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Coronavirus latest: World fears second wave of infections

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Germany’s transmission R-rate climbed above 1, meaning the disease could once again start to spread out of control. New cases have appeared in Asia, threatening the fight against the virus.

  • Total number of COVID-19 cases worldwide has risen above 4 million
  • China’s Wuhan, where the first outbreak occurred, has seen its first case in more than a month
  • The infection rate (R-value) in Germany has climbed again after restrictions were loosened
  • Church services have resumed in Germany, but only under special conditions to prevent  the spread of SARS-CoV-2

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)


23:59 We have now closed this article. For the latest news, please see Monday’s live updates article:Coronavirus latest: US Vice President Mike Pence in self-isolation 


22:57 Germany’s meat industry has rejected criticism following an increase in cases of coronavirus infections in slaughterhouses. 

“From our point of view, it is not primarily working conditions that are to blame for the coronavirus outbreaks”, Heike Harstick, chief executive of the German Meat Industry Association, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

“There is no quick and easy solution,” Harstick said. She rejected the idea of removing workers from the high-density barracks they are regularly housed in, saying that if individual housing for workers were prescribed and higher housing rents were incurred, “many companies would no longer be competitive.” She warned that parts of the industry would leave the country if faced with strict conditions.


22:50 United States Vice President Mike Pence has gone into self isolation after an aide tested positive for coronavirus last week. Pence has repeateldy tested negative for the virus, his office said. The latest test was carried out on Sunday. Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, tested positive for the virus. Following the result, three top officials of the White House’s coronavirus task force also placed themselves under quarantine on Sunday.


22:25 Several MPs in Germany have warned of a radicalization of the nationwide protests against coronavirus restrictions. This weekend saw thousands of people taking to the streets in several cities across Germany to demonstrate against restrictions. 

“In Hanau, we witnessed that someone killed others because he radicalized himself, in part through conspiracy theories,” the chairman of the conference of interior ministers, Georg Maier said, talking about the racially motivated attack in Hanau last month.

“In a democracy it is legitimate and natural to question measures and express displeasure,” deputy Green Group leader Konstantin von Notz told Die Welt on Monday. “But there are also people who fundamentally question the entire political system and who consider politicians to be puppets of George Soros and Bill Gates.”

The SPD politician Ute Vogt spoke of a “field day for the right”. She told the paper that they were trying to take advantage of general dissatisfaction with coronavirus conditions.


20:45 Here is the latest from across Europe:

Poland: The Polish electoral commission said the speaker of parliament has two weeks to declare a new date for a presidential election after the pandemic effectively prevented the vote from happening on Sunday. Although the vote wasn’t officially canceled or postponed despite government plans, the electoral commission concluded that it could not take place under the current circumstances.

FranceThe French government said an agreement has been made with British authorities that prevent travelers between the two countries being forced to undergo a mandatory quarantine period of two weeks. “No quarantine measure will apply to travelers from France at this stage; any measure from one side or the other will be taken in a coordinated and reciprocal way,” the Elysee said in a statement. Travel links between the two countries are critical for business leaders, with the Eurostar train taking only two hours to get between Paris and London. A mandatory quarantine period would effectively upend non-essential travel between the two countries at a critical moment for the UK as it negotiates its post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.

Germany: The Robert Koch Institute said the infection rate in Germany has risen to 1.13, up significantly from a low of 0.65 earlier this week. An infection rate over 1.0 means more people are contracting the deadly pathogen than those who already have it. The federal government has warned that an “emergency brake” is in place in the event authorities need to re-impose lockdown measures.

Greece: Greek authorities reported no new coronavirus-related deaths and only six new infections, bringing the country’s total number of confirmed cases to just over 2,700. Although Athens has so far managed to prevent the outbreak from taking hold in migrant camps, public health authorities have warned that squalid conditions at facilities could make it harder to stop an outbreak from spreading. Starting Monday, most shops will resume operations and would-be university students will go back to class in preparation for nationwide entrance exams.


19:50 The number of employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 at a slaughterhouse in western Germany has risen to 205.  Most of the those working at the abbatoir in Coesfeld, near the Dutch border, are migrants from Eastern Europe and living in shared accommodation.


19:00 UK opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer has criticized Boris Johnson’s new approach, saying it “raises more questions than it answers.” 

The Labour Party leader said Johnson was “effectively telling millions of people to go back to work without a clear plan for safety.”

Earlier in the day, a statistics expert often cited by the UK government has criticized Downing Street’s ineffective communications, saying it demonstrates a lack of “respect” for the British public. 

