Coronavirus latest: Europe begins easing restrictions
After weeks of imposing restrictions to public life, many European countries are beginning to ease lockdown measures meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
- Over 2.4 million people worldwide have been infected by the deadly COVID-19, resulting in more than 165,000 deaths
- The European Center for Disease Control says the continent now has over 1 million cases of the virus, with 100,000 deaths
- Lockdown restrictions have been eased, at least partially, in various European countries including Germany
- The World Health Organization has asked governments to prepare for a possible resurgence
Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)
22:25 Germany’s lockdown measures have dealt an especially heavy blow to the country’s services and retail sector, the German Finance Ministry said in a new monthly report..
“The consumer climate has also dropped noticeably,” it said. “The growing uncertainty about future employment is clouding consumers’ propensity to buy and income expectations.” The ministry also said factory closures were driving down industrial production.
22:04 German-based rescue NGO Sea-Eye said it was “stunned” by an appeal sent out by the country’s Interior Ministry. The ministry urged Sea-Eye, which operates rescue ship Alan Kurdi, to call of deployed ships and halt its missions due to the “difficult situation” caused by the coronavirus.
“We understand this appeal as a call from the Ministry to let people die,” they wrote in an open letter to Germany’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.
The NGO said it was opposing the appeal, received on April 6th, “in every conceivable way”.
“Who in Europe is better off today if these people have to die?” the NGO’s representatives asked. “Who needs to be protected from these people? Which resources are seriously lacking?”
Sea-Eye told Seehofer “not to be surprised if German rescue ship Alan Kurdi is soon back to saving human lives.”
The ship is privately owned but sails under a German flag. They were recently involved in an international dispute between Berlin and Rome after rescuing 150 migrants in the Mediterranean and being denied entry to ports of Malta and Italy. Eventually, Italy agreed to evacuate the refugees and move them to another ship, where they would be kept in quarantine.
21:53 Facebook has removed “events” on its platform that invited people to protest lockdown measures in various US states. The world’s most dominant social network took down posts relating to events in Nebraska, New Jersey and California, its representatives said on Monday.
Spokesman Andy Stone said that “events that defy government’s guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook.” The company is currently seeking legal guidance to clarify legal situation regarding lockdown measures in New York, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
While state governors ordered curbs on public life in order slow down COVID-19 infections, President Donald Trump has personally called to “liberate” some of the states and for the measures to be lifted.
20:55 Here is the roundup of the latest in Europe:
Germany: Some small shops reopened in the country’s first step towards loosening lockdown measures. Bavaria, the state hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, became the third state to implement a mask requirement for people in public spaces.
Meanwhile, leading regional politicians have said that Bundesliga football matches could start taking place behind closed doors as soon as mid-May.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has also warned against getting hopes up that the pandemic may be almost over. “We stand at the beginning of the pandemic and are still a long way from being out of the woods,” she said.
Germany currently has over 146,00 confirmed cases of coronavirus and a death toll of 4,706.
Italy: Italy reported 2,256 new virus cases, the lowest daily toll that the country has seen in over a month. It also reported 454 new deaths, bringing the total death toll to 24,114 — the second-highest toll behind the United States.
Spain: The number of infections in Spain surpassed 200,000, leaving only the US with more cases than the southern European country. The total number of confirmed infections stands at 210,000, while 20,852 people have died.
United Kingdom: A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the “big concern is the second peak.”
“If you move too quickly, then the virus could begin to spread exponentially again,” he said.
The UK also reported 449 new deaths, bringing the total death toll to 16,509. Almost 126,000 people have tested positive for the virus.
Belgium: Renowned world snooker referee Olivier Marteel is working as a full-time nurse in a special COVID-19 section of a hospital in the northwestern Belgian town of Veurne. Belgium has almost 40,000 confirmed cases of the virus, and a death toll of 5,828.
