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Coronavirus latest: WHO defends its COVID-19 response

The WHO "sounded the alarm" on the COVID-19 pandemic early and often, said its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, defending the agency's track record in apparent response to US criticism. Follow DW for the latest.

  • The WHO said it acted "quickly and decisively" and warned the world on time of the danger posed by the novel coronavirus
  • The US has over 1 million coronavirus cases and its more than 58,000 fatalities exceed the death toll from the Vietnam War
  • German companies are concerned about a potential wave of insolvencies
  • China has scheduled the National People's Congress for May 22

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

22:36 US-based aerospace giant Boeing said Wednesday it would make further job cuts, reduce its production of the 787 Dreamliner plane and try to boost its liquidity as it prepares to recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. 

"The aviation industry will take years to return to the levels of traffic we saw just a few months ago," Chief Executive David Calhoun said. 

The company said it would cut its 160,000-person workforce by about 10%.

Boeing had already been grappling with the production freeze and grounding of its 737 MAX planes following two deadly crashes.  

Its share price jumped 5.9 percent to close at $139 (€127) on Wednesday after the company said that it "will be able to obtain sufficient liquidity to fund its operations."

Read moreBoeing, battered even before coronavirus, restarts in survival mode

21:33 US President Donald Trump says that the White House will not extend its social distancing guidelines, a day before they are set to expire.

The "30 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines were initially supposed to last 15 days but were extended by 30 more days.

"They'll be fading out because now the governors are doing it," Trump told reporters.

20:55 The US Federal Reserve said the coronavirus pandemic has already caused "tremendous" health and economic hardship, warning that the damage to the US economy will continue along with high unemployment. 

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank is "committed to using our full range of tools to support the economy ... to assure that the recovery when it comes will be as robust as possible."  

The Fed statement comes in the wake of news that the US economy collapsed in the first quarter of 2020, an early sign of the damage wrought by the coronavirus. The country suffered a 4.8 percent contraction in GDP in the first three months of the year, even as the most strict business shutdowns and stay-at-home orders did not occur until the final weeks of March. 

The central bank kept the benchmark interest rate at zero, saying it will remain there until the economy has weathered the crisis and is ready to resume growth.  

But Powell warned that it will take "some time to get back to anything nearly resembling full employment." He added that "economic activity will likely drop at a unprecedented rate in the second quarter"  — a rate "worse than we've seen."

Watch video 03:33

The value of GDP as an economic indicator

20:35 Here's the latest coronavirus news from Europe:

In Germany, economic research institute DIW said predictions that the country's economy will rebound by next year were "wishful thinking." Government officials had predicted that gross domestic product would shrink 6.3% before recovering in 2021. "Those are not really forecasts. Those are scenarios," said DIW director Marcel Fratzscher. 

Children in Finland are set to return to class on May 14. "Based on the advice of epidemiologists, continuing the emergency restrictions on early and primary education is no longer justified," Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Wednesday. Finland currently has recorded 206 coronavirus deaths and nearly 5,000 infections. The infection has spread there slower than in other countries. 

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz believes the border between Austria and Germany will soon reopen: "From our perspective, it is possible within a foreseeable period to open the border with Germany, as well as with other neighboring countries where developments are similarly good."

The UK has registered the second-highest coronavirus death toll in Europe, according to new official figures, putting the country ahead of Spain and France and second only to Italy. Over 26,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the UK.

A city in Sweden has announced that it will spread manure in its main park to keep people from gathering there. The city of Lund is seeking to discourage people from getting together in public on Thursday for the traditional Walpurgis Eve celebration, when thousands of revellers would normally meet.

19:55 Officials in Bosnia & Herzegovina reported a sharp jump in coronavirus infections on Wednesday after its relaxing some lockdown measures. The authorities recorded 93 new infections and two deaths, compared to 20 new infections on Tuesday and 49 on Monday.

The Balkan country consists of the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska and the Bosniak-Croat federation. Both entities imposed lockdowns last month while also banning seniors and underage citizens from leaving their homes. The Bosniak-Croat Federation loosened some of its measures last Friday with Republika Srpska following suite on Monday.

