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Coronavirus latest: WHO warns of easing lockdowns too soon

May 13, 2020

The World Health Organization has warned that the path out of the coronavirus pandemic may last years and that the disease may never go away. Germany will start opening some borders on Saturday. Follow DW for the latest.

A researcher holding up a blood sample from a COVID-19 test
Image: picture-alliance/Zoonar/R. Kneschke
  • The WHO has said any easing of restrictions should be "phased and gradual" and that all countries should still be on high alert
  • Germany will begin relaxing border control measures on Saturday, while unrestricted access for several neighboring countries is expected by June 15
  • Global death toll has passed 295,000, with over 4.3 million recorded cases

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

23:59 We have now closed this article. For the latest news, please see Thursday's live updates article here: Trump wants schools open, rebukes Fauci

23:50 US President Donald Trump is set to hire a former pharmaceutical executive to lead his administration's effort to develop, test, and produce a vaccine for COVID-19 by the end of the year.

Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKline's vaccine division, will be the chief advisor of the operation, officially called 'Operation Warp speed.' Slaoui will be assisted by US Army General Gustave Perna.

The Trump administration has set a target of producing 300 million vaccine doses by the end of 2020, a timeline many scientists believe to be unrealistic.

23:39 Germany's federal commissioner for the fight against anti-Semitism, Felix Klein, has warned against the spread of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories during the coronavirus crisis.

In an op-ed published Thursday in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Klein said the current protests against the German government's coronavirus measures are "highly dangerous" because they "undermine confidence in the democratic state" and provide a "melting pot" for anti-Semites and holocaust deniers.

Klein said Germany's government and citizens need to counter this with "all their might."

It is "absolutely unacceptable that the Shoah [Holocaust] is relativized during these demonstrations," said Klein, adding that some protesters' comparison of mask requirements with Jews being required to wear the Star of David under Germany's Nazi regime "ridicules" victims of the Holocaust.

22:53 Brazil recorded 11,385 new coronavirus cases and 749 new deaths on Wednesday, the country’s health ministry said.

The new figures take the total number of infections in the Latin American country to 188,974. Brazil has surpassed France’s tally to become the sixth hardest-hit country in the world.

Read more: Is Brazil the new COVID-19 epicenter?

22:47 The ousted head of a US government biomedical research agency is warning that the United States is facing its "darkest winter in modern history" if authorities fail to develop and implement a "national coordinated response, based in science."

"Our window of opportunity is closing," wrote immunologist Rick Bright in an advanced copy of testimony he will deliver to lawmakers on Thursday. Bright added that if steps recommended by experts are not followed, he fears the pandemic will get "far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities."

Bright said in a whistleblower complaint filed last week that he had been removed from his post for opposing the Trump administration's promotion of unproven COVID-19 treatments, and for pointing out shortfalls in the administration's response earlier in the year.

22:29 Nicaragua has released almost 3,000 prisoners, the government revealed, amid accusations it was not taking measures to stop the spread of the deadly virus in the country's penitentiaries.

22:03 US President Donald Trump said he was "surprised" by a warning from the country's top infectious disease expert and key coronavirus task force member, Anthony Fauci, about the dangers of states reopening the US economy too quickly.

On Tuesday, Fauci told the US Senate that cities and states could see more COVID-19 deaths and economic damage if stay-at-home orders are lifted without having proper response capabilities in place. "My concern is we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks," said Fauci.

"To me it's not an acceptable answer," Trump told reporters. Although Fauci said during his testimony Tuesday that he does not have a "confrontational relationship" with Trump, his statements conflict with the president's push for states to re-open as quickly as possible.

21:27 German soccer legend Franz Beckenbauer sees the upcoming behind-closed-doors matches as an ideal chance for players to flourish, particularly those wracked with nerves when playing in front of large audiences.

"I have seen a lot of players who shone on the training pitch and whose nerves fluttered on Saturdays in the full stadium," the 74-year-old told German newspaper Bild.

The Bundesliga is due to return this week after a two month hiatus due to the outbreak. No fans will be allowed in or near the stadiums due to restrictions on large public gatherings.

21:19 German automaker Volkswagen announced it would resume production at its US assembly plant in the state of Tennessee after suspending operations in March.

The assembly lines at the Chattanooga plant are set to start rolling again on May 17 in a gradual ramp-up to "ensure a reliable supply base while providing workers with time to adapt to the new procedures and preventative measures," Volkswagen said in a press release.

The company said the factory has implemented 90 health and safety measures, including checks for everyone entering the facility and staggered shift start times. Masks and gloves will be provided to all workers daily and the plant has been fitted with sanitizing stations.