Denmark: Hair salons, tattoo parlors, driving schools, physiotherapists and dentists started to reopen, but under the condition that they would take specific precautions, including removing magazines from waiting areas. The small country of 5.8 million people has over 7,700 confirmed cases and 364 deaths.
Poland: Parks and forests were reopened amid an effort to loosen some social distancing restrictions. However, the government may reverse steps to ease restrictions if there is a spike in new infections, according to Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski.
Poland has almost 9,600 confirmed cases, with a death toll of 380.
Norway: Kindergartens reopened, as the country begins to relax its month-long lockdown. Norway is among the first European countries to begin reopening schools. The country has over 7,000 confirmed cases and a death toll of 181.
Russia: President Vladimir Putin said that Russia has managed to mitigate the crisis, but that the peak of the outbreak was yet to come. There are over 47,000 confirmed cases in Russia, and a death toll of 405.
20:53 The state of New York has seen 478 more people die of the coronavirus, according to the daily update on Monday, which is the lowest daily number since April 1. There were also fewer patients in the state hospitals compared to the day before: 16,103 compared to 16,213 reported on Sunday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said the “descent” confirmed that state has passed through the worst stage of the pandemic.
At the same time, New York City said they were canceling three major public events in June to prevent a new spike of infections, including the 50th Pride Parade celebrating the LGBT+ rights.
The state has seen 12,654 people die of COVID-19 and 238,831 confirmed infections according to the US-based Johns Hopkins Institute.
20:36 Nurses’ representatives in New York filed three lawsuits against the state and two hospitals, claiming the staff was exposed to dangerous working conditions.
One of the lawsuits alleges that nurses were forced to work while sick, and another one says they were intimidated against speaking out. They also quote medical workers who said they became infected while at work and faced a lack of equipment, including masks.
“The nurses have not received appropriate masks and carry out assignments in unsafe working conditions,” said the New York State Nurses Association.
20:31 The German state of Saxony-Anhalt could soon order its residents to cover their faces when shopping or taking public transport, Premier Reiner Haseloff has said. The state of Saxony, which borders Saxony-Anhalt, was the first to declare this measure, followed by Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Bavaria.
Talking to public broadcaster MDR, Saxony-Anhalt Premier Haseloff said his government was mulling the measure as stores and small businesses were allowed to open on Monday. Schools are set to resume on Thursday.
19:10 May contracts for US crude oil turned negative for the first time in history, with sellers offering to pay would-be buyers $37.63 (€34.65) a barrel.
“Oil down is normally good for the rest of the sectors, but you can make the argument that is so low that it’s not good for anybody in terms of what it’s going to do unemployment and economic growth,” Longbow Asset Management chief executive Jake Dollarhide told Reuters.
Demand for oil has effectively evaporated as countries across the globe enact restrictions on mobility and public life in a bid to curb the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The collapse of US crude sent stock markets into the red, with the S&P energy index dropping 2.8% while the Dow tumbled 1.8%.
18:45 German Health Minister Jens Spahn told DW that he is confident the EU would come out of the pandemic stronger — and that Germany wants “to be of help as much as we can in these difficult days.”
“Once again in a crisis, the European Union seemed to be disorganized and it took some time until we pulled everything together,” he told DW. “But now, what we see is that we are stronger together. I’m very confident that we’ll be out of this stronger than before.”
Spahn said Germany firmly supported a €500 billion ($543 billion) package to aid hard-hit EU countries with the economic fallout of the pandemic.
“As always, when it’s needed, we come to a result, and what is important for us as Germany… is that we’re [engaged] in European solidarity,” Spahn said.
When asked whether the pandemic could further split the EU, and especially the divisions within the eurozone, he said it was important to find compromises all members could accept.
“We don’t want to create incentives in the future that lead the wrong way,” he said. “To find the right balance between financial soundness and European solidarity, that is what we have reached so far. Yes, there are debates, and some of them are stressful, but what’s important is that we are stronger together.”
17:35 Leading regional politicians in Germany have said Bundesliga football matches could take place behind closed doors as of mid-May.
