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Coronavirus latest: Europe moves to ease pandemic lockdown

Share prices are on the up as some of Europe’s hardest-hit countries — such as Italy and Spain — ease restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

What you need to know today

  • Global coronavirus cases top 3 million, with the World Health Organization warning the pandemic is “far from over”
  • European countries outline plans for return to public life
  • Italy set to gradually lift restrictions from May 4
  • Top German politicians call for swifter end to coronavirus restrictions 
  • European shares rise as airlines, Deutsche Bank surge

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)


23:19 US President Donald Trump has told a press briefing that China could have stopped the coronavirus before it spread globally.

“We are not happy with China,” Trump said, adding that his administration was conducting “very serious investigations” into what happened.

“We believe it could have been stopped at the source. It could have been stopped quickly and it wouldn’t have spread all over the world.”

Trump said infection rates in the US were stabilizing, and that “all parts of the country are either in good shape, (or) getting better.” School children would likely soon be able to return to class, the president said, as some US states begin to gradually lift restrictions.

When asked whether he takes any responsibility for a reported increase in people ingesting disinfectant following his controversial comments about possible treatments, Trump said: “No, I don’t.”

The press conference came after leaders in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives and the Republican-led Senate said both chambers would convene on May 4.

“If it is essential for doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, truck drivers, grocery-store workers, and other brave Americans to keep carefully manning their duty stations, then it is essential for Senators to carefully man ours and support them,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote on Twitter.


22:13 Colombian rebel group ELN announced that it will end its coronavirus ceasefire on May 1 and resume military operations. 

ELN, the country’s last active formal rebel group, had announced a month-long, unilateral cessation of hostilities over the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a statement on Monday, ELN said that it was resuming hostilities because of a lack of response from the conservative government of President Ivan Duque to its ceasefire announcement on March 30. 

“It is clear that we are facing a bellicose government, deaf to the calls of Pope Francis and the Secretary General of the United Nations, and blind to the humanitarian tragedy being suffered by the Colombian people,” ELN said.

UN chief Antonio Guterres and Pope Francis had called for global ceasefires, asking warring factions in conflict zones worldwide to cease hostilities amid the coronavirus outbreak.

UN special envoy Carlos Ruiz Massieu urged ELN to “extend the ceasefire,” saying that there had been “significant respect” for the rebel group’s efforts for truce.

Colombia has reported a total 5,400 cases of COVID-19. The death toll stands at 244.


22:01 Argentina has decided to halt all commercial flight ticket sales until September. The move means it now has one of the toughest coronavirus travel bans in the world. 

The new decree applies to flights traveling to, from and within Argentina, and prompted warnings from airline industry groups that it posed “imminent and substantial risk” to thousands of local jobs.

Many countries in South America have temporarily banned all commercial flights, but none have extended the measure as far as September. The US, Canada and Brazil have introduced flight restrictions, but have so far resisted a blanket ban.

Argentina has 3,892 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 192 deaths. Over the weekend the government extended lockdown restrictions imposed in March until at least May 10.


21:35 Sweden‘s minister for EU Affairs, Hans Dahlgren, has told DW that his country’s approach to fighting the coronavirus has “worked pretty well.”

Sweden was one of the few countries in the world not to impose a lockdown, allowing restaurants, bars and other businesses to stay open. Instead, the government issued social distancing recommendations.

Asked whether that was the right strategy, Dahlgren said: “The time to evaluate what has been right and what has been wrong is not right now, it is afterwards.”

“We do it in a different way, we have less formal rules but more strong recommendations, and ask the inhabitants here themselves to decide to do the right thing,” he added.

More than 19,000 people have been infected and over 2,200 have died from COVID-19 in Sweden. In neighboring Denmark, which was among the first European countries to go into lockdown, 8,800 cases and 427 deaths have been reported.

“Of course that raises questions and it is being discussed here,” Dahlgren said. ”But it is not that a recommendation is just some advice (that) you can do whatever you want. A recommendation in public health has a very strong message in Sweden.”


21:10 Here is the latest from around Europe:

Italy has registered its lowest daily number of new COVID-19 cases since March 10, which is close to the date the country was locked down to contain the outbreak. 

The Italian health ministry said 1,739 new cases were confirmed in the 24-hour period ending Monday evening. There were 333 deaths recorded in the same period. Italy has experienced the worst COVID-19 outbreak in Europe. On Monday, an association of Italian doctors said over 150 doctors have died of COVID-19 in the country. 

