Coronavirus latest: WHO says pandemic end 'not even close'
June 29, 2020
More than 500,000 people have died of COVID-19 and the number of infections worldwide has surpassed 10 million. The World Health Organization has warned that "the worst is yet to come." Follow DW for the latest.
Half a million people have died from COVID-19
Global infections surpass 10 million
The US, which accounts for a quarter of all cases and deaths, reimposes restrictions
The World Health Organization (WHO) says things will get worse unless the international community unites against the pandemic
Airbus says it plans to cut production by 40% as the pandemic cripples the aviation industry
All updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)
22:10 Brazil has registered 1,368,195 cases of COVID-19, an increase of 24,052 from the day before, according to the country’s Health Ministry. Total fatalities rose by 692 to 58,314.
Labor groups in Brazil also heavily criticized recently released safety guidelines for working during the pandemic in Brazil, saying they amounted to criminal disregard for workers' and public health.
A public statement released by 31 labor organizations said the guidelines — one set for employees in meatpacking plants and one for workers in general — were full of errors and inadequate measures.
For example, the guidelines ask that employees keep at least one meter (three feet) apart while working. The labor groups said the distance of one meter is not enough, as health experts advise staying at least two meters apart.
The guidelines also allow for at-risk employees, including the elderly, to keep working, and do not require companies to test their workers for coronavirus. Brazil has the second-highest coronavirus death toll in the world after the US.
21:48 The British government has imposed a lockdown on the city of Leicester, where the coronavirus infection rate is much higher than anywhere else in the country. The UK is currently in the process of easing national lockdown restrictions, originally imposed on March 23. Non-essential shops have now reopened and further rules are set to be relaxed on July 4.
Leicester and the surrounding area, however, have been told to reimpose restrictions, in a government attempt to avoid reimposing a national lockdown.
The seven-day infection rate there is currently 135 cases per 100,000 people, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, three times higher than in the next highest city in the UK. In the past week, the city in the UK's East Midlands has accounted for 10% of the country's positive cases.
"Given the growing outbreak in Leicester, we cannot recommend that the easing of the national lockdown due to take place on the 4th of July happens in Leicester," Hancock said in a statement to Parliament.
"From tomorrow, non-essential retail will have to close, and as children have been particularly impacted by this outbreak, schools will also need to close from Thursday," he said.
According to Hancock, children remained at low risk, but were likely to be spreading the disease. With 43,575 deaths from COVID-19, the UK is the European country the worst hit by the coronavirus in terms of fatalities.
21:16 The city of Jacksonville, Florida, where US President Donald Trump is planning to hold the Republican Party convention, has ordered face masks be worn in public. It is a reversal from Republican Mayor Lenny Curry, who had vowed to not impose a mask requirement.
The announcement comes as Trump had recently moved the convention from Charlotte, North Carolina, in response to the state imposing a mask requirement and Democratic Governor Roy Cooper objecting to the holding of a large gathering in Charlotte without physical distancing measures.
Mask wearing has become a divisive issue in the US, with many Republicans and President Trump actively opposing it. Trump has refused to wear a mask during visits to states and businesses that require them. But communities across the US are taking action in rolling back reopening measures and re-imposing restrictions, as the country has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases, especially in the south and west, with about 40,000 new daily infections being recorded on average.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has opposed a statewide mask requirement but said in response to Jacksonville's action that he will support local authorities who choose to do so.
19:30A plan to boost spending in Germany was approved by the upper house of Bundesrat on Monday, with Germany set to cut VAT from 19% down to 16% on July 1. The move would make goods cheaper for the consumers.
The plan also foresees more money for families with children. The state will pay out a €300 ($338) bonus for every child entitled to child benefits, with the first check to arrive in September.
Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said that the move makes it possible for the country to see economic growth in the second half of the year.
The government hopes to stimulate the economy and mitigate the economic consequences of the pandemic. However, a survey by the Yougov pollster found that only 24% of Germans believe the measures would make them more prone to spending money, while 57% believe they would not.
Bailouts and state influence
18:50 Some 180 German workers who helped fight the coronavirus pandemic in their home country flew to the Greek island of Kos for a free vacation organized by German tour operator TUI. Kos is the birthplace of Hippocrates, considered the father of medicine.
The organizers say they wanted to thank medical staff, police officers, supermarket workers and others who continued to work while most of Germany was put on lockdown.
The Monday flight was the first commercial foreign flight to reach the local airport since the the borders opened. Passengers wore masks while climbing out of the aircraft.
