- There are more than 5 million infections worldwide, according to the AFP news agency, with the Johns Hopkins University tally still just shy of that figure
- Brazil recorded over 20,000 new cases in a day, has world’s third-highest caseload
- Germany’s foreign minister believes anti-lockdown protesters are vulnerable to radicalization
Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)
23:59 We are now closing this live updates article. For all the latest, read Friday’s article: Coronavirus latest: Brazil death toll crosses 20,000
Russian troops have set up quarantine camps at the Olimpiada mine and processing plant in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, where over 140 employees have already been hospitalized and hundreds more have tested positive for COVID-19.
Russia is second only to the US in total number of coronavirus infections, with 317,554 confirmed cases, though officials have said the situation is beginning to stabilize.
19:02 Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov has been hospitalized on suspicion of being infected with the coronavirus, according to sources cited by Russia’s news agencies.
An unnamed medical source told RIA Novosti that the 43-year-old Kadyrov was receiving treatment in Moscow.
The Chechen strongman is a former commander of the anti-Russian rebels. After switching sides in the late 1990s, he was elected president of the southern Russian state. He is often accused of abusing his power by prosecuting minorities, journalists, and political rivals. Earlier this week, he called for medical workers to be fired after they complained about a lack of protective equipment.
18:35 Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he will sign off on a federal aid scheme for states and cities hit by the coronavirus outbreak “as soon as possible.”
However, as a condition, he also asked governors for support to freeze public sector pay increases. Brazil’s Congress approved a bill to distribute 60 billion reais ($10.72 billion) in federal money to states and municipalities earlier this month.
The president is yet to sign off on the program amid pressure from Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, an avid free-marketeer who has been calling more fiscal austerity.
Bolsonaro is under increasing pressure over how he has dealt with the outbreak, which threatens to destroy the Brazilian economy and harm his hopes of re-election.
Brazil looks set to have the second-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases after the United States in the coming days.
Almost 19,000 Brazilians have died from the pandemic so far, with 291,579 confirmed cases of COVID-19. It’s thought that the true number of infections and deaths could be much higher as Brazil has not carried out widespread testing.
Bolsonaro’s relationship with governors and mayors has deteriorated significantly amid the pandemic, with the president angry over the introduction of shutdowns, arguing that avoiding harm to the economy is more important. He has chewed through two health ministers in a matter of weeks, with the crucial post currently filled only on an interim basis.
18:10 Spain’s daily death toll from COVID-19 has fallen below 50 for the first time since a lockdown was imposed in the middle of March.
The figure is something of an anomaly in that it excludes deaths from the northeastern region of Catalonia. Authorities in the region did not update their figures due to problems with validation of the data.
However, Health Emergency chief Fernando Simon said the daily fatality number would still be about 50. At the peak of the outbreak at the start of April, Spain recorded as many as 950 deaths per day.
Spain has the fifth-highest number of cases of the novel coronavirus in the world, at 233,037.
Italy recorded 156 new deaths on Thursday, compared with 161 the previous day. The highest figure, from March 27, was 919.
The country’s Civil Protection Agency said the daily tally of new cases also fell slightly to 642 compared with 665 on Wednesday.
The number of confirmed cases in Italy is now 228,006, the sixth-highest tally globally.
17:10 US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has saidhe expects a “gigantic” rebound in economic growth in the final quarter of this year.
Mnuchin acknowledged that the decline in Gross Domestic Product in the second quarter of this year “is obviously going to be dreadful.”
However, he said there would be an improvement in the third quarter ahead of a boom in the last three months.
The finance chief also said he thought another injection of aid would be needed from the federal government.
“We’re going to carefully review the next few weeks, and say very clearly how we need to spend more money and if we need to do that,” Mnuchin said.
15:00 Cape Town is now the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in South Africa, with the government expressing concern about the spiraling number of cases there.
The city, a popular tourist destination, has had more than 12,000 confirmed cases of the disease. According to the AP news agency, that figure represents some 63% of cases in South Africa, and 10% of all cases across Africa.
The densely populated and relatively poor Gauteng province — which contains the country’s largest city Johannesburg as well as the capital, Pretoria — had been expected to be South Africa’s worst-hit region.
However, Cape Town defied that prediction, recording high levels of community infection.
“No model upfront predicted what we see in Western Cape,” Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize told journalists on Thursday. “The explosion of cases in the Western Cape is out of the expected range and it may be that we need to have additional interventions to try and contain those numbers.”
