September 25, 2020

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President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, June 5, 2020, in Washington. Front row from left, Small Business Administration administrator Jovita Carranza, Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence. Back row from left, member of Council of Economic Advisers Tyler Goodspeed, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Tomas Philipson.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Coronavirus: ‘Wear masks in public,’ WHO advises

In a policy reverse, the WHO has said people with health issues should wear medical-grade masks, and everyone else fabric ones. Meanwhile Donald Trump says he “made every decision correctly.”

  • The US welcomes an unexpected fall in jobless figures, as virus restrictions ease
  • A French official says the pandemic is “under control” as Europe continues to reopen borders
  • Cases of COVID-19 on the African continent rose by 5,000 in 24 hours, according to WHO data.
  • Over 6.6 million people have now been infected with COVID-19 globally and some 391,000 have died

All times in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC/GMT)

We’ve closed this article, but you can follow Saturday’s developments here: Coronavirus latest: Bolsonaro threatens WHO exit as COVID-19 kills ‘a Brazilian per minute’

  • The US welcomes an unexpected fall in jobless figures, as virus restrictions ease
  • A French official says the pandemic is “under control” as Europe continues to reopen borders
  • Cases of COVID-19 on the African continent rose by 5,000 in 24 hours, according to WHO data.
  • Over 6.7 million people have now been infected with COVID-19 globally and some 393,000 have died

#All times in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC/GMT)

23:50: The US Justice Department said it had filed a lawsuit to sue a Chinese company for selling “fake and substandard” N95 respirator masks. Guangdong-based King Year Packaging and Printing had shipped almost half a million masks to the US in April, which didn’t meet health standards, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit further alleged that King Year Packaging had falsely claimed that its N95 masks were certified safe by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). US buyers had shelled out over $1 million for the masks. King Year Packaging has been charged with four counts in the lawsuit and is liable to pay $500,000 or greater for each charge if the lawsuit goes through.

21:30 Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has said he does not want to reimpose a lockdown that was eased last month due to the negative impact it could have on the country’s economy.

In a televised speech, Khan urged citizens to adhere to social distancing guidelines, saying it was the only way to combat the spread of infections.

His comments came as Pakistan reported 68 deaths in the previous 24 hours, bringing its death toll to 1,838.

An additional 4,896 new cases of the novel virus were registered on Friday, Pakistan’s highest single-day total since the outbreak emerged in the country.

21:05 In Egypt, a team from the International Monetary Fund has struck upon a one-year, $5.2 billion (€4.6 billion) recovery package to combat the economic downturn suffered in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The IMF board still has to ratify the deal from the fund’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI), which allows countries to circumvent the lengthy negotiations usually needed to secure a full economic assistance program.

The newly announced package comes in addition to the $2.8 billion the IMF board approved last month.

Until now, Egypt has reported 31,115 cases and 1,166 deaths.

20:46 Black Americans have shown a more intense interest in coronavirus-related news compared to whites, according to a study conducted at the end of April by the Pew Research Center.

Some 26% of black people in the US said they had been talking about the virus “almost all the time” when discussing with others, in comparison with 10% of whites. While 48% of blacks told Pew they were closely following events related to the availability of coronavirus tests compared to 25% of whites.

“The differences in these data are particularly striking,” said Amy Mitchell, director of journalism research at Pew.

Statistically, 23% of the Americans who have died from the novel coronavirus were black, though blacks make up about 13% of the population in the US.

19:52 Health care workers around the world have been lauded for their life-saving role in the pandemic – but have been hard hit by the coronavirus themselves. Watch the latest edition of DW’s COVID-19 special

19:48 Saudi Arabia has announced a renewed lockdown in the holy city of Jeddah to counter a new spike in coronavirus cases.

“After reviewing the epidemiological situation and the high occupancy rates of intensive care departments, it was decided to take strict health precautions in the city of Jeddah for two weeks, starting from Saturday,” a health ministry statement read.

