would apply immediately. The Constitutional Court stated that it was "in agreement with the intention of the state government" to relax the restrictions. Just hours before, the Saarland state government announced that coronavirus restrictions would be relaxed from May 4.

The ruling came in response to a complaint lodged by a Saarland resident, who argued that restrictions in the state violated his fundamental right to personal freedom.

19:22 US President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order Tuesday that will classify meat processing as "essential infrastructure," and keep production plants open to ward off major meat shortages.

Major processing plants in the US have been closed recently after COVID-19 spread among workers, including the two biggest pork producing plants in Iowa and South Dakota.

According to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, an estimated 5,000 food processing and meatpacking workers in the US are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19 while working near infected people. The union said 13 meat plant workers have died, the Associated Press reported.

Trump said during a press conference Tuesday in Florida that employer liability protection would be included in the executive order, in anticipation of sick workers infected on the job suing employers.

As the US tries to restart its economy, business interests have emphasized that liability protection is a necessary incentive for businesses to reopen.

19:11 Morocco discovered over 300 coronavirus cases in one its prisons, with 62 patients being prison employees, officials said. The outbreak hit a facility in the southern town of Ouarzazate, with 10 more cases found in two other prisons. Test were still ongoing to confirm five suspected cases in the port metropolis of Tangiers.

The country's prison service said that the infection was under control in the nation's penal system, which holds nearly 80,000 inmates.

Watch video 00:29

Putin warns Russia's coronavirus crisis yet to peak

18:55 The protective measures taken by the Canada government are working, but the country is "not out of the woods yet," said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

He said that the infection curve flattened in many parts of the country. Separately, health officials said the number of infected has gone from doubling every three days to doubling every 16 days.

Canada has so far recorded just under 50,000 coronavirus cases. The virus killed 2,929 people, according to the latest figures.

18:19 The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States topped 1 million on Tuesday, according to data published by the Johns Hopkins Institute. Out of that number, 112,315 people have recovered.

The grim milestone comes as governors in some states consider easing lockdown measures, although White House medical advisor Deborah Birx warns that some form of social distancing will be necessary everywhere in the US at least through the summer.

The White House released a "blueprint" on Monday that makes states responsible for implementing testing and tracing measures necessary to containing the post-lockdown spread of the virus.

In New York, the epicenter of the US COVID-19 epidemic, there are signs that the worst of the crisis has passed, with governor Andrew Cuomo reporting Tuesday that the number of COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals has dropped to its lowest daily level in over a month. In New York City alone there have been over 160,000 cases.

17:46 German doctors are posing naked online to demand adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and gowns, needed to protect them against the novel coronavirus.

Deutschland Petition Blanke Bedenken (blankebedenken.org)

"Politicians. When the little we have runs out, this is what we look like," the doctors say on the campaign website.

Using the hashtag #blankebedenken, which means "naked concerns" in English, the general practitioners have posted nude pictures of themselves across Instagram, Twitter and on the campaign website, with props such as books and flowers covering their private parts.

Despite not working in hospitals, they want politicians to ensure general practitioners and clinics have enough protective gear. Outpatient and general practice care for COVID-19 patients is as important as hospital care, said the group.

Like many countries, Germany has suffered from a shortage of PPE during the pandemic.

17:23 The UK's flag carrier airline, British Airways, announced €535 million ($580 million) in first quarter losses Tuesday, and warned that it may need to cut 12,000 jobs as part of restructuring measures to stay aloft.

British Airways said in a statement it expects global air passenger demand will take several years to reach 2019 levels, as the coronavirus crisis has shut down travel and devastated the aviation industry.

17:18 Greece will "gradually deescalate" coronavirus lockdown measures starting on May 4, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced Tuesday, adding that implementation would be monitored on a daily basis.

Businesses that will be allowed to reopen next week include bookstores, electronics stores, vehicle testing centers and hair salons, Mitsotakis said, adding that shopping centers are expected to reopen on June 1.

16:38 The number of COVID-19 cases in Italy topped 200,000 Tuesday, as the hardest-hit country in Europe added over 2,000 new infections in 24 hours. The death toll also climbed by 382 to 27,359, which is the second-highest death toll in the world after the United States. 

However, despite this daily increase in cases, the overall growth rate in Italy is on a downward trajectory following weeks of lockdown measures.