“We could perhaps from May 9 play such a round of ‘ghost games,’ Bavarian state premier Markus Söder told newspaper Bild. “A weekend with football is much more bearable than a weekend without football.” However, he stressed that this remained a potential plan, saying the chances of realizing were perhaps 51-49 in favor at present.
North Rhine-Westphalia Premier Armin Laschet said he could see the Bundesliga resume matches “on condition that there is a thoroughly thought-out concept.”
Laschet said the German Football League (DFL) had presented a series of “safeguards” to ensure the matches would take place with the utmost safety of the players in mind.
The comments come ahead of a major video conference with the DFL and the 36 clubs in Germany’s top two divisions.
16:27 Italy, one of the hardest hit countries in Europe, reported 454 new deaths caused by the novel coronavirus. The number of new cases dropped to 2,256, marking its lowest level in more than a month, according to authorities.
Monday’s figure brings Italy’s death toll to 24,114, the second-highest behind the US.
15:55 The British Health Ministry said 449 people died due to complications caused by the novel coronavirus within the past 24 hours, bringing the known death toll in the United Kingdom to 16,509. More than 124,000 people have tested positive for the virus.
The British government said the “big concern is a second peak.”
“That is what ultimately will do the most damage to health and the most damage to the economy,” said a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who endured intensive care as a result of contracting the virus. “If you move too quickly, then the virus could begin to spread exponentially again.”
15:30 The European Commission said wine consumption across the EU was expected to drop by 8% compared to the average for the last five seasons, dipping to 108 million hectoliters (2.85 billion gallons). Wine sales are measured from August to July, to roughly synchronize with each year’s harvest.
Although retail wine sales have seen a slight rise in the bloc, it does not provide a sufficient increase to balance the closure of bars and restaurants under outbreak prevention measures.
“Although the wine sector [in particular French] has taken actions during these months to keep its market share, this positive evolution is not expected to continue,” the Commission said.
Meanwhile, EU wine exports destined for the US also face a 25% duty imposed by the Trump administration last year, further hindering sales.
15:00 Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said he hopes this week would be the last for lockdown measures aimed at curbing the outbreak across the country. He was speaking at his second such event in two days, this time addressing supporters in Brasilia.
On Sunday, Bolsonaro had joined a public protest on the streets of the capital Brasilia, calling participants “patriots” for refusing to comply with the stay-at-home orders implemented by states and their governors.
“You must fight for your country,” Bolsonaro said. “Count on your president to do what is necessary so that we can guarantee democracy and what is most dear to us, our freedom.”
Bolsonaro has consistently criticized measures to curb the outbreak, describing the novel coronavirus as a “little cold.” His view is in stark contrast with public health experts, who have said the virus is deadlier and more contagious than the common cold.
14:15 German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on citizens and residents to continue to adhere to social distancing measures, saying it would be a “crying shame if we were to stumble into a relapse with our eyes wide open.”
Earlier on Monday, some German states eased restrictions put in place to curb the outbreak, including partially reopening shops. She cautioned states from further easing restrictions.
“We stand at the beginning of the pandemic and are still a long way from being out of the woods,” Merkel said.
The chancellor also noted that the upcoming EU budget would likely be overhauled to ensure a robust recovery in the wake of the pandemic.
“We’ll need quick answers to address this pandemic and Germany will participate in answers of solidarity that go beyond the €500 billion ($543 billion) that we already have,” she said.
Merkel told reporters that China needed to be more transparent about how it has tackled the outbreak, saying it would be “better for all.”
Although Chinese authorities claim the virus was transmitted to humans via an animal, US officials have warned that it could have been developed in a military lab.
13:26 US oil prices dropped nearly 40%, hitting their lowest value since 1998. Prices reached $11.04 (€10.17) a barrel as the pandemic has all but dried up global demand for oil.
