November 25, 2020

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Coronavirus latest: Hard-hit Europe eases restrictions

Germany, France and Spain have eased stay-at-home orders, allowing millions to return to some semblance of normality. Leaders are urging caution amid concerns of fresh clusters of cases.

  • The infection rate (R-value) in Germany has climbed again after curbs on public life were loosened
  • France and Spain are easing restrictions outside of major cities
  • There have been more than 4.15 million registered cases, and some 285,000 deaths from the virus
  • President Trump has confirmed Vice President Pence has tested negative after his press secretary contracted COVID-19

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)


23:59 We have now closed this article. For the latest news, please see Tuesday’s live updates article: Donald Trump dismisses concern over virus spreading in the White House

23:55 A group of inmates in a California prison sought to infect themselves with the coronavirus in hopes of an early release, a senior police official said.

A video posted on social media by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department showed the prisoners crowded together, sharing a disposable cup and sniffing a face mask.

“Somehow, there was some mistaken belief among the inmate population that if they tested positive, that there was a way to force our hand and somehow release more inmates out of our jail environment — and that’s not going to happen,” county sheriff Alex Villanueva said.

Since the video was shot, 21 prisoners have tested positive in that section of the prison “as a result of the behavior,” the sheriff said. In total, 357 prisoners have been infected in the county.

Prison reform advocates deny the claim that the inmates were trying to infect themselves, and accused the sheriff of trying to “demonize incarcerated people.”

Los Angeles County has incarcerated some 11,700 people and nearly 40% of them are in quarantine. More than 5,000 were released earlier, to avoid a catastrophic outbreak.

23:18 North Rhine-Westphalia State Premier Armin Laschet is calling for tighter restrictions to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus in Germany’s most populous state. 

After the end of the lockdown in France, the state will have to impose tougher quarantine measures for those returning from European countries, Laschet told the Rheinische Post. The premiers of neighboring Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland are also in agreement, he said.

Under the current measures, everyone entering Germany from abroad must quarantine for two weeks, aside from those entering with a special permit, such as commuters. 

France and Spain took steps to lift their long-standing lockdowns on Monday, raising the possibility that Europe could see a new wave of infections. 

Laschet added that he was concerned about recent protests against virus-related restrictions, and the politicization of the pandemic

“It is part of democracy that citizens have the right and opportunity to express their opinion. But it is disturbing when extremists from both the right and left add fuel to the discussion, and try to abuse it for their own purposes,” he said. 

Germany has over 172,000 confirmed cases and a death toll of 7,653.

22:27 The number of cases in Chile has surpassed 30,000, the government said, making it the fourth most infected country in Latin America, after Brazil, Peru and Mexico.

Chile’s health undersecretary, Paula Daza, said there have been 30,063 registered cases, resulting in the deaths of 323 citizens, daily newspaper La Tercera reported.

The relatively low mortality rate has been attributed to an early response to the outbreak and aggressive testing. However, a surge in cases recently is now putting the health system under growing strain.

22:20 Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the automaker’s California assembly plant will be resuming operations, in defiance of official orders trying to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules,” Musk tweeted. “I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”

The announcement followed several days of online comments made by Musk about the potential reopening of the plant, as well as a lawsuit that he initiated to allow approval to resume production. 

“California approved, but an unelected county official illegally overrode,” he tweeted. “Also, all other auto companies in US are approved to resume. Only Tesla has been singled out. This is super messed up!”

Musk earlier claimed that the ban on production violates “our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense!” 

Last week, California announced that some manufacturing businesses could resume operations. However, local governments have the authority to continue to impose restrictions, even if they are lifted on a state level.

21:59 US President Donald Trump has revealed that Mike Pence has tested negative for COVID-19 but he may restrict his contact with the vice president.

“I would say that he and I will be talking about that,” Trump told reporters when asked if he was considering limiting contacts with Pence. “During this quarantine period, we’ll probably talk.”

“We can talk on the phone,” he added. “He tested negative, so we have to understand that, but he comes into contact with a lot of people.”

21:49 Senegal announced that it will reopen mosques and churches, and ease other virus-related restrictions, despite the country’s largest one-day jump in cases on Monday.

Places of worship were ordered to close in March, while a dawn-to-dusk curfew was also imposed. On Monday, the West African country recorded 177 new cases, up from its previous daily high of 104. Senegal has 1,886 confirmed cases, with a reported death toll of 19. 