Jeddah is the gateway city for Muslim pilgrims making their way to the holy site of Mecca. However, pilgrimages have been suspended this year due to the virus.

The measures include a curfew running from 3 p.m. to 6 a.m. local time (12:00 to 03:00 UTC), a suspension of prayers in mosques and a stay-at-home order for public and private sector workers in the Red Sea city.

Saudi Arabia has declared almost 96,000 coronavirus infections and 642 deaths from the respiratory disease — the highest of all Gulf nations. The kingdom began easing several restrictions in late May, but also warned that similar strict measures could also soon return to Riyadh, which was “witnessing a continuous increase during the last days” of cases.

19:17 Deaths from the coronavirus in Chile rose by more than 50% in the past week, according to health ministry figures. In the past 24 hours, there were 4,207 new infections and 92 deaths from the coronavirus.

The figures continue to rise despite the lockdown of the capital Santiago that affects 7 million people — now entering its fourth week. However, the lockdown only restricts the movement of around 30% of the city’s inhabitants and many people working in the informal economy also ignore the ban. In response, the government said it plans to step up testing and crack down on movement.

Overall, the country has reported 1,448 deaths and more than 122,000 infections.

18:54 The environmental and economic impact of the coronavirus in Europe can now be measured and compared, following the launch of a new website by the European Space Agency and the European Commission.

The Rapid Action Coronavirus Earth observation (RACE) dashboard tracks “key environmental parameters – such as air and water quality changes, economic and human activities including industry, shipping, construction, traffic, as well as agricultural productivity” in 22 ESA member countries, using some indicators that go back as far as 2014.

The platform will “measure the impact of the coronavirus lockdown and monitor post-lockdown recovery,” it said.

The website can be accessed here

18:15 Borussia Dortmund teammates Manuel Akanji and Jadon Sancho, who also plays for England, have been fined by the German football league (DFL) for breaking stringent health guidelines to get haircuts at home.

Photographs emerged of Sancho, 20, and 24-year-old Swiss defender Akanji having their hair styled in their respective homes, with neither the players nor the hairdresser wearing any personal protective equipment.

“The players from Borussia Dortmund had obviously violated general hygiene and infection protection standards at home hairdressing appointments and in particular the medical-organizational concept of the DFL task force,” wrote the DFL in a statement.

“There is no question that professional footballers also have to have their hair cut. However, this currently has to be done in accordance with the medical-organizational concept,” the DFL added.

17:41 Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reversed a surprise decision to impose a new, two-day weekend curfew in 15 of the country’s provinces, days after many coronavirus measures were relaxed. He took to Twitter to say it the curfew “would have diverse social and economic consequences.”

It represented a quick turnaround on the curfew decision that was announced by the Interior Ministry only earlier today. The raft of measures lifted earlier this week included permitting domestic air travel and reopening beaches and restaurants.

Erdogan, however, urged people to wear masks, abide by social distancing practices and maintain high levels of hygiene.

17:26 COVID-19 has taken a metaphorical sledgehammer to global tourism, although European nations are trying to revive the industry. Not so in Ireland or the UK, where stringent quarantine rules further threaten the sector. 

DW’s Arthur Sullivan visited a guesthouse owner in rural Ireland to find out what impact the restrictions were having.

17:20 France’s coronavirus death toll rose by 46 to reach 29,111, the health ministry said in a statement. The death toll is the fifth-highest total in the world. The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 disease continued its long-running decline, with the number of people in ICU units down to 1,094 from 1,163 on Thursday, added the ministry.

Meanwhile, the French police banned two demonstrations against the death of US citizen George Floyd planned on Saturday in front of the US embassy in Paris, citing a coronavirus ban on gatherings of more than 10 people.

16:50 A coronavirus outbreak has been discovered at a DPD parcel delivery facility in Duisburg, western Germany. A total of 43 employees tested positive for the virus during precautionary testing of 400 of the workforce. The testing began after several people at the company were confirmed to have the virus late last week. All those who tested positive are now under quarantine. DPD employs around 1,000 people at its Duisburg facility. Work is continuing at the site, with further tests planned for employees.

