The German chancellor expressed optimism for the country’s future after its citizens showed “reason and responsibility for others.” Nevertheless, she warned the battle is far from over.
- Germany and the EU call on President Trump to reconsider plans to cut ties with the World Health Organization
- India plans a significant relaxing of its lockdown despite another one-day record in cases
- People who have had COVID-19 are at higher risk of death from surgery, according to a new study
- Italy warns neighbors over border easing, saying it won’t be treated like a leper colony
- The global death toll is almost 367,000
All times in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC/GMT)
Brazil has been described as the new epicenter of the global pandemic.
22:35 Liberian President George Weah has seen his new song adopted by the United Nations to spread awareness about coronavirus.
The former international football star released the song “Let’s Stand Together to Fight Corona” which will be used in UNESCO’s #Don’tGoViral campaign.
“The Liberian leader was also asked to be the public ambassador of the campaign in order to mobilize innovators and artists across Africa,” Weah’s office said. The song lyrics enumerates dos and don’ts of virus prevention, including washing your hands regularly. Weah wrote it himself.
Weah previously released an awareness song on Ebola in 2014. Liberia has reported 280 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 27 people have died.
21:50 At least 92 people were arrested in Paris after breaking rules on gathering in public places at a protest to improve working conditions for undocumented migrants and workers in the French capital. The police had rejected requests for the protest to take place. French media said that over 1,000 people attended the march.
Gatherings of more than 10 people are illegal in France. French radio station Franceinfo reported that tear gas had been used.
“Demonstration prohibited. The police force carried out 92 arrests. The demonstrators have left the area,” Paris police wrote on Twitter.
21:30 There are now more than 6 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the world, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University in the United States. Global deaths exceed 367,000.
Two-thirds of all global cases have been reported in Europe and the US. Europe remains the continent that has been hardest-hit by the pandemic, with 2.1 million cases and 177,595 deaths. The US is the worst-hit individual country, with 1.7 million cases and 103,472 deaths.
Experts say that countries with poorer health systems may not be accurately reporting figures. Latin America has seen a rapid increase in new cases this week, becoming the new epicenter of the pandemic. At least 45,000 new cases have been reported in the last 24 hours alone, with deaths in the region nearing 50,000.
19:09 Turkey says domestic flights can restart from Monday, beginning with routes between Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya and Trabzon. Other destinations will follow gradually, according to the transport minister.
Disinfection teams swept Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar in preparation for the 15th century building to reopen for the first time since March 23. The chair of the bazaar’s board of directors said shoppers would have their temperatures checked on entry and visitor numbers would be restricted.
Turkey is in the middle of a weekend lockdown in 15 provinces, including Istanbul and Ankara. A stay-at-home order for people aged 65 and older and minors also remains in place.
18:35 Italy has logged 111 new COVID-19 deaths, up from 87 the day before, officials said on Saturday. The daily tally of new cases fell more substantially, dropping to 416 compared to 516 new cases on Friday. The number of people currently carrying the virus fell as well, dropping by several thousand cases to 43,691 from 46,175 the day before.
After becoming the epicenter of the virus in Europe and enacting one of the world’s strictest lockdown, Italy has been cautiously taking steps to resume daily life. Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio also urged on Saturday for other EU-members not to “blacklist” Italians as other countries move to reopen their tourism industries for the summer.
18:16 Andrew Cuomo, the governor of the hard-hit US state of New York, signed a bill granting death benefits to the families of frontline workers who died due to COVID-19. “You gave your lives for us, we will be there for your families going forward,” Cuomo said during his daily briefing on the virus.
Dozens of police officers, public health workers, public transportation workers and paramedics have died in New York, the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. The bill increases the accidental death benefits that families receive.
Cuomo added that the state logged 67 new virus deaths on Friday, substantially down from figures in April when over 700 people were dying of the virus daily. While other areas of the state have already relaxed restrictions, New York City is due to loosen some lockdown measures on June 8.