21:08 Slovenia is set to allow international passenger air traffic from Tuesday, following an eight-week suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, the government has announced.

While passengers will be able to enter through the capital, Ljubljana, international passenger planes will not be able to land at the country’s smaller airports until June 12.

Fraport Slovenia, the company which operates Slovenia’s largest airport in Ljubljana, welcomed the decision but said most air carriers had canceled flights to and from the city until the end of May. 

Slovenia has 1,460 confirmed cases and a death toll of 102. 

20:36 The White House instructed staff to begin wearing masks on the premises after two senior aides tested positive for the deadly pathogen. It said the sole exception would be when a staff member was at their desk.

US President Donald Trump and his vice president, Mike Pence, have been dismissive of applying public health guidelines to themselves, including wearing masks in the presence of others. But the new measures come after Trump’s valet and Pence’s press secretary had both tested positive last week.

The White House advice comes as the number of deaths in the US passes 80,000, making it the epicenter of the devastating pandemic. Since mid-April, the daily toll has averaged about 2,000.

Public health authorities have criticized the uneven response across the US, with some states taking steps to lift lockdown measures before others. However, Trump appeared optimistic on Monday.

“Coronavirus numbers are looking much better, going down almost everywhere,” Trump said. “Big progress being made!”

19:43The German state of Bavaria has indicated that restrictions will be policed more strictly going forward, particularly  regarding public demonstrations. Germany has seen a spate of protests against the restrictions on public life, with some people spouting conspiracy theories to do with COVID-19.

“Police will be more strongly present at public gatherings in the coming weeks,” Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told Bavarian media.

Several thousands people took to the streets at the weekend in the cities of Munich, Augsburg and Nuremberg to protest the restrictions.

Protests are permitted with a limited number of participants, and social distancing measures must be observed.

Swathes of Europe began the long process of reopening from coronavirus lockdowns on Monday, with officials in countries like France and Spain emboldened by declining death rates.

19:19 Twitter has announced it will warn users when a tweet contains disputed or misleading information about coronavirus.

The social media platform will take a case-by-case approach to how it decides which tweets are labeled and will only remove posts that are harmful.

A warning label will appear reading “some or all of the content shared in this tweet conflict with guidance from public health experts regarding COVID-19.”

19:03 Germany’s Robert Koch Institute said the rate of infection in the country remained above the threshold after reaching a record low last week.

The rate of infection, sometimes called “number R,” was at 1.07, marking the third consecutive day that it remained above the threshold 1.0. On Sunday, the figure was at 1.13.

An infection rate over 1.0 means more people are contracting the deadly pathogen than those who already have it. Berlin has warned that an “emergency brake” is in place in the event authorities had to re-impose lockdown measures due to an increase in infections.

“The increase in the reproduction number makes it necessary to observe the development very closely over the coming days,” said the institute, which is tasked with reporting official figures on the pandemic in Germany.

18:44 The French army has begun to dismantle a field hospital set up at the peak of the epidemic. The news comes as France reported an increase in daily deaths compared to Sunday.

The hospital had been set up in the city of Mulhouse to expand the intensive care capacity in eastern France. The facility offered 30 intensive care beds.

Defense Minister Florence Parly says the fact that the facility is no longer needed shows France is at the “end of a stage” of the epidemic. Ten of the beds will be flown to the French overseas territory of Mayotte, an island in the Indian Ocean.

France reported 263 new deaths from coronavirus on Monday, as the lockdown is eased for the first time after two months. This is a sharp increase from Sunday, when only 70 cases were reported. Overall, 26,643 people have died in France.


18:00 The German Cup final is set to take place this year on July 4 in Berlin, the German Football Federation (DFB) announced on Monday.

The final of the competition, known as the DFB Pokal in German, was originally slated to take place on May 23 in the German capital. In keeping with restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the game will take place without spectators in the stands.

The DFB said the semi-finals will take place on June 9 and June 10, with Bayern Munich set to play Eintracht Frankfurt, while fourth-tier Saarbrücken will take on Bayer Leverkusen.

The federation said that the changes still need to be green-lit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government. Germany’s Bundesliga games are set to resume on Saturday, as the first top European league to return to the pitch amid the ongoing pandemic.