Cape Town’s position as a tourist hub is thought to be a possible contributing factor, with direct flights to several European capitals. It is believed that tourists showing no symptoms brought the virus with them and it began to spread undetected.
The country recorded its first neonatal fatality on Wednesday with the death of a two-day-old baby that had contracted the disease from its mother. The child was understood to have already had lung difficulties, having been born prematurely.
The decision comes after 29 new cases of COVIOD-19 infection were recorded.
Yousef Abu al-Reesh, director general of the territory’s health ministry, told a news conference that the new cases had come from Palestinians who had recently returned to the Gaza Strip through the Erez border crossing with Israel and the Rafah crossing with Egypt.
The patients had been placed in quarantine at some 16 different medical centers across the Gaza Strip, said al-Reesh.
Gaza now has recorded a total of 49 coronavirus cases since March 5. It has recorded no virus-related deaths so far.
14:10 Scotland is to start a “careful easing” of its coronavirus lockdown restrictions after a “significant and sustained” reaction in the number of new coronavirus cases there.
The decision, which brings Scotland closer in line with England, was announced by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Under the changes, there will be an easing of travel restrictions for leisure purposes, and sports such as golf, tennis and fishing will be allowed to resume.
However, the plan did not include a return to school for pupils on June 1, as envisaged in England.
Sturgeon, who leads the devolved administration in Edinburgh, had described UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to embark on a more ambitious relaxation of the lockdown last week as “catastrophic.”
13:10 More than 2.4 million people applied for unemployment benefits in the United States last week as the country continues to reel from the economic effects of the coronavirus shutdown.
Fresh data issued on Thursday by the US Labor Department indicated that American firms were proceeding with huge job cuts despite many states easing curbs on public activity in the past two to three weeks.
An additional 2.2 million people sought financial help under a new federal program for the self-employed, contractors and gig workers. The agency said these types of workers have become eligible for jobless aid for the first time.
Some 38.6 million people across the US have now filed for unemployment benefit since a near-nationwide shutdown went into effect two months ago. In April alone, 20 million people applied as the world’s number one economy heads towards what could prove the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in an interview on Sunday that the unemployment rate could peak in May or June between 20% and 25%.
12:55 Nearly a sixth of Spanish children say they have felt depressed during the coronavirus lockdown, a charity said, with those from poorer backgrounds suffering the most.
The country has had some of the strictest restrictions in the world, with children unable to leave their homes for weeks.
Save the Children said its survey from April showed the lockdown was allowing many families to spend quality time with one another.
However, it also said some 17% of children felt depressed often, or even on a daily basis.
In the neediest families, around a third of children struggled to sleep while a similar number said they were scared of the COVID-19 disease.
Save the Children said one in four children had suffered as a result of job losses or a reduction in family income. In some cases, families had started sharing accommodation with strangers to reduce the cost of rent.
“The economic and social crisis of the coronavirus will be especially negative and lasting for vulnerable families, who already suffer from job losses and wage cuts more than the rest,” said Andrés Conde, CEO of Save the Children Espana. “Political leaders cannot continue to look the other way.”
As a reminder to politicians, the charity posted photographs on its website of party leaders as children, with a face mask superimposed onto the images.
12:30 Three people have died and several others were injured in a stampede during the distribution of coronavirus-related food aid in Sri Lanka.
Police said the rush happened in the Maligawatta area of the capital Colombo on Thursday and that the deceased were all women. Several people were hospitalized as a result of injuries sustained in the crush.
A nationwide lockdown and the lack of tourism has prompted local charities to step up food donations in recent weeks to help those who have lost their livelihood. Police spokesman Jaliya Senaratne said six people from the organization concerned were arrested following the incident.
Sri Lanka has been praised for its high testing rate and effective program of contact tracing. The Indian Ocean island has reported just over 1,000 COVID-19 cases with nine deaths.
11:03 Almost one in four food banks in Germany have remained closed owing to the coronavirus pandemic, German news network RND has reported. Since restrictions on public life were introduced, 211 of 947 food banks have been closed.
Organizers say implementing social distancing measures may be a key factor in causing the essential services to close. Around 1.6 million people in Germany use food banks, 30% among them minors and 26% senior citizens.
“In a good welfare state, we would not need private charities to ensure basic living necessities,” said Sabine Zimmermann of the Left party. She stressed the importance of food banks reopening as a short-term solution to the poverty problem in Germany.
Four of the closed food banks are expected to open before the end of May, and it is hoped that more can follow.
