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Coronavirus latest: Angela Merkel says Germany has ‘passed’ the test so far

  • May 30, 2020
  • Angela Merkel says she is happy with Germany’s progress but warned citizens to act responsibly if further restrictions are to be eased
  • Brazil reported 1,124 new coronavirus deaths on Friday
  • India recorded yet another one-day record high in cases
  • The US president says Washington’s payments to the World Health Organization will be redirected to other urgent public health needs
  • Global cases are approaching 6 million with over 365,000 dead

All times in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC/GMT)

12:24 Italy will not accept being treated like a “leper colony,” Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio declared, while also assuring a warm welcome for foreign visitors this summer. Di Maio warned other European Union member states not to close off their borders to Italians.

A number of EU countries are tentatively relaxing their borders as the contagion subsides, with Italy permitting tourists to visit from June 15. However, some EU states are seeking to keep the door shut on visitors from countries that have had a high number of infections. Greece announced on Friday it would accept visitors from 29 countries, but that list didn’t include Italian, Spanish or British citizens. 

“We do not accept blacklists,” Di Maio wrote on Facebook, adding bilateral meetings are on the agenda, both in Rome and abroad, to press Italy’s case. “If anyone thinks they can treat us like a leper colony, then they should know that we will not stand for it.”

Read more: Which European countries are open for summer tourism?

11:50 Germany has lamented US President Donald Trump’s decision to cut ties with the World Health Organization (WHO), describing it as a “disappointing” setback for global health. The WHO “needs reform” if it is to “make any difference,” Health Minister Jens Spahn posted on Twitter.

“And the EU must take a leading role and engage more financially,” he said, adding this would be one of Germany’s “priorities” when it assumes the presidency of the European Council for the next six months on July 1.

Trump said Friday he was severing US ties with the WHO, which he accused of negligence in its dealing with the novel coronavirus, as well as showing undue bias toward China.

11:30 Government staff members have returned to work in Iran as President Hassan Rouhani said mosques are to resume daily prayers across the country, despite some parts of the Islamic Republic still witnessing a rise in infections. Rouhani also said on state television that shopping malls will be allowed to stay open beyond the current mandatory closing time of 6 p.m.

“Doors to mosques across the country will open to the public for daily prayers,” Rouhani said, adding that physical distancing and other health regulations must be followed. Authorities are implementing stricter lockdown measures to ensure that health regulations are observed, including enforcing the use of face masks on public transport, Iranian media reported.

11:06 In the Palestinian territories, high school students are heading back for the first time since March — just in time for their final exams. The Education Ministry announced that 78,400 12th-graders are due to take their exams in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In Gaza, students’ temperatures were taken as they entered the building, and they sat spaced apart in classrooms. The Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the Israel-occupied West Bank, has recorded almost 400 cases of the coronavirus, including two fatalities.

10:46 Almost half of the German population opposes the Bundesliga resumption, according to a new survey. Of 2,506 Germans who were questioned between May 26 and 28 by the YouGov institute, 47% said the restart was not the right thing to do.

With the blessing of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, the top two divisions in Germany returned to action on May 16 following a two month enforced break due to the pandemic. The third division will begin in earnest once more later today and the women’s Bundesliga resumed last night with runaway leaders Wolfsburg thrashing Cologne 4-0.

All matches are played without fans in attendance and under strict hygiene and safety regulations.

Meanwhile, league leaders Bayern Munich have said their players have accepted salary cuts until the end of the season.

Initially the players had agreed to earn 20% less in April but now that has been extended. “It is very gratifying that our team has complete understanding of the situation and will continue to forego salary until the end of the season,” club president Herbert Hainer told German newspaper Bild. The amount the players will give up is not known.

10:09 Chancellor Angela Merkel believes Germany has “passed” the coronavirus test so far, but warned against complacency as the country continues to ease restrictions. “We have passed this test quite well so far,” Merkel said in her weekly video message. “An overwhelming majority of the people in our country have been guided by caution, reason and responsibility for others.”