17:57 When factories came to a standstill and people had to stay at home in India, the economic impact was noticable. But it has benefited the environment. In India, the Ganges River is becoming noticeably cleaner. And animals are returning to the riverbank.


17:52 Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the country’s nationwide stay-at-home order will end on Tuesday, despite the number of cases continuing to rise.

“As of tomorrow, May 12, the nationwide period of non-working days has been completed. However, the battle against this epidemic has not yet finished,” Putin said in a televised speech on Monday.

The decision to keep or lift any restrictions in place now falls to the leaders of Russia’s regions. Putin ordered nationwide paid vacation for all non-essential workers in March.

With the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rising to 221,000 on Monday, Russia has the fourth-largest nationwide outbreak in the world — coming in just behind the UK.

The capital Moscow and the surrounding region, where the most number of cases have been reported, will keep its lockdown measures in place for the rest of the month. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin warned last week that the actual number of cases is likely three times higher than reported.


17:38 UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been accused of failing to communicate “with clarity and reassurance” by Labour chief and Leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer.

“We can’t go back to a society where we clap our carers once a week but where half of our care workers are paid less than the real living wage,” Starmer said in a statement.

Johnson has appeared in the UK parliament after unveiling the UK’s new plan for how the current lockdown will gradually be lifted. The new easing of restrictions only apply to England: the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have distanced themselves from Johnson’s new message of “Keep alert” and urged people to stay at home.

New government guidelines also encouraged wearing masks in public places and avoid public transport for the first time. After telling some people to start going back to work “this week” on Sunday evening, Johnson has also been accused of not communicating effectively — in fact, people in England will be encouraged to go back to work from Wednesday onward.


17:10 The death toll in Italy rose by 179 to 30,739 on Monday, compared to 165 the day before, officials have said.

16:50 The total number of cases rose by 744, down from 802 on Sunday. This was the lowest number of new cases reported since March 4.

The number of people in intensive care also dropped to its lowest number in over two months: 999 people.

The overall number of cases in Italy now stands at 219,814. Italy has the third-largest death count in the world after the US and the UK.

The Civil Protection Agency also said that 1.702 million people have now been tested for the virus, out of a population of 60 million.


16:50 The country of Georgia eased restrictions on most economic activity, largely excluding large shopping malls and clothes retailers.

For many Georgians, it was a relief after the government temporarily shuttered all non-essential businesses and established a curfew under state of emergency measures.

“We have all been waiting desperately for the return to some kind of normalcy,” bookshop assistant Lamara Sordia told Agence France-Presse.

The Caucasus nation has only reported 638 confirmed cases and 11 deaths. However, it took decisive swift steps early on in the pandemic to curb the outbreak.

The former Soviet nation plans to allow domestic tourism by mid-June and open the country up to foreign tourism by July 1.


16:40 The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said “the slow, steady lifting of lockdowns” is key.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “lifting lockdowns are both complex and difficult,” calling for “extreme vigilance.”

He cited the examples of Germany and South Korea, which have seen small accelerations in the number of new infections since restrictions were eased. Tedros said that these countries have measures in place in the event of a second spike. However, the WHO remains hopeful.

“Now we are seeing some small hope as many countries exit these lockdowns,” Dr Mike Ryan said. “There’s always the possibility that the virus takes off again,” he added.


16:14 Germany has agreed to spend €750 million ($812 million) on a program to develop and distribute vaccines, Research Minister Anja Karliczek has announced.

Around half a billion euros will go towards extending the trial capacities in Germany, and the rest of the money to developing production capacity. The announcement comes following a cabinet meeting led by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

 A primary goal of the new funding program is to allow clinical trials to work with a larger number of participants from the start. Medical personnel or other essential workers could be included in the tests on a voluntary basis, Karliczek said.


15:33 The Ogala Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux nations in the US state of South Dakota are rejecting attempts by Republican Governor Kristi Noem to force the tribes to take down coronavirus health checkpoints on their land. 

On Friday, Noem had threated legal action if the checkpoints on federal and state highways were not removed within two days, a move that would violate both tribal sovereignty as well as existing agreements between the state and Sioux governments.


15:15 Shopping centers in Denmark resumed operations as the Nordic country eases lockdown measures aimed at curbing the novel coronavirus.

In the Danish capital of Copenhagen, stores put up signs telling would-be customers they were not welcome if they had a cough, fever or any difficulties breathing.

