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Coronavirus latest: EU’s elderly could be isolated until 2021

  • April 12, 2020

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

03:01 North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for stricter measures in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, in a meeting with the Worker’s Party. The country claims to have no cases of the virus, but experts are sceptical of this. The meeting addressed the rapid spread of the virus across nations. According to state news agency KCNA, a resolution was made to take “more thorough state measures for protecting life and safety of people from the great worldwide epidemic disease.”

02:37 Mainland China reported 63 new asymptomatic cases on Saturday, as opposed to 34 new cases from the previous day. The total number of cases reached 82,052. The Hubei province, which was once a hotbed for the infection, reported no new cases. Considerable doubts over China’s reported figures.

Read more: Doubts over China’s claim of beating coronavirus

01:22 The coronavirus will be the focus of Germany’s six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union, wrote Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in a guest article for German national newspaper Die Welt.

“We will make it a ‘Corona-Presidency’ in order to overcome corona and its effects”, said Maas.

A different EU member state holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union every six months. Germany will hold the presidency from July 1.

“There are lessons to be learned from the crisis, for example how we improve support for EU disaster control and joint procurement, as well as the production of essential medical supplies,” wrote Maas.

Germany’s foreign minister also described how the EU would begin organizing itself after the crisis: “One of our first tasks will be to remove the restrictions on free travel and the internal market in a gradual and coordinated manner.” 

He also called for the EU budget over the next seven years to become a “revival program for Europe.” He said the EU should invest now to develop “research, climate protection, technological sovereignty and crisis-proof health and social systems.”

Read more: Germany could make big EU impact in 2020

00:31 Germany should follow a staggered approach when lifting restrictions, stated a report commissioned by Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia minister president, Armin Laschet.  State premiers and Chancellor Angela Merkel will virtually meet on April 19 to decide whether some of the restrictions can be lifted or changed.

In the foreseeable future “individual areas of public life should be gradually re-opened,” said the report, published in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine. The report lists schools, universities and the retail sector as separate groups.

At schools, there would be differences in class times, and further differences according to age. In day-care centres and where “face-to-face teaching” is carried out, teachers who do not belong to risk groups would work first and foremost. The report also sets out how the economy would start up: shops would open first, nightclubs later. Football matches, trade fairs and conventions would remain banned for longer.

Restaurants would be allowed, but tables would have to be set up far apart and only a few guests would be allowed. Relaxing restrictions should only be considered when the health system is “visibly not overwhelmed” and when conditions for a better monitoring of the crisis have been established, stated the report.

However, the experts who compiled the report warned against premature optimism. “There will be setbacks,” they wrote, warning of “smaller and perhaps larger waves of infection” where coronavirus restrictions would have to be re-implemented. 

00:19 Head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said that the bloc’s elderly may have to be kept isolated until the end of the year to protect them from coronavirus. 

“I know it’s difficult and that isolation is a burden, but it is a question of life or death, we have to remain disciplined and patient. Children and young people will enjoy more freedom of movement earlier than elderly people and those with pre-existing medical conditions,” she said.

She also added that she hoped a European laboratory would be able to come up with a vaccine soon. “Without a vaccine, we have to limit as much as possible contact with the elderly,” she told German newspaper Bild.

Read more:Germany’s president calls for patience, solidarity in face of pandemic 

00:15 A recap of yesterday’s events:

The US became the country with the most coronavirus deaths in the world, according to the tally of the US-based Johns Hopkins Institute.

Germany pledged financial support for more healthcare professionals. Health Minister Jens Spahn announced that therapists, dentists and rehabilitation specialists will be able to apply for financial aid. 

Spain registered its lowest daily death toll in 19 days, reporting 510 new deaths. The country is one of the hardest-hit by the virus in Europe.

The UK’s Queen Elizabeth said that coronavirus “would not overcome us” and that “Easter isn’t canceled” during her first televised address to mark the holiday. The UK’s leader Boris Johnson is reported to be walking and “continuing to make good progress,” Downing Street has announced. He spent days last week in intensive care, suffering from coronavirus.

“Low risk” economic activities resumed across most of Iran as the Islamic Republic sought to reboot its stricken economy.

Police in Austria began fining face mask violators from Saturday. People found in public spaces without either a mask or scarf to cover their mouth and nose will be fined €25 ($27.34). Those found violating other quarantine rules such as visiting areas deemed out of bounds will be fined €50. 

South Korea said it will attach electronic wristbands to those who violate self-quarantine orders as it looks to strengthen monitoring of contacts of coronavirus cases. Those found breaking quarantine orders can be fined as much as $8,200 (€7,499) and face up to a year in prison.
00:05 Welcome to DW’s coverage of the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic. Catch up on all of Saturday’s developments here: US death toll crosses 20,000

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.

tg,kmm/aw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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