18:00 Prosecutors in Bosnia have ordered the detention of a regional prime minister and two other men as part of a graft investigation involving the import of defective ventilators for COVID-19 patients.
The suspects include Fadil Novalic, the prime minister of Bosnia’s Muslim-Croat federation, as well as a top state civil protection official and the manager of a fruit processing company that received around €5 million euros ($5.5 million) to procure the ventilators.
They are being investigated for alleged money laundering, embezzlement of state funds, fraud and other crimes.
The case sparked public outcry over the little-known fruit company, which has ties to Bosnia’s political establishment, was recruited to get the ventilators despite the fact it had no license to import medical equipment. In an initial report, prosecutors said the 100 ventilators imported from China did “not meet even a minimum of necessary characteristics for adequate treatment.”
Thousands of people protested in Sarajevo on Saturday against corruption, bad governance and nationalism — calling for those responsible to face charges.
17:05 Pope Francis has led a special prayer session with over 100 people in his largest post-lockdown gathering. Francis prayed for the end of the coronavirus pandemic in the Vatican Gardens with attendees representing a sampling of frontline workers.
A doctor, nurse, pharmacist, journalist, and civil protection official were in attendance along with a recovered COVID-19 patient, a person whose relative had died and the parents of a baby born at the height of the outbreak.
Most of the attendees wore masks and were spread out in socially distanced seats behind Francis, although the pope did not wear a mask.
Following Italy’s example, the Vatican also went into lockdown in March and halted all public worship.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said “actions that weaken international results must be avoided,” adding that more cooperation is needed now, not less. “The WHO needs to continue being able to lead the international response to pandemics, current and future,” she said in a statement. “For this, the participation and support of all is required and very much needed.”
On Friday, US President Donald Trump announced that he was terminating his country’s relationship with the WHO, accusing the UN agency of not responding adequately to the pandemic and of being under China’s influence. The US is the WHO’s largest source of financial support, with the decision expected to greatly weaken the organization.
15:47 Romania’s Prime Minister Ludovic Orban has been accused of breaking the government’s coronavirus restrictions after a picture emerged of him celebrating his birthday with others in his office.
In the picture, Orban can be seen drinking and smoking and sitting close to at least four cabinet members — none of whom are wearing masks.
Under new regulations to stem the spread of the virus, masks are mandatory in public transportation and in enclosed public spaces.
Orban said that the picture was taken on May 25 during his birthday and that he and others weren’t wearing masks because they’d finished eating. He said he was willing to pay a fine for smoking inside, which has been banned since 2016.
Romania has logged more than 19,000 COVID-19 cases and 1,253 deaths so far. The government only recently moved to relax lockdown measures, with bars and restaurants with outdoor areas due to reopen on June 1 under strict conditions.
15:29 German prosecutors said that Saxony state premier Michael Kretschmer did not break the law when he failed to put on a mask while talking to protesters. “No crime was committed,” a spokesperson for the Dresden prosecutor’s office told the DPA news agency. Kretschmer could still face a €150 ($175) fine for violating local rules.
On May 17, the state premier met with people protesting against Germany’s COVID-19 restrictions. Kretschmer said although he normally wears a mask, he decided to not put one on to talk with protesters since it was one of the measures they were protesting against.
A witness later filed a criminal complaint against Kretschmer for violating the government’s social distancing regulations.
15:07 Belgium’s Prince Joachim has tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a party in Spain, the royal family confirmed to Belgian and Spanish media on Saturday.
The prince, who is a nephew of Spain’s King Philippe and ninth in line for the throne, reportedly took part in a party with 27 people in the southern city of Cordoba in Andalusia on May 26. He tested positive for the virus just days later. The other attendees of the party have been placed in quarantine and could face up to a €10,000 fine, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported.
The royal family said that the 28-year-old prince traveled to Spain for a business trip as part of his internship, but that he took part in a private get-together, news agency Belga reported.
They denied reports that the party involved dozens of guests, saying up to 12 people were there. The current restrictions in the Spanish region limit private gatherings to 15 people. It remains unclear whether Prince Joachim contracted the virus in Belgium or in Spain.