The rise in infections shows "a lowering of individual discipline in obeying the prescribed measures," said the health minister of the Serb entity, Alan Seranic.

"The whole community is behaving in a more relaxed manner," he said.

19:45 The WHO said that while the "vast majority" of children infected with COVID-19 develop mild cases and recover completely, a small number in a few countries have gone on to develop a rare inflammatory syndrome.

The WHO's clinical network discussed a UK report about a small number of children that experienced an inflammatory response to the disease, WHO epidemiologist Dr. Maria van Kerkhove said.

"There are some recent rare descriptions of children in some European countries that have had this inflammatory syndrome, which is similar to Kawasaki syndrome, but it seems to be very rare," she said.

"We have asked the global network of clinicians to be alert on this so they capture information systematically, so we can better understand and guide treatment," van Kerkhove added.

Medical experts from Italy and the UK are investigating the possible link between the coronavirus pandemic and clusters of severe inflammatory disease in infants who are arriving in hospital with high fever and swollen arteries.

Three children in the United States infected with COVID-19 are being treated for a rare inflammatory syndrome that appears similar to one that raised concerns in the UK and Italy.

"I want to emphasize, for all the parents out there, the vast, vast majority of children who get COVID will have mild symptoms and recover completely," Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO's top emergencies expert, told a virtual news conference.

1915 German automaker Volkswagen is indefinitely suspending production at its Tennessee assembly plant, scrapping its original plan to reopen on May 3.

Volkswagen said it "will weigh the readiness of the supplier base, as well as market demand the status of the COVID-19 outbreak" before setting a new date. The company's US production has been suspended since March 21.

Many automakers in the US had planned to reopen in May, but continued closures of non-essential business in key states such as Michigan have complicated such plans.

18:25 The number of people searching for untried and possibly dangerous therapies for coronavirus has risen, a study by the for JAMA Internal Medicine journal showed. Researchers found that searches on Google spiked after the therapies were recommended by high-profile public figures, including US President Donald Trump.

The WHO has warned against trying to treat the virus with substances whose effectiveness has yet to be proved.

"Endorsements can lead to unsupervised use of the products with dangerous consequences to the people who take them, and hoarding of these medications can result in shortages for those who require them for legitimate health reasons," the researchers warned.

In particular, researchers noted an enormous increase in the US searches for the two malaria drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, just after they were recommended as possible virus remedies by Tesla founder Elon Musk and Trump.

Searches for where to purchase chloroquine increased by 442%, while queries about hydroxychloroquine rose by 1,389%, said the team led by Michael Liu of Oxford University in Britain.

"In times of public health crises, demand for unproven and potentially hazardous COVID-19 treatments is massively increased by endorsements," researchers wrote, adding that "public health leaders, regulatory agencies, media, and retailers must amplify accurate information."

Watch video 02:25

Do not swallow disinfectant

18:20 The notion that Germany's economy could rebound by 2021 is "wishful thinking," head of the German economic research institute DIW told DW. The German government said it believes the economy would shrink 6.3% and pick back up next year.

"Those are not really forecasts, those are scenarios... scenarios assuming that there is no second wave of infections, assuming that there is no new lockdown in the future," Marcel Fratzcher told DW. "That's wishful thinking — that the economy will recover next year. Clearly the answer to how will the economy get out of recession depends very much on the pandemic itself," he added.

At the same time, Fratzcher praised the government's approach to helping mitigate the impact, saying that the Cabinet "has already done a lot in this first stage of this lockdown."

"Hardly any government in the world has spent more money on stabilizing the economy, providing support to companies, direct financial transfers, huge guarantees for bank loans, particularly to small-to-medium-sized enterprises."

17:37 New York is moving 1,000 homeless people into hotels per week, said Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday. He added that people in shelters will have access to a testing program and those who test positive would be isolated.

"Testing will be available across our entire shelter system by mid-May," de Blasio said on Twitter.

Separately, UN Special Rapporteur on housing, Leilani Farha, said governments around the world are racing to house some 1.8 billion homeless people in order to curb the infection. However, she added, many of these measures could fall by the wayside after the crisis is over.