10:53 The United States has pledged up to $1.2 billion (€1.09 billion) of funding to the pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca, guaranteeing it almost a third of the company’s possible COVID-19 vaccine doses.
The vaccines, still under development, are not yet proven to be effective against coronavirus. The British AstaZeneca group is partnering with Oxford University to produce over a billion vaccine doses. The vaccine will initially be trialled in the UK but the new deal will deliver a Phase III trial in the US.
The UK government, in contrast, has given £20 million ($24.48 million) towards vaccine development and delivery.
“This contract with AstraZeneca is a major milestone in Operation Warp Speed’s work toward a safe, effective, widely available vaccine by 2021,” US Health Secretary Alex Azar said. The US has faced criticism over alleged attempts to develop a vaccine only for US citizens.
10:33 Around 10,000 Iranian health workers have been infected with the new coronavirus, the deputy health minister has announced.
Iran has been the worst-hit country in the Middle East and health services have been stretched thin, especially in poorer parts of the country. As cases continue to rise, health officials are concerned about the effects of a second wave.
In April, the Health Ministry said that over 100 health workers had died, a number which may be considerably higher now. The health minister urged citizens not to travel over the Eid al-Fitr festival over the weekend.
10:28 Malaysia has reported 35 new coronavirus cases at an immigrant detention center after authorities rounded up undocumented migrants in areas under lockdown.
The UN has called on Malaysia to stop the crackdown. They say the virus has disproportionately affected members of migrant communities in the country, which has seen 7,059 reported cases and 114 deaths.
Around 645 people are held in the detention center, which is on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. Some of the infected migrants were Rohingya refugees who fled persecution in Myanmar.
“The source of the infection is still under investigation,” the director of the center told reporters. Malaysia has given the coronavirus pandemic as a reason for refusing to take in Rohingya refugees stranded in the Indian Ocean.
09:44 Several Muslim-majority nations have asked Muslim citizens not to travel in the upcoming Eid al-Fitr religious holiday, which is expected to begin on Saturday. The festival marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan and is normally celebrated with family and friends.
“I am urging you not to travel during Eid. Definitely, such trips mean new cases of infection,” Iran’s Health Minister Saeed Namaki said on state television. Iran saw a spike in new cases on Wednesday and a second wave is widely feared in the country that has seen the most deaths in the Middle East.
Thousands of Indonesians are expected to disregard advice and leave large cities like Jakarta, despite a ban on travel until after the festival. Around 60 flights a day carrying 4,000 passengers are still leaving the capital each day, suggesting that the ban is not being observed.
Infection rates in Pakistan are also continuing to rise, with total infection rates passing 1,000 and cases passing 50,000 in recent days. The lockdown has been largely lifted but the government is expected to introduce special legislation over the weekend to ensure social distancing will continue over Eid.
09:04 The German coronavirus culture recovery program “New Start” will see its funding doubled, the culture minister has announced.
“Funding will be increased from €10 million ($11 million) to €20 million,” Minister Monika Grütters told German newspaper Rheinische Post.
The program aims to help small and medium-sized cultural institutions reopen after restrictions are lifted. Investments of between €10,000 and €50,000 are expected to support event spaces, theaters, festivals and other cultural institutions.
“The program makes an important contribution to the revitalization of the cultural infrastructure,” Grütters said.
08:01 Lufthansa says it is close to sealing a rescue deal that would see the German government take a 20% stake. In a filing with the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, the flag carrier said negotiations for the €9 billion ($9.9 billion) bailout are at an “advanced stage.”
The airline added that the government would receive two seats on the supervisory board, but it would only exercise its full voting rights in exceptional circumstances, such as to protect the firm against a takeover.
Some €3billion of the cash injection would come from the KfW state bank, with the remainder from the government’s economic stabilization fund, which was set up to deliver aid to businesses affected by the pandemic.
Like many airlines, Lufthansa is facing severe financial difficulties after travel bans forced the grounding of 95% of its fleet. Some 700 of the airline’s planes have been parked for more than two months.
07:35 A satirical “mash-up” of the Tokyo Olympics logo to look like the coronavirus has been pulled after it was labeled “insensitive.” The design combines the distinctive, spiky image of the coronavirus cell with the blue-and-white Tokyo 2020 logo. It was published on the front of a magazine published by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ).
FCCJ president Khaldon Azhari says the club had decided to withdraw the image after advice that it may potentially breach copyright. Voicing “sincere regret,” Azhari added, “we are all in this coronavirus crisis together and clearly the cover offended some people in our host country Japan.”