The latest figures for Italy show a total of 199,141 confirmed cases with 26,977 deaths. 

France on Monday reported 437 new COVID-19 deaths in the country’s hospitals and nursing homes over the past 24 hours. Although new deaths are still being recorded daily, the overall death rate in France has been on a downward trend, with today’s day-to-day increase of 1.9% well below the 4% rate from 10 days ago. 

The latest figures for France show over 162,200 confirmed cases with 23,293 deaths.

Spain reported 331 new deaths on Monday. The new figure marks an increase from the previous day’s death toll of 288 – Spain’s lowest number of daily fatalities since March 20. Spain also added more than 2,100 cases. 

The latest figures for Spain show 209,465 confirmed cases with 23,521 deaths. 

In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made his first public appearance since being hospitalized with COVID-19 earlier this month. Johnson warned that while the “first phase” of the UK’s outbreak was coming to an end, it is still too risky to begin loosening lockdown measures outright. 

The latest figures in the UK show 158,347 infections with 21,157 deaths. 

European Union economy commissioner Paolo Gentiloni told EU lawmakers Monday that new figures that show growth in the eurozone are expected to “sharply contract” this year due to the impact of the coronavirus. Gentiloni said the economic contraction for the 19 countries that use the euro currency will be “worse than the one during the global financial crisis.” 

On Monday, EU Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said the EU executive expects the bloc’s economy to shrink between 5 to 10%. The Commission is due to publish its spring economic forecast on May 7.


20:37 The CEO of US aviation company Boeing warned Monday that the global aviation industry will recover very slowly from the slowdown caused by the coronavirus crisis.

“We expect that it will take two to three years for the travel demand to reach the level it was in 2019,” said Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun.

19:38 Nigeria will start easing its lockdown measures in its largest city, Lagos, and the capital, Abuja, from May 4, President Muhammadu Buhari has announced, though citizens will be required to wear face masks. “I have approved a phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures,” Buhari said in a televised address that laid out the new plans, including the mandatory wearing of masks.


19:20 German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) has indicated the travel restrictions imposed upon its citizens, initially issued in mid-March, will almost certainly be extended beyond next week, dampening expectations of summer vacations among those wanting to get away.

“The travel warning that exists will remain in effect until Sunday this week,” Maas said in a special edition of the ZDF television program “Wiso.” He expects “that in the weeks after that, for the time being, there is no indication whatsoever that this travel warning can be lifted.”

“In many countries there are entry bans, there are curfews, air traffic is grounded. Unfortunately there are no indications at this time that this will improve in the coming weeks.”


18:01: Here is the coronavirus round-up in Asia

ThailandThe country will extend its state of emergency due to COVID-19 another month to May 31, a government spokesperson said Monday, adding that authorities would consider easing some restrictions on businesses and public activities. The state of emergency bans social gathering, limits travel and imposes a daily curfew between 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. Thailand’s aviation authority also extended a ban on all incoming international passenger flights until May 31.  

Although the COVID-19 outbreak in Thailand has been slowed significantly, health authorities want to prevent a second wave of infections. On Monday, Thailand reported its lowest number of new COVID-19 cases in over six weeks. The southeast Asian country has had 2,931 cases in total and 52 fatalities. Over 2,600 patients have recovered. 

Wuhan: The Chinese city where SARS-CoV-19 originated, Wuhan, has no hospitalized COVID-19 patients, the health commission of Hubei province said Monday.  As the pandemic’s first epicenter, Wuhan was the hardest hit city in China, having accounted for 80% of the country’s officially recorded deaths. The city had to build extra hospitals from the ground up in a matter of weeks, and authorities completely locked down the city for more than two months.  

In Shanghai and Beijing combined, several dozen COVID-19 patients remain hospitalized, as China says it is experiencing an influx of cases from abroad. International flights and entry have been strictly limited.  

Hong Kong: Researchers in Hong Kong said they have developed an antiviral spray coating for surfaces like handrails, door handles and buttons that could provide 90 days of protection from viruses and bacteria. Researchers said the spray coating, called MAP-1, is non-toxic and safe for the skin and the environment. It is expected to be sold to the public next month. 

JapanThe country on Monday announced it would add 14 more countries to an entry ban list, including Russia, Peru and Saudi Arabia. Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe said the expansion will take effect Wednesday and last through May.  

Japan is trying to slow down a recent wave of new COVID-19 infections as the government comes under more pressure to stop the virus from spreading. Japan has 13,385 confirmed cases with 364 deaths. 