The Chattanooga plant employs around 3,800 people and produces the Passat sedan. In 2019, Volkswagen spent $800 million expanding the plant as its North American base for manufacturing electric vehicles.

21:05 Montenegro police clashed with protesters after several priests were arrested for defying coronavirus measures.
The group of Orthodox priests organized a religious procession which drew hundreds of worshipers, despite the ongoing lockdown. The images show attendees walking in a tight crowd without face masks.

The priests have since been detained and are now facing accusations "of violating health ruled in the prevention of a dangerous contagious disease," according to district attorney Stevo Sekaric. The violation carries a jail sentence of up to 12 years.

The news of their arrest prompted protests across the small Balkan country. The Serbian Orthodox Church urged for the priests to be released, claiming that the liturgy happened spontaneously because all the worshipers "could not fit into the church." The clergy has been engaged in a power struggle with the government for months over a controversial law on religion, and has organized religious processions as a form of anti-government protest.

With a population of 620,000 people, Montenegro has seen 324 confirmed coronavirus cases and nine deaths. No new cases have been confirmed over the past week.

21:05 Here’s the latest on what’s happening in Europe:

Various European nations have been discussing summer tourism options, as lawmakers begin to plan dates for borders to reopen. Countries like Spain and Portugal are eager to open up for summer tourists, while northern European countries like Norway and the UK want to make it easier for seasonal workers to cross borders. Germany and Austria are set to open most of their EU borders by June 15.

Read more: Which European Union countries are open for summer tourism?

In France, some beaches were opened for the first time in two months as the country saw a drop in the daily death toll. The country is gradually easing lockdown restrictions this week, with many people returning to work. President Emmanuel Macron has warned there is still a long way to go. Meanwhile, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has renewed her campaign to reopen the city's public parks and gardens, saying that residents "need space."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on people in her country to be "courageous and vigilant." Many of Germany’s 16 states have begun to ease restrictions on public life. She also confirmed that no extra levies or taxes were planned to counter the economic effect of coronavirus. Germany and Luxembourg will drop checks on their borders on Saturday, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced today, marking the beginning of the end of border checks within the Schengen zone.

Read more: Germany aims to reopen borders - what you need to know

Belgium has announced a partial end to the lockdown will begin on Monday, with schools beginning to reopen along with museums, zoos and markets. Despite the gradual easing of restrictions, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes said "there will not be a return to normal life this summer."

The UK this week became the country with the most fatalities in Europe, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said it is "premature" to be analyzing this data. Official UK government graphs comparing European countries have removed the comparison charts, with Johnson saying that any comparison was "premature because of the correct and final way of making these comparisons will be when we have all the excess death totals for all the relevant countries." Leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer said he was "baffled" by this response.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has asked member states of the EU to allocate new sources of revenue to the EU’s long-term budget to help finance an economic recovery in the pandemic. The draft resolution will be voted on next week, and requires EU member states to direct tax revenues to finance the plan.

20:34 Italy has presented a €55 billion ($59.6 billion) stimulus package aimed at restarting the country's economy.

"We worked on this day and night," said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

The plan includes measures to help the unemployed and families, such as benefits to pay for babysitters. Other measures provide assistance to schools and healthcare facilities, as well as small and medium sized businesses. The package, comprised of grants and tax breaks, would also direct funds towards tourism, agriculture, construction, and culture.

The stimulus plan was first announced in April but has since been delayed several times due to political rows. The decree follows a €25.6 billion package introduced in March.

Conte has been pushing for far-reaching financial measures on the EU level, where top national officials have yet to agree on the details on the bloc's financial response.

Italy's economy is expected to shrink by at least 8% this year.

20:07 Mexico is set to open some of its carmaking factories starting Monday, after the United States, and the industry itself, pushed for the plants that serve the US market to resume work.

Announcing its plans on Wednesday, the government said that the lockdown will stay in place for non-essential businesses, but that industries such as construction, mining, and car and truck manufacturing, would be classified as essential.

Many US plants depend on parts from Mexico, which are often produced in factories along the border. Hundreds of such factories are located in Ciudad Juarez in northern Mexico. However, a state-level lawmaker from the ruling MORENA party, Benjamin Carrera, urged the government to keep the plants closed at least until the end of the month.

"Juarez couldn't survive without the factories," he said. "But right now, the life of a worker is much more important than a job."

Mexico has registered 353 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, its most lethal day since the outbreak began, bringing its death toll to 3,926.

19:15 Paul Manafort, US President Donald Trump's former presidential campaign chairman, has been released from federal prison due to concerns about coronavirus. Manafort was convicted as part of the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible coordination between Trump's campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential elections.