14:26 A day of protests against lockdown restrictions has begun peacefully in Berlin as police in the German capital and several other cities prepared for bigger demonstrations later in the day. The city has lifted limits on the number of participants for the rallies.
One early rally centered around celebrity TV chef Attila Hildmann, who is known for his vegan recipes and, more recently, for a spread of a different kind — coronavirus conspiracy theories. The protest consisted of a convoy that included several dozen cars and motorcycles that drove from the Olympic Stadium to the German chancellery.
Demonstrations have been planned in several other cities including Stuttgart, Cologne and Munich. The protesters want an end to all restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus, claiming these violate their basic rights.
14:05 India has announced a significant easing of its lockdown from next month, except for regions with a high number of cases.
A home ministry order revealed that places of religious worship, hotels, restaurants and shopping malls “will be allowed” to operate from June 8, while educational institutions will be opened up “after consultations” with state authorities.
The declaration came despite another record daily rise in infections, with almost 8,000 new recorded cases over the last 24 hours, taking India’s total to 173,763, from which 4,971 have died.
The ministry ordered state governments and local authorities to identify “containment zones”, or areas that should remain under lockdown, as they continue to report high numbers of infections.
13:52 A Chinese-produced vaccine could be ready for the market by the end of the year, China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) said on social media.
In clinical trials, more than 2,000 individuals have received inoculations made by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products and the Beijing Institute of Biological Products. Indeed, a vaccine could be ready for the market as early as the end of this year or the beginning of next year, according to a post on social media platform WeChat.
Vaccines from the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products and the Beijing Institute of Biological Products have begun Phase II trials.
13:34 A flight operated by German airline Lufthansa has arrived in China, marking the first return of Europeans since the country suspended visas due to the outbreak. The passengers — mostly German workers and their families —landed on Saturday at Tianjin airport, southeast of Beijing, Lufthansa said, after taking off yesterday from Frankfurt.
China slashed the number of routes flying in the country in late March and enforced an entry ban on most foreigners, including those with valid residence visas, in an effort to curb the spread of the novel virus. Many workers were left stranded and unable to return to China, having left at the height of the epidemic.
Some 200 passengers from the Lufthansa flight were tested for the novel coronavirus after they landed and will have to quarantine for two weeks. A second flight, reserved for those who need to be in China for economic, commercial, scientific or technological reasons, or because of urgent humanitarian issues, is set to depart from Frankfurt for Shanghai on June 3.
There are in excess of 5,000 German firms operating within China, according to the local German Chamber of Commerce.
13:10 Formula One’s coronavirus-plagued season will begin with the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5, the federal government has announced. The Spielberg circuit has also been given the go ahead to host a second GP the following weekend as part of a seven-day doubleheader, albeit without fans.
“The two Formula One races on July 5 and 12 at Spielberg will be staged without spectators,” said Austrian Health Minister Rudolf Anschober. He added that the races had been given the green light after F1 organizers “had presented a complete and professional plan” to combat the contagion.
13:03 People who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have a higher risk of mortality if they undergo surgery, a study by the research network CovidSurg Collaborative published in the scientific journal The Lncet.
Therefore, an infection should be avoided at all costs prior to any pre-arranged operation, said researchers from Germany’s University Hospital of Tübingen who were participating in the investigation.
The researchers examined data from 1,128 patients from 235 hospitals across 24 countries. These were predominantly hospitals in Europe, but also in Africa, Asia and North America.
The research showed patients infected with the novel coronavirus have significantly worse postoperative outcomes than patients who haven’t been infected.
Overall, the mortality rate during the first 30 days after an operation was 23.8%. According to the study, the mortality of COVID-19 patients increased in all subgroups, such as emergency procedures, minor surgery or planned elective surgery.
“Normally, we expect the mortality rate of patients undergoing elective surgery to be below 1%,” said study co-author Alfred Königsrainer, medical director at the University Hospital for General, Visceral and Transplant Surgery.