16:30 The small Balkan country of North Macedonia registered a new record number of daily coronavirus infections for the third day in a row, with 180 infections and two deaths. The total number of confirmed cases in the country now stand at 2,790 with a death toll of 149. While restrictions ease across western Europe, more than half of North Macedonia’s 2.1 million people remain under an 80-hour near-total lockdown.

15:58 Deaths from COVID-19 in the UK surpassed 40,000, according to the government. The UK is now only the second country in the world to reach this grim milestone. The department of health said another 357 people who had tested positive for the virus have died in the UK taking the total number of deaths up to 40,261.

The toll according to Johns Hopkins Universtity is currently 39,987

The UK’s actual COVID-19 death toll is widely considered to be higher as official statistics only includes those who have tested positive for the virus.

15:45 Governments should ask everyone to wear fabric face masks in public areas where there is a risk of transmission of COVID-19, said the WHO, updating previous guidance “in light of evolving evidence.”

Under new guidelines, masks should be worn where there is “widespread transmission and physical distancing is difficult, such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments,” said the health body’s head, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at a press conference.

The mask needs to be fabric but not of medical grade. The mask is one tool amongst many in fighting the virus and should not give a false sense of protection, stressed the WHO.

15:05 The US has made it through the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, said President Donald Trump.

“We had the greatest economy in the history of the world. And that strength let us get through this horrible pandemic, largely through, I think we’re doing really well,” said Trump during a news briefing called following the release of better than expected jobless figures.

“We’ve made every decision correctly,” he added, calling for schools to reopen and a “blanket lockdown” to be lifted.

The US regained 2.5 million jobs in May as coronavirus pandemic shutdowns began to ease – defying expectations of economists. The statistics provide a welcome break for a country that has so far seen the largest number of fatalities from the virus worldwide at over 108,000 deaths – far dwarfing the UK in second place with a death toll of over 39,000.

14:45 Researchers conducting a major UK trial into anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine have stopped tests of the drug, after finding it has “no beneficial effect” for patients hospitalized with the coronavirus.

The researchers, who are working on the University of Oxford-headed Recovery trial, found “no significant difference” in mortality after 28 days between a control group and those assigned the drug.

The health benefits of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19, for which there is no cure, have been fiercely debated. This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it was restarting trials into the drug. The WHO initially halted research following a later-retracted study published in medical journal The Lancet that appeared to show the drug harmed coronavirus patients survival rates.

US President Donald Trump also announced he was taking the drug as a preventative measure.

14:23 A Catholic priest who led church services in three towns in the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the state’s office for Health and Social care has reported, raising fears of an outbreak. The priest traveled to the towns of Demmin, Stralsund and Grimmen before being found to have the virus.

The parish of St. Bernard in the northeastern state has canceled all services until June 12 in Stralsund and Demmin. Health authorities in the region have traced contact people from lists taken of worshippers attending the services. A total of 12 people who came into close contact with the priest have been quarantined and authorities are carrying out testing.

A case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in one person who came into contact with the priest. A further 130 test results are expected later today or on Saturday.

13:48 Switzerland is accelerating plans to open its borders, allowing people travelling from all EU countries and Britain to enter from June 15.

Swiss authorities had already announced in mid-May plans to reopen the country’s borders with its immediate neighbours, except Italy, on that date, and to the rest of the Schengen passport-free area by early July.

But the current “epidemiological situation” — with most countries bringing the pandemic under control in Europe — made a faster and broader opening possible.

It brings non-EU Switzerland into line with a large number of other EU nations, such as Germany, which are also reopening their borders to travelers from within the EU on this date.

Switzerland’s announcement follows the EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson stating that the “full functioning” of the Schengen area and freedom of movement for citizens will return “no later than the end of the month of June.” Restrictions for travelers outside of the bloc will continue to apply until July, added Johansson.