Singapore: The country reported nearly 800 new COVID-19 cases Monday and 12 deaths, the Health Ministry said, adding that the vast majority of new infections are among foreign workers living in cramped quarters. Despite having more than 14,400 COVID-19 cases, the city state maintains the outbreak is contained.  

17:05 Global cases have now surpassed 3 million, with almost a third of those reported in the United States, the hardest-hit country in the world, according to the Johns Hopkins Institute’s latest figures. In addition, there have been more than 208,000 deaths from COVID-19 registered worldwide.

Almost four months since initial reports emerged of a SARS-like virus in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the new coronavirus has since spread across Asia, ripping through Europe and causing devastation in the United States. More than 200 countries have reported infections.

Africa has today announced more than 31,000 cases have been reported on the continent, as fears grow over the likelihood of it becoming the new hotspot for the deadly virus.

Lockdowns have been implemented like dominoes across the globe, with varying degrees of stringency and success. Some of those restrictions are beginning to be eased, though concerns remain over a second wave.

Senior politicians, actors and sports stars have all been struck down with the virus, while sporting events have been canceled and global travel has grounded to a halt as nations attempt to combat the spread of the outbreak.

Europe reported its first infection on January 25, in France, and it wasn’t long before Germany and Italy followed suit, the latter of which was the hardest-hit in Europe until Spain overtook them earlier this month. Between them, Spain and Italy have reported some 425,000 cases and almost 40,000 deaths.

17:03 Germany’s Minister for Family Affairs Franziska Giffey is against preschools and elementary schools being closed for too long. “We need to pay attention to the special needs of younger children,” Giffey told the German Editorial Network (RND) media outlet. She said these children need “good childcare, playing and learning together with their peers, a regular daily routine.”

“For the life of a kindergarten child and his or her development, a month is already an unbelievably long amount of time,” Giffey added. “If daycare centers are not accessible to children for months at a time, it is a time that cannot be made up.”

The reopening of schools is one of the topics German Chancellor Angela Merkel will discuss with state premiers on Thursday. Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder has proposed relaxing coronavirus measures for preschools and elementary schools — as well as nursing homes — as soon as next week.


16:55 UEFA, Europe’s soccer confederation, has made €236.5 million ($256 million) available for its 55 member associations — €4.3 million each. Each member association can use the funds as they “see fit to rebuild the football community,” UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said in a statement.

The cash came from a fund reserved for targeted areas of development, UEFA said. Most UEFA associations have halted their domestic seasons, the exception being Belarus. Belgium and the Netherlands have called off the remaining matches in domestic leagues, while Scotland is considering doing the same.

The confederation is also considering two possibilities for resuming the Champions League and Europa League, its continental club competitions. Either the two competitions would run parallel to domestic schedules or wait for domestic seasons to end before restarting the European competitions. Neither competition has held a match since March 13.


16:44 The false belief that toxic methanol cures COVID-19 has resulted in the deaths of more than 700 people in Iran. Toxic alcohol poisoning has increased tenfold in Iran over the past year, a government report stated.

The national coroner’s authority revealed that alcohol poisoning killed 728 citizens between February 20 and April 7, whereas last year, at the same time, there were only 66 deaths from alcohol poisoning, according to the report.

The Middle Eastern country is the hardest-hit in the region with 5,806 deaths and more than 91,000 registered infections.


16:13 The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the pandemic is “far from over,” despite signs that the infection curve is flattening in some regions. In addition, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that he was “deeply concerned” about the impact on regular health services caused by a focus on the coronavirus outbreak.

“The pandemic is far from over,” Tedros said, adding that the WHO was concerned about increasing trends in Africa, eastern Europe, Latin America and some Asian countries. “We have a long road ahead of us and a lot of work to do.”

He added that shortages of vaccines against other diseases were being reported in 21 countries as a result of border restrictions currently in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Tedros mentioned the data, citing the GAVI global vaccine alliance: “The number of malaria cases in sub-Saharan Africa could double,” he said. “That doesn’t have to happen, we are working with countries to support them.”

The WHO director-general said vaccination drives against polio, measles, cholera, human papillomavirus, yellow fever and meningitis had not got underway, suffering due to the attention placed on the novel coronavirus.

“When vaccination coverage goes down, more outbreaks will occur, including of life-threatening diseases like measles and polio,” Tedros said. “The tragic reality is that children will die as a result,” the WHO chief said.