Next week, Danish authorities plan to permit restaurants, bars and cafes to reopen along with churches and mosques under a staggered reopening scheme. Early secondary schools will also be allowed to open at that time.

Meanwhile, Norway reopened schools with the first classes dedicated to social distancing and personal hygiene. Teachers warned that students playing pranks on fellow pupils would be sent home, where they would have to resume distance learning. Examples of pranks included deliberately coughing on fellow students.


14:40 pregnant woman and her husband living at a refugee home in western Germany aren’t adequately protected from COVID-19, a court has ruled.

The couple will no longer be required to live in the shared accommodation for asylum seekers, after they raised health concerns about the facility in the western town of Rheine.

In their emergency appeal to the court, the couple said it wasn’t possible to adhere to social distancing rules inside the cramped facility. They also reported having to share sanitary facilities with other residents and that there aren’t enough cleaning supplies in the accommodation.


14:10 Around half of the population of Spain is enjoying the first day of eased restrictions, with many heading to cafes for the first time in two months. The new-found freedom came as Spain reported the lowest daily death toll for seven weeks.

 The daily death toll dropped to 123 on Monday, down from a record 950 in early April.

Cafe patrons in cities like Seville were served by waiting staff in masks and social distancing measures were in place. Up to 10 people can now gather together and people can move more freely, within their own province.

However, for residents of Madrid and Barcelona, which have been particularly badly hit, the lockdown has not been lifted and cafes and restaurants remain closed.

Spain is one of the worst-hit countries in Europe and has 224,350 confirmed cases, with 26,621 people dead.


13:50 This year was to be the big year for Malaysia’s tourism sector. Hotels and airlines were expecting millions of guests.

What came was a virus. And with it, the worst crisis Malaysia’s tourism industry has ever faced.


13:45 Confirmed coronavirus cases in Gulf Arab states surpassed 100,000 as public health authorities struggle to contain the deadly pathogen. The states include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, among others.

Saudi Arabia has reported more than 39,000 positive cases. The kingdom has managed to keep the death rate relatively low at nearly 250, along with Qatar, which has reported more than 23,000 with only 14 deaths. The UAE, however, has recorded more than 18,000 infections and nearly 200 deaths.

Despite early efforts to curb the outbreak, the novel coronavirus has mostly spread among migrant workers, who are often subject to living in close quarters in squalid conditions. Some countries, such as Qatar, have expanded tried to tackle the problem by expanding access to healthcare but experts believe more could be done for the at-risk communities.


13:21 Here is a roundup of the latest Asian coronavirus news:

India reported its biggest daily rise in infections with the novel coronavirus on Monday, with 4,213 new cases confirmed. The country of 1.3 billion now has more than 67,000 cases, with a death toll of 2,206. Despite the increase, the country is planning on relaxing its lockdown measures, imposed 54 days ago. Among other things, it is preparing to resume its train service, which in normal times is used by some 23 million people daily. The lockdown is expected to end on May 17.

The most prominent theme park in China, Shanghai Disneyland, has reopened as the country, the origin of the current pandemic, gradually loosens its coronavirus restrictions. Only limited numbers of visitors — with face masks — are allowed and some attractions that do not permit social distancing are staying closed. On Monday, the country reported 17 new cases, five in the original epicenter of Wuhan. The rise, which comes after a week of single-digit increases, has worried health officials.

South Korea is delaying reopening schools after scores of new infections were found linked with night-club visitors. The school reopening had been scheduled for Wednesday, starting with high school seniors.

Sri Lanka has asked both state and private-sector workers to resume work after nearly eight weeks of lockdown on the island. But restaurants, liquor stores, clothing stores and gyms remain closed. Public transport is reserved only for people going to work. The country has had 856 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 9 deaths.

Bangladesh has reported the highest daily rise in infections to date at 1,034 cases, raising its total to 15,691. The death toll stands at 239.


13:00 Beer lovers in the Czech Republic rejoiced over the return of beer gardens on Monday, as the government moved to relax further COVID-19 restrictions.

Reuters news agency reported that by late morning, customers filled half the tables at the historic U Pinkasu pub in central Prague — with the other half closed due to social distancing measures.

“Considering the beer is finally in a glass rather than a plastic cup from a take-away window, it is absolutely great,” retiree Ivan Verner told Reuters.

The government’s plan to reopen beer gardens and restaurant terraces was one of the most-anticipated measures in the Czech Republic, which currently holds the title of the world’s biggest beer drinkers per capita.