15:59 Serbia is starting to lift its strict coronavirus measures by opening parks and promenades, officials said. Starting on Tuesday, the country is also allowing athletes to train in the open.

Coffee shops and restaurants are set to open next Monday, but would be required to observe social distancing rules. Malls are set to open several days later.

Kindergartens would resume work on May 11, and air traffic is due to restart on May 18, according to the authorities.

Serbia drew international attention by imposing draconian lockdown measures, including a 24-hour curfew on people aged 65 and above in urban areas, after a lukewarm response to the early stages of the pandemic. The country has since tweaked some of its more controversial steps. Serbia has seen 6,630 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 125 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Institute.

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Years of underfunding catch up with UK healthcare system

15:52  Airline Icelandair will cut 2,000 jobs across its entire operation to reduce cash outflow on salaries. The airline cut over 90% of its flights due to the coronavirus pandemic. Production jobs, including crew, maintenance and ground operations, would be affected the most by the cuts, said the company in a statement.

"We hope to be able to scale up quickly as soon as markets start to recover and offer employment again to those affected," said Chief Executive Bogi Nils Bogason. He called the redundancies "painful."

The statement was released as the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said a common set of measures needed to be adopted by all, to allow airline operations to restart. The industry has been hit hard by travel bans imposed by governments to slow the spread of COVID-19.

15:18 Russian businesses will stay closed for two more weeks, said President Vladimir Putin, warning that the country has yet to hit the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, he said.

At the same time, Putin said that the country had "managed to slow down the spread of the epidemic."

"We have to ensure that the wave of the epidemic is slowing, is finally going down, giving us the possibility to gradually and meticulously lift restrictions and return to the normal rhythm of life," Putin added.

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian officials reported a record daily rise in both the new coronavirus cases and the virus-related deaths. The country registered 6,411 cases for a total of 93,558 and another 72 deaths for a complete death toll of 867.

14:42 France is set to relax a number of lockdown measures from May 11, but only if infection rates remain below 3,000 a day, according to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. If transmission rates remain low, the new measures in France from May 11 will be:

 - Non-essential retailers will re-open, with the officials urging shoppers to wear protective face masks. Masks will be mandatory on public transport.
- Primary schools will re-open. High schools will gradually reopen from May 18. Junior school pupils will not be required to wear masks, but secondary school pupils will. Class sizes will be limited to 15 pupils.
- Services on the Paris metro will be increased, allowing more people to travel to work while following social-distancing guidelines. Restrictions on long-distance train travel will remain in place. Working from home should continue beyond this date where possible, said Philippe.

However, professional sports leagues in the country, including football and rugby, will not restart before September.

In France, the number of confirmed new cases dropped below 3,000 on April 15. In the past two weeks, the number of new cases per day was on average about 2,162.

14:17 Germany still stands behind the EU's ambitious climate goals of reducing emissions to 55% of 1990 levels by 2030, Chancellor Angela Merkel said remotely for the annual Petersberg Climate Dialogue.

Also speaking remotely, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for "brave, visionary collective leadership," adding that the international recovery following the coronavirus crisis could "provide the foundation to build a safe, resilient world for all people."

Infografik Mandatory COVID-19 immunization EN

Most Germans believe the immunization for the new coronavirus should be mandatory

14:03 German Chancellor Angela Merkel reaffirmed Germany's commitment to climate protection, despite the enormous social and economic challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis.

Speaking remotely for the annual Petersberg Climate Dialogue, Merkel also called for climate-friendly stimulus packages during the coronavirus crisis.

She added that despite tight budgets, climate protection must always remain in the picture.

13:55 France is set to end its lockdown on May 11, but the government is still working on a plan to gradually lift the restrictions.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told parliament that the lockdown imposed in response to 
the COVID-19 pandemic had saved 62,000 lives in a month, but that keeping the restrictions in place would mean risking economic collapse. 

Philippe told lawmakers that it was time to explain to the nation how to gradually ease the coronavirus lockdown, as French citizens now have to learn to live with the virus and protect themselves. 

Maximum care in unwinding the restrictions is required, the prime minister said, in order to avoid a second wave of infections. 

"The risk of a second wave, which would strike a weakened hospital fabric, which would impose a 're-confinement', which would ruin the efforts and sacrifices made during these eight weeks, is a serious risk, a risk that must be taken seriously."