“As production continues relatively unscathed, storage is filling up by the day,” said Bjornar Tonhaugen of Rystad Energy. “The world is using less and less oil and producers now feel how this translates in prices.”
Although OPEC and Russia recently agreed to slash output by 10 million barrels per day, following a disagreement on production limits that had put severe pressure on oil prices before the coronavirus dirsuptions, that move has had little effect on diminished energy demands caused by restrictions on mobility to curb the outbreak.
12:50 Renowned world snooker referee Olivier Marteel is working as a full-time nurse in special COVID-19 section of a hospital in the northwestern Belgian town of Veurne.
“When I was asked to take on this role, I didn’t even have one second of doubt,” Marteel told the World Snooker Tour.
“When I was asked to take on this role, I didn’t even have one second of doubt."
Olivier Marteel, who refereed the Crucible final in 2015, is now playing a vital role in the battle against coronavirus in Belgium.
We salute you @BelgianProRef1
▶️ https://t.co/xrnQHGF5s5 pic.twitter.com/ZztLJfqbic
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) April 20, 2020
12:21 Health authorities in the Netherlands have reported 750 new cases, bringing the country’s total to 33,405. They also recorded 67 new deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 3,751.
The National Institute for Public Health said the real number is likely much higher since it only reports on its tests, which are overwhelmingly administered to healthcare workers and seriously ill patients.
11:45 Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, says that his country has managed to mitigate the coronavirus crisis, but that the outbreak’s peak was still to come. The number of confirmed infections in Russia reached more than 47,000 on Monday, with 405 reported dead.
11:35 In Iran, the health ministry says the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has reached 5,209, with 91 deaths in the past 24 hours. More than 83,500 people are reported infected.
On Monday, Iran began opening shopping centers and intercity highways in an effort to keep its sanction-hit economy going. Restaurants and gyms remained shuttered, however, and shops and markets that were allowed to trade had to close at 6 p.m., the Associated Press news agency reported.
Iran is believed to be the worst-hit country in the Middle East. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has suggested that large gatherings should be banned during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which begins later this week.
11:15 During lockdown, different states in Germany have implemented different restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.The German Police Union (GdP) has complained this is making the job of the police more difficult.
“We owe it to democracy to be able to explain the behavior of the police –this gets more difficult when the differences are no longer able to be explained,” Jörg Radek, chair of the GdP, told regional newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine.
In the police’s view, coronavirus restrictions should be the same across Germany, said Radek. People compare the restrictions, he explained. It makes the enforcing of rules and bans more difficult, when rules in one state are different to those in another.
Radek added that the coronavirus should not be used to score political points, but he feared this was already starting to happen.
11:00 From next week, people in Bavaria will have to wear masks or some other form of face covering inside all shops and on public transport.
State Premier Markus Söder said the measure would come into force next Monday, when the southern German state is set to reopen small shops.
The federal government has already recommended that people wear masks when they go out, but Söder said “appeals alone probably won’t be the necessary safeguard.”
A similar mask rule is already in place in neighboring Saxony, and it will be compulsory to wear them on public transport in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania starting next week.
Söder also said Bavaria planned to provide artists struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic with €1,000 ($1,090) per month. Parents in the state will also not have to pay kindergarten fees for the next three months due to school closures, he added.
Maskenpflicht in Bayern: Das Tragen von Mund-Nasenschutz ist ab nächster Woche in allen Läden und dem öffentlichen Nahverkehr verpflichtend. Geeignet sind Alltagsmasken oder Schals. Wir begleiten alle Corona-Erleichterungen konsequent mit Schutzmaßnahmen. pic.twitter.com/O8oloXoMAc
— Markus Söder (@Markus_Soeder) April 20, 2020
10:20 Chancellor Angela Merkel has said steps to ease Germany out of lockdown have led to “re-opening discussions orgies” in some regions, according to German media reports.
The chancellor told those at the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) virtual meeting that the virus continued to present a danger and it was important that social distancing measures were maintained, reported German news agency DPA. If not, the slowdown in transmission rates that Germany has seen might not continue.