Merkel cautioned, though: “Some people now believe that because the great mass suffering did not occur, the danger wasn’t that big to begin with. That’s a fallacy!”

The chancellor said she hoped to further ease restrictions in due course, but that she was relying on the public to continue to behave responsibly. Although Germany has experienced a high number of infections, its death rate has remained comparatively low.

09:48 In Egypt the mandatory use of face masks has been introduced when in public, taking private transportation, and inside government buildings, as the government relaxes the partial lockdown imposed during the weeklong Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly said people who don’t follow the rules will face financial penalties. Despite some of the easing of restrictions, a nationwide curfew will still be implemented, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. and will remain in place for a further two weeks.

Read more: Eid al-Fitr: Muslims celebrate end of Ramadan under lockdown

Egypt has seen a surge in cases over the past week. The country of about 100 million people has the highest number of reported deaths, 879, from the novel coronavirus in the Arab World.

09:24 A number of scientific experts have warned the UK government that it is too soon to ease restrictions because the test and trace system is not ready and the novel virus is still spreading at a rapid rate.

Professor Peter Horby, chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said: “We really can’t go back to a situation where we’ve got the numbers of cases and deaths we’ve had in the past,” he told BBC Radio, adding that a test, trace and isolate system needed to be operational as without it a “risk” is posed.

Previously, two scientific advisers to the UK government had warned that the novel coronavirus is still spreading too quickly, with one describing the choice to lifting restrictions as a political decision.

As of Monday, some of England’s lockdown measures will be relaxed, with groups of up to six people allowed to meet outside and primary schools partially reopening.

Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust and a member of Britain’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said he echoed the sentiments of his colleague John Edmunds that “COVID-19 is spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England. TTI (test, trace, isolate) has to be in place, fully working, capable dealing any surge immediately, locally responsive, rapid results infection rates have to be lower. And trusted.”

09:05 Russia has registered an additional 181 deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, down from the record 232 deaths reported the previous day, bringing the country’s overall death toll to 4,555. Officials said 8,952 new cases had been reported nationwide over the same period. Russia’s total number of infections now stands just shy of 400,000.

07:25 German pianist Igor Levit is due to begin a 20-hour marathon concert later today where he will play a single piece of music to raise awareness of artists’ difficulties during the pandemic. 

Levit will play “Vexations,” by Erik Satie, one of the longest pieces in the history of music, consisting of a few notes played 840 times, and fits on just one sheet. “These times are brutal for artists — physically, mentally and emotionally. That’s why this piece works so well, I think, to raise awareness of what we are going through,” Levit told German news agency dpa.

The pianist will begin playing at 2 p.m. (1200 GMT) on Saturday and he expects to finish on at noon the following day. It will be streamed live from a studio in Berlin through numerous social media channels, including the 33-year-old’s Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Read more: Coronavirus: German pianist’s 20-hour concert to raise awareness of artists’ plight

06:54 Taiwan has approved the medication remdesivir to treat COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center said the island’s Food and Drug Administration took into account “the fact that the efficacy and safety of remdesivir has been supported by preliminary evidence” and that its use is being approved by other countries. 

The conditions had been met for approval for the drug for use in patients with “severe” COVID-19 infections, the center said. Governments around the world are working to boost their supplies of the medication, which US regulators approved this month for emergency use.  Taiwan has recorded just 442 cases of coronavirus and seven deaths.

Read more: How has Taiwan kept its coronavirus infection rate so low?

06:37 India has reported yet another one-day record high in terms of cases, with almost 8,000 people contracting the infection over a 24-hour period. The Health Ministry also confirmed 265 deaths had occurred during the same timeframe, on the eve of the government issuing fresh guidelines for the country after two months of restrictions.

The country, home to some 1.3 billion people, has now confirmed a total of 173,763 cases, of which 4,971 people have died from the novel virus.