Last month, the coronavirus pandemic forced the International Olympic Committee and Japan to postpone this summer’s Games to 2021.
Also on Thursday, Japanese authorities lifted the state of emergency imposed on April 7 in three prefectures, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo where the infection rate is slowing. The measure will be kept in place in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures as well as the northernmost Hokkaido.
07:30 Armenia has reported 335 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number to 5,606.
The results of 1,416 tests have been negative.
According to the data of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 162 patients have recovered; a total of 2,581 people have now been discharged from hospital.
Seventy deaths have been reported, 27 patients with coronavirus have died because of other diseases.
The number of active cases is 2,758
07:28 The end of the United States’ entry ban for European travelers is not yet in sight, despite US President Trump considering hosting a G7 meeting in the US in mid-June.
“We don’t have a timeline on that just yet,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Wednesday.
She added that Trump’s “number one concern is ‘America first’ and the health and wellbeing of the nation first.” At the same time, she emphasized that hosting world leaders from G7 countries would be a great “show of strength and optimism” amidst the pandemic.
The US implemented travel restrictions for European citizens in mid-March but the measure has since been extended indefinitely.
07:13 The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide has crossed 5 million, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. It put the global death toll at 328,191 as of Thursday morning. The United States remains the country most impacted by the pandemic, with more than 1.5 million cases and at least 93,400 deaths.
Russia and Brazil have seen huge spikes in infections over the past three weeks, and now have the second and third largest outbreaks in the world. Russia has almost 309,000 confirmed infections and 2,972 people have died with COVID-19, while Brazil has nearly 292,000 recorded cases and a much higher death toll, at 18,859.
Germany has, so far, been able to keep the number of fatalities to 8,144, despite having the world’s eighth largest number of cases. A separate tally by the country’s disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute, put Germany’s death toll at 8,147 on Thursday, with another 57 deaths in the previous 24 hours.
RKI said the number of new daily cases has remained relatively stable over the last few days, with daily deaths staying under 100 for nearly a week.
06:49 Easyjet says it will restart a small number of flights from June 15, almost three months after its entire fleet of nearly 320 planes were grounded. The budget carrier says domestic flights in Britain and France will begin first, followed by other destinations.
Passengers and cabin crew will all be required to wear masks, there will be no onboard food service initially and the airline says it will adopt enhanced cleaning of its planes.
Easyjet’s main rival, Ryanair, said last week it would restore 40% of its flights from July 1 from most of its 80 bases across Europe. German budget carrier, Eurowings, also announced plans to restart some flights from next month as part of a wider move by parent company Lufthansa to put 80 aircraft back in service.
06:13 A majority of Germans say they support a proposal by Berlin and Paris for a €500 billion ($548 billion) EU rescue fund to help those member states who are suffering from the economic consequences of the pandemic.A poll by research firm Civey on behalf of the news weekly Der Spiegel suggests 51% of Germans support the plan, versus 34% who do not approve. The plan has a higher approval rate among supporters of the center-left SPD, the Greens and the Left, as well as among urbanites.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are lobbying the rest of the bloc to back their joint solidarity plan, which would see the EU issue debt to raise the funds on the financial markets to give as grants to regions and sectors hardest hit by COVID-19.
Although the proposal has been welcomed by Italy and Spain — the two worst-affected EU countries — Austria, Denmark and Sweden are opposed, saying that the bloc should only take on debt if the money is given as loans, not grants.
Former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has given his backing to the proposal, telling DW in an interview from his Luxembourg home, that it is “the right response” and “absolutely necessary.” He also warned that a failure to agree a deal could leave “a very serious existential crisis for the EU.”
05:42 Brazil has recorded almost 20,000 new cases in a single day, but authorities cautioned that the number is often highest during mid-week, as laboratories resume full testing capacity after the weekend.
Latin America’s most populous country now has the third-highest caseload in the world, after the US and Russia at 291,579.
A further 888 people died over the previous 24 hours, bringing the official death toll up to 18,859. On Tuesday, authorities reported that the number of deaths in a day had surpassed 1,000.
Officials have struggled to get Brazilians to keep to social distancing rules, especially in the largest city, Sao Paulo. They hope that a “mega-holiday,” which began in the city on Wednesday and runs until Monday, will help slow the spread of the virus.
Trends show that more residents comply with the restrictions on weekends and holidays, so local authorities brought forward several public holidays from other months.