“However, this study has now shown that the mortality rate in patients infected with the coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 is considerably higher, even in routine procedures.”
12:41 Germany coach Joachim Löw remains hopeful that the national soccer team will play matches again in September after a 10-month hiatus and expressed his satisfaction at the quality on display since the Bundesliga returned to action two weeks ago.
Löw said on the website of the German Football Federation (DFB) that he and his staff “are in the process of preparing mentally for September.”
With March friendlies against Spain and Italy canceled and Euro 2020 postponed until next summer due to the outbreak, the German national team hasn’t kicked a ball since the 6-1 mauling of Northern Ireland in November 2019.
Meanwhile, Löw said he has been “pleasantly surprised by the high level of motivation shown by the players and teams, and also the way in which the games are played,” despite matches being played behind closed doors.
With the Bundesliga the first major league to resume, Löw also expressed satisfaction that “Germany has taken on this pioneering role.”
12:24 Italy will not accept being treated like a “leper colony,” Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio declared, while also assuring a warm welcome for foreign visitors this summer. Di Maio warned other European Union member states not to close off their borders to Italians.
A number of EU countries are tentatively relaxing their borders as the contagion subsides, with Italy permitting tourists to visit from June 15. However, some EU states are seeking to keep the door shut on visitors from countries that have had a high number of infections. Greece announced on Friday it would accept visitors from 29 countries, but that list didn’t include Italian, Spanish or British citizens.
“We do not accept blacklists,” Di Maio wrote on Facebook, adding bilateral meetings are on the agenda, both in Rome and abroad, to press Italy’s case. “If anyone thinks they can treat us like a leper colony, then they should know that we will not stand for it.”
11:50 Germany has lamented US President Donald Trump’s decision to cut ties with the World Health Organization (WHO), describing it as a “disappointing” setback for global health. The WHO “needs reform” if it is to “make any difference,” Health Minister Jens Spahn posted on Twitter.
“And the EU must take a leading role and engage more financially,” he said, adding this would be one of Germany’s “priorities” when it assumes the presidency of the European Council for the next six months on July 1.
Trump said Friday he was severing US ties with the WHO, which he accused of negligence in its dealing with the novel coronavirus, as well as showing undue bias toward China.
11:30 Government staff members have returned to work in Iran as President Hassan Rouhani said mosques are to resume daily prayers across the country, despite some parts of the Islamic Republic still witnessing a rise in infections. Rouhani also said on state television that shopping malls will be allowed to stay open beyond the current mandatory closing time of 6 p.m.
“Doors to mosques across the country will open to the public for daily prayers,” Rouhani said, adding that physical distancing and other health regulations must be followed. Authorities are implementing stricter lockdown measures to ensure that health regulations are observed, including enforcing the use of face masks on public transport, Iranian media reported.
11:06 In the Palestinian territories, high school students are heading back for the first time since March — just in time for their final exams. The Education Ministry announced that 78,400 12th-graders are due to take their exams in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In Gaza, students’ temperatures were taken as they entered the building, and they sat spaced apart in classrooms. The Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the Israel-occupied West Bank, has recorded almost 400 cases of the coronavirus, including two fatalities.
10:46 Almost half of the German population opposes the Bundesliga resumption, according to a new survey. Of 2,506 Germans who were questioned between May 26 and 28 by the YouGov institute, 47% said the restart was not the right thing to do.
With the blessing of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, the top two divisions in Germany returned to action on May 16 following a two month enforced break due to the pandemic. The third division will begin in earnest once more later today and the women’s Bundesliga resumed last night with runaway leaders Wolfsburg thrashing Cologne 4-0.
All matches are played without fans in attendance and under strict hygiene and safety regulations.
Meanwhile, league leaders Bayern Munich have said their players have accepted salary cuts until the end of the season.
Initially, the players had agreed to earn 20% less in April but now that has been extended. “It is very gratifying that our team has complete understanding of the situation and will continue to forego salary until the end of the season,” club president Herbert Hainer told German newspaper Bild. The amount the players will give up is not known.