12:15 Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said the German government wants to be more informed of any foreign purchases of stakes in critical European healthcare companies. "This applies to vaccines, medicines and medical protective equipment, for example," Altmaier said in a statement. 

"This is how we can prevent medical know-how and production capacity that is key for the population's healthcare from going abroad. The coronavirus crisis we're currently experiencing shows this is a necessity," he added. 

The German government is hoping to examine more closely any stakes of 10% or more by investors outside the EU. 

11:38 A minute's silence has been held in the UK to pay tribute to key workers who have died while continuing to do their job during the outbreak in the country.

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined people from across the country in the silent tribute, which took place today at 11 a.m. local time (10 a.m. GMT).

The idea came from the healthcare workers' groups – Unison, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives – as a way of commemorating those healthcare and key workers who have lost their lives while trying to help care for people with COVID-19, as well as the British public at large.

NHS staff applaud after pausing for a minute's silence to honor UK key workers, including NHS staff, health and social care workers, who have died during the coronavirus outbreak

NHS staff applaud after pausing for a minute's silence to honor UK key workers, who have died during the coronavirus outbreak

11:30 A record 50.9 million people worldwide are currently internally displaced because of extreme weather, natural disasters or war. Most of them are in overcrowded camps, where the coronavirus pandemic makes them more vulnerable than ever.

Watch video 01:17

Coronavirus puts lives of displaced people at risk

11:16 South Korean boyband BTS have suspended their world tour, set to commence in April, due to COVID-19, the band’s management has announced.

The seven-member band had already postponed the North American leg of the tour, that was scheduled to start on April 25, and canceled a Seoul concert because of the global pandemic. But now the band have also said they will not be performing scheduled concerts in Japan and across Europe.

"Due to the nature of BTS concerts involving travel by thousands of international fans no matter where the performances are held, it is also difficult to resume the tour with the current strict restrictions on cross-border movement still in place," Big Hit Entertainment said in a statement.

11:07 A contact-tracing mobile phone application could be made available in the UK within three weeks, a senior official has announced, as the country looks to technology as a way of combating the spread of COVID-19.

The app is designed to let people know if they have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for the new coronavirus. Matthew Gould, chief executive of the National Health Service's technology group NHSX, told a parliamentary committee: "We hope in the next couple of weeks we'll be in a position to roll it out in a small area. I would expect it technically to be ready for a wider deployment in two to three weeks."

10:40 Japanese researchers have had success with miniscule robots that are small enough to get inside and neutralize a cancer cell — and they want their creations to be ready to deal with future outbreaks of lethal viruses.

Read the full story here

10:34 A Turkish military plane carrying medical supplies and protective gear is en route to the United States to deliver aid to its NATO ally as it continues its fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

The US is the hardest-hit country in the world and appreciated the "generous donation" of 500,000 surgical masks, 4,000 overalls, disinfectant, goggles and face shields. “As this delivery indicates, the US-Turkey relationship is strong and one of our most important alliances," US Ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield said.

Turkey's Communications Directorate said: "We are proud to announce that Turkey will deliver medical supplies to the United States, upon our NATO ally's request, to support America's fight against the coronavirus."

10:22 Some children in the United Kingdom with no underlying health issues have died from a rare inflammatory condition, leading some medical experts to speculate the fatalities may be linked to the novel coronavirus, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

Italian and British researchers are investigating a possible connection between COVID-19 and clusters of severe inflammatory disease among children whose symptoms are high temperatures and swollen arteries.

Medics in northern Italy have reported unusually large numbers of those aged nine and under arriving at hospital with severe cases of what appears to be Kawasaki disease, which is normally more common in parts of Asia.

"There are some children who have died who didn't have underlying health conditions," Hancock told LBC Radio. "It's a new disease that we think may be caused by coronavirus and the COVID-19 virus, we're not 100% sure because some of the people who got it hadn't tested positive, so we're doing a lot of research now but it is something that we're worried about."

09:26 Robert Koch Institute (RKI) President Lothar Wieler has urged Germans to stay at home where possible and continue to follow the social distancing rules, despite the country’s relative "success" in dealing with the outbreak.

Germany has been recognized for its widespread testing as well as its low death rate from the novel coronavirus but the public health organization is wary of complacency as citizens begin to ease back towards normality, albeit with the enforced wearing of face masks in shops and on public transport.