Manafort, who was prosecuted in two federal courts, was convicted of fraud in 2018. He was hospitalized in December 2019 with a heart-related condition, and may have therefore been judged at high risk of catching COVID-19.

The 71-year-old will spend the rest of his sentence in home confinement, his lawyer has said.

Conspiracies, lies and the coronavirus 'infodemic'

18:40 France has reported a drop in daily coronavirus deaths over the past 24 hours compared with Tuesday.

The total death toll in French hospitals and nursing homes now stands at 27,074, according to the Health Ministry.

At least 83 people died on Wednesday, not including deaths in hospitals which have not yet been calculated, down from 348 the day before. The number of patients currently in intensive care dropped by 114 to 2,428: a figure that exceeded 7,000 at the beginning of the crisis. There have been 178,184 confirmed cases in France since the outbreak began.

"This partial reopening of the economy while still trying to keep the epidemic under control is unprecedented," President Emmanuel Macron said, referring to France's gradual easing of lockdown restrictions this week.

18:30 Belgian schools will partially reopen on Monday, along with markets, museums and zoos, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes has announced. This marks a further easing of the two-month lockdown.

"We have taken a new step, for some too big, for others too small," Wilmes said. "Improvements are coming, but we must be patient. We cannot do everything at once."

Belgium has been one of the most badly hit countries in Europe. The new easing of restrictions will be very gradual and strict social distancing measures will be enforced.

Sports clubs, libraries and hairdressers will also begin to open on Monday, but cafes and restaurants will remain closed for at least another three weeks.

"There will not be a return to normal life this summer," Wilmes said.

There have been 53,981 confirmed cases in the country of 11 million, with 8,843 deaths.

'Common standards' needed

18:10 A woman has been discharged from hospital in Russia after recovering from coronavirus — on her 100th birthday.

Pelageya Poyarkova had contracted the virus from a fellow patient while in hospital for a routine check-up. She managed to avoid intensive care and was seen leaving the Moscow clinic on Wednesday in a wheelchair holding a bunch of flowers and wearing a face mask.

"She turned out to be a tough old lady," the hospital's director said. She is the first confirmed centenarian in Russia to have recovered from coronavirus.

Russia has seen a large increase in the number of cases in recent days as President Vladimir Putin began to ease some restrictions on public life. Russia now has the second-most confirmed cases of any country in the world after the United States, with 242,271. At least 2,212 people in Russia have died of COVID-19.

18:05 With the UK leading Europe on the coronavirus death toll, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was "premature" to make comparisons with other countries. He had been asked why the government omitted the graphs showing the comparisons, which it had previously made public.

For seven weeks, the UK government had been publishing graphs comparing the pandemic's impact on the country with other European nations. Last week, the UK overtook Italy on fatalities, becoming the second hardest-hit country in the world behind the United States. The change was reflected in the daily graphs until Monday. On Tuesday, the UK government omitted the visuals altogether.

When pressed on the issue in Parliament, Johnson said he had been advised that comparisons with other countries were "premature because the correct and final way of making these comparisons will be when we have all the excess death totals for all the relevant countries."

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said he was "baffled" by the PM's response.

Starmer added it was "pretty obvious that for seven weeks when we weren't the highest [fatality] rate in Europe, they were used for comparison purposes. As soon as we hit that unenviable place, they've been dropped."

17:15 The UN secretary-general has warned that psychological suffering from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will likely outlast the virus crisis itself.

"Even when the pandemic is brought under control, grief, anxiety and depressions will continue to affect people and communities," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video message.

"Mental health services are an essential part of all government responses to COVID-19," he added. "They must be expanded and fully funded."

Health care workers, older people, those with pre-existing conditions and those in conflict may be at particular risk, he warned.

17:10 The world's economy is set to shrink 3.2% this year, the biggest drop since the Great Depression, according to UN figures. The coronavirus crisis is set to erase almost $8.5 trillion in economic output in the next two years. This drop would reverse nearly all economic gains made in the previous four years, according to a new report. The document also projects that 34.3 million people are likely to fall below the extreme poverty line this year, including 56% in Africa.

Separately, the chief economist for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the latest economic data confirms the IMF's forecast of a 3% contraction.

"If anything, it looks like the outlook will worsen," Gita Gopinath said at a press conference hosted by the Financial Times newspaper. She added that the collapse of global consumption would likely "lead to downward revisions."

17:00 The World Health Organization's (WHO) chief has warned that "every country should still be on high alert" and said any easing of restrictions should be "phased and gradual."

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke in a media briefing about the importance of global solidarity in tackling the coronavirus pandemic going forward.