Her comments come as some smaller German retailers began reopening on Monday, along with car and bicycle dealers, and bookstores, under an agreement Merkel reached with state leaders last Wednesday.
Germany has the fifth highest COVID-19 number of coronavirus cases behind the US, Spain, Italy and France at over 145,000 but has kept fatalities down to a relatively low 4,642, in part due to early and extensive testing.
10:10 More than 200,000 people are now infected with the coronavirus in Spain, according to the country’s Health Ministry. Only the United States has more confirmed cases.
The ministry said the tally rose to 200,210 on Monday, up from 195,944 the day before. The number of deaths climbed from 20,453 to 20,852 in that same period, a sign that the fatality rate is slowing.
09:50 Health Minister Jens Spahn says Berlin will cover the costs of treating coronavirus patients transferred from other European Union countries to Germany, as a show of solidarity.
There are currently 200 seriously ill coronavirus patients from fellow EU states being treated in German intensive care units at a cost of about €20 million ($21.7 million).
“The willingness and capacity is there to admit more if necessary,” Spahn said on Monday.
Most of the patients brought to Germany came from neighboring France and Italy, where a rapid rise in infections overburdened healthcare systems. Spain and Italy have each reported more than 20,000 deaths from COVID-19, while at least 19,718 have died in France. Germany has confirmed 4,404 deaths.
09:05 In Denmark, hair salons, tattoo parlors, driving schools, physiotherapists and dentists were allowed to reopen, albeit with some modifications.
Business Minister Simon Kollerup said they would have to ensure there is enough space for social distancing, provide the possibility for staff and customers to wash their hands, and remove magazines from waiting areas.
“It goes without saying that you cannot avoid contact with a masseur or hairdresser. But the new guidelines need to reduce our infection,” he added.
08:55 The health ministry of Singapore is reporting an additional 1,426 coronavirus cases, marking a record daily jump. The new diagnoses mainly affect foreign workers living in dormitories, and authorities have responded by boosting testing in these living quarters.
The World Health Organization had initially praised Singapore for rapidly containing the spread of the coronavirus among its citizens by using surveillance tools and thorough contact tracing. But rights groups say infection rates in the migrant worker community point to a gap in the city-state’s response.
Singapore has 8,014 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 11 deaths.
08:30 India has recorded its biggest single-day spike in coronavirus infections, with the number of cases jumping by 1,533 to more than 17,000 on Monday. The increase came as the government began easing a strict nationwide lockdown that was imposed on March 24. From Monday, limited manufacturing and agricultural activities were allowed to resume in cases where employers could meet social distancing and hygiene requirements.
At least 550 people have died from COVID-19 in India, and some experts have suggested infections in the country of 1.3 billion people may not peak until June.
08:15 The German Retailers Association (HDE) says it doesn’t expect droves of people to flock to the shops as some stores begin reopening their doors.
Under an easing of restrictions in Germany on Monday, commercial spaces that are less than 800 square meters are allowed to resume trade, as well as all bookstores, bicycle shops and car dealerships. However, these reopening businesses will have to observe certain social distancing and hygiene requirements.
“We’re not expecting a huge rush,” HDE chief Stefan Genth told public broadcaster ZDF, adding that his organization also wanted to avoid a situation in which “city centers are full.”
Genth stressed that retailers wanted “a return to normality,” but also criticized the 800-square-meter limit as arbitrary, saying how hygiene standards were implemented was more important than the size of the sales area.
07:50 In Poland, parks and forests have been reopened as the government eases a few of the restrictions that have essentially brought daily life to a standstill.
However, Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski says the government may reverse steps to ease restrictions if there is a spike in new coronavirus infections.
The country recorded 545 new cases on Sunday — the biggest daily increase in infections to date. “It can be always (be reversed),” Szumowski told public radio, when asked about plans to lift lockdown measures.
