This is a live blog from May 20, 2020.
Head here for today's news: https://www.lengoo.de/blog/05-28-2020-live-blog-for-covid-19-updates-in-germany-in-english/
Non-German native speakers have a hard time to stay on top of the news concerning the development of the situation of CoViD-19 specifically in Germany. Because of that, we curate a live blog in English for all people living in Germany. The information published on this site is translated from German and is based on the live blog of Tagesschau.
We are using the combination of custom-trained machine translation models and expert linguists to provide these translations.
17:34 That's it for today. Join us tomorrow for more live updates!
From now on, please head over to Tagesschau to follow the updates (German only).
- Federal government secures travel vouchers
- Longer continued payment of wages for parents
- 176,007 infected in Germany, 8090 dead
- Destatis: Hospitality industry reports drastic slumps
- Spain: Sánchez demands extension of curfews
- NRW opens daycare centres for all children from 8 June
- Thailand reports progress in corona vaccine testing
17:15 1.5 million euros for corona hackathon projects
After the Federal Government’s coronavirus pandemic hackathon, the Federal Ministry of Education intends to support 34 of the launched projects. A total of around 1.5 million euro will be made available, a report says. “The hackathon has impressively shown the wealth of ideas Germany has as a country of innovation,” explained Federal Minister Anja Karliczek. The hackathon at the end of March had 28,000 participants.
Hackathon is a portmanteau of “hacking” and “marathon”. Over a short period of time, usually one or two days, different teams work on specific tasks and develop solutions or build hardware prototypes.
“The large and manifold potential for innovative ideas from the heart of society helps us all through the crisis,” the Minister emphasized. This, for example, applies to the “Print4Life” project, which helps medical facilities searching for innovative production processes such as 3D printers whenever required materials are unavailable as a result of serious supply bottlenecks.
16:55 Lower percentage of positive coronavirus tests
Fewer and fewer people are testing positive in country-wide coronavirus lab tests. This is shown in the latest report of the Robert Koch Institute. In the 20th calendar week, from May 11th to 17th, 425,842 test results from 176 laboratories showed a positive rate of 1.7 percent. This is the lowest value since the beginning of statistics-keeping in mid-March.
However, the number of weekly tests and reporting laboratories fluctuates. In the 18th calendar week, the number of positive tests was 3.9 percent, in the 19th week it was 2.7 percent. The highest value was in the 14th calendar week, at the beginning of April, with 9 percent of lab results positive, from a total of 408,348 tests.
16:45 Green Party: Federal Government must keep an eye on extremists at coronavirus protests
The Green Party has called on the Federal Government to take a closer look at extremists instrumentalizing the coronavirus protests. “The security agencies still know far too little about the players who not only gather on the street week after week, but also spread their conspiracy ideologies and often anti-Semitic theses online,” said the Expert for Internal Affairs of the Green Party Irene Mihalic to news agency AFP.
Ms. Mihalic spoke of a “lack of analytical capacity” of the security agencies in crisis situations. Scientists and actors from civil society are still “much better informed about the dangerous mixture that is currently manifesting online and on the streets”. She therefore demanded that the government not only issues statements expressing concern, but rather sets up “a sustainable strategy in the fight against racism, anti-Semitism, and right extremists”. Federal Minister of the Interior, Mr. Seehofer, expressed his concern about right extremists participating in the protests against the coronavirus measures after the first session of the Corona Committee.
16:37 Brazil recommends controversial malaria medication against corona
Although its efficacy against COVID-19 has not been proven, the Brazilian government now officially recommends the active substances hydroxychloroquin and chloroquin for the treatment of even mild and moderate cases of the lung disease. The guidelines of the Ministry of Health specify that doctors should prescribe malaria medication from the very onset of coronavirus symptoms in future.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is accused of playing down the coronavirus crisis in his country. The lung disease caused by the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, has been described by the far-right head of state as a "minor flu" in the past. Bolsonaro continues to prize the active substances chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as possible miracle cures – but the effect of the two agents against COVID-19 is controversial.
