September 28, 2020

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A man wearing a mask has a haircut with a barber wearing a protective suit to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus as people practicing social distancing are reflected on a window in Manila, Philippines on Monday, June 8, 2020. Barbershops and beauty salons are now allowed to operate under strict health measures as the lockdown continues to ease in the capital. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Coronavirus latest: Global infections top 7 million

The United Kingdom has started quarantine measures for new arrivals, and several Indian cities will lift restrictions despite the country reporting a daily record of new COVID-19 cases.

  • New Zealand announced its last COVID-19 patient has recovered
  • The UK starts mandatory self-quarantine for arrivals 
  • Poland reported a spike in cases; most new infections were linked to a coal mine
  • Globally, over 400,000 people have died of COVID-19 and over 7 million have been infected

All times in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC/GMT)

23:00 We have now closed Monday’s live coverage. For the latest updates see here: Coronavirus latest: Moscow eases lockdown restrictions

21:14 Spanish media are reporting that up to 6,000 Germans will be allowed to visit the Balearic Islands, including Mallorca, two weeks before the borders officially open. Mallorca and other islands rely heavily on German tourists and have suffered from travel restrictions.

The pilot run, starting June 15, is reportedly meant to act as a trial period for an expected rush of tourists when the borders fully open. There has been no official confirmation of the reports.

21:09 The European Commission has asked social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to make their fight against coronavirus disinformation more transparent. The Commission urged the social networks to lodge monthly reports on their efforts, according to a draft paper seen by DPA news agency. The paper also shows the Commission calling on networks to grant fact checkers and scientists significantly more access to their platforms. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and vice-commissioner Vera Jourova will likely present the paper on Wednesday.

The report also accuses Russia and China of being “foreign actors” that are taking part in campaigns to undermine democratic debate in the European Union.

20:26 US pharmaceutical firm Gilead has sought “conditional marketing authorization” in the European Union for its drug remdesivir to treat COVID-19 patients, according to the European Medicines Agency (EMA).  “The assessment of the benefits and risks of remdesivir is being performed under a reduced timeline and an opinion could be issued within weeks, depending on the robustness of the data submitted and whether further information is required to support the evaluation,” the EMA said in a statement. If successful, it would be the first approved drug to treat Covid-19 in the EU, although it is available in Germany under a drug hardship program and is being tested in clinical studies. 

A study has found that the drug can reduce recovery time by an average of four days and it may slightly reduce mortality rates.

19:45 Here’s the latest out of Europe:

Austria: The Austrian government approved a €600 million ($678 million) rescue package for Lufthansa-owned Austrian Airlines. The package includes €300 million in state-backed loans, a €150 million injection from the government and an additional €150 million from Lufthansa. However, the deal comes with a few strings attached, including restrictions on short-haul flights and keeping the airline based in Vienna.

Italy: Bergamo city health authorities said a sample survey has shown that more than half of its residents carried antibodies for the novel coronavirus. Out of nearly 10,000 residents tested since late April, 57% had antibodies. However, city health authorities said the sample was “sufficiently broad” to adequately indicate the portion of the population who was infected with the deadly pathogen.

Denmark: The Danish government said it would lift restrictions on public gatherings starting in early July. From July 8 to August 8, the government will permit groups of 100 and 200 people to gather. However, snapback measures are in place in the event there is a second wave of infections. The government also eased restrictions Monday on gatherings of up to 50 people, allowing public swimming pools to resume operations.

Switzerland: The National Council, Switzerland’s lower house, gave preliminary approval of contact tracing app SwissCovid amid privacy concerns over similar software in other European countries. The app uses Bluetooth in Apple and Google operating systems to detect whether other app users have been in contact with an infected individual. In a bid to overcome privacy concerns, the data is stored locally on an individual’s smartphone for up to 21 days. Germany’s version is tentatively set to roll out next week. 

18:25 The World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries to keep up efforts to contain the new coronavirus as the pandemic worsens globally.

“More than six months into the pandemic, this is not the time for any country take its foot off the pedal,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told an online briefing, adding that “the biggest threat now is complacency.”

The WHO said it recorded 136,000 cases on Sunday, its highest daily tally of new cases globally. It has also recorded at least 100,000 new cases in nine of the past 10 days.

“Although the situation in Europe is improving, globally it is worsening,” Tedros said. 