Fourteen vaccination campaigns that would have covered more than 13 million people have been postponed because of the crisis, the WHO revealed.


15:28 An EU official has refuted allegations that a report on Chinese sources of disinformation on COVID-19 had been softened due to diplomatic pressure from Beijing. “I absolutely refuse and dispute any indications or claims that in our reporting we are bowing to any kind of external pressure,” the bloc’s foreign policy spokesperson Peter Stano said.

The EU is keen on stamping out disinformation, Stano said, and has a dedicated website with regular updates to keep the public informed of such malpractices. In a report published on Friday, an EU task force pointed the finger at Russia and China, among other actors, of intentionally creating “conspiracy narratives and disinformation” for a European audience.

On Friday, The New York Times, citing internal emails from the EU’s foreign affairs department, alleged that some of the focus on China had been softened after pressure from Chinese diplomats. The US daily also suggested there had been two separate reports with the eventual communication toned down regarding its stance on China.

Stano said there were two different versions of the document because one had been internal for EU officials and one for external publication.


15:20 Formula One is aiming to start its season on July 5 with the Austrian Grand Prix, with F1 CEO Chase Carey said he is “now increasingly confident” racing can finally commence. The first 10 races of the season have either been postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. “We are targeting a start to racing in Europe through July, August and beginning of September, with the first race taking place in Austria on [July 3 to 5] weekend,” Carey said in a statement.

He added that F1 is “now increasingly confident with the progress of our plans to begin our season this summer” and that 15-18 races can take place.
The announcement came hours after the French Grand Prix decided to cancel its race on June 28 rather than postpone it. The Australian Grand Prix, the original season opener, and the famed Monaco Grand Prix have also been canceled.


14:57 Anti-government protests have broken out in several parts of Lebanon amid a crash in the local currency and a sharp increase in food prices. In turn, medical teams have been prevented from beginning journeys from the capital, Beirut, due to the ensuing blockades caused by the demonstrators. The medics are tying to help combat the spread of COVID-19 in the country that has seen 710 cases and 24 deaths so far. The Health Ministry said its medical teams would try again on Tuesday, urging protesters to let the paramedics work to help combat the spread of the deadly virus.

The protests came as the government began easing restrictive measures. The number of recorded cases has fallen over the last two weeks, leading to the reduction of the nighttime curfew by one hour and allowing some businesses to go back to work on Monday.

The combination of the novel virus, fused with the lockdown, has led to the most serious economic and financial crisis to hit Lebanon since the end of the 1975-90 civil war, prompting protesters to take to the streets.

Around noon on Monday, troops forcefully removed dozens of demonstrators from a major highway in Zouk Mosbeh, north of Beirut, allowing traffic to move freely. However, soon afterwards, it was blocked once more with burning tires.


14:02 A majority of Germans believe there should be a mandatory COVID-19 immunization once one is available, according to a poll by the Civey Institute for the online news portal t-online. The survey found that 45% of respondents fully agree with having mandatory immunizations, while 16% somewhat agree. Conversely, 24% fully disagreed, and 8.6% somewhat disagreed, while the remaining 6.4% were unsure.

Among respondents over 65 years old, 77% agreed with the concept. The most skeptical age group was 30- to 39-year-olds, with the number for the measure (47%) nearly identical to those opposed to it (46.7%). Male respondents were more for the idea than female respondents, with nearly 66% of men in favor as opposed to 57% of women. The poll surveyed 5,099 people. 


13:49 More than 10 million face masks after have arrived in Germany after the country’s armed forces made the shipment with a military aircraft after picking up the goods from China. The face masks, which arrived in the eastern city of Leipzig, will now be distributed to a number of different German states, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said. The delivery was the initial installment after Germany placed an order of 25 million masks that are to be shipped in due course. Spot tests are being conducted on the masks before they leave China, as well as after they arrive in Germany, to check that they are in working order. From this week, all German states require citizens to cover their noses and mouths in certain public places, such as supermarkets and public transport. This can be done not just with masks, but also scarves and cloths. 


13:09 Turkish authorities have detained 402 citizens over “baseless and provocative” social media posts in relation to COVID-19, according to the country’s interior ministry.

The ministry said some of the comments on social networks included claims that a lockdown would last longer than the all-day weekend curfews previously announced by the Turkish government. There were other posts that contained accusations that authorities were lying about the number of fatalities.

“In the past 42 days, 6,362 social media accounts have been analysed, and 855 suspects have been confirmed while 402 have been caught,” the ministry tweeted.