13:36 Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio praised Germany for helping his country through the coronavirus pandemic, following talks in Berlin with his German counterpart Heiko Maas.

“Germany’s support was never lacking throughout the entire period of the pandemic,” said Di Maio. “My trust in Germany since the start of this pandemic has remained unchanged and it is obviously positive.”

His comments come after a period of heightened tension between the two countries during the pandemic in Europe. While German hospitals took in 40 seriously ill COVID-19 sufferers from Italy, Germany also temporarily banned the export of protective medical equipment. The tension was also fueled by Germany’s initial opposition to shared EU debt to aid Europe’s recovery after the virus.

13:20 The US economy regained 2.5 million jobs in May as coronavirus pandemic shutdowns began to ease, sending the unemployment rate falling to 13.3%, the Labor Department has reported. The previous month’s rate stood at 14.7%.

The new figures exceeded expectations of economists who had been predicting more than 8 million job losses and a jobless rate of 20% or higher.

President Donald Trump welcomed the statistics, tweeting, “It’s a stupendous number,” and added he was “stunned” in another tweet.

13:05 There have been over 168,464 cases of coronavirus on the African continent — an increase of 5,000 in the last 24 hours — the World Health Organization.

South Africa has reported the highest number of cases, accounting for just over 40,000 or 34% of all cases on the continent. Nigeria has the second highest number of cases at over 11,500, followed by Algeria with 9,831.

So far, 4,700 people have died from the novel coronavirus across the continent.

The figures were reported as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said military medical personnel were on standby to be deployed to the Western Cape province — the country’s coronavirus epicentre.

“This a war that we must win, we cannot sit back and be defeated by COVID-19 on the basis that we didn’t have enough staff members,” said Ramaphosa during a meeting with provincial authorities.

12:53 German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced she will host a video conference with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang next Thursday to discuss the pandemic. Bilateral economic policies and the ongoing situation in Hong Kong will also be up for discussion.

The announcement comes less than 24 hours after Merkel’s office said late that the first ever summit between the EU leaders and China, to be hosted by Germany and scheduled for September, had been canceled. The coronavirus pandemic was given as the official reason for the cancelation.

12:26 Spain will open its borders to foreign tourists from July 1, government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero has said.

The announcement comes a day after Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto caused confusion by saying land borders would reopen from June 22, before retracting the statement. His mistake drew criticism from neighboring Portugal.

Health Minister Salvador Illa also announced further relaxing of coronavirus measures. From Monday, visitors to bars and restaurants will no longer be confined to outdoor seating areas and restrictions governing how much time children spend outside will be lifted.

11:59 Some countries have experienced “upticks” in cases of coronavirus after easing lockdown measures, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, adding that countries need to continue protecting their populations against the virus.

“On upticks, yes we have seen in countries around the world — I’m not talking specifically about Europe — when the lockdowns ease, when the social distancing measures ease, people sometimes interpret this as ‘OK, it’s over,'” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said at a UN briefing in Geneva. 

“It’s not over. It’s not over until there is no virus anywhere in the world,” she said.

11:56 Brothels can reopen in Germany’s Rhineland-Palatine starting June 10, the state has announced, becoming the first German state to do so.  

The most recent regulations will require people to wear masks in brothels when social distancing measures cannot be maintained,”to the extent that the type of service allows it,” the state government said.  All clients must also leave behind contact data.

11:55 German cruise ship company Aida says there will be no more voyages to the US or Canada this year.

“As a consequence of the persisting impact of the coronavirus, the pre-conditions for international travel destined for the US or Canada are not fulfilled at this time,” the Rostock-based company said. 

“Cruise ships are not allowed to call at ports in Canada until the end of October 2020. In the US, European travelers are not allowed to enter,” it added. 