18:20 Italy, one of the worst hit countries in Europe, has reported 280 new COVID-19 cases and 65 new coronavirus deaths on Monday, up from 197 new cases and 53 deaths the day before, the nation’s Civil Protection Agency said.

Of the new cases, 194 came from the northern province of Lombardy, where the outbreak was first identified. 

Italy’s 235,274 cases is the seventh-highest national total in the world, and its 33,964 deaths ranks fourth in the world behind only the US, the UK and Brazil.

The Civil Protection Agency said that, as of Monday,  2.643 million people had been tested for the virus in Italy, out of a population of around 60 million people.

17:55 Canada is slightly easing border restrictions to allow family members of citizens and permanent residents to enter the country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

Trudeau noted that anyone entering the country would still need to quarantine for 14 days or face serious penalties.

Canada had only allowed citizens and permanent residents into the country under a border closure restriction the government imposed in March.

16:55 Google Maps is adding features to make it easier for users to navigate COVID-19 related travel restrictions, the app’s project management director, Ramesh Nagarajan, said in a blog post.

In its latest update for Android and Apple iOS devices, the app is adding transit and driving alerts to make it easier for its users to plan their travel.

Google Maps is rolling out transit alerts in 13 countries where the company has information from local transit agencies— Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, the UK and the US. The app is also adding driving notifications for COVID-19 checkpoints and other restrictions, starting with the US, Canada and Mexico. 

The app is also alerting users heading to medical centers and COVID-19 testing centers to avoid them being turned way. Alerts for medical facilities will be rolled out first in Indonesia, Israel, the Philippines, South Korea and the US, while alerts for testing centers will only be available in the US at first.

“COVID-19 has certainly impacted the way that we move around the world,” Nagarajan wrote in the blog post announcing the updates. “As cities and countries across the globe adapt, we’re committed to bringing the most pertinent information right to your fingertips.”

16:20 Austria’s government and Lufthansa have agreed on a rescue package for Austrian Airlines worth €600 million, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced. 

The Lufthansa subsidiary will receive €450 million from Austria — €300 million in state-backed loans and a €150 million cash injection — plus a further €150 million from the German airline. Austria will not take a stake in Austrian Airlines as part of the deal, unlike the far larger rescue package Lufthansa received from Germany.

Lufthansa also promised to retain Vienna as a long-distance hub in return for the state funds, Kurz said.

“Austrian Airlines is Austria’s national carrier, and it plays an enormous role for Vienna,” the conservative chancellor said.

15:50 The World Bank anticipates a 5.2% contraction in global GDP in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it said in its June 2020 Global Economics Prospects analysis. That would be the largest year-on-year dip since World War II. By comparison, in 2009 amid the so-called great recession and financial crash, global GDP dipped by just 1.73%, propped up by developing economies.

Advanced economies are expected to shrink 7%, while emerging markets and developing economies could contract 2.5%. Additionally, the World Bank predicts a 3.6% dips in per capita income, which could put millions of people into extreme poverty this year.

“This is a deeply sobering outlook, with the crisis likely to leave long-lasting scars and pose major global challenges,” said Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, the World Bank’s Vice President for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions.

14:55 Around 280 travelers from Germany and other European countries stranded in South Africa during the coronavirus pandemic are preparing to fly to Frankfurt on a Lufthansa plane, the German airline’s regional manager, Andre Schulz, told the DPA news agency.

The passengers will meet at a stadium in Cape Town before being taken to the airport and an A340 plane.

In March, the German Foreign Office initiated a vast recall operation for Germans stranded abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic. But many stayed behind, including retired Germans who hibernate to the southern hemisphere during the winter.

South Africa closed its borders in March as part of its coronavirus lockdown measures. Though the government began cautiously relaxing measures on June 1, international air traffic is still blocked in the country.

South Africa has reported the most coronavirus cases in Africa with more than 48,000, including nearly 1,000 virus-related deaths. 

14:35 Deaths from the new coronavirus in the UK increased by 55 to 40,597, the lowest amount of daily deaths since Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed lockdown measures, according to government data published on Monday.

The death toll is the highest in Europe and second highest in the world behind the United States. As with many countries, the counting mechanism is contested and estimates suggest the real tally could be higher. 

The government data came as Johnson’s government announced new relaxation measures. A spokesman for Johnson said on Monday that the government was aiming to open non-essential retail business from June 15 and pubs, restaurants and bars from July 4.