There have been 2,805 deaths reported in Turkey and more than 110,000 cases of COVID-19.


12:48 Pakistani cleric Maulana Tariq Jameel has been widely condemned for comments he made last week about the role of women during the pandemic.

The cleric suggested the pandemic was caused partly by the “immodesty” of women. Jameel appeared on a telethon hosted by Prime Minister Imran Khan and said: “Who has demolished modesty in my country? Who is making the nation’s daughters dance? Who is shortening their dresses? Who should be held responsible?”

The comments prompted a backlash among leading activists, as well as Khan’s Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari, who said it was “simply absurd” for someone to suggest the pandemic was the result of women’s clothes. “This simply reflects either ignorance about pandemics or a misogynist mindset. Absolutely unacceptable,” she added.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan also warned that the remarks “only compounds the misogyny entrenched in society.”

Jameel is one of the country’s leading preachers. His sermons are often broadcast on Pakistan’s state-run and private TV stations during Ramadan, while his YouTube channel has 3.5 million subscribers. He is a senior member of the Tablighi Jamaat missionary group, which has been criticized for holding a meeting on March 10 with almost 100,000 people in attendance. Pakistan reported its first case on February 26.


11:30 Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has said he will make sure the country’s key workers pay fewer taxes and that multinationals should pay more, in a bid to jumpstart the economy as the country eases its coronavirus lockdown measures. 

“Whether care workers, security forces, supermarket employees or many others — whoever works hard should in future have more in their pocket. That is a question of social justice but also in times like these it is also necessary to stimulate domestic consumption,” Kurz said in a televised address on the 75th anniversary of Austria’s Second Republic. 

The chancellor said that €14 billion euros ($15 billion) of the €38 billion promised by his government — a coalition between Kurz’s conservatives and the left-wing Greens — had already been paid out. He hinted that more was to come. 

Along with cutting taxes for low and middle incomes, he said he would seek a greater tax contribution from multinationals.

“At the national and European level, we will fight against all forms of tax evasion and against unfair tax practices of large companies, because everyone should pay their fair share, particularly in times like these,” Kurz added.


11:00 Restrictions implemented to curb the spread of coronavirus could spark a “human rights disaster,” as some countries use the measures for more nefarious purposes, warned United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet

Bachelet called on countries to refrain from violating fundamental rights “under the guise of exceptional or emergency measures.”

“Emergency powers should not be a weapon governments can wield to quash dissent, control the population, and even perpetuate their time in power,” she said in a statement.

“They should be used to cope effectively with the pandemic — nothing more, nothing less.” The UN rights chief cited reports of police brutality, “unsafe” mass arrests and efforts to quash free speech

“Such violations have often been committed against people belonging to the poorest and most vulnerable segments of the population,” she said. 

Shooting, detaining, or abusing someone for breaking a curfew because they are desperately searching for food is clearly an unacceptable and unlawful response … So is making it difficult or dangerous for a woman to get to hospital to give birth,” said Bachelet.


10:20 Several European countries are taking their first steps to ease coronavirus-related restrictions. While Spain allowed children to go outside for the first time in six weeks on Sunday, Germany allowed small shops to reopen last week, and Italy announced that some businesses could reopen next month.

However, some of the steps to loosen restrictions across Europe have been met with criticism that states are taking too long to ease measures. In Italy, the Catholic Church complained that the hard-hit country’s exit plan still included a ban on religious services, while parents slammed plans to keep schools shut until September. 

“Italian bishops cannot accept a limitation of the freedom of religion,” the Italian Bishops’ Conference said in a statement.

The manufacturing and construction sectors are among those allowed to restart next week, while shops and museums should reopen on May 18, and bars, restaurants and hair salons can reopen on June 1.

Additionally, people will be allowed to take part in more outdoor exercise and visit relatives from May 4, provided that they wear face masks.

Meanwhile in Germany, top politicians have called for a more swift end to coronavirus-related restrictions, and have slammed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cautious approach. In an interview with Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel on Sunday, Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble said that extending the restrictions would impinge on citizens’ fundamental rights. 

“When I hear that protecting lives should come above everything else, I don’t think that is absolutely true,” he said. 

Armin Laschet, the state premier of North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, told public broadcaster ARD that the discussion over how to lift lockdown measures was “appropriate,” adding that the negative effects of the lockdown must be weighed against the effects of the pandemic itself.

Germany has 157,770 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with a death toll of 5,976.