Hydroxychloroquine and the related active substance chloroquine have been used as a remedy against malaria infections for a long time. In mid-February, Chinese researchers reported positive results in clinical trials involving approximately one hundred COVID-19 patients in various hospitals. Chloroquine above all comes with numerous side effects such as nausea, vomiting, a rash, as well as neurological, cardiological, and visual disorders. Hydroxychloroquine is better tolerated and is also used as a remedy against rheumatic diseases, skin tuberculosis, and the autoimmune disease lupus.
16:21 United Kingdom: Many doctors and caregivers among corona victims
In the UK, 181 members of staff of the National Health Service (NHS) have so far died after a coronavirus infection. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has informed Parliament that 131 social workers have died as well.
Many doctors, nurses, and employees in institutions for the elderly have repeatedly complained that they did not have enough protective equipment, such as masks and gowns. Some of them resorted to using large waste bags, for example, as they desperately sought to avoid contracting the virus.
The United Kingdom has the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe. Statistics vary between about 35,000 and more than 50,000 deaths, depending on the method used in the survey. Experts expect the actual number to be higher.
16:14 UNHCR: Do not leave refugees behind during the pandemic
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, says that Europe may not neglect its obligation to rescue refugees, even during the coronavirus crisis. It is possible to protect both public health and refugees, Mr. Grandi said in a video press conference in Rome. “Rescue efforts on sea remain a humanitarian imperative. We must not allow fear and intolerance to threaten any respect for rights,” said Mr. Grandi, Head of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
Currently, 70 million people are fleeing their homes, more than ever before, Mr. Grandi said. The pandemic makes the international situation even more dramatic. Mr. Grandi has demanded that measures to restrict the right to asylum to protect public health be “substantiated and temporary". We may not turn our backs to those who fled their homes for reasons of safety.
16:02 Government underlines one-off nature of planned EU borrowing
The Federal Government contradicts assessments that the borrowing proposed by the EU Commission will mark an entry into an EU debt union. Germany and France have advocated for both a recovery fund and borrowing by the European Commission, but only once and to combat the exceptional coronavirus situation, said Government Spokesman Steffen Seibert. There is a binding repayment plan, a link to the EU budget, and a clearly defined amount. “This is fundamentally different from joint borrowing. It is not a euro bond in disguise,” he said, reacting to criticisms from, among other parties, the FDP and AfD. The proposal has its “own, secure legal basis” in Europe and Germany. The Bundestag must agree to it. Net payers to the EU, such as Austria, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands have criticised the joint borrowing plan.
15:56 Over 50 coronavirus cases in Amazon logistics center
53 coronavirus infections have been registered in a logistics center of online dealer Amazon in Winsen an der Luhe in Lower Saxony. The figures come from an answer given by the State Government to a question from the Green Party in Hanover. The figures relate to the period from March 16th to April 29nd. According to Amazon, no further cases have come up in May. In total, around 1,800 people work at the site.
An Amazon spokesman has responded to inquiries stating that the company is doing everything it can "to protect employees to the greatest possible degree". Over the course of the coronavirus crisis, more than 150 logistics processes have been adjusted. According to the State Government, Amazon has postponed tours in Winsen for externals and halted supply to its canteens. Doors stay open to prevent people from touching the handles. A distance of at least two meters is ensured at the workstations. Different shifts should help reduce traffic at bottlenecks, such as the entrance.
15:51 Car industry can look forward to EU aid
The car industry, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, can look forward to aid funding from the European Union budget. A working paper of the EC contains plans to invest 20 billion euro in a program to encourage consumers to buy clean new cars over the next two years. An additional 40 to 60 billion euro could flow into investments into emission-free drives and additional funds for electric charging stations and petrol stations for alternative fuels. Among other things, the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” has reported on the proposal, among other media outlets.
Next Wednesday, the European Commission intends to present a new proposal for EU finances from 2021 to the end of 2027. It will also include a reconstruction plan for the economy, hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
15:41 Müller calls for a ban on wildlife markets
Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller intends to take more action against trade in wildlife and wildlife markets in view of the coronavirus pandemic. "Together with the WWF, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and the Zoologische Gesellschaft Frankfurt (ZGF), we are launching an ‘International Alliance against Health Risks in Trade in Wildlife and Wildlife Products’. Among other things, we want to close the fifty wildlife markets that pose the greatest threat to health as soon as possible," said Mr. Müller after a visit to the Berlin Zoo.