12:58 Europe’s strict COVID-19 lockdowns may have prevented more than 3 million deaths, a new study has found.

Researchers at the Imperial College London looked at the impacts of lockdowns in 11 European countries, saying that the measures which were largely implemented in March had a “substantial effect” in curbing the spread of the virus.

The modelling study estimated that by between 12 and 15 million people had been infected with COVID-19 in the countries analyzed: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

By comparing the number of deaths in official government tallies with the deaths predicted by their model, they found that the lockdowns averted some 3.1 million deaths.

“Measuring the effectiveness of these interventions is important, given their economic and social impacts, and may indicate which course of action is needed to maintain control,” the researchers said in a summary of their findings.

A second study that was published in the journal Nature that looked at policies in China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France and the United States found that lockdown policies prevented or delayed 530 million COVID-19 cases.

11:54 Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has announced the end of a strict anti-coronavirus lockdown in place for weeks in the Russian capital.

From Tuesday, the city’s “self-isolation and pass system will be canceled,” he said in a video message on Facebook, adding that “Moscow is returning to the usual rhythm of life.”

11:30 The coronavirus crisis has taken a heavy toll on German industry, with a key economic survey predicting a continued but less serious decline in the coming months.

Production plunged by 17.9% in April compared to the previous month, according to data released by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) on Monday.

The decline was worse than predicted. Economists had forecast a 16.5% drop. Compared to the same period last year, production was down by 25.3%, Destatis said.

11:00 Children in South Africa have started to return to the classroom as part of a gradual loosening of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

The reopening of schools was delayed after teaching unions last week demanded that school staff defy the government order to open last week. They said that schools lacked sufficient health and hygiene measures to keep educators and pupils safe.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said ramped-up efforts to equip schools over the past week meant that 95% of schools were now ready to host classes, with the country’s biggest teachers union dropping its resistance.

“The golden rule is there will be no school that will resume if not ready to do so,” Motshekga said.

10:20 The Dutch trial over the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 has resumed, following months of delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Defense lawyers said Monday that they needed more time to prepare their case, and a Dutch lawyer representing a Russian suspect said that flight bans and other travel restrictions linked to the pandemic made it impossible to interview her client.

“It is absolutely impossible to discuss such a large and complex criminal file on the phone via an interpreter,” she said.

Three Russians and a Ukrainian are charged with being involved in shooting down the Boeing 777 that was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The trial is taking place in the Netherlands because nearly 200 of the victims were Dutch citizens.

09:15 Poland will close 12 coal mines starting Tuesday for three weeks to stop the spread of COVID-19 among miners, Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin has announced.

The closures come after nearly 800 new COVID-19 cases were linked to the Zofiowka coal mine, owned by the state-run JSW mining group. Two JSW-operated mines and 10 mines run by the PGG group will suspend operations.

Sasin added that miners would receive 100% pay for the three weeks and that there was no threat to coal deliveries.

COVID-19 has spread rapidly among coal miners, who account for 20% of total cases in Poland, according to state-run PAP news agency. The coal-producing region in the south of the country has recorded the highest percentage of Poland’s 26,780 infections.

08:10 The coronavirus pandemic has revealed cracks in China-Africa relations. Gone are the days of big Chinese loans and major borrowing. Beijing’s relationship with its African partners is changing, experts say. 

Coal miners entering the Ziemowit coal mine in southern Poland are screened for COVID-19

07:44  Shopping centers, restaurants and places of worship have reopened in several Indian cities, despite the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to rise across the country. 

In new figures announced Monday by India’s health ministry, the total number of COVID-19 cases is at 256,611, following a record one-day spike of nearly 10,000 infections.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is under pressure to open up businesses and get people back to work following a ten-week lockdown that has hit the economy hard and left millions of laborers jobless.

The easing of restrictions comes with a set of social distancing and hygiene requirements, including masks, disinfection stations and temperature checks.

07:00 The United Kingdom has started a new quarantine measure, under which most people arriving in the country will have to self-isolate for two weeks.

The self-isolation order applies to both residents and visitors, and authorities said it is aimed at preventing a second wave of COVID-19 infections arriving from abroad.

Corporate leaders in UK’s travel and tourism industry criticized the move, and questioned why the UK, which has Europe’s highest number of COVID-19 cases at 287.621, would reduce travel from countries in Europe with fewer cases.