David Spiegelhalter, a professor at Cambridge University, said Westminster’s daily briefings were like a “number theatre” put together by a public relations team, rather than giving citizens crucial information.

“I just wish the data was being presented by people who know its strengths and limitations and could treat the audience with respect.”


18:40 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that the lockdown measures introduced in the UK have prevented the loss of half a million lives.

Johnson made the claim in a televised address to the nation as he announced upcoming plans for the UK to navigate its way out of the current crisis.

Johnson said people in Britain who can’t work from home, such as those in construction or manufacturing jobs, “should be actively encouraged to go to work” this week.

“We will be monitoring the progress we are making. We may be able to go further. On June 1 we may be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools,” Johnson said.

“At the earliest by July, and subject to all these conditions and further scientific advice, we will hope to reopen at least some of the hospitality industry, and other public places, provided they’re safe and enforce social distancing.”

From Wednesday, there will be no restrictive measures applied to the amount of exercise that can be done outdoors, Johnson announced. Citizens will also be permitted to sunbathe, drive to other destinations, and play sports with members of their own household.


17:42 In the state of New York an investigation is underway after some 85 children contracted an inflammatory illness that may be linked COVID-19, the symptoms of which are similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome.

“Though the illness is rare, we ask parents to be vigilant,” state governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted.

Meanwhile, all nursing homes in the state will be required to test staff twice a week for COVID-19, Cuomo said in his daily briefing. The measure is in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus in its most fertile breeding ground.

Cuomo also announced regulations to protect nursing home patients, including insisting that hospitals cannot discharge coronavirus patients, and send them to a nursing home, until the person has tested negative.

“That is a rule, not an ‘I appreciate it if you did’,” Cuomo said, adding that facilities would lose their license if they broke the new rules.


16:53 Italy has reported 165 deaths from COVID-19 over the last 24 hours, a slight drop in comparison with yesterday’s figure and the lowest recorded since March 9, the Civil Protection Agency said. The number of infections recorded over the same period was 802, down some 200 on the day before’s figure.

The total death toll since the outbreak first emerged on February 21 now stands at 30,560, the agency said, making Italy’s tally of fatalities the third highest in the world after the United States and Britain.

For the first time since early March new infections were under 1,000. Italy’s total number of cases is 219,070, the third highest in the world, behind only those of the United States and Spain.


16:26 The total number of deaths registered in Moscow significantly increased in April, in comparison with the same month last year.

This figure far exceeds the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19, suggesting the official death toll from the novel coronavirus could be underestimated.

A number of countries are investigating “all-cause mortality” numbers as a way of assessing the full impact of the virus, as some fatalities caused by COVID-19 may go unrecorded.

The data published on Sunday shows Moscow recorded 11,846 deaths in total in April 2020, the first month when the Russian capital recorded a large number of deaths caused by COVID-19. That is an increase of 18% on the number of deaths registered in April 2019.

The new data was first reported by The Moscow Times.


16:04  Here’s a summary of the latest events in Asia:  

China: Chinese authorities have reported 14 new cases, marking the first double-digit rise of daily infections in nearly two weeks. The majority of the cases occurred in northeastern province of Jilin.

Authorities immediately suspended rail traffic and designated the Shulan country a “high-risk” area. “Epidemic control and prevention is a serious and complicated matter, and local authorities should never be overly optimistic, war-wear or off-guard,” said Bayin Chaolu, secretary of the Jilin Community Party.  

Hong Kong: Riot police dispersed anti-government protesters who had gathered despite failing to receive authorization for a Mother’s Day march. The pro-democracy movement has been eager to get back to protesting as the novel coronavirus pandemic wanes.

Sunday’s protests come months after mass demonstrations effectively paralyzed the city over controversial legislation that would have paved the way for extradition to mainland China.  

South Korea: South Korean authorities say there are 34 new cases, marking the first time in more than a month that the country has seen daily infections cross the 30 mark.

The new infections were largely attributed to nightclub revelers. President Moon Jae-in called on citizens to remain vigilant and not panic, but noted that “the damage to our economy is indeed colossal as well.”

South Korea has managed to avert a larger outbreak due to widespread testing at the onset of the pandemic earlier this year.

Myanmar: Myanmar’s armed forces have announced a four-month cessation of hostilities  in the state of Rakhine, where in recent years, fighting has led to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh.

The military cited the novel coronavirus pandemic as the motivation behind the ceasefire. However, it noted that terror groups would be exempt from the ceasefire, casting doubt on whether Myanmar’s bloody campaign against Rohingya extremists could be temporarily halted.