In a letter marking the first year of his government’s second term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India will set “an example in economic revival” and called on the nation to demonstrate a “firm resolve.” Modi also recognized the “tremendous suffering” of millions of migrant workers who had lost their livelihoods during the lockdown and have been forced to make arduous, life-risking journeys back to their hometowns.

The federal government is expected to announce a new set of guidelines this weekend, possibly extending the lockdown in the country’s worst-hit areas, such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan states, where 70% of India’s cases have been concentrated.

Read more: Coronavirus: Indian states abandon labor protection to revive economy

04:26 Germany confirmed 738 new coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the total to 181,196, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). That figure marks a slight increase from the day prior, when Germany recorded 560 new infections. The reported death toll also rose by 39, bringing the total to 8,489.

03:52 Here is the latest from around Asia:

Singapore is opening up a “fast lane” for business and essential travel to China next week, allowing limited flights to resume between two of East Asia’s countries hit hardest by the pandemic. In the initial phase, travel will be allowed between Singapore and six Chinese cities and regions, including Shanghai and Guangdong. 

Singapore has reported 33,860 confirmed cases, most of which are foreign workers living in crowded dormitories. With cases outside of these residences staying under control, Singapore is set to end a two-month lockdown on Monday. Chinahas reported four new cases of the virus — all imported. The country, where the virus was first detected late last year, has brought the situation under relative control since its initial outbreak, with 84,123 confirmed cases and 4,638 deaths.

South Korea has reported 39 new cases of the virus, bringing the total number of infections to 11,441. Most of the new cases have been linked to infections among warehouse workers in the capital city of Seoul, while at least 12 were brought in from abroad. 

Over a hundred infections have been linked to a warehouse operated by e-commerce giant Coupang, which has been criticized over its failure to enforce social distancing and preventive measures. 

There have also been multiple cases linked to entertainment venues that saw a spike in visitors after Korea eased its social distancing guidelines early this month. Nightclubs and public spaces have been shuttered since the resurgence of the virus.

This comes as millions of children return to school for the spring semester after numerous delays.

03:42 Around 400 German managers, workers and family members have begun to return to China aboard charter flights. Multinational companies are seeking to get their operations running again at full speed as coronavirus cases in mainland China continue to be rare occurrences.

Two flights from Frankfurt to Tianjin and Shanghai were arranged by the German Chamber of Commerce in China. The world’s second-largest economy had largely banned visitors during the pandemic. The first flight was set to arrive by noon Saturday.

More than 5,200 German companies operate in China, employing over 1 million people.

01:06 The United States recorded 1,225 new coronavirus fatalities on Friday, bringing its total death count to 102,798. The US has by far the most coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, with experts concerned about the effects that continuing to reopen the economy will have. The total confirmed number of cases is approaching 1.75 million.

Meanwhile, US health officials said they are seeking to “inform mass numbers of unknown people” after a person who attended crowded pool parties over Memorial Day weekend in Missouri tested positive for COVID-19.

Neighboring Mexico saw 371 new deaths and 3,227 new cases on Friday, health authorities announced. More than 9,000 people have died and over 81,000 have been infected. Latin America has been identified as a new epicenter of the pandemic.

01:00 After extended talks, Brussels and Berlin have reached an agreement over a €9 billion rescue package for German airline Lufthansa. The deal would see the carrier cede take-off and landing slots at two airports.

Lufthansa has been losing around €1 million an hour since the coronavirus pandemic began, with travel restrictions still in place. Around 90% of its aircraft remain grounded.

Read more here: Lufthansa bailout: EU, Germany agree ‘compromise’ rescue deal

  • Lufthansa planes

    Coronavirus: Where the state wants control over airlines

    Aid yes, interference no!

    Germany is throwing Lufthansa a €9 billion ($9.6 billion) lifeline. The government bailout will give the state a 20% stake in the airline, which could rise to 25% plus one share in the event of a hostile takeover bid as Berlin says it seeks to protect thousands of jobs. Economy Minister Peter Altmaier insists there will be no meddling with corporate decisions.