"Through national unity and global solidarity, we can save both lives and livelihoods and ensure that other health services both function and improve," he said.

However, the WHO's Dr. Mike Ryan said the world has a "long way to go" in fighting the virus, and said it could take years before we have the virus under control or can adequately implement a vaccine.

He warned that "very significant control" of the virus was necessary to lower current alert levels.

"What we all fear is a vicious cycle of public health and economic disasters if lockdowns are eased without the ability to detect fresh outbreaks," added Ryan, who heads the WHO’s emergencies program. He also pointed out that coronavirus may become another endemic disease that "never goes away."

"We need to get into the mindset that it is going to take some time to come out of this pandemic," added top epidemiologist Dr. Maria van Kerkhove.

16:25 Nearly 1 million households in Vienna will receive vouchers worth €50 ($54) to spend at cafes and restaurants as the Austrian capital reopens.

Mayor Michael Ludwig is hoping to get the hospitality industry back on its feet and encourage people to go out as Austria begins to lift one of Europe's most intense lockdowns. Single-person households will receive vouchers of €25.

"We are fighting for every business and every job," Ludwig said. Tens of thousands of people work in over 9,000 restaurants and cafes in Vienna.

The vouchers are available starting on Friday for Vienna’s 950,000 households. The city, however, will not foot the bill for alcoholic drinks.

15:55 The US has accused China of backing hackers who may be attempting to steal the work of researchers dealing with the response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security said health care and pharmaceutical researchers "should all be aware they are the prime targets of this activity and take the necessary steps to protect their systems." Neither organization released names of specific institutions that may have been targeted.

"China’s efforts to target these sectors pose a significant threat to our nation’s response to COVID-19," the agencies added in a statement.

"The potential theft of this information jeopardizes the delivery of secure, effective and efficient treatment options," the Department of Justice said in a statement.

Tensions are rising between the US and China as US President Donald Trump continues to raise complaints that China failed to adequately alert the world to the danger posed by COVID-19.

15:40 In a bid to fight off the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic and lend a hand to others in need, Berlin night clubs staged "United We Stream" events featuring live stream of music sets and accepting electronic donations.

The initiative has raised over €450,000 ($488,000), which will go to supporting Berlin clubs as well as civil sea rescue programs.

Clubs in Germany have been closed since March 18 owing to the coronavirus restrictions. Over 100 clubs participated in the program.

When expanded to include all cities in Germany that are part of the program, the sum of the donations jumps to €900,000. At least €70,000 has been donated to a variety of social causes and €24,000 to sea rescue initiatives.

15:30 France has reopened some of its beaches on the Atlantic coast for the first time in two months as lockdown restrictions continue to be eased.

However, officials banned any "static presence — seated or lying down." Only walkers, swimmers, watersports practitioners and anglers are welcome.

Other beaches remain off-limits, including some on the coast of Normandy, which are popular with Parisians owing to their relative proximity to the capital.

"If we say we will open the beaches, everyone will descend on them and it will be a terrible crowd," the mayor of the Normandy town of Deauville told the French media, explaining the decision to keep people away from the coast.

Two people walking on a French beach
Movement is required if you want to visit a French beachImage: Imago Images/H. Lucas

14:50 European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has outlined details of the EU's €1 trillion ($1.1 trillion) coronavirus economic recovery plan in the European Parliament.

"We must take a big step forward and use this challenge as an opportunity to build a modern, clean and healthy economy that serves the next generation," von der Leyen wrote on Twitter.

 She confirmed that the recovery fund will come in addition to the next EU budget, but the money will be channeled through the budget. The money will focus on those parts of the EU most badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, like Italy and Spain.

Von der Leyen also called for a new health program in the EU. She also confirmed that the recovery plan will include grants.

14:30 The head of the US Federal Reserve warned of the long-term economic impact of coronavirus and told the US Congress that more spending may be necessary to attempt to counter a long recession.

"The scope and speed of this downturn is without modern precedent, significantly worse than any recession since World War II," Jerome Powell said.

The Federal Reserve, often known just as the Fed, is the US central bank, has stepped in to support Congress in the $2.9 trillion (€2.67 trillion) stimulus package they guaranteed, by dropping interest rates and increasing lending.

"The Fed takes actions such as these only in extraordinary circumstances, like those we face today," Powell said. "The path ahead is both highly uncertain and subject to significant downside risks.

 "Additional fiscal support could be costly, but worth it if it helps avoid long-term economic damage," Powell said. He warned that the recession could be longer and deeper without such measures.

14:15 Two migrants recently arrived from Turkey have tested positive for coronavirus on the Greek island of Lesbos, according to local officials. They are currently quarantined in tents in a coastal area far from the island’s overcrowded refugee camps.