"The virus is still there ... We have to be careful and we have to follow the rules and we'll manage it together," one of the passengers, Stephen, told Reuters news agency.
18:35 The swell of coronavirus cases in the US is largely due to US nationals ignoring advice on physical distancing and not wearing masks, said top US infectious disease official, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
He also slammed the steps taken by governments in some US states, who moved to reopen without waiting for a two-week decline in cases.
"That's a recipe for disaster," Fauci said of ignoring the benchmark. "Now we're seeing the consequences of community spread, which is even more difficult to contain than spread in a well-known physical location like a prison or nursing home or meatpacking place," he told CNN.
18:20 The coronavirus pandemic has already canceled the Geneva International Motor Show for this year, but the organizers are now saying that the next year's event has also been scrapped.
The prestigious car show went digital this March, with audience staying away from the Palexpo center due to the infection risk. Big car brands, such as Mercedes and Porsche, presented their newest models to viewers online.
The organizers have now said that they polled car companies and have "given up the idea to organize a 2021 edition." The event would presumably have taken place in March next year.
"A majority of exhibitors have said they probably will not participate in a 2021 edition and that they would prefer taking part in a 2022 edition," said the committee behind the event.
17:45 A round of treatment with remdesivir, an experimental drug found to shorten recovery time in COVID-19 patients, is set to cost $2,340 (€2,084) per person in rich industrialized nations. The fee would cover a five-day treatment course.
The US pharma company Gilead Inc, which produces the antiviral medication, also pledged to direct nearly all of its supply to the US until the end of September. They did not provide details for their supply strategy to other industrialized nations.
The price is somewhat lower than expected, possibly due to the recent discovery that a cheap and widely available steroid dexamethasone can cut coronavirus mortality rates. Scientists believe that remdesivir has no significant event on mortality.
However, Gilead Inc said they would charge $3,120 per course for US patients with private health insurance, as opposed to those on government programs. The company is also working with partners in India and Pakistan to set up a separate, much cheaper supply for 127 developing countries.
What is remdesivir?
In an open letter, Gilead chief Daniel O'Day say that the premium price was well below the value, due to its effect of shortening recovery time and cutting hospital expenses. However, some activists argue that the drug should be much cheaper because it was developed with financial aid from the US government.
Peter Maybarduk, from Public Citizen's Access to Medicines Program, said the price was "an offensive display of hubris and disregard for the public."
16:44 WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebrevesus said the novel coronavirus pandemic is far from being over. He warned that the deadly pathogen still has "a lot of room to move" as the US, Brazil and Russia struggle with a surge in positive cases.
"We all want this to be over," he said. "We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is that this is not even close to being over. Although many countries have made some progress globally, the pandemic is actually speeding up."
The US has criticized the WHO for its response, claiming the UN agency has catered to Chinese interests. But Tedros pushed back in his briefing, saying the WHO is sending a team to China this week in order to investigate the origins of the virus.
The WHO chief said the pandemic "could have been prevented through the tools we have at hands," pointing to effective public health guidelines.
"Time after time and country after country, what we have seen is that this virus can be suppressed if governments are serious about what they have to do, and if communities do their share," he said.
He pointed South Korea, Japan and even Germany for their "comprehensive, sustained strategy" in controlling their respective outbreaks.
16:20Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged citizens to remain vigilant as Canada's southern neighbor, the United States, manages a surge in cases of the novel coronavirus. Trudeau said the overall situation in the country was improving although hot spots remained.
"Since the beginning of this crisis, our government has been focused on keeping Canadians safe," said Trudeau. "While we've made good progress over the past few months, the virus remains a very serious threat to our health."
14:37 The German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has decided to lift the lockdown on the community of Warendorf, but it has extended the confinement in neighboring Gütersloh for an additional week.
The two communities were at the center of a coronavirus lockdown that had besieged its meat-processing plants and led to criticisms of the meat industry, as well as a national conversation over how to contain localized outbreaks.
A recent mass testing of nearly 40,000 people in the two districts showed that community spread had taken place in Gütersloh. The neighboring community of Warendorf, however, showed a much slower rate of contagion.
Minister of Health Karl-Josef Laumann warned that in the case of Gütersloh "we cannot be certain at this time, that the outbreak can be contained." For that reason, authorities chose to extend the lockdown, adding that they were closely monitoring the situation.