15:10 Religious services have started up again in Germany. Berlin Cathedral held its first Mass since the lockdown on Sunday, one of many services being held across the country for the first time in weeks.

Worshippers had to sign in upon arrival, and were asked to wear masks and disinfect their hands at the door.

In line with rules agreed by places of worship, there was no singing to stop the spread of the virus through droplets from an infected person’s mouth.

Despite the changes, Klaus Nitzsche, 66, said told the AFP news agency had enjoyed the service.

“It was really nice to experience the service together again,” he said, adding that the online Masses he had been following for the past two months could not compare.

At the nearby St. Mary’s Church, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier attended a service with his wife. “It was very nice today to attend a Sunday Mass again for the first time, siad Steinmeier. “This experience of community fills human beings with confidence and strength, even under special conditions such as the wearing of facemasks and gathering in smaller circles.” said Steinmeier. 


14:10 Five players in Spain’s top two divisions have tested positive for COVID-19 since clubs began testing players and staff members last week, soccer body La Liga says.

Players will remain at their homes to continue individual training before being tested again “in the next few days” to see if they can return to their club’s training ground.

Many clubs including champions Barcelona have returned to individual training as part of the second stage of La Liga’s four-phase scheme for a return to action after play was stopped in early March due to the pandemic.

La Liga has said it hopes to resume matches without spectators in June, said detecting positive cases was vital to its program for returning to activity.


13:00 Older people in Turkey have been stretching their legs for the first time in seven weeks as restrictive measures become more relaxed.

People aged 65 and over were subjected to a stay-at-home curfew on March 21, but now they are permitted to venture out between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m..

“It’s very nice to be out of the house after such a long time,” said Ethem Topaloglu, 68, who wore a medical mask as he strolled in a park in Ankara,. “Although I’ve been able to sit on the balcony, it’s not the same as walking around outside. My neighbors have been bringing my food and other things in these last weeks,” he said as he walked. “It’s important to stay at home and be safe but it’s very difficult as well.”

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted his thanks to Turkey’s senior citizens for their “great support” in fighting the outbreak by staying at home and reminded them to wear masks outside.

Turkey has so far registered 137,115 infections, with 3,739 deaths resulting from the virus.


12:40 Iran has revealed it is ready to conduct a prisoner exchange with the US due to fears that COVID-19 could put the lives of the prisoners at risk, Iranian has media reported.

Iranian news website Khabaronline.ir quoted Cabinet spokesman Ali Rabiei as saying there is a “readiness for all prisoners” to be included in the discussions, without condition.

“But the US has refused to answer, so far,” said Rabiei. “We hope that as the outbreak of the COVID-19 threatens the lives of Iranian citizens in the US prisons, the US government eventually will prefer lives to politics.”


11:44 Italy has tightened up conditions for the release of mafia mobsters from jail due to coronavirus fears after an outcry over the scheme meant to protect them against infection. A decree adopted overnight Sunday now requires that any release be reviewed every two weeks to ensure that it was fully justified and remains so. 

Some 376 mafiosi and drug dealers have been moved from jails to house arrest since March and judges have been examining freedom requests from 456 others, the Repubblica daily reported last week. The releases followed widespread riots in prisons in March by inmates fearful of catching the virus.

Those freed include notorious Cosa Nostra boss Francesco Bonura and Franco Cataldo who was part of a gang that murdered the teenage son of a turncoat in 1996 and dissolved his body in acid.


11:17 Britain is planning to introduce an alert system for the level of threat posed by the novel coronavirus like the one already used to warn of terrorism risks, a government minister has told broadcaster Sky News.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the alert system would range from level one (lowest threat) to level five (highest threat), with the country presently at level four.

The system is to be administered by a new joint biosecurity center, Jenrick said, and would first be put in place in England before being implemented in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The restrictions that are put in place or relaxed in a particular region or city would depend on what level is assigned to them, he said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce the introduction of the system on Sunday evening in a televised address.


11:13 Some 205 workers from a meat processing plant in western Germany have now tested positive for the coronavirus. A cluster of cases has unnerved officials in Coesfeld, a town on the Dutch border after it spread through shared housing for the factory’s mostly Eastern European staff. Some 950 of the 1,200 workers have so far been tested for the respiratory disease.

The Westfleisch factory has been shut down, and authorities have ordered all staff at all slaughterhouses in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia to be tested for the virus. The spike in cases in Coesfeld has delayed the easing of restrictions on public life in the state.