Some hair salons, shopping malls, movie theaters, schools and other businesses were allowed to reopen in the Czech Republic as well as museums and art galleries. The government has also approved weddings and cultural or religious events of fewer than 100 people.

As of Monday afternoon, the Czech Republic reported 8,123 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 280 deaths. The country was one of the first in Europe to enact strict measures to curb the spread of the virus.


12:13 The German government plans to increase its stake in national rail operator Deutsche Bahn, which has suffered huge losses as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Citing a policy paper written by the Finance and Transport Ministries, news agency DPA said the government expected Deutsche Bahn to lose up to €13.5 billion ($14.6 billion) in liquidity through the crisis, which has caused a drastic drop in the number of people using trains and a corresponding cut in rail services.

To plug the gap, the government is ready to compensate 80% of losses by raising its equity capital from the current estimated €6.9 billion-€8.4 billion, according to the paper. Such a move would, however, be subject to approval from EU state aid regulators.

In another measure to help the stricken company, a current debt cap of some €25 billion is to be raised — a sum Deutsche Bahn had almost reached before the pandemic hit.

The railway group itself has pledged to introduce personnel and material reduction measures to the tune of €51. billion, according to the document


11:57 German economy minister Peter Altmaier has said he doesn’t expect the coronavirus to cause significant delays in the construction of a Tesla factory in the German state of Brandenburg. 

“I’m assuming there will not be considerable delays,” he said on Monday in Berlin, adding that the government remained in touch with the US electric car manufacturer. Tesla has not changed its plans to build a factory in Grünheide near Berlin, he said. The factory could create several thousand new jobs in the area.

Tesla plans to build up to 500,000 electric cars a year at its first factory in Germany, with the first finished automobiles coming in 2021. The company is investing several billion euros in the venture.


11:30 Public transport in Paris struggled with severe crowding as a strict, 54-day lockdown came to an end in France. Broadcaster BFMTV showed scenes of packed metro cars and newspaper Le Monde shared photos of large crowds boarding a train at the Gare du Nord station, though crowding at other stations remained modest.

The government has instructed employers that staff should continue working from home as much as possible, despite the lockdown lifting. Passengers are required to wear masks on public transport and riot police were dispatched to monitor incoming commuters. 

Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said the crowded subway Monday morning was due to heavy flooding over the weekend that had temporarily reduced metro services. 

With 26,380 deaths as of Sunday, France was one the European countries most affected by the coronavirus outbreak. During the lockdown, people were only permitted to leave their home for essential reasons and had to carry a signed declaration stating the reason for being out in public. Many restrictions remain in effect.


11:18 Germany’s capital, Berlin, has opened a new emergency field hospital set up in case other hospitals in the city are overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, the hospital, which can accommodate up to 1,000 beds, has no patients. But Berlin’s top health official, Dilek Kalaysi, pointed to Spain, Italy and New York as examples of how even well-equipped medical systems could become overloaded.

Although Germany has managed to lower the rate of infection over the past weeks by means of lockdown measures and thus maintain sufficient capacity in its hospitals, the rate has been edging up again in recent days above the R-value of 1. This means that each infected person could be infecting more than one other person, a trend that, if it continues, could lead to a second wave of the pandemic.


10:58 Senegal’s holy city of Touba, a previous epicenter for the coronavirus outbreak in the country, has been hit by a second wave of infections. Strict lockdown measures meant the city experienced a two-week lull in cases between March 26 and April 11, when a 27th case was confirmed. Since then, 190 cases have been recorded — a sevenfold rise.

The initial wave broke out in March just before the city was due to host an Islamic religious festival attended by thousands. Authorities imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew and launched public awareness campaigns.

Senegal has recorded altogether more than 1,700 cases and 19 deaths, small numbers in comparison with many European countries. But the World Health Organization has warned that Africa could become the next hotbed for the novel coronavirus.


10:23 A German board member of the European Central Bank (ECB) has said the financial institution will continue “undeterred” in its bond-buying scheme, despite a ruling by a German court saying the mechanism went against the country’s constitution.

“We will continue to implement the PSPP (Public Sector Purchase Program) just like other monetary policy measures, in line with our mandate,” executive board member Isabel Schnabel told Italian newspaper La Repubbica. “The message seems to have been understood by the markets,” she added.