Wieler said in his briefing in Berlin that the RKI "wants to defend this success" that Germany has attained so far by maintaining the distancing rules in place while reminding citizens to remain vigilant.

Last week, hundreds of people took part in demonstrations in Berlin and Stuttgart against government measures introduced to protect the country from coronavirus but the RKI has warned a complete return to normal life is a long way off, particularly as the transmission rate has gone up to 1.0. As mentioned in the 04:30 update, this figure has increased slightly in the last 24 hours, from 0.9, raising concerns that Germany’s health care system could yet become overburdened.

Read more: German conspiracists protest against coronavirus lockdown

Wieler also said the so-called "herd immunity" approach, allowing for the virus to pass through citizens enabling them to develop antibodies, would not be adopted in Germany as it is both dangerous and naive. "For us it is inconceivable… a controlled herd immunity."

This approach would mean having to recognize "how many human lives you would be willing to sacrifice for it."

08:53 China has accused US politicians of "telling barefaced lies" over the coronavirus pandemic.

"They have only one objective: shirk their responsibility for their own poor epidemic prevention and control measures, and divert public attention," said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a press briefing. The criticism from China comes in the wake of President Donald Trump’s threats to seek damages from Beijing over the outbreak that first emerged in the city of Wuhan at the turn of the year.

08:36 Russia has announced a record daily rise in both the number of deaths recorded and its registered cases, the country’s coronavirus crisis response center said.

According to official figures, the number of new cases in Russia has climbed to 6,411, bringing its tally to 93,558.

The number of fatalities rose by 72, taking the country’s death toll to 867.

08:11 Nissan is expected to post a net loss of 85 billion to 95 billion yen ($793 million to $886 million, €734 million to €820 million) for the latest financial year largely due to the economic repercussions of COVID-19, the Japanese motor company has announced.

In February, Nissan, which is 43.4% owned by French automotive firm Renault, had forecast a net profit of 65 billion yen for the year ending March 31.

However, the vehicle manufacturer's "performance has continued to decline, primarily impacted by
the COVID-19 pandemic," a Nissan statement said.

07:41 German economic institute Ifo has predicted the country’s economy will contract by 6.6% overall in 2020 due to the global outbreak of COVID-19.

The Munich-based think tank said Europe's largest economy had diminished by 1.9% in the first quarter of 2020 and is expecting a 12.2% contraction in the three months that follow.

A return to the levels seen before the pandemic hit Germany is not expected before the end of 2021, the institute added.

07:20 The Spanish government is set to release its plan for a gradual "de-escalation" of its coronavirus lockdown, one of Europe's strictest. Spaniards have been home for six weeks, after the country's coronavirus cases and deaths shot up exponentially in March. 

Lockdown easing began Monday, as for the first time, children under 14 were allowed to go outside for one hour with one parent, albeit under strict social distancing rules.  

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's government has been developing the gradual lockdown easing plan over the past few weeks and plans to present it to his Cabinet today. 

Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Monday that Spain had managed to control the epidemic. He added that the country's health system was also capable of handling a possible "second wave." 

"The goal now is to continue to hold a sustained increase in cured cases and that the new daily infections remain in the 1% range," Illa said. 

The gradual de-escalation is expected to be the same for all regions, with some exceptions that will depend on how severely an area is affected. 

Starting on May 2, Spaniards will be allowed to go for walks with members of their own household and engage in outdoor sports. 

Watch video 02:13

Sound of children playing returns to streets of Spain

07:12 China has said India’s criticism and decision to put a halt to using the testing kits it sent was both "unfair and irresponsible."

The Indian Council of Medical Research, the agency dealing with COVID-19 in India, said on Monday it would return the kits for antibody tests procured from two Chinese firms because of a lack of accuracy.

However, the Chinese embassy said it was deeply concerned by the Council's declaration and that Chinese authorities had validated the kits made by the two companies, Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics.

"It is unfair and irresponsible for certain individuals to label Chinese products as 'faulty' and look at issues with preemptive prejudice," embassy spokeswoman Ji Rong said in a statement.

The Chinese firms in question had sent equipment to numerous countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America without any issues, Ji Rong added.

06:58 General lockdown measures in Austria will expire at the end of April, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober confirmed.