05:21 China has confirmed two new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. One of the cases was reported in the financial capital, Shanghai, and was identified as a locally transmitted infection. The other was in Guangdong province, and the person was infected overseas. China says it has 84 current cases, including eight people in a serious condition.
Authorities are hopeful they can prevent a second major wave of infections striking the Asian powerhouse, where the novel coronavirus first emerged in December in the city of Wuhan, before spreading to the rest of the world.
04:38 The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has increased by 745 to 176,752, Germany’s disease control agency the Robert Koch Institute said.
The death toll rose by 57 to 8,147. New daily case numbers in Germany have remained relatively stable over the last few days, with daily deaths staying under 100 for nearly a week.
The reproduction rate, which was last published on Wednesday, stands at 0.88, based on a four-day average.
03:19 Hiking has got more popular during the coronavirus crisis and its popularity will continue to grow as summer vacation approaches, the German Hiking Association has said. “Hiking will be in particularly high demand as a vacation activity, even for people that previously rarely or never hiked,” said managing director Ute Dicks.
The association recommends that people explore more than just the most popular hiking trails in order to reduce overcrowding. “The reasoning is that we’re expecting large crowds at the hiking hot spots. That’s why it can be practical to plan a hike off the beaten path,” she said.
The association expects the hiking hype is here to stay. “Hygiene and physical distancing rules can be easily followed while hiking,” Dicks said. The association has set up special guideposts along hiking paths to help hikers in times of coronavirus. The posts contain hygiene and behavior tips as well as information about pathways.
02:51 Japan is poised to lift a coronavirus state of emergency in three prefectures later on Thursday. The measures will be lifted in Osaka and two neighboring prefectures, where the infection is deemed to be slowing, but will remain in place in the region around Tokyo and in Hokkaido.
Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo are among the eight prefectures where emergency restrictions are still in place. Last week, Prime Minister Shnizo Abe lifted restrictions in all but eight of Japan’s 47 prefectures. Japan currently has around 16,424 cases of COVID-19 and has recorded 777 deaths, according to the Health Ministry.
02:40 Officials in Singapore have used the videoconferencing app Zoom to deliver a death sentence to a drug suspect amid the city-state’s coronavirus lockdown. The Supreme Court announced the penalty to Punithan Genasan from Malaysia in a virtual hearing on Friday, his defense lawyer Peter Fernando said Wednesday. Genasan was in jail, while Fernando and prosecutors participated from different locations.
The courts have been conducting hearings and delivering rulings remotely to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, a Supreme Court spokesperson said. The spokesperson, who asked to remain anonymous, confirmed that Genasan’s case was the first “where a death sentence was pronounced by remote hearing in Singapore.”
The court ruled that Genasan, 37, was involved in drug trafficking in October 2011. The judge also found that he had recruited two drug couriers and directed them to transport cocaine.
The death penalty in Singapore is applied to a range of offenses, including drug trafficking, murder, kidnapping, and the use of firearms. Human Rights Watch spoke out against the ruling, saying that the cruelty and inhumanity of the death sentence was made worse by the way it was delivered.
“It’s shocking the prosecutors and the court are so callous that they fail to see that a man facing capital punishment should have the right to be present in court to confront his accusers,” said the group’s deputy Asia director, Phil Robertson. He added that it raised concerns about why Singapore is rushing to conclude the case via Zoom.
Amnesty International called on Singapore to abolish the death sentence, whether announced via video conference or in person.
02:02 The payment processor company Mastercard says it will not ask employees to return to work until a coronavirus vaccine is available. A senior executive told Reuters that employees will not be asked to go back to its worldwide corporate offices until the company was comfortable that the sometimes-fatal virus had been brought under control, with a vaccine or other measures.
“We expect in the coming weeks and months that more employees will continue to work from home than come into office,” said Chief People Officer Michael Fraccaro. “And we are OK with that. We support that choice.” Mastercard, the world’s second-largest payment processor, employs nearly 20,000 people globally.
According to Fraccaro, when the coronavirus crisis stabilizes, companies may find their offices only 30% full, as people return to their physical workspace at different points in time based on their personal situations.
For this reason, Mastercard is also considering consolidating offices and reducing the size of its real estate. About 90% of the company’s workforce is currently working remotely. Several other technology and financial firms have said they do not intend to call people back to the office any time soon, including Mastercard’s main rivals American Express and Visa.