The pair came as part of a group of 51 asylum-seekers from Afghanistan and parts of Africa who landed on the island on May 6. No one else who was in contact with them has tested positive.

Migrant camps in Greece are in lockdown until May 21. Over 33,000 are resident in camps on several islands, with officials concerned about how quickly an outbreak could spread among the population. Over 150 people in Greece have died from coronavirus and 2,744 have been tested positive.

13:50 The UK has reported 494 new deaths from coronavirus in the 24 hours up to 5 p.m. on Tuesday. The rise, similar to figures reported in the days before, comes as England and Wales begin to gradually lift the lockdown that has been in place for over six weeks.

Wednesday saw many British employees return to work after being encouraged to do so by the government despite many restrictions still in place. Workers were encouraged to avoid public transport, but social media images of the London underground showed vast crowds of people, many not wearing masks.

The UK's Office for National Statistics has also said the country's economy is officially shrinking at the most dramatic pace reported since the 2008 financial crisis. The government warned of a "significant" recession to come.

At least 33,186 people have now died of the coronavirus in the UK, though some experts say the real figure may be more than 40,000 given a large number of suspected cases. There have been 230,983 confirmed cases.

13:30 German car manufacturer Volkswagen has put a limit on managers' bonuses owing to the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. The carmarker is putting new regulations in place over a three-year period that will change the current system to a more yield-oriented bonus system.

Accordingly, the company's 18,000 managers affected by the regulations will see their fixed salary reduce to 80% of what it currently is by 2022. The German magazine Der Spiegel, which reported the reduction, estimates that managers will already see a reduction to around 90% of their current income in 2020, since a large chunk of their income comes from bonuses.

They say that some managers who receive high levels of compensation via bonuses could see income reductions of around 25%.

13:20 European Union counterterrorism official Gilles de Kerchove has warned that spectrum-wide extremists are exploiting the coronavirus crisis to spread their message and plot attacks, according to The Associated Press.

De Kerchove said right-wing extremists and Islamic militants "could view attacks on medical personnel and facilities as highly effective because these would generate a massive shock in society." He added that extremists are taking advantage of the fact that people worldwide are spending more time online amid shutdowns for propaganda purposes.

The EU official pointed to the US case of a white supremacist who was shot and killed by the FBI while trying to arrest him for plotting to blow up a hospital treating COVID-19 patients, after initially considering an attack on a mosque, synagogue or an African-American school.

Earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged religious leaders to challenge "inaccurate and harmful messages" that are giving rise to ethnonationalism, hate speech and conflict during the outbreak. He warned religious leaders worldwide that extremists "are seeking to exploit eroding trust in leadership and feed on people's vulnerability to serve their own ends."

12:35 German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she wants all of the emergency border controls introduced to contain the coronavirus to be removed within Europe's 26-state Schengen visa-free zone from June 15.

"The goal is, if the occurrence of infections allows it  — I want to say that again —  that from June 15 onwards border controls in the Schengen area can be completely eliminated," Merkel told the Bundestag lower house of the German parliament.

"Corona remains a danger for all of us," Merkel said, adding that Germans would be living with the pandemic for some time yet as there was still no effective treatment or vaccine. "It would be depressing if we have to return to restrictions that we want to leave behind us because we want too much too soon."

Merkel's statement echoed comments made earlier in the day by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.

Germany Austria border
Some of Germany's borders will open on June 15Image: picture-alliance/dpa/P. Kneffel

12:15 The small mountainous African kingdom of Lesotho has recorded its first case of COVID-19, Health Minister Nkaku Kabi announced on Wednesday.

Lesotho had been the African continent's only remaining state that had not reported any cases of the coronavirus.

The patient, who is a citizen of an undisclosed Middle Eastern country, tested positive for the virus during a random testing exercise in the capital, Maseru. According to Kabi, the patient was asymptomatic, prompting concerns there might be further cases in the landlocked country. 

Africa has registered almost 70,000 COVID-19 cases and 2,403 deaths so far.

Only the Western Sahara, which is not recognized as an official state by the United Nations, has not reported any cases of the coronavirus. A member of the African Union, the territory is partially controlled by the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and partially occupied by neighboring Morocco.

11:45 Opposed to the resumption of soccer matches, more than 100 fan groups from countries including Germany, Italy, France and Spain have published a statement saying that financial interests have been prioritized over public health.

Germany's top-flight Bundesliga, as well as the second division, is resuming matches on the weekend behind closed doors while leagues from the UK, Italy and Spain are making similar plans.