"Governments are telling people to stay home, wash your hands and distance physically," she told the Reuters news agency. "But that mantra was ordered without any consideration being given to the fact that millions of people worldwide can't do those three things."

She warned that many of the current efforts to help the homeless were done on emergency basis and not "the structural change we actually need" to provide housing for all.

17:14 The daily death toll in the state of New York is going down but remains "disgustingly high" with 330 deaths, Governor Andrew  Cuomo said in a briefing.

Almost 18,00 people have died in across the state, and around 950 patients are hospitalized each day. However, the state has also seen many positive signals, including a nearly continuous drop in hospitalization rates for the last two weeks.

"We are making progress, that's for sure, but we are not out of the woods yet," he said.

During the conference, Cuomo also said the authorities should watch the infection development in Germany, where a recent bump in infection rates prompted renewed concern.

"That's trouble, shows you how fast the infection rate can increase if you don't do it right," he said.

17:10 The UK registered the second-highest death toll from coronavirus in Europe, with 26,097 people falling victim to the virus, according to official figures. Britain has had a higher number of COVID-19 deaths than France or Spain have reported.

"These more complete data will give us a fuller and more up to date picture of deaths in England and will inform the government's approach as we continue to protect the public," said Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England (PHE).

The government's chief scientific adviser had hoped to keep the UK death toll below 20,000, but that outcome was not reached.

The death toll could rise further, as authorities await figures on the number of excess deaths — mortality from all causes that exceed the average for the time of year. England's deputy Chief Medical Officer said these could take a longer to compile.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government has faced criticism from opposition parties for being waiting too long to impose a lockdown and too slow to introduce mass testing.

17:05 The drug remdesivir, manufactured by US biopharmaceutical company Gilead Science, has seen mixed results after two trials, one that deemed it effective and another that concluded the opposite.

Remdesivir, which previously failed in trials against the Ebola virus, acts on the coronavirus directly, as opposed to controlling the abnormal and often lethal autoimmune response it causes.

In animal testing against SARS and MERS, diseases caused by similar coronaviruses, the drug has helped prevent infection and reduced the severity of symptoms. But it is not yet approved anywhere in the world for any use.

Gilead Science said a trial overseen by the US National Institutes of Health, which tested remdesivir versus a placebo in about 800 hospitalized coronavirus patients around the world, proved effective. In particular, the company said the drug helped improve outcomes for patients, especially if administered earlier in the course of illness.

A top World Health Organization official declined to comment on reports that remdesivir could help treat COVID-19 but said that further data was needed.

"I wouldn't like to make any specific comment on that, because I haven't read those publications in detail," said Mike Ryan, head of the WHO's emergencies program.

In a randomized study among more than 200 coronavirus patients in Wuhan, China, doctors found no positive effects of administering the drug compared with a control group of adults. The results were published by science journal The Lancet.

"Unfortunately, our trial found that while safe and adequately tolerated, remdesivir did not provide significant benefits over placebo," said Bin Cao from China-Japan Friendship Hospital and Capital Medical University in China, who led the research.

The authors of the Wuhan trial did note that the study faced several limitations, including the fact that it was stopped prematurely when patient numbers dropped too low to continue it, the outbreak was brought under control.

16:45 The WHO declared a "global public health emergency" its highest level of alarm, in late January, said the agency's head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

This was before any COVID-19 deaths were reported outside of China, he noted. The Chinese death toll stood at 170, according to WHO data on January 30.

"In the three months since the Emergency Committee last met, WHO has worked day in, day out to sound the alarm, support countries and save lives," Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.

"We’ve shipped millions of test kits and tons of protective gear all around the world, focusing on those countries who need our support most," he added. "We’ve trained more than 2 million health workers — to be exact, 2.3 million health workers around the world. We don't think that’s enough, we will train more."

"There’s one thing we haven’t done: We haven’t given up. And we will not give up."

Addressing reporters from Geneva, the WHO chief also said he would reconvene the body's Emergency Committee, which includes 15 independent experts from across the world, on Thursday to "evaluate the evolution of the pandemic" and provide advice on updated health recommendations.