13:45Iran's coronavirus death toll rose by 162 over the past 24 hours, in the highest single-day increase since the country's outbreak first emerged in February.
"This increase in numbers is in fact a reflection of our overall performance, both in terms of reopening and in compliance with health protocols," Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said in a briefing.
The previous daily peak of 158 fatalities was recorded almost three months ago. However, in terms of new infections, official figures have shown an upward trend since early May.
Iran has so far recorded a total of 225,000 cases, with 10,670 deaths from the novel virus.
13:10 New Delhi has set up one of the world's largest hospitals, with the use of 10,000 cardboard beds to help the fight against COVID-19, taking just ten days to construct.
The hospital was created on the premises of the Radha Soami religious center on the outskirts of the city, which is home to some 25 million people, and is India's hardest hit area, having recorded over 83,000 infections.
While 2,000 beds were already staffed by the requisite doctors and nurses, the hospital will be fully operational by July 5.
"The beds are easy to assemble and were manufactured in no time. Because of this we were able to get this facility started in 10 days' time, whereas other manufacturers would take at least twice the time," senior official BM Mishra told the DPA news agency.
India's largest coronavirus-dedicated facility, reportedly the size of 22 football fields, will deal with "mild to moderate" cases and will be run by the paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Force, which guards the country's border with China.
11:45 As of Wednesday, tourists traveling to Greece will be required to fill in an online questionnaire 48 hours prior to arrival, to determine whether they need to be tested for COVID-19 when they get to the country.
Travelers are given scannable bar codes after they have completed the questionnaire, which is mandatory until August 31. The questionnaire requires travelers to submit personal details such as their nationality and the countries they have traveled through in the previous 15 days.
Meanwhile, Greece has launched a promotional campaign to kick-start the tourism industry, which accounts for a quarter of its gross domestic product.
11:00 Misinformation over COVID-19 distributed by Russian and Chinese media outlets is attaining a bigger reach on social media in France and Germany, than content from the two countries' own premier news channels, a newly published report has revealed.
From distorted news articles to conspiracy theories, stories about coronavirus written in French and German by foreign state media have been resonating widely on Facebook and Twitter since the outbreak of the virus, the Oxford Internet Institute said in a report.
The institute focused on content created by media in Russia and China, as well as Iran and Turkey, all of which are state-controlled or closely aligned to national governments.
State media groups have "politicised the coronavirus by criticising Western democracies, praising their home countries, and promoting conspiracy theories about the origins of the virus", the institute which is a part of Oxford University said.
"A majority of the content in these outlets is factually based. But what they have, especially if you look at the Russian outlets, is an agenda to discredit democratic countries," researcher Jonathan Bright told news agency AFP.
"The subtle weave in the overarching narrative is that democracy is on the verge of collapse."
The research focused on reports from Russia Today and Sputnik news agency in Russia; China Global Television Network (CGTN), China Radio International (CRI) and Xinhua News Agency; plus articles from Iranian and Turkish networks.
Russian hospital workers
10:30 In Italy a small study has revealed that patients who were tested for the coronavirus in May had fewer virus particles than those who were tested in April.
The researchers gave some suggestions for the lower "viral load," including that lockdown measures may have reduced patients' exposure to the novel virus, but no concrete explanation could, as yet, be drawn from the findings.
The study included an analysis of 200 nasopharyngeal swabs taken at the San Raffaele hospital, in northern Italy, near Milan. Half were from patients in April and the other half were from individuals treated in May.
People who were swabbed in April had more severe symptoms and were more likely to need hospitalisation, the study found.
Viral loads were similar in men and women, but were higher in those aged 60 and over.
10:00 After a 15-week hiatus pubs in Ireland are reopening as part of the easing of restrictions on the Emerald Isle.
Pubs that serve food are permitted to serve customers, who can drink for up to one hour and 45 minutes, as long as they buy a "substantial meal" worth €9 ($10) or more, and follow social distancing guidelines.
Cinemas, gyms, hair salons, places of worship and restaurants are also reopening as the numbers of cases continues to fall in Ireland, with just a handful of infections reported on a daily basis throughout June.
The reopening project forbids standing at or crowding around a bar, while pubs that do not serve food cannot reopen until July 20.
09:15 Frankfurt Airport has opened a walk-in testing center after its launch was confirmed by the biotechnology firm behind the scheme.
In cooperation with the airport operators Fraport and Lufthansa, Centogene hopes the operation at Germany's largest airport will serve as a "blueprint to opening international borders," the Rostock based company said, and it is expected to run until July 31 next year.