Last week, the German Constitutional Court said the ECB stimulus program went partly against Germany’s constitution.

The ruling challenges a previous decision by the European Court of Justice, which had ruled that the multi-billion-euro-bond-buying program was legal under EU law.
The authority of EU law over national law is a key principle of the EU. The German court’s decision to overturn the decision could have far-reaching consequences.


10:13 Germany’s economy fell just 2.1% compared to last quarter despite the ravages of the coronavirus crisis, according to a survey carried out by Reuters news agency among economists from 34 banks. The drop is the largest since the 2009 financial crisis, but still small in comparison with that in other eurozone countries, the survey indicated, with France falling 5.8% and Italy 4.7%.

Italy also experienced a nearly 30% year-on-year drop in industrial production in March amid a coronavirus lockdown, the Rome-based national official statistics agency Istat reported on Monday. There was a 28.4% fall compared with February, a reflection of the devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic in the country, which on Sunday reported more than 30,000 deaths and nearly 220,000 infections.

The German government has said it expects the worst recession in the post-war era, with GDP falling by 6.3%. Deutsche Bank is even more pessimistic with its assessment, predicting a 9% drop.


09:33 As Spain continues to ease restrictions on public life outside of Madrid and Barcelona, the country’s daily coronavirus death toll has fallen once again.

The Health Ministry said 123 people died over the past 24 hours, the lowest level in seven weeks.

The overall death toll from the epidemic rose to 26,744 on Monday from 26,621 on the previous day. The number of confirmed cases rose to 227,436 from 224,390 on Sunday.


09:00 Shopping malls, barber shops, hairdressers and beauty salons have reopened for business across Turkey for the first time in seven weeks. The government has however, laid out strict social distancing requirements.

Shopping malls have to check customers’ temperatures at entry, limit the number of customers to at least one per every 10 square meters (108 square feet) and ensure that everyone is wearing masks. Food courts, cinemas and children’s play areas will remain closed.

Service-providers like hair dressers and barbers are required to work on an appointment basis only, wear face masks and transparent face protectors, and use disposable towels and other material.

On Sunday, senior citizens were allowed to leave their homes for a few hours for the first time in nearly two months.


08:50 Politicians in Pakistan say they are reluctant to attend special parliamentary sessions on the coronavirus pandemic after lawmakers tested positive ahead of the sitting.

“I have decided not to attend today’s session after coronavirus tests of several MPs and secretariat staffers have come out positive,” Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaduhry wrote on Twitter.

It was mandatory for the MPs to test for Covid-19 ahead of the national assembly and senate sessions, set to take place separately, that were requisitioned by the opposition.

“Parliament’s sessions should be postponed to avoid dangerous consequences,” Saleem Mandviwala, deputy chairman of the senate, said in a statement.

The National Assembly Speaker was also among those who tested positive.

More than 30,000 people have been infected in Pakistan so far and 667, including paramedical staff, have died. Around 10,000 cases were reported in the last week.


08:39 Russia has reported a record rise in the number of new coronavirus infections with 11,656 new cases in the last 24 hours, a phenomenon authorities attribute to a massive testing programme.

The country’s coronavirus response centre also reported 94 new deaths, taking the overall death toll to 2,009 people.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said last week that up to 2.5% of the capital’s 12.7 million residents, or about 300,000 could have been infected.

Russia has been in partial economic shutdown since late March with only essential industries allowed to continue operating.


07:31 In the western German city of Bochum, 22 workers in a slaughterhouse have tested positive for coronavirus, media say. This comes after cases of widespread infection among workers at two other slaughterhouses in Coesfeld and Oer-Erkenschwick. All three cities are in the same state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Many of the 205 people infected in Coesfeld were migrants from eastern Europe living in shared accommodation. NRW Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann said on Friday that an estimated 17,000-20,000 employees in all of the state’s 35 slaughterhouses would be tested for COVID-19, included all 1,200 workers at the Coesfeld plant.


07:31 In the western German city of Bochum, 22 workers in a slaughterhouse have tested positive for coronavirus, media say. This comes after cases of widespread infection among workers at two other slaughterhouses in Coesfeld and Oer-Erkenschwick. All three cities are in the same state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Many of the 205 people infected in Coesfeld were migrants from eastern Europe living in shared accommodation.