16:20 The World Health Organization (WHO) acted "quickly and decisively" from the beginning of the pandemic, the agency's chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday.

Ghebreyesus started the WHO's daily briefing with an overview of his agency's reaction. He noted that his organization warned that the transmission between humans was likely in mid-January, while China's probe had yet to find "clear evidence" that the infection was transmitted in this way.

"We sounded the alarm early and we sounded it often," he said.

Ghebreyesus' comments come after his organization was strongly berated by US President Donald Trump over the alleged pro-China bias. The US has decided to suspend its share in the WHO's funding.

15:30 In the Swedish town of Lund, authorities announced they would spread manure in its main park to prevent people from gathering there and to curb the coronavirus spread.

Traditionally, the Walpurgis Eve celebrations would see thousands of revelers celebrate in public on Thursday evening. This year, however, the city officials urged people to stay at home and pledged to fence off the Lund city park.

They also told the AFP news agency they would spread one ton of "awful" smelling chicken manure in the park.

"It's not very pleasant to sit around drinking beer in that smell," said Gustav Lundblad, the chairman of Lund's environment board.

Unlike nearly all EU countries, Sweden stopped short of imposing a full-scale lockdown. However, the country has introduced a series of restrictions and urged people to work from home.

15:12 Commenting on the possible COVID-19 vaccine, German Health Minister Spahn said the country would probably not order mandatory immunizations. He added that his impression was that most people would want a COVID-19 vaccine.

"Wherever we can reach the goal [of vaccination] by being prepared and providing good arguments, I do not believe we need to make it mandatory," he said.

Last month, Germany made immunization against measles mandatory in schools and kindergartens, sparking criticism in some parts of the public.

On Wednesday, Spahn said vaccines were one of humanity's greatest achievements. He also expressed hope that the current crisis would "maybe [cast] a new light" on the vaccination debate.

14:50 Poland is set to reopen its hotels, shopping centers and kindergartens next week.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki urged "social discipline" and added that wearing masks outdoors would still be mandatory.

"We're opening up the economy significantly, but we're not loosening safety rules by an inch," Morawiecki added.

Stores would only allow entry to one customer per 15 square meters (161 square feet).

Despite protests from the opposition leaders, the Polish government is still set to hold its presidential election per postal ballot in May.

14:10 In Kenya, the authorities cut off over 400,000 refugees in two camps from the outside world in order to curb the coronavirus spread.

The government ordered "the cessation of movement into and out" of the Dadaab camp in the east of the country, which houses 217,000 people, and the Kakuma camp in the northwest, with 190,000 residents, Interior Minister Fred Matiangi said.

The African country has so far recorded 384 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 14 deaths. However, no cases were reported in either of the camps.

14:00 Polish soldiers fired warning shots at a German man after he tried to illegally enter the country via its border with the Czech Republic, a spokesman for the Polish army has said. According to army reports, the man, who lives in the Czech Republic, drove to a border crossing in the east of the country on Tuesday. There, soldiers told him he was not allowed to enter Poland. He then exited the car and crossed the border into Poland on foot, ignoring the soldiers' commands to stay where he was. The soldiers then fired two warning shots and arrested the German man. He could not say what he planned to do in Poland, a border control spokeswoman said. Poland's borders have been closed to foreigners since March 13 in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

13:40 Air passenger traffic shrank by over a half in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The drop reached 52.9% within the last month based on the number of kilometers traveled by paying passengers. The agency described it as "the largest decline in recent history."

"March was a disastrous month for aviation," said IATA head Alexandre de Juniac. "Demand was at the same level it was in 2006, but we have the fleets and employees for double that.

"The industry is in free fall and we have not hit bottom," he added, noting that governments and the industry needed to work together to prepare for easing restrictions on air travel.

13:30 A decade of US economic growth came to a halt in the first quarter of 2020, when GDP fell 4.8% amid the coronavirus pandemic, a government report published Wednesday has shown. For the US, it was the biggest quarterly drop in 12 years. The report said it was not able to quantify the full impact the virus will ultimately have on the economy.

13:25 A vaccine against COVID-19 will only become widely available in the second half of next year, the head of UK-based GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the world's biggest vaccine maker.