The visit took place as part of the International Day for Biological Diversity on May 22nd. Currently, about one million of the eight million animal and plant species on the world are threatened with extinction. Biological diversity is showing a rapid and worrying decline, which in turn increases the risk of viruses being transmitted from wildlife to humans, as has happened with COVID-19, said Mr. Müller.
15:12 Millions of children face threat of starvation due to coronavirus pandemic
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), over 10 million children might starve across the globe as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Children under the age of five could turn out to be the major victims of the pandemic and its social and economic consequences, the WFP warned. The number of life-threateningly malnourished children will rise by up to 20 percent.
15:00 Switzerland plans to introduce tracing app in June
The Swiss government intends to introduce a mobile phone app to track those infected with coronavirus by the end of June. The Swiss Parliament still has to agree to the plan. The "SwissCovid" app is designed to inform people after potential exposure to the virus, thus helping to curb its spread. Participation is voluntary, the system does not collect location data and will be discontinued once it is no longer necessary to combat the coronavirus, according to the government. The data will be stored decentrally. In the coming weeks, the system will be tested during a pilot phase.
14:26 Potential frst coronavirus transmission from animal to human
In the Netherlands, a person may have been infected with the novel coronavirus from a in a mink for the first time. According to the investigations, it is plausible that the employee of a mink farm near the southern Dutch city of Eindhoven caught the infection from an animal yesterday evening, said Minister of Agriculture Carola Schouten. However, the risk of further transmissions is low. No viruses have been detected in air and dust samples outside the stables. According to Schouten, the measures for mink farms have now been made stricter. All businesses must perform virus tests. Infected individuals are prohibited from visiting the farms.
At the end of April, the authorities in the Netherlands had closed off the respective farm as well as another nearby breeding establishment after coronavirus had been detected in animals.
14:14 UN: Development level could drop for the first time in 30 years
According to the United Nations, the level of human development could fall this year due to the coronavirus crisis for the first time since the introduction of the UN Development Index 30 years ago. The UN development agency UNDP is primarily blaming this on a deep economic recession and the closure of educational institutions.
According to UNDP estimates, 60 percent of elementary school children worldwide are currently not receiving any education - a number we haven't seen since the 1980's. The situation is considerably worse in developing countries than in developed countries.
13:51 Thailand reports progress on coronavirus vaccine tests
Thai scientists have achieved promising results in tests on mice for a potential coronavirus vaccine," said Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin, a spokesperson for management of the CoViD-19 situation. The potential vaccine will be tested on monkeys from next week. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha has ordered to accelerate development work.
The potential vaccine is being tested by the Chualongkorn University in Bangkok along with two partners from the public sector. It uses mRNA technology that utilizes parts of the virus's genetic material to trigger the production of antibodies in the human body. Dozens of vaccine development projects are in progress worldwide. Some potential vaccines are already being tested on humans.
13:47 Pisa study director warns of the consequences of closed schools
The head of the Pisa study, OECD Education Director Andreas Schleicher, warned of the long-term consequences of a restricted operation of kindergartens and schools. This is "a question of the proportionality of the measures we use to combat the virus," he told to the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland. "We must not underestimate the long-term consequences of kindergarten and school closures."
Schleicher explained: "If one third of a school year is lost, this will lead to an average decrease in lifelong income of three percent." He added: "In particular, however, this affects students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds who often find it very difficult to catch up again." Therefore, returning to regular operation of kindergartens and schools remains an important goal. In cases where school closures continue to be necessary this should be as locally restricted as possible.
13:44 NRW opens kindergartens for all children
On June 8, day care centers will reopen for all children in North Rhine-Westphalia. However, the regular operation will still be restricted," the NRW Family Ministry explained. Kindergartens would therefore need to reduce their care times and spatially separate the groups from one another. There can only be fixed groups with at least one qualified member of staff and contact must remain transparent.
Due to the spread of coronavirus, the most populous federal state had closed all day care centers. Initially, only children of so-called key workers - i.e. hospital workers - as well as children of single parents received care. Currently, pre-school children from needy families are also allowed to attend. On May 28, the remaining children from the last kindergarten year will follow. Restricted operations will continue until August 31.