Aida has already cancelled all voyages for its 14 cruise ships planned through June 30. All travelers whose trips were cancelled will receive a credit equal to the value of their booking plus a bonus of 10%. The credit can be redeemed with the company through the end of 2021. Travelers who do not redeem the credit by then will receive a refund. 

11:05 All primary school students in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) can return to school starting June 15. School children will be able to attend school as usual until summer vacation begins, NRW Minister of Education Yvonne Gebauer said. She added that there is no health risk to the students if hygiene procedures are followed. 

Schools in NRW were closed on March 13 due to the coronavirus outbreak. Classes began again on a reduced scheduled on April 23. 

The ministry said that other German states would also open their schools before summer vacation.

09:43 The EU’s police force, Europol, has announced a new crime center to fight financial crime expected to rise in the EU in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Money-laundering and fraud are anticipated to increase because of the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

There are also concerns about criminals misusing government subsidies set up to support those affected by the pandemic.

08:18 The head of France’s government scientific advisory council has announced that the pandemic is “under control” in the country that has seen one of the highest death counts in Europe.

“The virus is still circulating, in certain regions in particular … but it is circulating slowly,” immunologist Jean-Francois Delfraissy told French media.

“We can reasonably say the virus is under control,” he said. France currently has around 1,000 active cases, compared to 80,000 in early March. Overall there have more than 151,000 confirmed cases and over 29,000 people have died.

08:00 Muslims in Jakarta have held their first communal Friday prayers as mosques reopened in Indonesia’s capital city for the first time in nine weeks. The places of worship were only allowed to open at half capacity to ensure social distancing.

Sermons were shortened, no handshaking was allowed and worshippers were required to bring their own prayer mats and use hand sanitizers.

Indonesia has reported 28,818 confirmed cases and 1,721 fatalities, with President Joko Widodo saying the economy is back on track and the country is safe from the virus.

07:36 New German manufacturing orders saw their worst-ever fall in April, plunging a record 25.8% from the month before. 

The indicator, which reflects future industrial activity in Germany, saw “the biggest fall since the beginning of the data series in 1991,” federal statistics agency Destatis said. 

The April reading was down 36.6% compared to last year’s figure. A month-on-month drop of 15% in March this year had been the previous negative record. 

“The collapse in new industrial orders worsened again in line with expectations in April,” the economy ministry in Berlin said. As an explanation, it said restrictions against the corona pandemic had been in place through all of April. 

However, the gradual loosening of restrictions now taking place in Germany mean “the worst of the industrial recession should be behind us,” the ministry said.

07:33 Germany’s Family Minister Franziska Giffey has announced that she wants schools and kindergartens to fully reopen as normal after the summer vacation. She said plans are in place with the assumption that infection rates will remain stable.

“And of course it is necessary that staff will be provided for,” Giffey told German media. She also said once correct hygiene and security measures are in place, social distancing of 1.5 meters will no longer be necessary in schools.

“Of course, this is in the interests of the children,” she said. “Children need children. We must push on with steps towards reopening, but at the same time remain responsible.”

07:09 The Czech Republic has officially announced it will reopen its borders with Austria, Germany and Hungary at noon today, after Czech media reported that it would happen soon on Thursday.

“People who visit these countries do not need any coronavirus test of quarantine,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis told a press conference. “We already lifted restrictions on visiting Slovakia on Thursday,” he confirmed on Twitter.

Hungary does not directly border the Czech Republic, but Babis now judges the danger small. Visitors from countries where the pandemic is still widespread will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test or be quarantined on arrival.

The move comes as the latest step in the European Union’s aim to re-open as many borders as possible by June 15.

07:08 German lawmaker and epidemiologist Karl Lauterbach has shared the details of an unpublished study that indicates that a person’s blood type affects the risk of being seriously affects by the coronavirus.

“A very (!) astonishing result, but shown in a robust study,” he wrote. “Blood type A has a 50% higher risk of COVID-19 having a serious effect. Double the risk of blood group O. Blood group B comes in between.”