"If things go right ... to get to scale of manufacturing in the hundreds of millions [of doses] is going to be in the second half of next year," said GSK head Emma Walmsley.

Meanwhile, German pharmaceutical company BioNTech announced it has started testing a possible vaccine on volunteers in Germany. The clinical trial involved 12 participants, said BioNTech, who works with the US-based Pfizer company.

Several other companies across the world also race to develop their own version of the vaccine.

13:20 Half the global workforce is could suffer "massive damage to their ability to earn a living," the International Labour Organization, the United Nations' labor agency, said in its third report on the coronavirus crisis.

The ILO projected that 1.6 billion people in the "informal economy," which includes work without proper contracts or oversight by government regulation and taxes, "stand in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed."

It said the extension of lockdown measures would lead to working hours drop by 10.5% in the second quarter, revising its initial estimate of 6.7%. That equates to a loss of 305 million full-time jobs, based on a 48-hour workweek.

"As the pandemic and the jobs crisis evolve, the need to protect the most vulnerable becomes even more urgent," said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. "For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future."

13:05 Germany's economy cannot be restarted at a single stroke, said Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, warning that such a move could reinflame the pandemic.

The government expects the lowest point of the economic activity would be reached before the end of June. Unemployment is also set to hit 2.62 million in 2020 from a 2.27 million average last year.

Altmaier said the latest infection figures were a positive signal but described the process of restarting the economy as a "long-distance race."

"Only if we lift economic and social restrictions step-by-step, and with a sense of proportion, can we start with the slow recovery in the second half of the year," Altmaier said.

12:30 The pandemic will push Germany into its biggest econCoronavirus: Lifting lockdowns, European countries go their own wayomic slump in decades, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said.

The German economy is expected to shrink 6.3% in 2020, with the government predicting a rebound next year and return to the pre-epidemic level in early 2022.

Altmaier also said the government hoped that infection figures would allow for more restrictions on businesses and public life to be eased.

Germany is the EU's economic powerhouse, boasting the fourth biggest economy in the world.

12:00 Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer has accused the British government of not revealing the true magnitude of the outbreak in the UK. Starmer said that according to his calculations more than 27,000 people had died in Britain from COVID-19.

"A total to date of 27,241 recorded deaths from coronavirus and that's probably an underestimate because of the time lag," Starmer told parliament.

The official figure of 21,648 is only inclusive of those who died in UK hospitals, though from tomorrow the government has promised to publish those that die in care homes and the community.

11:30 France is wary of foreign predators hoping to take advantage of the pandemic so it is tightening its investment criteria, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

Until the end of 2020, any purchase of a 10% stake or more in "very big companies" by a non-EU investor would require the French government's approval, Le Maire told LCI television. The current threshold is 25%. Investments in all biotechnology firms would also need to be authorized. The minister said the move was because "in this crisis period, some businesses are vulnerable, some technologies are weakened, and could be bought at a low price by foreign competitors."

Le Maire also called on French people to get back to work once current restrictions start to be eased as of May 11. "We are now in the second phase ... of a return to activity: We must get back to work," the minister said. "And the greatest possible number of French people must get back to work."

Also on May 11, face masks will be made available for the general public as small shops and businesses reopen. Masks will be obligatory on public transport and half the seats will remain vacant to maintain social distancing between passengers.

10:30 India has seen its highest jump in coronavirus-related deaths over a 24-hour period. The death toll has risen by 73, taking it to 1,007, the Health Ministry said, while confirming the country has now more than 30,000 infections.

The highest number of cases has occurred in Maharashtra, principally in its two biggest cities, Mumbai and Pune, and national capital Delhi. These areas were among those where the lockdown, now in its fifth week, is set to continue, as other regions prepare for a gradual easing of restrictions from May 3.
The federal government has identified 170 hotspots or red zones where the novel virus is still spreading. More could be added over the coming days, a Health Ministry spokesman said. In those areas the lockdown is expected to stay in place for the foreseeable future.

Poverty and a poor healthcare system make India's battle against COVID-19 difficult. Many can't work because of the lockdown. They need humanitarian aid. Religious conflict makes the situation worse.