07:45 From Australia, broadcaster ABC tweeted these images of a kangaroo taking advantage of the lockdown to enjoy having the streets of Adelaide to itself.
HOP TO IT: A kangaroo had the run of the city of Adelaide as residents stayed inside to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. https://t.co/hhunOkr7Hq pic.twitter.com/0O4ZAw1Sa1
— ABC News (@ABC) April 20, 2020
07:25 Kindergartens in Norway have reopened as the country gradually relaxes a monthlong coronavirus lockdown. The move has been met with a mixed response from parents, 24 percent of whom said they did not want to send their children back to pre-school so soon, according to a poll by public broadcaster NRK.
Pre-schools opening their doors will have to meet certain safety requirements. For example, children under the age of three will have to be kept in groups of no more than three with one adult supervising. Those aged between three and six can be in groups of six.
Primary school pupils are expected to return to class next week, with higher grades to follow before the summer, the government said.
Norway is among the first European countries, including Austria, Denmark and Germany, to announce a roadmap for the staggered reopening of schools.
The Nordic country has registered 7,068 coronavirus cases and 154 deaths.
07:10 The coronavirus pandemic has exposed “systemic weaknesses” in global health systems, the G20 says.
Health ministers from the 20 most advanced economies held a virtual meeting on Sunday hosted by the group’s current president Saudi Arabia. It followed criticism that the G20 was slow to address the pandemic.
“Health Ministers recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted systemic weaknesses in health systems,” the group said in a joint statement.
“It also has shown vulnerabilities in the global community’s ability to prevent and respond to pandemic threats.”
“Ministers addressed the need to improve the effectiveness of global health systems by sharing knowledge and closing the gap in response capabilities and readiness.”
06:20 German car manufacturer Volkswagen is calling for new government subsidies to help it deal with an impending drop in demand during the coronavirus crisis.
“In this situation, a premium should be broadly expanded, and should also cover modern vehicles with internal combustion engines,” head of brand Ralf Brandstätter told the Handelsblatt newspaper, adding that VW was committed to Germany’s climate goals and that current subsidies for electric cars should remain in place.
“We’re going to get out of this crisis and into the green transformation,” he said.
05:50 A roundup of the latest from North and South America:
Coronavirus deaths in Canada have jumped by almost 12% to 1,506 in 24 hours, according to official data from the public health agency. The body also said there were now 33,922 people infected with the virus, up from 32,412 the previous day.
The United States reported 1,997 new coronavirus deaths in the 24-hour period ending on Sunday, according to John Hopkins University. The country has the highest number of deaths and infections, with over 759,000 confirmed cases, but evidence shows lockdowns there are beginning to have an impact.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the peak of infections had been reached, but warned that it was “no time to get cocky,” stressing that cash-strapped states needed help from the federal government.
“We are past the high point, and all indications at this point is that we are on the descent,” he said.
The president of Guatemala says a total of 50 migrants who were deported to the Central American country from the US have tested positive for coronavirus. Guatemala, which has reported 289 cases and seven deaths, has faced pressure from the Trump administration to keep receiving deported migrants, despite concerns about the risk of spreading infections.
Cuba has diagnosed over 1,000 cases of coronavirus, with 34 deaths, the country’s health ministry confirmed. Cuba is home to many well-trained medical professionals and offers free healthcare to its citizens, but often lacks up-to-date medical equipment and supplies.
Coronavirus cases in Peru have passed 15,000 — the second-highest in South America after Brazil, which has more than double that number. The pandemic has brought the nation’s economy to a halt and left millions unemployed. At least 500 people have died so far, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.
In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro joined hundreds of protesters in demonstrating against a stay-at-home order issued by the country’s state governors.
“I am here because I believe in you and you are here because you believe in Brazil,” the president said in a speech to the crowd, which was demanding a military intervention.
Bolsonaro has been critical of partial quarantine measures put in place by provincial leaders to stop the spread of COVID-19, which he has repeatedly described as a “light flu.”