01:15 Bolivia’s health minister has been arrested and fired over suspicions of corruption related to the purchase of ventilators to use in the fight against the coronavirus. Former Health Minister Marcelo Navajas was detained on Wednesday in La Paz after interim President Jeanine Anez ordered an investigation into the questionable purchase, the police confirmed.
Bolivia recently bought 179 ventilators costing $27,683 (€25,244) each from a manufacturer in Spain, with a total cost of nearly $5 million. The purchase was funded by the Inter-American Development Bank. It was later revealed that the manufacturer had also offered ventilators for around half that price, between €9,500 and €11,000 per unit.
Another Spanish company acted as an intermediary. On Twitter, Anez said that Bolivia had already paid over $2 million for the ventilators but “will not pay one more cent” and that she was committed to “recovering the money of Bolivians.”
The scandal was uncovered last week when intensive care doctors said the new ventilators did not fit their needs. Bolivia has 4,481 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and recorded 189 deaths.
01:03 Over 100 employees at a slaughterhouse in western France have tested positive for COVID-19, regional health authorities have confirmed. The case marks the latest known outbreak at a meat processing plant, following similar developments in Germany, Spain, Australia, Brazil, and the US.
A total of 109 people have tested positive for the virus at the slaughterhouse in Cotes d’Armor, the ARS health authority said in a statement. 818 people at the plant have been tested. Slaughterhouses and meat processing plants have emerged as hotspots for coronavirus outbreaks, where employees tend to work close together in refrigerator-like conditions.
00:40 Protesters in the US state of Michigan gathered outside the state’s capitol building to give each other haircuts, as local public health orders kept barber shops closed in the state.
Dubbed “Operation Haircut,” this was the latest in a series of protests being carried out against the state’s coronavirus-related stay-at-home orders. According to local police estimates, about 300 people attended the protest.
While the haircuts were free of charge, massages were also offered for a small amount of money. Many attendees were not wearing masks or practicing physical distancing, even as Michigan remains one of the hardest-hit states in the US.
00:29 The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed concern about the rising number of cases in poor countries, as many rich nations begin easing lockdowns and slowly return to business as usual.
The UN health body said 106,000 new infections had been registered over the last 24 hours, the most in a single day worldwide since the virus first became public knowledge almost five months ago.
“We still have a long way to go in this pandemic,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference. “We are very concerned about rising cases in low and middle income countries.”
Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies program, said: “We will soon reach the tragic milestone of 5 million cases.”
00:10 Only 1% of Danes have contracted the coronavirus, a new study of virus antibodies has shown, raising concerns that Denmark is vulnerable to a new wave of the deadly infection. The report was released Wednesday by the Danish health agency SSI, a branch of the Health Ministry and the agency responsible for the surveillance of infectious diseases.
Of 2,600 randomly selected Danes, 1,071 had agreed to be tested for coronavirus antibodies. Only 12 test subjects tested positive, correlating to 1.1% of all subjects. SSI said the results were preliminary and that it was difficult to say at this point whether the results were representative of the Danish population as a whole.
Responding to the study, experts said the results were a cause for concern. “At the collective level we have no resilience, and that means there is a potential for epidemic spread again,” Jens Lundgren, professor of infectious diseases at one of Denmark’s largest hospitals Rigshospitalet, said in an interview with broadcaster DR.
As of Wednesday, Denmark had 11,117 confirmed coronavirus infections, resulting in 554 deaths thus far.
This week, Denmark moved ahead with further easing of restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the virus. Danish middle schools reopened on Monday, over a month after classes for pre-schools and the youngest primary school children resumed. Museums, movie theaters, and zoos are due to reopen soon.
00:05 Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has warned that demonstrations against coronavirus restrictions could be co-opted by radical extremists and anti-Semites.
“People living in a democracy should always be able to discuss things respectfully with each other and should take every fact-based protests seriously. However, the freedoms ensured by the German constitution, which these demonstrators invoke, are limited by the freedom of our fellow human beings,” Maas said in an interview with German news channel Welt published Thursday.
“When radical extremists and anti-semites use demonstrations to agitate and divide, then everyone should keep much more than 1.5 meters distance away,” he said.
Maas also called for people to not let themselves become instrumentalized by right-wing radicals.
“Any person who doesn’t wear a mask or keep a minimum distance from others, and who screams conspiracy theories into the world without any concern for others, he or she is confusing courage with blind rage and freedom with empty egoism,” the foreign minister said.
00:00 Catch up on yesterday’s coronavirus news here: WHO reports most cases in a day
kp, mm/ng (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)