Watch video 03:44

India's battle with the coronavirus pandemic

09:05 Singapore's first drone delivery service has got underway, distributing vitamins to a ship, with its operator saying the devices can significantly reduce human contact during the pandemic.

Singapore is on a mission to embrace technological innovation as way of tackling a manpower shortage in a city-state of just 5.7 million people. However, a beneficial consequence, according to the firm that manufacturers the drones, is that it also reduces physical interaction amid the outbreak.

The unmanned aerial device delivered two kilograms (4.4 pounds) of vitamins to the vessel owned by Eastern Pacific Shipping, its first paying customer, said F-drones, the company behind the service. The flight lasted seven minutes and covered a distance of 2.7 kilometres (1.7 miles). "Besides being efficient, delivery drones can also reduce unnecessary human contact amid the COVID-19 pandemic," said F-drones chief executive Nicolas Ang.

Read more: German police mull wide use of drones for corona-surveillance

08:26 Turkey has extended the closure of schools until the end of May, Education Minister Ziya Selcuk said.

Ankara announced the initial closure on March 12 after it reported its first case of COVID-19. Almost 115,000 cases later, and with a death toll of nearly 3,000, Selcuk told a news conference not to expect schools to reopen again until June at the earliest.

08:15 Coronavirus cases in Russia are approaching the 100,000 plateau as President Vladimir Putin has fielded criticism for the handling of the crisis.

Russia reported 5,841 new cases over the past 24 hours, bringing its total case number to 99,399. The death toll also increased to 972 after 108 further deaths.

On Tuesday, Putin extended a partial economic shutdown, due to expire on Thursday, through May 11. Russian opposition activists staged an online protest against the lockdown measures, claiming the government has used the pandemic to impose illegal restrictions that violate people's rights.

According to a government-affiliated poll, trust in Putin sits at 28% among Russian citizens, the lowest figure in 14 years.

08:05 Roy Horn, famed for being one half of the big-cat-trainers act Siegfried & Roy, is the latest celebrity to have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Horn’s publicist told US media outlet ABC: "We can confirm that Roy Horn has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 and is currently responding well to treatment. Most importantly, Siegfried & Roy send positive wishes to everyone impacted by the pandemic. We will have no further comment on Roy’s recovery at this time and ask everyone to respect his right to privacy."

Horn's career working with dangerous animals in Las Vegas ended after a tiger attack in 2003.

07:40 As Germany begins easing lockdown restrictions, pupils in some parts of the country are preparing to return to school. For principals and teachers, that means enforcing physical distancing rules and hygiene standards. 

Watch video 02:22

How German schools are preparing for return of pupils

07:15 Germany’s leading lender, Deutsche Bank, has posted a loss for the first quarter of 2020, while British banking giant Barclays has registered tumbling net profits for the same time period.

Despite the deficit of €43 million ($46.6 million), announced by the Frankfurt-based Dax group, Deutsche Bank remains upbeat in the midst of the economic downturn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The German bank’s CEO, Christian Sewing, who is overseeing an overhaul of the financial institution, said: "In the current crisis, we were able to present robust figures and have shown a strong performance in supporting our customers in all of our core businesses."

Barclays saw its net profits plummet 42% in the first quarter, hit by the economic shock sparked by the novel coronavirus. But like its German rival, the British bank talked up its chances of emerging vigorously from the difficult period.

"Despite the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the group’s position remains robust," an official statement read. "The impact of COVID-19 came late in what was until that point a good quarter."

06:43 Tourism is a major industry in Greece. And the government in Athens hopes Greece's near-COVID-free situation may give it an edge over rival Mediterranean destinations. But without a vaccine against the coronavirus, tourists may not want to travel to Greece should it open up again.

Read the full story here.

06:40 Hotels in Poland will be open for business during the summer holidays, government spokesman Piotr Müller has told state radio. These summer holidays traditionally occur in July and August.

The announcement comes in spite of the number of infections from the novel coronavirus continuing to rise in the country.

Later on Wednesday, the Polish government is set to announce whether it will reopen some businesses any time soon, while it recently extended school closures until May 24.