He said gatherings of up to 10 people will then be allowed, but with social distancing rules remaining in place, such as citizens being one meter apart under such circumstances.

Demonstrations will also be permitted under certain conditions. These more relaxed measures will apply until the end of June when they will be reviewed once more.

Read more: Coronavirus: Lifting lockdowns, European countries go their own way

06:39 Lufthansa and the German government have yet to agree terms on a rescue package for the country’s flagship airline.

Contrary to previous reports suggesting a deal had been struck, company and government sources told news agency Reuters that there was still no agreement in place between the two parties.

Some media outlets had earlier disclosed that the federal government had agreed to help Lufthansa with a package worth roughly €9 billion ($9.74 billion) in return for a blocking minority and one or two supervisory board mandates.

Watch video 01:08

Lufthansa: Coronavirus endangers future of aviation

06:12 German Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) has said the country’s health care system needs to get back to some sort of normality by reducing the number of intensive care units available for COVID-19 patients.

In an interview with German media outlet RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) Spahn said the aim was to gradually return to normal operations, starting May.

Nevertheless, the health minister recognizes it is a "difficult balance" to strike between regular emergency care, such as important operations, and having the necessary capacity for coronavirus patients.

Since mid-March, hospitals across Germany have postponed all non-urgent admissions and operations but in Spahn’s interview with RND he said that not every intensive care unit allocated for COVID-19 patients was being used, hence the gradual return to normality being called for.

05:50 The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, already postponed until 2020, will be canceled if the pandemic isn't brought under control by July 23 next year, the Games' start date, the organizing committee's president said.

In an interview with Japan's Nikkan Sports daily, Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said the sporting event could not be delayed beyond 2021 if the world remains in the grip of the coronavirus outbreak. "In that case, it's canceled," he said.

04:56 Jordan has begun easing restrictions of movement for its citizens, as well as allowing more businesses to reopen to help stimulate the country's cash-strapped economy. As of Wednesday, Amman residents will be able to drive their private vehicles between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The relaxation of the measures comes almost 40 days since a nationwide curfew was imposed, ordering the country's 10 million people to stay at home. Public transport and taxi services would also now resume with passengers told they must wear face masks and gloves, government spokesman Amjad Adailah said.

04:30 The number of confirmed cases in Germany over the last 24 hours increased by 1,144 to 156,337, according to the latest data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The death toll rose by 163 to 5,913.

Meanwhile, the transmission rate among Germans has risen slightly, to 1.0, after a consistent 0.9 had been registered in recent days. This means every infected person, on average, passes on the potentially deadly virus to one other person.

The RKI has repeatedly emphasized that for the epidemic to subside, this figure needs to be less than 1. Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a speech recently, also stressing the importance of reducing this number.

"The curve (of infections) has got flatter, but it still has to be in a shape that doesn't overburden our health system," Merkel said last Monday. "Even if we assume that one person infects 1.1 others, we would reach the limits of what our health system and intensive care beds can manage in October," Merkel warned. "If we assume a rate of 1.2... we would reach the health system's limit in July. And with a rate of 1.3 we would get there in June," she added.

At the beginning of March, the key figure was 3.0. By April 8, it was down to 1.3, before settling on 0.9 in recent days before going back up to 1.0 on Tuesday.

Read more: Coronavirus and Germany: Why the world is looking to Angela Merkel

03:44 The head of Japan's medical association says going ahead with the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year will be a challenge without an effective coronavirus vaccine.

"I am not saying that Japan should or shouldn't host the Olympics, but that it would be difficult to do so," the body's president, Yoshitake Yokokura, told a press briefing. "I hope vaccines and drugs will be developed as soon as possible.''

Japan and the International Olympic Committee agreed last month to move the Tokyo Games to July 2021 due to the pandemic, which has infected more than 3 million people worldwide.

A surge in coronavirus cases has overburdened the health care system in Japan, which is currently under a monthlong state of emergency. Yokokura called on the government to step up virus testing, and said the Games would only be possible if infection rates were under control. 

Scientists around the world are racing to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, and experts say it could be years before one is ready to be made available to the public.

Read more: Germany to start first coronavirus vaccine trial

03:24 More than two-thirds of Germans are on board with new face mask regulations introduced to slow the spread of the coronavirus, according to a YouGov poll.