"Passengers flying to or from Frankfurt Airport with Lufthansa will be able to perform the test at a sampling center conveniently located near the main terminal," a Centogene statement said.
The test "can either be completed the day before traveling or with a fast track solution the same day before departure. All results are delivered to the passenger via a secure digital platform and connected to their ticket – providing secured clearance for passengers flying to countries with entrance restrictions."
Dr. Volkmar Weckesser, CENTOGENE Chief Information Officer, said: "Through our partnership with Lufthansa and our medical partner Dr. Bauer Laboratoriums GmbH, we can ensure a quick, accurate, and secure end-to-end solution that safely reopens air travel and further supports a return to a new normal for our societies and economies."
09:00 India has reported nearly 20,000 new coronavirus infections, a new record for the country, as several states reimpose partial or full lockdowns to stem the spread of the virus.
India has seen a jump of nearly 100,000 cases over the past week, the health ministry said. In all, the country has confirmed 548,318
cases, making it the world's fourth-worst affected country after the United States, Brazil and Russia. India's death toll has reached 16,475.
08:45 Pubs and bars in Thailand are set to reopen on Wednesday, a government official said, while also confirming plans to let in some foreign travelers after five weeks without any community transmission of COVID-19.
Pubs, bars and karaoke venues will be allowed to stay open until midnight, on condition they follow certain rules such as ensuring two meters (6.6 ft) between tables.
"Alcohol consumption could reduce discipline so there will be close monitoring before customers enter venues," Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration, said.
Foreigners with work permits, residency and families in Thailand, will be allowed to enter the country, but will have to spend 14 days in quarantine.
Taweesin said people visiting for certain types of medical treatment, such as some cosmetic surgery or fertility treatment, may also enter the country.
08:00 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the coronavirus crisis has been a "disaster" for the UK, but now was not the right time for a public inquiry.
Johnson told Times Radio. "This has been an absolute nightmare and the country has gone through a profound shock."
Regarding his senior adviser Dominic Cummings, who had been heavily criticized for flouting coronavirus lockdown guidelines, Johnson said: "Dom is outstanding."
Johnson spoke about his own health after he was hospitalized in April following a bout of the novel virus but revealed now he was "feeling very well, again thanks to our National Health Service."
The PM was optimistic about the future. "What we've got is the curve going in the direction roughly that they thought it would. It is very slowly coming down."
Johnson also gave some clues over his spending plans in the wake of the virus. He said he wanted a "Rooseveltian" approach to the economy, a reference to former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt whose "New Deal" program helped the United States emerge from the Great Depression.
Meanwhile, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said Johnson "has been asleep at the wheel" during the crisis.
And regarding the government's ability to track down cases Starmer said: "They haven't done the groundwork on test, trace and isolate."
07:00 Nick Kyrgios branded fellow tennis player Alexander Zverev "selfish" after the German was seen partying despite vowing to self-isolate after his participation in the coronavirus-hit Adria Tour.
Zverev was part of the event organized by Novak Djokovic where social distancing was largely ignored, with thousands in attendance and players were even seen at a nightclub.
Djokovic and fellow players Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki all subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, while Zverev tested negative.
The German number one released a statement afterwards promising to self-isolate, only to be spotted and filmed at a busy bar, in footage that has since gone viral.
Kyrgios, who had described the decision to hold the Adria Tour as "bone-headed," said of the latest development: "So I wake up and I see more controversial things happening all over the world. One that stuck out for me was seeing 'Sacha' Zverev again man, again, again, how selfish can you be?" he said in video posted on social media.
"If you have the audacity to put out a tweet that you made your management write on your behalf saying you're going to self-isolate for 14 days and apologising to the general public for putting their health at risk, at least have the audacity to stay inside for 14 days, my god."
06:00 The daily number of new cases in the Czech Republic has reached its highest since April 3, Health Ministry data revealed.
The data showed 303 new infections, which is the fourth daily increase in a row, and brings the total to 11,603. There have been 348 coronavirus-related deaths in the country which has a population of 10.7 million.
Health Minister Adam Vojtech said that the majority of the new infections have occurred in a mining region in the east. The Health Ministry will hold a press conference on the current situation at 9 a.m local time (0700 GMT).
05:30 Toyota's worldwide vehicle sales plummeted 34.1% in May, to 609,460, in the wake of the pandemic, the Japanese vehicle manufacturer confirmed in a statement.