09:55 India is witnessing a rising number of infections among police officers. In the western state of Maharashtra alone, at least 786 officers have been found positive and seven have died, a police spokesman said on Sunday. 

Maharashtra has reported over 30% of the near 63,000 COVID-19 cases in India with a bulk of them concentrated in financial hub Mumbai and the city of Pune.

More than 70 policemen in Delhi have also tested positive and one has died.


09:28 Despite Germany’s much-lauded reduced working hours (Kurzarbeit) program, where the government subsidizes wages so that firms don’t resort to mass lay-offs, millions of residents are still falling through the net. German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reports that two million people are suffering considerable financial losses because they’re not entitled to state aid.

Citing a survey by research firm Kantar, the paper said families and individuals aged between 30 and 39 are most affected by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. They include recipients of short-time work benefits, self-employed people and entrepreneurs.


09:08 Spain’s daily death toll has again fallen to its lowest rate since mid-March. The number of fatalities from the COVID-19 dropped to 143 on Sunday, down from 179 the previous day, the health ministry reported. Overall deaths rose to 26,621 from 26,478 on Saturday and the number of diagnosed cases climbed to 224,390 from 223,578 the day before.

The country is planning to further ease restrictions after one of the world’s harshest lockdowns. On Monday, selected regions that are home to about 51% of the Spanish population will reopen bars, restaurants, shops, museums, gyms and hotels. The easing will not include Madrid and Barcelona.


09:03 Russia says 11,012 new coronavirus infections have been registered, bringing the country’s official number of cases to 209,688. Authorities said 88 people had died in the past day, with the national death toll now standing at 1,915.

The mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, said on Thursday that lockdown measures in Russia’s capital would be extended to May 31, with Muscovites required to wear face masks and gloves in all public places and on all public transport. The city has the highest concentration of COVID-19 cases in the country, with more than 100,000 people testing positive for the disease.

Russia has the world’s second-fastest rate of new infections behind the United States.


08:30 Germany is relaxing rules on who can enter the country for Mother’s Day, declaring a visit to one’s mother to be a valid reason for crossing the border for just this one day, according to the DPA news agency.

For weeks, people wanting to enter Germany have had to present important reasons for doing so. Truck drivers, medical personnel and commuters from border regions, for example, have been allowed to cross the border freely.

The restrictions were introduced in mid-March in a bid to stem the spread of the illness COVID-19 in Germany. As things stand, they are to be kept in place until Friday at least.


07:43 China has reported its first coronavirus infection for over a month in the city of Wuhan, where the outbreak of the respiratory disease first emerged. The case is one of the 14 new infections that Beijing confirmed on Sunday. The last time Wuhan had a case was on April 3.

After the first cases were reported in December, the city’s health system was quickly overwhelmed with seriously ill patients. China says 4,637 have died from COVID-19, most of them in Hubei province, which Wuhan sits in.


07:28 Singapore has registered 876 new coronavirus infections, its health ministry said on Sunday, taking the city-state’s total to 23,336 cases. The vast majority of the newly infected people are migrant workers living in dormitories, the health ministry said in a statement.

The government has deployed a robot dog to a local park this weekend to enforce social distancing measures. The yellow and black canine gadget from Boston Dynamics is equipped with cameras to estimate the number of people in the area. It also plays a pre-recorded message to warn visitors to keep their distance from each other.


07:04 Malaysia has extended curbs on public movement by another four weeks, amid a gradual reopening of the economy. Earlier this week, businesses were allowed to resume, albeit under strict health guidelines, after closing for two months as health authorities worked to contain the pandemic.

Malaysia has so far reported 6,589 cases with 108 deaths.

The conditional movement control order, which prohibited large gatherings, interstate travel, secured the country’s borders and banned Malaysians from traveling abroad, 
will remain in place until June 9.


06:54 Despite Germany’s second division soccer club Dynamo Dresden being ordered to undergo a two-week quarantine, the managing director of the German football league says he doesn’t see the resumption of Bundesliga matches being delayed.

“I was fully aware that this could happen at any time. We are just at the beginning of the re-opening,” DFL’s Christian Seifert told public broadcaster ZDF.

“If Dresden goes into quarantine for 14 days, that is no reason to put the entire season in doubt,” Seifert added. But he admitted: “There is a point when it is no longer feasible. It always depends on how much time you’d have left to finish the season.”

The Bundesliga announced this week that it would restart on May 16 after being given the green light by the government.