06:22 Germany has reported 507 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 183,271. Some 32 people died in the past 24 hours, with the total number of dead at 8,613.

Officials in Germany are warily watching the figures as well as the all-important R number. Much of the country is cautiously reopening, with many businesses and workplaces returning to normal, with social distancing regulations and face-mask requirements in place.

The R number was estimated at 0.57 on Thursday, down from 0.71 on Wednesday.

06:20 India has registered more than 9,800 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, in another single-day spike in new cases. The Health Ministry said the total number of new confirmed cases has reached 226,770 with 6,348 deaths. Some 273 people have died in the last few weeks.

The surge of infections may be connected to workers leaving cities and returning to rural areas over to job losses and suspensions during lockdown.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi confirmed India would contribute $15 million (€13.19 million) to the international vaccine alliance following a Global Vaccine Summit on Thursday.

03:53 Brazil’s coronavirus deaths crossed 34,000, giving it the third-highest tally in the world.

With an overall death toll of 34,021 Brazil has also surpassed Italy’s figures, now lying behind only the US and UK. 

The country on Thursday registered a record 1,473 deaths in 24 hours.

The total number of cases since the beginning of the outbreak is at 614,94. Experts say that due to under-testing in Brazil, the actual figures could be much higher.

03:23 Fiji has declared itself COVID-19 free after the recovery of its last known infected patient. Strict isolation measures and border controls are credited with helping to keep a surge in infections in the island nation at bay.

02:45 A Tokyo 2020 executive board member has said that organizers will need to monitor the coronavirus situation until next spring to decide whether to hold the Summer Olympics next year, Kyodo News reports.

The Games were postponed from this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

01:43 Mexico has reported a record jump in the daily numbers of coronavirus infections, with 4,442 new cases being registered.

The daily death toll was at 816.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged the country to remain calm as the new figures came out. 

”Let there not be psychosis, let there not be fear,” Lopez Obrador said, while also accusing the media of stoking fears.

Experts said confirmation and inclusion of deaths going back as far as 25 days was one of the factors behind the record surge. 

The country has reported a total to 105,680 cases and 12,545 deaths.

01:25 Argentina has extended its mandatory coronavirus lockdown in capital Buenos Aires and other regions with high cases of infection

President Alberto Fernandez made the announcement on Thursday after the country reported over 20,000 confirmed cases in its latest tally.

The lockdown was put in place in March and was set to expire on June 7. 

The rest of the country will see a phase of “mandatory and preventive social distancing.”

Argentina reported 929 new cases of infections on Thursday, one of the highest daily tally since the outbreak began. 

 A total of 608 deaths have been reported.

00:42 South Africa has seen its biggest surge in daily infections with 3,267 cases being registered in 24 hours. 

Fifty-six new deaths were reported, taking the total toll to 848.

The country is the most affected by the coronavirus pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa with a total of 40,792 cases of infection.

South Africa was put under one of the world’s most restrictive coronavirus lockdowns in March.

A ban was imposed on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes. However, the country has gradually eased coronavirus measures, down to the third level of the five-grade restriction. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government initially saw major support for its measures but after weeks of damage to an already shrinking economy, there is now criticism.

 A high court ruling earlier this week deemed some of the rules governing levels three and four of the lockdown “unconstitutional and invalid”.

 The government said on Thursday that it would appeal the ruling.

00:25 A study published in the European Heart Journal says that COVID-19 patients with high blood pressure are twice as likely to die than those without the condition. 

The study involved researchers from China and Ireland examining coronavirus patients admitted to the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan between February 5 and March 15.

About 30%, 850 patients, had a history of high blood pressure. 

Some 4% of those patients had died in contrast to just over one percent of the 2,027 patients without high blood pressure.

For the patients in the hospital who had stopped taking medication for high blood pressure, the risk of dying doubled again, the researchers noted.

00:00 Catch up on Thursday’s developments here — Coronavirus latest: Pakistan, India report record daily spike in new cases, deaths