"We strongly ask European governing body UEFA and the national associations to keep the stop and stop the football competitions until crowding the stadiums is once again a habit free of risks for public health," said the statement from the United Supporters of Europe.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer earlier on Wednesday stood by the decision to allow the country's top two leagues resume play this weekend. 

11:22 The EU's competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, has said the Commission will launch legal action against around a dozen member states that have allegedly breached EU law by compelling citizens to accept vouchers rather than cash refunds for canceled flights amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Vestager said that tour operators and airlines could run into financial difficulties because of reimbursement obligations but insisted on protecting the rights of consumers.

"The starting point is that European consumers have a right to reimbursement. Period," Vestager said.

The EU executive is sending letters to member states that are believed to have infringed EU law on consumer rights, Vestager said in Brussels. "And then we expect those member states to correct it immediately otherwise the next steps will be taken," she added.

Germany had previously also wanted to oblige consumers to accept vouchers instead of refunds. After resistance from Brussels, however, the German government refrained from doing so. Several other states, however, ignored the EU rule.

10:40 German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has said he wants the country's top two soccer leagues to resume after COVID-19 shutdown.

Team members are expected to adhere to the same rules as the rest of the population if there are cases of the virus, such as a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

The Bundesliga will become the first major soccer league this weekend to restart since Germany's shutdown.

"I honestly have to say I'm looking forward to it, too," Seehofer said.

10:18 German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has called for a coordinated approach within the European Union to resuming cross-border travel. "We don't all have to move forward at the same pace, but we also don't have to race against each other. In this way, we can avoid stepping on each other's toes," Maas said.

He also announced an international "neighborhood dialogue" in the next few days.

However, he also continued to urge caution: freedom of travel was "one of the foundations of the European project, but it was also about "the freedom to travel safely."

10:10 Australian authorities have fined a church for selling bleach as a "miracle cure" for coronavirus. Medical regulators said MMS Australia was fined AU$151,200 (€90,450, $98,100) for selling its "Miracle Mineral Solution" (MMS), which contains a high concentration of sodium chlorite, typically used for textile bleaching and disinfecting.

The culprits are the local chapter of the US-based Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, which have been banned from distributing the product in the US. The local chapter has been selling the product for some time, with four Australians hospitalized in 2014 for drinking the product.

10:00 Poland has extended its border closures until at least June 12, according to its Interior Ministry. It closed the borders in March and has extended restrictions four times since then. Polish citizens, diplomats, residents and foreign professional drivers can enter at selected checkpoints.

09:45 Germany will begin easing its border controls with France, Switzerland and Austria on Saturday, according to German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer. Border controls will remain in place, but only random checks will be carried out. Additionally, all border crossings between these countries will be reopened, rather than selected ones at present. The use of spot checks should ease traffic jams for commuters over the border, who have been allowed to cross.

Unrestricted crossings between these neighboring countries will be allowed by June 15.

He said the borders will be closed again if the health situation deteriorates. He said he would consider opening borders with Denmark on the same date. 

The border with Luxembourg will be completely open by Saturday, Seehofer said. 

09:30 Croatia is planning to open its borders to Slovenian tourists within days. It is also planning to let in German tourists no later than June 15, Health Minister Gari Cappelli said.

"We expect a good result from the talks with Slovenia within days because our epidemiological situations are similar," Cappelli told state broadcaster HRT.

"Under this agreement, when Slovenians return home, they will not have to go into quarantine for 14 days," he said, adding that similar arrangements were being negotiated with other countries.

08:35 Russia is suspending the use of a certain model of ventilators after a deadly fire broke out at a St. Petersburg hospital. The fire, which killed six people, was blamed on an Aventa-M ventilator. The ventilator was also in use at a Moscow hospital where a fire killed one person on Saturday.

Russia's healthcare regulator "has halted the use on Russian territory of ... Aventa-M ventilators produced from April 1, 2020." The models have been used to treat patients in hospitals in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The country registered more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases today as it becomes one of the global hotspots of the pandemic. 

Its total number of confirmed infections stands at 242,271. The Kremlin moved ahead this week with easing the national lockdown. President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, yesterday tested positive for the virus and is receiving treatment in hospital.

07:15 The Austrian government has confirmed reports that it plans to reopen the border with Germany on June 15. Austrian Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger told radio station Ö1 it had come to an agreement with Germany. 

The border has been closed to travelers since mid-March due to coronavirus. The federal cabinet in Berlin will discuss the opening of borders today, as will the European Commission, which is expected to recommend opening borders between mutually low-impacted areas. 

 "From June 15, the opening of the border between Germany and Austria will be possible," Tourism Minister Koestinger said. She said some restrictions on border traffic will be eased from Friday and border controls will be completely lifted from June 15.