The Toyota group also revealed its worldwide production plunged 56.5%, to 408,842 vehicles, as it temporarily shut down its plants in many parts of the world.
The group, which also consists of, Daihatsu Motor and Hino Motors, forecasts a 14.9% drop overall in sales for the current financial year through March 2021.
05:00 Despite the pandemic, over 3,500 protesters took to the streets of the German capital to support freedom for LGBT+ people on Sunday. Activists said they wanted to bring attention to serious human rights threats in many countries. Marchers carried rainbow flags, the common symbol of LGBT+ rights, through Berlin's streets to Alexanderplatz.
For a number of weeks now, polls have shown that the majority of Germans view their government's crisis management in the COVID-19 pandemic as both right and effective. But, when it comes to Germany's new warning app, surveys suggest people are far more skeptical.
04:00 Germany's federal and state governments this weekend reached agreement on a uniform regulation for travel within the country. It comes after authorities ordered fresh lockdowns in two districts following a massive outbreak. People traveling from a district with a high occurrence of coronavirus infection may only be accommodated in a hotel if a medical certificate confirms that they are not infected.
03:20South Korea is considering new restrictions as the number of daily infections steadily rises. Authorities confirmed 42 new cases of coronavirus, 24 of which were in the Seoul and nearby metropolitan areas. The greater capital area has been at the center of the most recent outbreak that began in late May.
Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said the government will impose the strongest measures, including banning gatherings of 10 or more people, closing schools, and restricting operations of all nonessential businesses, if the daily increase in cases doubles more than twice within a week.
03:05Australia's Victoria state has reported 73 new cases, enough to make it the country's highest daily increase in more than two months. Other states and territories are yet to report their latest figures.
The sharp rise in infections in the country's second-most populous state has stoked fears of a second wave. Victoria's chief health officer said the state is considering reimposing social distancing restrictions, warning that authorities were close to losing control of the spread.
Health officials in Australia also said they are using the world's first saliva test for coronavirus, which was rolled out in Victoria's state capital, Melbourne, and its effectiveness was being tested.
03:00 Germany has reported 262 new cases of coronavirus, bringing its total number of infections to 193,761, according to the Robert Koch Institute, the country's disease control center. There were four new fatalities. A total of 8,961 people have died from the virus in Germany.
Meanwhile the country's reproduction rate, or R-value is 0.71, up from 0.62 a day before. When that figure is below 1, it means that an infected person infects fewer than one other persons. An R-value below 1 is considered vital for keeping the pandemic in check.
01:40 Brazil confirmed 259,105 new cases of COVID-19 over the past seven days, its highest weekly increase since the pandemic began. The Latin American country has the second-highest number of infections after the United States.
Brazil also recorded its second-worst week in terms of new deaths, with 7,005 fatalities.
The latest figures, released by the country's Health Ministry, come as Brazilians held demonstrations across cities to protest President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the crisis.
In the capital, Brasilia, protesters put up 1,000 crosses on a lawn in front of Congress to pay tribute to coronavirus victims, with a banner that read, "Bolsonaro, stop denying!"
01:04 Airbus plans 40% cuts in plane assemblies and deliveriesover two years, its chief Guillaime Faury has told Germany's Die Weltnewspaper. Many newly finished aircraft were being parked, he said, because coronavirus-hit airlines were not taking them.
Assembly lines for all models would continue but at a "slower tempo" said Faury, with Airbus' top-seller, its A320, produced at a lower rate of 40 planes per month.
To achieve cost savings, "we're turning over every stone," Faury said, adding he could not rule out job layoffs, if a second coronavirus wave crippled air travel further.
"We cannot decouple ourselves from the trends in the airline industry," he said. "It is about securing our future."
Talks between Airbus and worker representatives are due at the end of July amid speculation of up to 15,000 losses among 90,000 jobs in the European aircraft manufacturer's civil aviation branch.
This follows what sources in NRW's capital, Düsseldorf, said was a series of phone calls over the weekend between NRW State Premier Armin Laschet and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
Germany's Foreign Office quoted the Austrian Ministry of Health as saying that "travelers from Gütersloh must present a negative corona test on entry from Monday, 29.06.2020, 00.01 hours"
Austria's Health Ministry also told Germany's embassy in Vienna that as soon as the seven-day rate of new infections per 100,000 population sank below 50 then the entry restrictions for Gütersloh county would also be lifted.
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.