10:09 Chancellor Angela Merkel believes Germany has “passed” the coronavirus test so far, but warned against complacency as the country continues to ease restrictions. “We have passed this test quite well so far,” Merkel said in her weekly video message. “An overwhelming majority of the people in our country have been guided by caution, reason and responsibility for others.”
Merkel cautioned, though: “Some people now believe that because the great mass suffering did not occur, the danger wasn’t that big to begin with. That’s a fallacy!”
The chancellor said she hoped to further ease restrictions in due course, but that she was relying on the public to continue to behave responsibly. Although Germany has experienced a high number of infections, its death rate has remained comparatively low.
09:48 In Egypt the mandatory use of face masks has been introduced when in public, taking private transportation, and inside government buildings, as the government relaxes the partial lockdown imposed during the weeklong Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly said people who don’t follow the rules will face financial penalties. Despite some of the easing of restrictions, a nationwide curfew will still be implemented, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. and will remain in place for a further two weeks.
Egypt has seen a surge in cases over the past week. The country of about 100 million people has the highest number of reported deaths, 879, from the novel coronavirus in the Arab World.
09:24 A number of scientific experts have warned the UK government that it is too soon to ease restrictions because the test and trace system is not ready and the novel virus is still spreading at a rapid rate.
Professor Peter Horby, chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said: “We really can’t go back to a situation where we’ve got the numbers of cases and deaths we’ve had in the past,” he told BBC Radio, adding that a test, trace and isolate system needed to be operational as without it a “risk” is posed.
Previously, two scientific advisers to the UK government had warned that the novel coronavirus is still spreading too quickly, with one describing the choice to lifting restrictions as a political decision.
Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust and a member of Britain’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said he echoed the sentiments of his colleague John Edmunds that “COVID-19 is spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England. TTI (test, trace, isolate) has to be in place, fully working, capable dealing any surge immediately, locally responsive, rapid results & infection rates have to be lower. And trusted.”
09:05 Russia has registered an additional 181 deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, down from the record 232 deaths reported the previous day, bringing the country’s overall death toll to 4,555. Officials said 8,952 new cases had been reported nationwide over the same period. Russia’s total number of infections now stands just shy of 400,000.
07:25 German pianist Igor Levit is due to begin a 20-hour marathon concert later today where he will play a single piece of music to raise awareness of artists’ difficulties during the pandemic.
Levit will play “Vexations,” by Erik Satie, one of the longest pieces in the history of music, consisting of a few notes played 840 times, and fits on just one sheet. “These times are brutal for artists — physically, mentally and emotionally. That’s why this piece works so well, I think, to raise awareness of what we are going through,” Levit told German news agency dpa.
The pianist will begin playing at 2 p.m. (1200 GMT) on Saturday and he expects to finish on at noon the following day. It will be streamed live from a studio in Berlin through numerous social media channels, including the 33-year-old’s Instagram and Twitter accounts.
06:54 Taiwan has approved the medication remdesivir to treat COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center said the island’s Food and Drug Administration took into account “the fact that the efficacy and safety of remdesivir has been supported by preliminary evidence” and that its use is being approved by other countries.
The conditions had been met for approval for the drug for use in patients with “severe” COVID-19 infections, the center said. Governments around the world are working to boost their supplies of the medication, which US regulators approved this month for emergency use. Taiwan has recorded just 442 cases of coronavirus and seven deaths.
06:37 India has reported yet another one-day record high in terms of cases, with almost 8,000 people contracting the infection over a 24-hour period. The Health Ministry also confirmed 265 deaths had occurred during the same timeframe, on the eve of the government issuing fresh guidelines for the country after two months of restrictions.
The country, home to some 1.3 billion people, has now confirmed a total of 173,763 cases, of which 4,971 people have died from the novel virus.
In a letter marking the first year of his government’s second term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India will set “an example in economic revival” and called on the nation to demonstrate a “firm resolve.” Modi also recognized the “tremendous suffering” of millions of migrant workers who had lost their livelihoods during the lockdown and have been forced to make arduous, life-risking journeys back to their hometowns.