06:55 The British economy contracted a record 5.8% in March, compared to February. Over the entire first quarter, it shrank 2.0% — the largest quarterly fall since the global financial crisis. Many economists are predicting even greater falls for the second quarter, with the Bank of England warning that the British economy could fall 30% in the first half of 2020, before a strong recovery in the second half of the year.

"The speed and scale at which coronavirus has hit the UK economy is unprecedented and means that the Q1 decline is likely to be followed by a further, more historically significant, contraction in economic activity in Q2," Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, said.

06:10 German travel giant TUI will slash 8,000 jobs worldwide, it has announced. This equates to about 10% of its workforce. CEO Fritz Joussen said TUI will emerge strengthened from the crisis,"but it will be a different TUI and it will face a different market environment than before the pandemic. This makes cuts necessary." The tour operator has already received a €1.8 billion ($1.95 billion) government loan. It will reduce administrative costs by 30%, and its investments will be cut back. The travel industry has taken a massive hit from pandemic restrictions.

05:35 Austria's APA news agency is reporting that the country's border with Germany is set to open on June 15. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told Swiss television last night that he expected the border to be opened in June. The Austrian Chancellery told APA that by Friday there would just be random checks at the border. The mountainous nation's tourism industry is heavily reliant on German travelers.

05:00 A crowded United Nations civilian protection camp in South Sudan has been hit by the pandemic for the first time. Two cases have been confirmed in the camp in Juba, the UN confirmed. Almost 200,000 people are still sheltering in UN camps across South Sudan, despite a peace deal ending the five-year civil war more than a year ago. Almost 30,000 of those are sheltering in Juba. 

Aid workers have warned that the only real option for treating outbreaks in the camps is by using isolation centers to stem the spread. There is practically no public health care system outside of NGOs.

04:40 European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Paolo Gentiloni has insisted that a summer holiday season will take place this year. "We will definitely have a tourist season in summer, but with security measures and restrictions," the Italian told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. 

The commission plans this to publish guidelines today on lifting border controls within the bloc. According to a draft version, border restrictions should first be lifted between areas with fewer cases, avoiding discrimination based on nationality. It will also recommend protective measures such as physical distancing in hotels, restaurants and transport.

German Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer last week ordered the extension of border controls with Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Denmark until Friday. Only those with a valid reason, such as commuters, can cross. North Rhine-Westphalia State Premier Armin Laschet has been pleading for an end to border controls after Friday. "It hurts my soul when I see that the barriers in Europe are up again," he told Süddeutsche Zeitung.

04:00 New Zealand reported zero new cases for the second consecutive day. This comes as the country prepares to ease many of lockdown restrictions from Thursday.

Most businesses will be able to reopen, but social distancing rules will remain in place. Public gatherings will be limited to ten people. 

The easing of restrictions coincides with the government’s release of the annual budget, which will be aimed at the country’s economic recovery.

03:52 The vice mayor of China's Jilin city warned that there is a high risk that the virus could spread further within the population after six new cases were reported in the city.

Five of the new infections could be traced to one confirmed case in the city of Shulan, about 100 kilometers (63 miles) away from Changchun, the capital of Jilin province, where an infection cluster was previously reported. 

Vice Mayor Gai Dongping said that authorities are preparing to ramp up measures to curb the spread of the virus. The city has also temporarily suspended rail services at a main train station. 

03:06 Germany has reported 798 cases, and 101 new deaths, bringing the total number of cases to 171,306 and the death toll to 7,634, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). Both figures mark a decrease from the previous day’s count of 933 new cases and 116 deaths.

03:00 Lives have been lost in the pandemic due to the World Health Organization's (WHO) continued exclusion of Taiwan and refusal to allow it to share best practices and information, a US government commission on China revealed in a report. 

Taiwan says that China and the WHO have conspired for political purposes to keep it from participating in talks, that the WHO has not responded to requests for coronavirus information, and that the organization has misreported Taiwan’s case count. The US has supported many of those claims.

In a report released by the US Congress' US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the commission said Taiwan's exclusion contributed to "critical delays" in timely receipt and accurate guidance for WHO members in the early stages of the outbreak.

"Had the WHO allowed Taiwan's health experts to share information and best practices in early January, governments around the world could have had more complete information on which to base their public health policies," it said.

"The lives lost as a result of these missteps offer a tragic reminder of how global health is compromised by the WHO's politically-motivated exclusion of Taiwan," the report read.

Meanwhile, a poll released by the Pew Research Center showed that about two-thirds of Taiwanese people don’t identify as Chinese. 