06:18 China has accused Australia of "petty tricks" as its spat over the pandemic shows no signs of easing up.

The Australian government has been calling for an international inquiry into how the outbreak began, a notion which has received short shrift from Beijing.

06:02 German economic institute Ifo has revealed "worrying numbers that point to a wave of bankruptcies" set to hit Europe’s largest economy in the coming months.

According to a study, a number of German companies see their existence under threat from the crisis caused by the outbreak. Indeed, Ifo said that 29.2% of the firms surveyed felt they could survive for a maximum of three months under the restrictive measures currently in place. A further 52.7% suggested they could survive no more than six months under the current circumstances.

On Tuesday, Ifo released further predictions, including the forecast that Germany’s economy will contract by 6.6% overall in 2020 due to the global outbreak of COVID-19.

05:29 A vacation abroad looking highly unlikely for most travelers this summer. But through books we can escape from our coronavirus isolation to countries we miss and experiences we crave. The editorial team of DW’s Travel desk has put together a few wanderlust-inspired reading tips.

05:16 Airbus has cited COVID-19 as being responsible for a net loss of almost €500 million ($542 million) in the first quarter of 2020, as the planemaker’s CEO described the moment as "the gravest crisis the aerospace industry has ever known."

The €481 million loss is put into context when Airbus’ net profit was €40 million during the same timeframe last year.

"We saw a solid start to the year both commercially and industrially but we are quickly seeing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic coming through in the numbers," said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury.

04:45 Numerous countries did not take the outbreak serious enough and ignored international advice during the initial phase of the pandemic, according to a German defense think tank report.

"This crisis shows that various nations have partially ignored or even denied the early warning signals," said Christian Haggenmiller, a doctor with the German Institute for Defense and Strategic Studies (GIDS). The medical expert was particularly critical of the United States as the country has "very extensive means" but the virus "was not considered a priority by the current political leadership."

The GIDS is a cooperation between the German army and the Helmut Schmidt University in Hamburg, a military educational institution.

04:25 Germany has reported 1,304 more cases of COVID-19 while the number of deaths has risen by 202, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases revealed in its daily update.

Both statistics were a jump on Tuesday’s figures, when 1,144 new infections were reported by the RKI and the number of deaths recorded for the 24-hour period was 163.

Europe's most populous country now has a total of 157,641 registered infections and its death toll from the virus currently stands at 6,115.

03:56 The German Cabinet is set to extend its strict worldwide travel warning until mid-June, according to news magazine Spiegel.

The publication cited a draft resolution from the Foreign Office stating that the measure should remain in place "until further notice," and at least until June 14. It did not specify whether travel will be allowed during the summer holidays, saying only that the situation should be carefully reviewed with other EU states closer to the time.

The document said the travel warning aimed to limit the spread of the coronavirus and prevent German holidaymakers once again getting stranded overseas.

Germany issued the warning for all nonessential travel on March 17. Borders with its neighbours may only be crossed by freight traffic, commuters or others who may have a valid reason.

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

03:15 Almost half of Germans don't think it's a good idea to reopen borders with other European countries for the upcoming summer holidays, according to a new survey.

The YouGov poll found that 48% of people supported a ban on traveling abroad, while 20% backed the idea of only opening up borders to individual countries. Around 13% of respondents said travel within the EU should be fully restored by summer.

Travel restrictions are in place across much of Europe to curb the spread of the coronavirus, and Germany has warned its citizens against all nonessential travel.

Around a third of Germans surveyed said they had been forced to abandon their original holiday plans because of the pandemic. Around 22% said they had canceled trips abroad, but 18% said they were sticking to their travel plans.

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

02:50 Here’s the latest coronavirus news from the Americas:

In the United States, President Donald Trump says his administration is considering carrying out virus checks on certain international flights to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The announcement came as the US recorded its millionth infection, and the death toll surpassed the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War.

Also on Tuesday, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden won a presidential primary in the state of Ohio. It was the first statewide election to be held via mail due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Mexico’s Health Ministry has reported 1,223 new coronavirus cases, bringing the country's total tally to 16,752. The death toll stands at 1,569, including 135 new deaths. The government said it expects the real number of infected people to be significantly higher.