Brazil is currently the hardest-hit Latin American country, with more than 38,500 confirmed cases and more than 2,400 deaths.
05:35 The Economics Commissioner of the European Union, Paolo Gentiloni, has told German magazine Der Spiegel that some 1.5 trillion euros ($1.63 trillion) in aid could be needed for the bloc to tackle the economic damage caused by the coronavirus crisis.
Gentiloni gave an estimated breakdown of the figures, telling der Spiegel: “The Eurogroup have proposed €500 billion ($542 billion) for healthcare provision, short-term working and to assist small and medium-sized businesses. That leaves at least another trillion Euros. That is roughly the order of magnitude that is being talked about.”
“Exact figures have yet to be agreed,” added Gentiloni. He said that, in his opinion, the EU budget could be the mechanism to provide the EU economies with the financial assistance.
Gentiloni’s comments come a day after the head of the Eurozone’s bailout fund, Klaus Regling, told Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera that Europe needed at least another €500 billion from EU institutions to finance its economy after the coronavirus pandemic. Like Gentiloni, Regling said that the said the easiest way to organize such funds would be via the European Commission and the EU budget.
EU finance ministers have already signed off on safety nets for sovereigns, companies and individuals worth in total €540 billion.
05:00 In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that the country’s strict lockdown measures will remain in place for one more week. After that, more relaxed restrictions would apply for another two weeks before the government reviews the situation on May 11.
Speaking at a press conference, Ardern said New Zealand had halted the “uncontrolled explosion” of the coronavirus. The lockdown came into force on March 26, and included the closure of nonessential businesses and widespread stay-at-home orders.
“We have done what very few countries have been able to do,” Ardern said. “We have stopped a wave of devastation.”
“We believed that decisive action, going hard and going early, gave us the very best chance of stamping out the virus. And it has,” she said.
Cabinet has announced the extension of Alert Level 4 until Monday 27th April at 11.59pm. After that, we will move into Alert Level 3 for an initial period of two weeks. Until then, we will save lives by staying home, unless accessing or working in essential services. pic.twitter.com/wXtEeqTV8c
— New Zealand Labour (@nzlabour) April 20, 2020
New Zealand has 1,440 reported cases of COVID-19, with 12 fatalities and 974 recovered patients.
04:55 The Robert Koch Institute has confirmed an increase of 1,775 case of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in Germany, bringing the country’s total to 141,672.
A further 110 deaths were confirmed, bringing the total of COVID-19 fatalities to 4,404. Meanwhile, the institute — Germany’s disease prevention and control research agency — records some 3,500 more people as having recovered compared with the previous day.
03:32 Thailand is seeing a resurgence in rare turtle nests, as social distancing measures keep people away from the country’s popular beaches.
Environmentalists say that 11 leatherback sea turtle nests have been discovered since last November, the highest number in 20 years.
Leatherbacks, the world’s largest sea turtles, are considered endangered in Thailand and are listed as a vulnerable species worldwide.
The turtles lay their eggs in dark and quiet areas, hard to come by in a country known globally for its beautiful beaches.
“This is a very good sign for us because many areas for spawning have been destroyed by humans,” director of the Phuket Marine Biological Center Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong told Reuters news agency, adding that no nests had been found in the last five years.
“If we compare to the year before, we didn’t have this many spawn, because turtles have a high risk of getting killed by fishing gear and humans disturbing the beach.”
Thailand currently has 2,765 cases of the coronavirus, with 47 deaths. International travel bans have decimated the country’s normally high tourist figures.
02:32 New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the US, has past its peak in its fight against the deadly infection, according to the state’s leader, as hospitalization rates and reported deaths decreased again.
“We are past the high point, and all indications at this point is that we are on the descent,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a daily press briefing.
Nearly 14,000 people in New York have died from COVID-19 – over 500 in the last 24 hours. The US has reported more than 40,000 coronavirus fatalities since the outbreak began.