10:00 Spain reported 331 new deaths on Monday, bringing the total number of fatalities in the hard-hit country up to 23,521. The new figure marks an increase from the previous day’s death toll of 288 – Spain’s lowest number of daily fatalities since March 20.

The total number of confirmed cases also rose to 209,465, up from 207,634 the day before. Spain, which has the third-highest number of deaths, behind Italy and the United States, has started taking measures to ease its rigid lockdown which has been in place since March 14. 

Yesterday, children under 14 were allowed to go outside for the first time since the start of the lockdown, while the government is expected to allow adults to go outside for non-essential purposes from next weekend.


09:45 A rise in German stocks led a hike in European shares, as the market responded optimistically to signs that many countries may be easing their coronavirus lockdowns. 

Shares of airliner Lufthansa saw a jump of 6.8%, after Germany’s transport minister said he supported helping the firm.  Meanwhile, Air France KLM also surged by 4.3%, following a 7-billion euros ($7.6 billion) government aid package. 

Euro zone banks also saw a boost in the market, following news that Deutsche Bank first-quarter earnings beat expectations. Its shares jumped by 10.8%.

The ailing airline Condor is set to receive €550 million ($597 million) in loans from the German government and the state of Hesse to help keep it afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The support consists of a €294 million “corona aid” loan, and €256 million to refinance an earlier government bridging loan, Condor said in a statement. 

“The company was operationally healthy and profitable in normal times and has good prospects for the future,” Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said in a statement. 

Germany’s DAX index was also boosted by drugs and pesticides company Bayer, which gained 3.1% after its first-quarter adjusted core earnings beat market estimates. 

Investors were optimistic about European-wide plans to restart some economic activity. Italy, among the worst-hit countries by the virus, was set to allow factories and building sites to reopen from May 4, while carmaker Volkswagen said it had resumed work at its biggest factory in Wolfsburg, Germany.


09:15 UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Britons that the first phase of the country’s coronavirus outbreak was coming to an end, in his first public appearance after recovering from a case of coronavirus which saw him placed in intensive care earlier this month. 

“Everyday I know that this virus brings new sadness and mourning to households across the land and it is still true that this is the biggest single challenge this country has faced since the war,” said Johnson.

The United Kingdom was nearing “the end of the first phase of this conflict,” he added.

“We must also recognize the risk of a second spike, the risk of losing control of that virus and letting the reproduction rate go back over one because that would mean not only a new wave of death and disease but also an economic disaster,” he said.

Johnson also thanked citizens for abiding by the lockdown measures, and said the government would begin outlining plans to ease restrictions in the coming days. 

“If you can keep going the way you have, if you can help protect the NHS [National Health Service], then I have no doubt we will together beat this,” he said. 

Once the first phase is over, he said, that “will be the time to refine restrictions and fire up the engines of the economy.”

“We simply cannot spell out now how fast or slow or even when those changes will be made, though clearly the government will be saying much more about this in the coming days,” he added.


08:35 Hong Kong researchers say they have developed an antiviral coating which could provide 90 days of “significant” protection against bacteria and viruses, including the coronavirus. 

Scientists at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) say that the coating, called MAP-1, can be sprayed on surfaces that are frequently used by the public, including elevator buttons and handrails.

“These places are frequently touched, and, at the same time, serve as a very effective medium for transmission of diseases,” HKUST Adjunct Professor Joseph Kwan told Reuters.

The coating that forms after spraying has millions of nano-capsules containing disinfectants, which Kwan says are able to kill bacteria, viruses and spores even after the coating has dried.

Researchers say that MAP-1 is non-toxic and safe for the skin and the environment. The coating has also already been adopted by shopping malls, schools and sports training facilities in the city.

MAP-1 was approved for official and mass consumer use in February, and will be sold in Hong Kong shops from next month.


07:55 Australian Foreign Minister Marisa Payne has warned China against attempts at “economic coercion” as Australia calls for a probe into the coronavirus outbreak, which China opposes.

Australia is lobbying world leaders and all members of the World Health Organization (WHO) to initiate an independent review into the origins and spread of Covid-19  a proposal which China has openly rebuffed.

Chinese ambassador to Australia Cheng Kingye said that the “Chinese public” could avoid Australian products and universities if the investigation moves forward. 

“Maybe the ordinary people will say ‘Why should we drink Australian wine? Eat Australian beef?’,” Cheng told The Australian Financial Review, adding that tourists may have “second thoughts” about visiting Australia.