  • Czech Airlines plane

    Coronavirus: Where the state wants control over airlines

    Smartwings seeks smart deal

    The Czech Republic is seeking more control over flight group Smartwings, the parent company of Czech Airlines. Industry Minister Karel Havlicek said the government could even take over the group completely, but executives replied that no one had expressed any such desire for that to happen as they preferred a state-guaranteed credit line to see the company through the coronavirus crisis.

  • TAP plane

    Coronavirus: Where the state wants control over airlines

    TAP-ping into more state funds?

    Portugal’s flag carrier TAP has asked for a state-backed loan to secure the survival of the company. Employees want more state control through direct financing, with Prime Minister Antonio Costa raising the possibility of nationalizing the carrier. TAP is already 50% owned by the state with a 45% stake held by Brazilian-US entrepreneur David Neeleman. TAP employees hold the remaining 5% in shares.

  • Norwegian Air Shuttle | Boeing 737-800

    Coronavirus: Where the state wants control over airlines

    Survival without aid? No(r)way!

    Indirect state aid has come to the rescue of Norwegian, Norway’s budget carrier that has completed a painful restructuring process and secured a credit guarantee from the government. Major lessor AerCap now holds a 15.9% stake after converting lease obligations into shares. BOC Aviation holds a vital 12.67% stake in Norwegian — and BOC is ultimately controlled by the state-owned Bank of China.

  • Singapore Airlines plane in mid-air

    Coronavirus: Where the state wants control over airlines

    Singapore Airlines now Singa-poor?

    Earlier this month, Singapore Airlines announced its first-ever annual loss in its 48-year history after grounding most of its fleet due to the pandemic-caused lockdowns. The carrier is already majority-owned by the government investment and holding company Temasek, which holds well over 50% of voting stock. The government has always stressed its non-involvement in the management of the airline.

  • Emirates Airbus A380 interior

    Coronavirus: Where the state wants control over airlines

    The worst in the pack?

    Of the government-owned airlines, the Gulf carriers Emirates, Etihad and Qatar have often raised eyebrows among rivals in many parts of the world. The latter have said the airlines in question aren’t really playing fair, saying their business model is to crowd out competing airlines at any (state) cost. Before the pandemic, the three carriers had grown disproportionately for years.

  • Aeroflot cabin crew

    Coronavirus: Where the state wants control over airlines

    State control a common ingredient

    Aeroflot Group, which includes Russian flag carrier Aeroflot, Rossiya and Pobeda, is another case in point. It is 51.2% state-owned. But you don’t really have to look far to find more airlines in this category. Right now, there are roughly 150 state-owned carriers around the globe, according to Wikipedia. It’s not the rule, though, as there’s an impressive total of about 5,000 airlines globally.

    Author: Hardy Graupner

00:08 Colombia’s presidential palace has recorded 13 coronavirus cases, with five officials and eight Narino House security personnel testing positive. President Ivan Duque tested negative for the virus.

Duque extended Colombia’s two-month quarantine until the end of June on Thursday. The country’s economy has suffered a massive blow as the number of cases crosses 25,000. Colombia has reported 855 deaths.

00:03 Brazil has recorded a total of 27,878 coronavirus deaths, surpassing Spain with the fifth-most fatalities in the world. The country reported 1,124 deaths on Friday. Brazil’s death toll stands behind only the US, the UK, Italy and France.

The country also has the second-highest numer of COVID-19 cases after the US, with 465,166 confirmed infections of the virus.

00:00 You can catch up with our rolling updates from May 29 here.

lc,jsi,see/sri (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

In reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, unless otherwise specified, DW uses figures provided by the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Coronavirus Resource Center in the United States. JHU updates figures in real-time, collating data from world health organizations, state and national governments and other public official sources, all of whom have their own systems for compiling information.

Germany’s national statistics are compiled by its public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). These figures depend on data transmission from state and local levels and are updated around once a day, which can lead to deviation from JHU.

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