Dynamo Dresden has two confirmed coronavirus cases, and the self-isolation measures will affect not only the team but the entire coaching and support staff. The team’s away game at Hannover 96 planned for 17 May has been postponed.


06:41 Germany has reported 667 new coronavirus infections, according to the Robert Koch Institute, the government’s agency for disease control and prevention. That takes the total number of cases to 169,218, with the number of deaths increasing by 13 to 7,395, According to the RKI, around 144,400 people have now recovered, about 1,100 more than the day before.

Meanwhile, Germany’s transmission rate has, again, risen above the critical value of 1, with every patient now infecting more than one other on average. The latest estimate puts the so-called reproduction (R) number now at 1.10.

RKI has repeatedly emphasized that for the outbreak to gradually subside, the rate must remain below 1. On Wednesday, the agency put the reproduction rate at 0.65, but said that since then the estimated figure had been rising steadily.

The rise follows the lifting of many restrictions on public life and several days of encouraging news about the spread of the virus.


05:47 Japan says it may lift its state of emergency in areas least affected by the coronavirus pandemic sooner than originally planned.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Sunday that many of the 34 prefectures that have fewer cases could see restrictions eased before the nationwide deadline of May 31.

Nishimura, who is in charge of the government’s overall coronavirus response, said a declining trend in the weekly number of new infections and the number of new cases on a per capita basis will be among evaluation criteria for the lifting.

Out of Japan’s 47 prefectures, the government has designated 13 prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka where the virus has spread rapidly as “the prefectures under specific cautions.”


04:52 Tesla CEO Elon Musk has threatened to pull production and the firm’s headquarters out of California after the carmaker was prevented from reopening its factory in the US state. 

In a lawsuit filed in a federal court, Tesla accused the Alameda County Health Department of overstepping federal and state coronavirus restrictions. The lawsuit contends Tesla factory workers are allowed to work during California’s stay-at-home
order because the facility is considered “critical infrastructure.”

“Frankly, this is the final straw,” Musk tweeted. “Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately.” 

An order in the six-county San Francisco Bay Area forced Tesla to close the plant starting March 23 to help prevent the virus’ spread, and it was extended until the end of May.


04:28 Australia says it supports a European Union motion for an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19 in China. Health Minister Greg Hunt told Sky News that the country backs an examination of China’s wet markets and the potential for independent inspection powers.

The government has been pushing for a better understanding of how the coronavirus started in Wuhan, to be able to counter such pandemics in the future. But it’s stance has ratcheted up diplomatic tensions with Beijing.

Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the EU’s executive arm, said last week she would like to see China work together with the European Commission, and others, to determine how the virus emerged.


03:15 South Korea on Sunday reported 34 new cases of coronavirus, the highest daily tally in a month. The latest spike in figures comes from a small outbreak centered around night clubs in the Itaewon entertainment district in Seoul.

On Friday, medical workers scrambled to trace contacts after a 29-year-old man who visited three nightclubs in the district last week later tested positive for the virus. Among the new cases, 26 were local transmissions and 8 were imported infections.

For the past 10 days, South Korea had been reporting zero to very few domestic cases. The country has recorded a total of 10,874 confirmed cases with 256 deaths.


02:45 China reported 14 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. The latest figure is the highest since April 28 but it has risen by only one case from the previous day.

Two of the new cases were imported infections. Among the locally transmitted cases, 11 were reported in Shulan in the northeastern province of Jilin. The coronavirus risk level of Shulan city has been raised from medium to high. Health authorities also found 20 new asymptomatic cases, the highest since May 1.

China now has 82,901 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 4,633 deaths.


02:40 Three top officials overseeing the United States coronavirus response are in self-quarantine after exposure to the virus. Anthony Fauci, Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Stephen Hahn, the US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner, all came in contact with somebody who had tested positive for COVID-19.

According to Politico, Hahn had come in contact with Katie Miller, the press secretary of US Vice President Mike Pence, who had tested positive on Friday. 


01:45 The latest figures from Brazil show that more than 10,000 people have died from the virus. There are now a total of 155,939 confirmed cases in the country. However, citing low testing, scientists fear that the actual rate could be 15% to 20%t higher.


01:30 The total number of coronavirus cases reported worldwide has surpassed the four million mark with more than 277,000 deaths. The United States is the worst-hit country with 1.3 million confirmed cases and 78,618 deaths. Europe is the hardest-hit continent. It accounts for a total of 1.7 million cases and 155,000 deaths.


00:00 Catch up on yesterday’s coronavirus news: Brazil sees record daily death toll

(DW)


dvv/aw (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)