“The parents of the students would also think … whether this is the best place to send their kids,” he said. 


07:20 In the same interview in which he spoke about Lufthansa, the German Economy Minister Peter Altmaieralso urged caution in the effort to ease contact restrictions. “I recommend that we proceed very, very carefully so that in the end we don’t have to take back the new relaxations to the rules,” he said, adding that the heads of each state are expected to come together to discuss Germany’s exit plan. “I hope that we can then agree on a common roadmap with a view to different approaches [for each state],” he said. 

Altmaier added that he does not expect to see a speedy return to everyday life as before the coronavirus pandemic. “Nobody questions that we’ll have to suffer the contact restrictions for a while longer,” he said.


07:01 Armenia has reported 62 more cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number to 1,808.
The results of 554 tests have been negative.

According to the data of the National Center for Disease Control, 15 patients have recovered; a total of 848 people have now been discharged from hospital.

Twenty-nine deaths have been reported.
The number of active cases is 931.


06:20 Germany will decide on state aid for Lufthansa once the airline applies for aid and all of the facts are on the table, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk. 

“We want large and important companies that play a role in the world market to remain competitive after the crisis,” Altmaier said, adding that companies receiving state aid must suspend their dividends and show restraint on management bonuses.

Lufthansa’s CEO Carsten Spohr said this month that the flag carrier would seek state aid in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium, citing losses at a rate of €1 million ($1.1 million). 

The German government is said to be considering a rescue package worth between €9 billion and €10 billion, according to sources close to the matter. There is disagreement, however, about what form such aid should take and about the degree to which the government should nationalize the airline.


05:50 More than one million people in Australia have downloaded a new government smartphone application designed to aid coronavirus contact tracing efforts, just a day after its release.

The “COVIDSafe” app, which works by using smartphones’ Bluetooth functions to detect other nearby users, has been touted as a step to easing social distancing measures and reopening restaurants, bars and schools. 

Meanwhile, questions over privacy rights have arisen in Europe, where the idea of using a tracking application is also under consideration. Germany recently announced that it willback a decentralized software platform supported by US tech giants Apple and Google. 

Under the proposed application, the data will be stored on individual users’ phones instead of under a centralized database. An initial proposal to promote an app with a centralized database came under heavy scrutiny, with critics saying such a program would be invasive. Hard-hit Italy is also considering a voluntary tracking app, with over a hundred formal proposals currently under consideration.


04:55 Despite social distancing conventions in place across the world, spectators packed into a Turkmenistan stadium to celebrate the country’s national horse day.

Footage broadcast by state television on Sunday showed President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov presiding over races to mark the Turkmen Horse Day, a celebration of the Akhal-Teke horse, a central symbol of state propaganda. The Akhal-Teke horse is honored each year as a “loyal partner throughout the centuries” which “came down from Heaven,” according to Turkmenistan’s tourism website. 

While Berdymukhamedov watched the proceedings from a sealed box, ordinary spectators filled the stadium and waved Turkmen flags. Unlike in previous years, journalists were not invited to Sunday’s events. 

Earlier this month, the country flouted official recommendations by organizing a series of mass exercise events, including a mass bicycling trip of 3,500 people, to mark World Health Day. Turkmenistan is one of the few countries in the world not to record a single case of COVID-19.


04:05 Germany’s confirmed number of coronavirus cases rose by 1,018 to 155,193, while the death toll rose by 110 to 5,750, according to the Robert Koch Institute. Both of those figures mark a decrease from the day prior, which saw 1,737 new infections and 140 coronavirus-related deaths.

03:05 French police seized 140,000 face masks destined for the European black market. Police sources said two suspects were arrested unloading boxes filled with the masks on the outskirts of Paris. 

One of the suspects claimed to be a business owner who was preparing to sell the masks to construction workers for a significant profit. The masks were purchased in the Netherlands, according to the suspect.

In March, France banned the resale of protective masks in order to ensure frontline healthcare workers had the necessary gear to deal with the novel coronavirus. French authorities have yet to ease the ban.


03:01 Here’s a round-up of the latest developments in the Americas:

Canada: Authorities have warned against the use of anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus patients, highlighting the serious side effects of using the drugs. The country has reported 47,147 confirmed infections with 2,663 deaths.

US: The unemployment rate in the US may be pushed to 16% or higher this month, as a result of the economy shuttering over coronavirus lockdowns, according to White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett. Before the crisis hit, the country’s unemployment rate was touching a 50-year low of 3.5%. With 1,330 more deaths in the past 24 hours, the US has an overall death toll of 54,841. The country has reported 965,435 confirmed coronavirus cases, the most of any country.