NRW Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann said on Friday that an estimated 17,000-20,000 employees in all of the state’s 35 slaughterhouses would be tested for COVID-19, included all 1,200 workers at the Coesfeld plant.


07:14 In Spain, half of the country’s 47 million inhabitants are now allowed to leave their homes freely in a first phase of relaxing lockdown measures that have been in place since mid-March.

In the regions subject to the relaxations, small shops and outdoor gastronomic venues will be allowed to open for the first time in nearly two months. Meetings of groups of up to 10 people are also allowed.

The two largest cities of Madrid and Barcelona, however, remain under strict restrictions. Spanish authorities have reported 24,350 cases of infection — the highest count in Europe — and 26,621 deaths.


06:54 In Yemen, authorities have declared the southern port city of Aden to be an “infested” city after a rise in the number of coronavirus cases there to 35. Four people are reported to have died from the illness in the city, which is serving as the temporary capital amid a long-running civil war.

Altogether 51 cases have been reported in areas under the Saudi-backed government’s control, while the rival Houthi movement, which controls the original capital of Sanaa, has reported just two cases, and one death. The Aden-based government has accused the Houthi authorities of covering up an outbreak in Sanaa, but they deny doing so.

The World Health Organization has warned that the virus is being transmitted without hindrance in the impoverished country, whose health system has been shattered amid the five-year war. Millions of people there also remain on the brink of famine.


06:33 The UK government is under pressure to reopen its borders and limit the quarantine period for inbound travelers. The operator of Heathrow Airport has called on ministers to lay out plans on how international travel to Britain will be reinstated, after passenger numbers plunged 97% in April.

Heathrow, which before the pandemic struck was the busiest airport in Europe, said that a UK government plan for a 14-day quarantine for arrivals would mean that very few people would travel.

Budget airline easyJet has also urged the government to keep the quarantine requirement to a minimum and said the restrictions should not last beyond lockdown.

Britain was criticized for not ordering all international arrivals into self-isolation when the virus first took hold and during lockdown.


06:19 Germany is further easing restrictions on public life despite the infection rate (R-value) remaining above 1 for a second day. The figure suggests that each infected person passes the virus on to at least one other. 

In the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, gyms and sports venues are allowed to reopen. Restaurants can operate again under certain conditions. 

In Lower Saxony, restaurants and cafes can again serve food on site. Brandenburg and Baden-Württemberg, among others, are relaxing restrictions on public gatherings. In Bavaria, zoos, museums and libraries can now reopen with strict social distancing in place.


06:00 In April, 39% of German car companies, 58% of restaurants, and 43% of travel agencies axed staff, according to new data from the country’s Ifo Institute for Economic Research.

“From now on, the crisis will have an impact on the German labor market,” said Klaus Wohlrabe, head of surveys at Ifo. Higher than average layoffs were made in all sectors with the exception of pharmaceuticals, the institute said. 

In terms of geography, the German states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg recorded the most redundancies, while Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate fared the best.

Germany has received acclaim for its reduced hours (Kurzarbeit) program, where the government subsidizes wages of firms to need to cut working hours due to a downturn. More than 370,000 companies have applied for the scheme.


05:35 France is cautiously emerging from one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns as shops and hair salons open for the first time in almost two months. French residents will now be allowed to travel up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) but only for professional reasons, funerals or caring for the sick.

The government has urged caution, with some regions including the Paris area remaining “red zones”, and subject to additional restrictions. People across the nation are also still advised to work from home if they are able to do so.

France, whose official death toll is the world’s fifth-highest, had enforced an eight-week lockdown, since March 17, with residents only allowed out for essential shopping, work and a bit of exercise.


05:25 New Zealand is to begin easing most restrictions after winning its battle against the coronavirus. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that from Thursday, restaurants, cafes, cinemas and shopping centers can reopen. Domestic travel will also be allowed. Most schools will restart next week. Public gatherings will be limited to a maximum of ten people.


04:05 The coronavirus spread in Germany may be accelerating again, according to one indicator. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases says the so-called reproduction (R) number has remained above 1 for a second day – at 1.13 for Sunday from 1.10 a day earlier. 

The R-number is the rate at which an infected person spreads the virus to others. The RKI has repeatedly emphasized that for the outbreak to gradually go down, the rate must remain below 1 but Germany has surpassed that rate since Friday.