Read more:Mexico drug cartels turn charities in coronavirus pandemic 

El Salvador has extended its lockdown measures until May 16. The central American country's quarantine, in place since March 21, is one of the strictest in the region. People can only leave their homes for essential activities, or to buy food or medicine. Those who go out without a good enough reason can be detained and sent to "containment centers" where they will be monitored for up to 30 days. 

Human Rights Watch has accused the government of violating the rule of law with its lockdown. El Salvador has reported 345 cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths.

Brazil has now registered more than 5,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus, making it the only South American country to have more fatalities than China.

According the Health Ministry, a record 474 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. The latest figures show 71,886 cases in the country.

Peru has more than 30,000 infections and 854 coronavirus deaths — the second-highest death toll in the region behind Brazil. More than 500 cases have been reported in the country's overcrowded prisons, where a riot this week resulted in nine inmate deaths.

02:20 China reported 22 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday. All but one were imported cases.

No new deaths were reported. The figures show a spike in imported cases as only 3 such cases were reported on Tuesday.

There was a decrease in asymptomatic cases from 40 the previous day to 26.

China has seen a total of 82,858 COVID-19 cases to date. The death toll stands at 4,633.

While social distancing restrictions have been relaxed, authorities are setting strict quarantine protocols for those coming from abroad and other parts of the nation.

Meanwhile, China's parliament will hold its annual meeting on May 22, more than two months later than originally planned, according to Xinhua news agency.

Read moreAfter coronavirus, don't write off China as world's factory

01:26 US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order requiring meat processing plants to stay open during the pandemic to protect the country’s food supply.

The order uses the Defense Production Act to classify meat processing as critical infrastructure.

More than 20 meatpacking plants have already halted operations because of coronavirus concerns and workers falling ill, while many others have slowed production. 

"Such closures threaten the continued functioning of the national meat and poultry supply chain, undermining critical infrastructure during the national emergency," the order states.

Trump's action angered unions, who accused the White House of putting meat supplies above workers' health. An estimated 6,500 food-processing and meatpacking workers have been infected with or exposed to the virus at work, while 20 have died, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

A senior White House official said failure to take action could result in the "vast majority" of US meat processing plants temporarily closing, reducing the availability of meat in shops by as much as 80%.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said the administration would provide guidance to meat plants to minimize the health risks, for example by encouraging older workers and those with underlying health issues to stay home.

00:58 More than 200 Romanians working at a slaughterhouse in Germany have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement from Romania's Foreign Ministry cited by Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The ministry said those infected had been isolated, with most of them showing only minor symptoms or none at all. They had all been working at an abattoir in the southwestern German town of Birkenfeld, where most of the employees are Romanian.

"German authorities say 300 employees are confirmed with COVID-19 and are now in quarantine. So far there is no precise data regarding the citizenship of those infected, but the majority (over 200) are Romanian citizens," AFP quoted the ministry as saying.

Thousands of Romanians travel to Germany each year for seasonal work. However, the ministry added that the 200 were "not seasonal workers" but rather were employed by subcontractors at the slaughterhouse.

Read moreGermany drafts Romanian farm labor for coronavirus pandemic

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00:06 Austrian Airlines says it has applied for €767 million ($830 million) in state aid to deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus.

A spokesman for the Lufthansa subsidiary said a large part of the funds would be repayable loans and the remainder grants, which are still under negotiation.

Airlines around the world have been forced to ground flights amid worldwide travel restrictions. Some have sought government help, while others have said they plan to cope without it.

The Austrian government has made clear that it would only offer financial support in return for job guarantees, as well as assurances that Vienna keep its place as a transfer hub.

Lufthansa, Germany's flagship carrier, is currently negotiating a potential rescue package with the German government. The company, which also has subsidiaries in Belgium and Switzerland, is seeking state aid in those countries as well, a spokeswoman told Agency France-Presse.

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

00:00 Catch up on yesterday's news here: US tally puts infections at over 1 million

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Merkel urges climate action despite coronavirus crisis

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, nm/dr (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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