The center found that 66% view themselves as Taiwanese, while 28% see themselves as both Taiwanese and Chinese and 4% see themselves as just Chinese. The results show that China could have difficulty presiding over the self-governing island, which claims its own sovereignty. However, China says Taiwan remains one of its provinces.

02:09 Fears are abound that Brazil may become the globe's new epicenter and those concerns have been given added credence by global health experts.

"Certainly, the increase of cases (in Brazil) in the last several days is a case of concern," Marcos Espinal, head of the communicable diseases department at the Pan American Health Organization, told a briefing in Washington.

Indeed, there are even suggestions that the figures in Brazil are greatly underestimated.

"Brazil is only testing people who end up in the hospital," said Domingo Alves, one of the authors of a study published last week that estimated the real number of cases in the Latin American country was 15 times higher than the official figure.

01:59 Australia’s treasurer Josh Frydenberg has tested negative for COVID-19, after a bout of coughing struck the politician during a speech in parliament.

"Yesterday I was tested for COVID-19 out of an abundance of caution," he tweeted, following the occurrence that left him breathless. "This morning I received the result of the test which was negative."

The episode, which took place with Prime Minister Scott Morrison nearby in attendance, raised fears that the virus could be hitting the top of the Australian government.

01:39 China has reported seven new coronavirus cases, up from just one a day earlier, according to the National Health Commission. 

Six of the new cases were local infections in the northeastern province of Jilin, where authorities have raised alert levels and suspended rail connections. One imported case was in Shanghai, the commission said. 

China has also confirmed eight new asymptomatic cases, compared to 15 the day prior, while 754 people are undergoing treatment for suspected cases. 

China has reported a total of 4,633 deaths and 82,926 reported cases.

01:08 Six people have been killed in clashes with police in Guinea during protests over roadblocks set up to curb the spread of coronavirus, according to police.

The police said people were demonstrating against roadblocks set up to control traffic between the country’s capital, Conakry, and the rest of the country. The protesters said they were tired of being mistreated and extorted by police manning the roadblocks in question.

Guinea has been one of the worst-hit countries in West Africa, with 2,298 recorded cases and 11 deaths.

00:39 Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro has announced the extension of the nationwide lockdown aimed at the curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

"I will renew the 30-day state-of-alert decree in order to continue to protect our people," Maduro said. The Latin American nation went into lockdown on March 13, which was previously extended in mid-April. 

Venezuela has reported 423 cases of coronavirus, with ten deaths so far. These figures have been disputed by Maduro’s rival Juan Guaido, who says the number of infections are far greater.

Venezuelans head home

00:28 Canadian singer-songwriter Bryan Adams has apologized for an expletive-filled Instagram rant blaming animal cruelty at Chinese wet markets for the coronavirus outbreak. 

"No excuse, I just wanted to have a rant about the horrible animal cruelty in these wet-markets being the possible source of the virus, and promote veganism," Adams wrote on his Instagram page. 

Adams, who is best known for a string of hit singles, such as Run to You and Summer of ‘69, comments that sparked outrage were: "...Thanks to some … bat eating, wet market animal selling, virus making greedy bastards, the whole world is now on hold, not to mention the thousands that have suffered or died from this virus." Adams wrote the post while also lamenting his concerts being canceled due to the virus. 

"My message to them ... is go vegan," he added.

Bryan Adams
Canadian pop star Bryan Adams apologized for his "rant"Image: picture alliance/dpa/J. Kalaene

00:10 Global cases have now surpassed 4.25 million, with almost a third of those coming in the United States, the hardest-hit country in the world, according to the Johns Hopkins Institute.

Recent spikes in infections in Brazil, Russia and the UK have seen the worldwide total reach the new figure.

From scrambling for vaccines to notions of "immunity passports," the world continues to struggle in its fight to come to terms with the virus that has caused the deaths of more than 290,000 people.

Just over four months since reports first emerged of a SARS-like virus in the Chinese city of Wuhan,  the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has since spread across Asia, ripping through Europe and causing devastation in the US. It is now threatening to do the same in Latin America. More than 200 countries have reported infections.

Lockdowns have been implemented like dominoes across the globe, with varying degrees of stringency and success, though some of these are now being gradually relaxed, particularly in Europe.

Where COVID-19 all began

00:05 Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro openly challenged governors who are protesting his decree to reopen gyms and hair salons, to file lawsuits against the move. Bolsonaro’s decision to reopen a large list of businesses was made in the belief that the economic damage of the lockdown outweighed the effects of the virus on the Brazilian population.

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

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

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

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

00:00 Catch up on yesterday's coronavirus news here:  Germany's infection rate drops below key threshold

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

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

lc, jdi, wmr/jsi (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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