British Airways and budget carriers EasyJet and Ryanair have launched joint legal proceedings against the measure, calling it “disproportionate” and devastating for the country’s ailing tourism industry. 

Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary said Monday that the budget airline would not cancel July and August flights if the quarantine remains in place. He added many flights from the UK to vacation destinations in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece are full. “British people are ignoring this quarantine, they know it’s rubbish,” he said.

05:58 Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta, has partially reopened following a two-month lockdown. Authorities in the city of 11 million will allow offices, restaurants and grocery stores to reopen with a 50% reduction in employees and customers. Public transportation has also resumed.

Mosques in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country were reopened Friday at half capacity with social distancing measures in place. Schools remain closed.

Indonesia has totaled over 30,000 COVID-19 cases, including 1,851 deaths. Jakarta accounts for 8,000 cases and 529 deaths.

05:40  Pakistan has surpassed 100,000 COVID-19 cases, as the number of infections in the South Asian country continues to rise following the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and the Eid holiday at the end of May. Government officials have been criticized for refusing to close mosques and for not initiating stricter lockdown measures.

Over the past 24 hours, over 4,700 new cases have been reported, according the Pakistan Ministry of Health. Daily infection rates have been hovering around 5,000 since the end of Ramadan. The COVID-19 death toll in Pakistan current stands at 2,067.

05:35 Denmark has lifted the limit on public gatherings to 50 people from 10 as it relaxes measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The restrictions on public gatherings were put in place on March 17.

03:30: Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the country’s public health authority for infectious diseases, has reported 301 new cases of the coronavirus, taking the country’s total tally to 183,979. Germany reported 22 additional deaths, putting the death toll in the country at 8,668.

RKI said cases per 100,000 (cumulative incidences) were highest in Bavaria (362 per 100,000) followed by Baden Württemberg (315), Hamburg (278) and Saarland (277).

03:00 Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said the coronavirus pandemic was “under control” in the country, after reporting eight consecutive days without a death from the virus. Cuba currently has 244 active cases of the coronavirus. The country plans to start lifting its lockdown next week. Currently, Cuba has closed its borders, suspended public transport, closed schools and colleges and made wearing a mask compulsory.

“We need to keep focusing on how we’re going to eliminate the residues that remain, especially those associated with the incompetence or poor functioning of any institution, which give rise to events that can provoke a rebound,” said Diaz-Canel.

02:50: New Zealand announced on Monday that the final person to contract the coronavirus in the country has recovered. The country has not reported a new case in the last 17 days. “Having no active cases for the first time since February 28 is certainly a significant mark in our journey but as we’ve previously said, ongoing vigilance against COVID-19 will continue to be essential,” said Ashley Bloomingfield, the director-general of health.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that the country would lift all coronavirus measures on Tuesday, with the exception of border closure restrictions. The move will allow public and private events to go on without restriction, public transport to resume and the retail and hospitality sectors to operate normally.

00:58 The United States reported 691 new deaths from the coronavirus on Saturday, the lowest in a week. The country now has 110,482 deaths from the virus and over 1.93 million cases, the highest in the world.

00:38 Brazil’s Health Ministry again released cumulative COVID-19 figures on Sunday, after officials took down a website Friday with daily, weekly and monthly COVID-19 cases and deaths. On Saturday, officials did not report the total number of cases, and only reported the number of cases and deaths over a 24-hour period.

This new method of registering deaths and infections was criticized by the political class, judiciary and the press as a move to manipulate statistics after the country’s death toll overtook Italy for the third-highest in the world. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has been criticized for downplaying and covering up the extent of the outbreak in the country. 

As of Sunday, the health ministry reported a total of 37,312 people in the country have died from COVID-19 to date, while the total number of infections stands at 685,427. 

00:09: Argentina said it had recorded 774 new cases of the coronavirus and 16 deaths on Saturday. The country now has 22,794 positive cases. The latest numbers come a day before Argentina begins removing a lockdown in most parts of the country, except the area of capital Buenos Aires, which will remain in lockdown for another three weeks.

00:00Poland reported 1,151 new cases of the coronavirus over the weekend, after a breakout in a coal mine. The country’s Health Ministry said two-thirds of the new cases were linked to the Zofiowka coal mine, owned by the JSW mining group. JSW also said it had seen a rise in infections at another coal mine in Pniowek. Poland now has 26,561 cases of the coronavirus.

Catch up with Sunday’s developments here: Global deaths surpass 400,000

(DW)