However, the institute said that because of the fluctuations in statistics, which would be intensified by the overall decrease in numbers, it could not yet be assessed “whether the trend of new infections, which has been falling in recent weeks, has continued or whether the number of cases has increased again.” 

The RKI had also said in April that the dynamics of the coronavirus pandemic should not be assessed with the number of reproductions as the sole focus. It is an “important factor”, but “only one measure among many,” said RKI President Lothar Wieler.

The number of coronavirus infections in Germany spiked by 357 on Monday, taking the total case tally to 169,575. The death toll rose by 22 to 7,417.


03:16 The number of coronavirus infections in Germany rose by 357 on Monday, taking the total case tally to 169,575. The latest figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed a rise in the death toll by 22 to 7,417.


 03:14 Shanghai Disneyland reopened to visitors on Monday, with mask-wearing patrons pouring in for the first time in more than three months. With China beginning to ease its coronavirus restrictions, the theme park will allow a limited number of visitors.

Some attractions in the park will, however, remain closed under the social distancing protocols. Monday’s visitor’s were checked for fevers at the entrance.


02:10 US Vice President Mike Pence plans to return to the White House on Monday after self isolating for the weekend. An administration official said he would voluntarily keeping his distance from other people in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“Vice President Pence will continue to follow the advice of the White House Medical Unit and is not in quarantine,” spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement.

Pence’s aide had tested positive for COVID-19 last week, following which three key officials of the US coronavirus response team are in self isolation.


01:45 China has reported 17 new cases of coronavirus, the highest daily increase since April 28. Five new cases were reported in Wuhan, where the outbreak first began. The cases in the city are the highest since March 11. Seven of the new infections were imported cases. The total number of cases in China now stands at 82,918. With no new deaths, the death toll remains at 4,633.


01:43 A single person has infected 533 other workers at a fish-processing factory in Ghana, President Nana Akufo-Addo said on Sunday. The new cases represent 11.3% of Ghana’s total infections. 

Akufo-Addo said the cases from the factory were among a backlog of about 921 cases that go back as far as April 26 and are only being reported recently. According to official figures, 22 people have died from COVID-19 in the country so far. Ghana has carried out 160,501 coronavirus tests since the outbreak began.


00: 30 Japan is planning a second aid package to cushion the blow to its economy from the coronavirus pandemic, national daily The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported on Monday. The world’s third-largest economy is on the brink of a recession.  

The new package will reportedly include aid to companies that are struggling to pay rent and more subsidies to companies suffering from plunging sales. There are also measures to support students who have lost part-time jobs, the newspaper reported.

The supplementary budget will be passed through the current session of the parliament that runs through June 17, the paper reported, without citing sources. Japan rolled out an economic stimulus package of $ 1.1 trillion (€1 trillion) in April. 


00:03 One of the world’s largest train networks, the Indian railways, will restart operations “gradually” from Tuesday as the country begins to ease its coronavirus lockdown. According to India’s railways ministry, around 30 train journeys will take place from capital New Delhi to several cities including Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. These journeys will comprise 15 pairs of return trips. 

The ministry said it would be mandatory for passengers to wear masks or face covers. They will also undergo screening at departure and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed on the trains.

India has reported a total of  62,939 COVID-19 infections and 2,109 deaths. The country  has seen record spikes recently and experts suggest that India’s coronavirus curve may only peak between June and July.


00:02 The chief of the US National Guard is awaiting a third coronavirus test result on Monday after receving conflicting results over the weekend, US officials told Reuters. General Joseph Lengyel had initially tested positive but received a negative result in a subsequent test.


00:01 United States Vice President Mike Pence has entered self-isolation after an aide tested positive for coronavirus last week. Pence has repeatedly tested negative for the virus, his office said. The latest test was carried out on Sunday. Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, tested positive for the virus. Following the result, three top officials of the White House’s coronavirus task force also placed themselves under quarantine .

“Vice President Pence will continue to follow the advice of the White House Medical Unit and is not in quarantine,” spokesman Devin O’Malley said. “Additionally, Vice President Pence has tested negative every single day and plans to be at the White House tomorrow.”

Pence has led the White House coronavirus task force for more than two months. Other top officials who entered quarantine include Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC; and the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Stephen Hahn.

Press secretary Miller was the second person who works at the White House complex known to test positive for the virus this week.


00:00 Catch up on yesterday’s coronavirus news: World fears second wave of infections.


(DW)


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