Mexico: The government has cleared out migrant centers across the country to control the spread of the pandemic. Most occupants have been sent back to their countries of origin, mostly in Central America. Mexico has reported 14,677 coronavirus cases and 1,351 deaths. 

El Salvador: President Nayib Bukele has authorized police and military to use  “lethal force” against gang members to control instances of violence as the country attempts to control the spread of the virus. El Salvador currently has under 300 coronavirus cases with eight deaths.

Panama: The country reported 241 new cases of COVID-19, taking the total number of infections to 5,779. Panama’s death toll currently stands at 165.

Brazil: With massive shortages in testing and chances of the country’s health infrastructure being overwhelmed, Brazil is fast becoming a virus hotspot. In the city of Manaus, authorities are being forced to dig mass graves to bury close to 100 corpses a day. Brazil has reported 63,100 confirmed coronavirus cases and 4,286 deaths.

Peru: Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra has called out citizens for gathering in large numbers to buy beer during the coronavirus crisis. Peru has reported 27, 517 confirmed cases with 728 deaths. 

Colombia: The country is preparing to relax its quarantine requirements as people return to the construction and manufacturing sectors and outdoor physical activities are allowed starting Monday. Colombia began compulsory preventive isolation on March 25 and is expected to continue till May 11. The country has reported 5,379 cases of the virus with 244 deaths.


01:19 Chinese authorities reported three new cases of the novel coronavirus, marking a major drop from 11 the day before. The Chinese Health Ministry said there were no new deaths, marking nearly two weeks without any coronavirus-related fatalities.

Although the coronavirus pandemic began in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Chinese authorities have managed to contain the deadly pathogen by enacting heavy restrictions on public life, including citywide lockdowns.

Critics, however, have accused the Chinese government of obfuscating the origins of the virus and not providing sufficient transparency on how it managed to drastically reduce the rate of transmission.


00:35 Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was “a leader and a clear voice” for her response to the novel coronavirus outbreak in Germany.

Gates, an American citizen, criticized the US government for failing to coordinate nationwide public health measures early on, saying: “Testing did not have the necessary priority.” In contrast, Germany scaled up nationwide testing soon after the major outbreak in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The US is the hardest hit country in the world with more than 54,800 deaths and nearly 1 million infections. The Trump administration has come under fire for playing down the severity of the pandemic early on.


00:30 Italian bishops called on the government to ease restrictions on public masses, saying the faithful must have access to the sacraments.

“[Bishops] cannot accept seeing the exercises of freedom of worship be compromised,” said a statement issued shortly after Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte outlined plans to ease lockdown restrictions in May.

The Episcopal Conference of Italy, the official assembly of Catholic bishops in the Mediterranean country, has pressured the government to allow mass. Since Italy enacted a nationwide lockdown last month, churches have been forced to forgo public ceremonies and gatherings.


00:09 As early as this week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson could announce plans to ease restrictions aimed at curbing the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to British daily The Telegraph.

According to the report, Johnson is considering “modifying” lockdown measures instead of lifting them in order to avert a second wave of transmissions.

Johnson is heading back to work after spending week recovering from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Shortly after he received confirmation of infection, he was admitted to intensive care due his condition deteriorating. He has since recovered.

The United Kingdom has one of the highest death tolls in the world, with more than 20,000 fatalities caused by the pathogen.


00:01 German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Munich-based newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung that Europeans should moderate their expectations for Germany’s presidency of the European Council later this year. He said the expectations placed on the German government were “enormous.”

Earlier this month, Maas had pledged an ambitious program for Germany’s presidency, most notably concerning the post-pandemic recovery of Europe. He said it would amount to a “coronavirus presidency.”

However, less than two weeks later, he appears to be walking back that commitment. Instead, he said it is necessary to “find a reasonable balance between ambitious aspirations and realistic goals.”

Germany is viewed as a key political leader in Europe given its instrumental role in developing the EU into what it is today as well as advancing the eurozone project as the bloc’s powerhouse economy. Some observers believe Germany’s presidency could be Berlin’s opportunity to lead the post-pandemic recovery and steer the future of the European project.


00:00 Welcome to Monday’s live updates article on the coronavirus pandemic. For Sunday’s updates see here: Coronavirus latest: Italy sees fewest daily deaths in 6 weeks

ls/aw (DW, Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)