The federal government is expected to announce a new set of guidelines this weekend, possibly extending the lockdown in the country’s worst-hit areas, such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan states, where 70% of India’s cases have been concentrated.
04:26 Germany confirmed 738 new coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the total to 181,196, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). That figure marks a slight increase from the day prior, when Germany recorded 560 new infections. The reported death toll also rose by 39, bringing the total to 8,489.
03:52 Here is the latest from around Asia:
Singapore is opening up a “fast lane” for business and essential travel to China next week, allowing limited flights to resume between two of East Asia’s countries hit hardest by the pandemic. In the initial phase, travel will be allowed between Singapore and six Chinese cities and regions, including Shanghai and Guangdong.
Singaporehas reported 33,860 confirmed cases, most of which are foreign workers living in crowded dormitories. With cases outside of these residences staying under control, Singapore is set to end a two-month lockdown on Monday. Chinahas reported four new cases of the virus — all imported. The country, where the virus was first detected late last year, has brought the situation under relative control since its initial outbreak, with 84,123 confirmed cases and 4,638 deaths.
South Korea has reported 39 new cases of the virus, bringing the total number of infections to 11,441. Most of the new cases have been linked to infections among warehouse workers in the capital city of Seoul, while at least 12 were brought in from abroad.
Over a hundred infections have been linked to a warehouse operated by e-commerce giant Coupang, which has been criticized over its failure to enforce social distancing and preventive measures.
There have also been multiple cases linked to entertainment venues that saw a spike in visitors after Korea eased its social distancing guidelines early this month. Nightclubs and public spaces have been shuttered since the resurgence of the virus.
This comes as millions of children return to school for the spring semester after numerous delays.
03:42 Around 400 German managers, workers and family members have begun to return to China aboard charter flights. Multinational companies are seeking to get their operations running again at full speed as coronavirus cases in mainland China continue to be rare occurrences.
Two flights from Frankfurt to Tianjin and Shanghai were arranged by the German Chamber of Commerce in China. The world’s second-largest economy had largely banned visitors during the pandemic. The first flight was set to arrive by noon Saturday.
More than 5,200 German companies operate in China, employing over 1 million people.
01:06 The United States recorded 1,225 new coronavirus fatalities on Friday, bringing its total death count to 102,798. The US has by far the most coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, with experts concerned about the effects that continuing to reopen the economy will have. The total confirmed number of cases is approaching 1.75 million.
Meanwhile, US health officials said they are seeking to “inform mass numbers of unknown people” after a person who attended crowded pool parties over Memorial Day weekend in Missouri tested positive for COVID-19.
Neighboring Mexico saw 371 new deaths and 3,227 new cases on Friday, health authorities announced. More than 9,000 people have died and over 81,000 have been infected. Latin America has been identified as a new epicenter of the pandemic.
01:00 After extended talks, Brussels and Berlin have reached an agreement over a €9 billion rescue package for German airline Lufthansa. The deal would see the carrier cede take-off and landing slots at two airports.
Lufthansa has been losing around €1 million an hour since the coronavirus pandemic began, with travel restrictions still in place. Around 90% of its aircraft remain grounded.
00:08 Colombia’s presidential palace has recorded 13 coronavirus cases, with five officials and eight Narino House security personnel testing positive. President Ivan Duque tested negative for the virus.
Duque extended Colombia’s two-month quarantine until the end of June on Thursday. The country’s economy has suffered a massive blow as the number of cases crosses 25,000. Colombia has reported 855 deaths.
00:03 Brazil has recorded a total of 27,878 coronavirus deaths, surpassing Spain with the fifth-most fatalities in the world. The country reported 1,124 deaths on Friday. Brazil’s death toll stands behind only the US, the UK, Italy and France.
The country also has the second-highest numer of COVID-19 cases after the US, with 465,166 confirmed infections of the virus.
lc,jsi,see/sri (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters) (DW)