Wearing nose and mouth coverings in shops and on public transport is now mandatory in almost all German states. But not everyone supports the measure. 

The survey found that while 67% of respondents were fully committed to observing the rules, 15% said they were only partially committed. Around 4% said they wanted to boycott the measure altogether, and 7% said it wasn't possible for them to stick to the rules, for example, because they didn't want to buy a mask or could not make one.

YouGov surveyed 2,045 people between April 24 and 27.

Read more: Germany's new face mask regulations explained

Watch video 02:19

Germany: States make masks compulsory, though rules vary

02:33 Civil servants in Hong Kong will gradually start returning to work from May 4, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced on Tuesday.

The government is yet to decide whether or not travel and social distancing restrictions — set to expire next week— will be relaxed.

No new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Hong Kong on Monday, for the second consecutive day.

The city has seen 1,038 cases of coronavirus infections and four deaths since the outbreak began in January.

Read moreLam Wing-Kee: Hong Kong bookseller fights back against China with Taiwan shop

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What's the reproduction number R?

02:18 New Zealanders are slowly emerging from a strict four-week lockdown, after the country's alert level switched from level 4 to level 3 overnight. 

Around 400,000 people were allowed to return to work on Tuesday morning, as some tough restrictions on movement and businesses were eased.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the measures were the reason New Zealand had one of the lowest coronavirus death tolls in the world. The country has 1,124 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 19 fatalities.

"We can say with confidence that we do not have community transmission in New Zealand. The trick now is to maintain that," Ardern told Radio New Zealand.

Social distancing rules are still in place, and hairdressers, pubs, malls and other public shopping areas are expected to remain closed for at least another fortnight.

01:01 The International Labor Organization (ILO) is urging governments and employers to make sure workplaces meet strict safety standards to prevent another wave of the novel coronavirus.

The plea from the UN agency marks the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, and comes as several countries start easing lockdowns and gradually allow people to return to their jobs.

"The safety and health of our entire workforce is paramount," ILO chief Guy Ryder said in a statement. "In the face of an infectious disease outbreak, how we protect our workers now clearly dictates how safe our communities are, and how resilient our businesses will be, as this pandemic evolves." 

The ILO stressed that workplaces needed to implement strict control measures, such as limiting physical interactions, improving ventilation and ensuring regular cleaning, before employees were allowed to return.

00:34 The German Retail Federation (HDE) says it expects up to 50,000 businesses to become insolvent because of the coronavirus crisis.

Germany's four-week lockdown, which forced all nonessential stores to close, led to losses of about €30 billion ($32.5 billion) in sales that cannot be recouped, HDE chief Stefan Genth told the Funke Media Group.

That's roughly €1 billion a day. And even though many shops have reopened since restrictions were eased last Monday, customer traffic has been slow to return. Genth said the retail sector was still losing "a high three-digit million euro amount" each day, and that the HDE was expecting up to 50,000 insolvencies as a result.

"We are very much afraid that city centers after the crisis won't look the same as they did before the crisis — and that many shops will be missing," Genth said.

Read moreWolfgang Schäuble: Coronavirus to cause 'structural' economic change

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Are coronavirus lockdown restrictions being lifted too early?

00:04 Australia has started relaxing some of its coronavirus restrictions, including reopening Sydney's Bondi Beach, after a steady decline in new infections.

The state of New South Wales (NSW), where almost half the country's coronavirus cases are concentrated, said it would ease its ban on nonessential movement from Friday by allowing up to two adults to visit another person's home.

Meanwhile, Bondi and two other beaches in Sydney's east that had been closed to limit crowds were reopened to local residents on Tuesday.

"For many people, they've been cooped up in their homes for a number of weeks, and with the exception of exercising, medical needs or buying what they need to or going to work, many people have been isolated in their homes," NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters.

Australia has so far reported 6,723 COVID-19 cases, with 84 deaths. The rate of new infections has slowed dramatically since social distancing measures were introduced. Authorities have also ramped up testing, and are encouraging people to undergo tests even if they aren't showing any symptoms.

Read moreCoronavirus forcing countries to reevaluate security paradigms

00:00 Catch up on yesterday's news here: Global coronavirus infections top 3 million

Watch video 26:00

The Day with Brent Goff: Measuring in Millions

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.

wmr,jsi, nm/dj  (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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