01:58 A total of 50 migrants deported from the US to Guatemala have tested positive for coronavirus, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei has said. The deportees arrived by plane in the Central American nation on Monday and Tuesday last week.
01:10 According to the John Hopkins Institute, 1,997 coronavirus deaths were recorded in the US in the 24-hour period ending Sunday.
01:06 Cuba has diagnosed over 1,000 cases of coronavirus, the country’s health ministry confirmed, saying over 26,000 tests had been conducted. Thus far, 34 people in Cuba have died from the lung infection. Cuba is home to many well-trained medical professionals and offers free healthcare to its citizens, but often lacks up-to-date medical equipment and supplies.
01:03 For the second day in a row, China has reported zero deaths from the coronavirus on the mainland. In its daily report, the country confirmed 12 new locally transmitted cases of the virus on Sunday, compared with 16 the day before. Officials also confirmed 8 new imported cases and 49 asymptomatic cases. China now has 82,747 confirmed infections, which have resulted in 4,632 deaths.
00:38 US President Donald Trump has said he would be willing to provide coronavirus aid to Iran if Tehran were to ask for it.
“If Iran needed aid on this, I would be willing,” Trump said at a daily White House briefing.
Iran is currently the Middle Eastern country the most affected by the coronavirus outbreak, with over 82,000 infections and over 5,000 deaths.
00:10 Czech President Milos Zeman says citizens should plan to spend the summer within their own borders this year, as travel outside the Czech Republic will be banned for a full year due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Speaking in a radio interview, Zeman said border restrictions would remain in place for a year “so that no new wave of infection is caused by travelers going to countries where the epidemic is not yet over.”
A ban on entering or leaving the country has been in place since mid-March.
00:05 Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has joined hundreds of protesters in demonstrating against a stay-at-home order issued by the country’s state governors.
Some 600 demonstrators gathered outside an army headquarters in the capital of Brasilia on Sunday to call on the army to intervene against the orders.
“I am here because I believe in you and you are here because you believe in Brazil,” the president said in a speech to the crowd, given from the back of a pick-up truck.
Bolsonaro has been critical of partial quarantine measures put in place by state governors to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Brazil. On Friday, he fired his health minister, who had supported the measures.
Brazil is currently experiencing the largest outbreak in Latin America, with more than 38,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 2,400 deaths.
00:02 World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that while the move to ease restrictions to public life is encouraging, countries need to be prepared for the possibility of a resurgence, saying that “lifting so-called lockdown restrictions is not the end of the epidemic in any country; it’s just the beginning of the next phase.”
Speaking in a video conference with G20 health ministers, the WHO chief said that “it’s vital in this next phase that countries educate, engage and empower their people to prevent and respond rapidly to any resurgence; to ensure they have the capacity to detect, test, isolate and care for every case, and trace every contact; and to ensure their health systems have the capacity to absorb any increase in cases.”
Many countries in Europe on Monday will lift or continue lifting lockdown measures put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Here is an overview of some of the changes happening Monday:
In Germany, commercial spaces that are smaller than 800 square meters will be allowed to reopen, along with car dealerships, bicycle shops, and book stores.
The Czech Republic is launching a five-stage plan to reopen public life by allowing open-air markets and workshops to open. Czech residents are also now allowed to travel abroad, for business or to visit relatives, but must undergo a 14-day quarantine upon their return.
France will allow visitations to resume at nursing homes. Physical contact will remain prohibited and only two relatives may visit at the same time. Coronavirus has been confirmed in 45% of French nursing homes.
Kindergartens in Norway will reopen as well as some health specialists. High schools, universities, and hair, massage, and beauty salons are all slated to reopen in a week.
Albania will lift restrictions on the mining and oil industry, farming, food and fish processing, and small retailers.
Despite recording its biggest spike in new cases on Sunday with 545 new infections, Poland is reopening its parks and forests and increase the number of people allowed to enter shops.
(DW, AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)