13:42 Rwanda turns to robots
In the fight against coronavirus, Rwanda is turning to robots. According to the Rwandan government, they are already in use in the capital of Kigali to help examine people. In addition, they will also help doctors and nurses in treatment centers discover abnormalities, collect data, and also bring food to hospital beds. "These robots will reduce the care staff's risk of CoViD-19 infection and also enable the transition from paper medical records to digital files," said the head of the Rwandan CoViD-19 crisis center and director general of the national biomedical center, Sabin Nsanzimana. He claims that investments in the health sector are money well spent.
The three-part, white robots are about 1.4 meters tall, have two gripper arms, a video camera, and an operating monitor. They were built by a Belgian company specialized in medical technology. Rwanda is one of the African countries that is working hard to quickly implement digitalization measures.
13:32 Health authorities demand more staff in the long term
The Federal Association of Physicians of German Public Health Departments is demanding more staff for the health authorities on a permanent basis in the coronavirus crisis. Already now, many employees who had jumped in at short notice have returned to their jobs in other departments," the association's president Ute Teichert told the newspaper "Welt". "This means that in half a year at the latest, all the auxiliary staff will be gone." The workers of the Robert Koch Institute, who were responsible for contact tracing, were also only hired for six months. "We don't only need voluntary helpers as temporary support, but also permanent new and qualified personnel," said Teichert. So far, no one has thought of posting new vacancies. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the health authorities in numerous states had added to its staff. This included officials from other areas - for example - teachers. In addition medical students and other volunteers are supporting the authorities.
13:23 Spain: Sánchez requests emergency extension
In Spain, the left-wing government has requested a further two-week extension, until June 7, from the parliament of the increasingly controversial state of emergency. In his justification speech on Wednesday, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez rejected the criticism of the conservative opposition and some regional parties: "Nobody has the right to carelessly undo what we have achieved." Lifting the state of emergency would be "grossly irresponsible," he emphasized. In the vote scheduled for the evening in the Congreso de los Diputados, observers are expecting the motion to be approved by a small minority.
Among other things, the opposition has accused Sánchez of abusing the state of emergency in order to evade checks by the opposition. In addition, they claim the country's economy is being destroyed. Only within the framework of the state of emergency, which has already been in place for two months, is the central government permitted to impose severe restrictions on the rights of citizens in the whole country. For example, a strict curfew is in place which has only been gradually relaxed recently. With around 26,000 deaths and more than 230,000 cases of infection, Spain is the country most hard-hit by coronavirus in the EU. However, the numbers have been improving for weeks.
12:30 Federal Environment Agency: State aid only if climate check passes
The Federal Environment Agency is calling for a climate check of the economic stimulus packages in the coronavirus crisis. The President of the Agency, Dirk Messner, warned against losing sight of environmental and climate protection in the economic relaunch. Crises often lead to a dynamic where aid is decided on a case-by-case basis. However, if there are no criteria for environmental and climate protection, "you miss the path". A common direction must be taken, he said, and for this purpose a sustainability and climate check is needed for current investments.
A 15-point plan of the Federal Environment Agency suggests that in future, the tax and duty burden should be less on the factor labor and more on environmentally harmful practices. Environmentally harmful subsidies - for example the tax exemption for kerosene - should be gradually reduced. Renewable energies from wind and sun, for example, should be significantly expanded, and the purchase of electric vehicles should be better supported. Local public transport as well as cycle and pedestrian paths should be expanded.
Messner is confident that a change towards a more climate-friendly energy and mobility sector can be achieved. He said that climate protection had moved to the center of the discussion on modernization programs for the economy. He sees an overall positive trend and is therefore optimistic. At the international Petersberg Climate Dialogue at the end of April, Chancellor Angela Merkel gave assurances that she would continue to press ahead with climate protection despite the pandemic and that she would keep a firm eye on climate protection in economic stimulus packages.
12:08 Key points for openings in the cultural sector presented
The Conference of Ministers of Culture and the Minister of State for Culture and the Media, Monika Grütters, have agreed on key points for opening up cultural institutions and activities. The paper was submitted to the heads of state and Chancellor Angela Merkel for consultation. What is needed now is a perspective for a responsible re-opening of cultural institutions in various sectors, the Minister of State for Culture explained: "We want creative people to be able to practice their profession again soon and we - the public - to be able to enjoy their art."
Depending on local developments in infection rates, ticketing systems, visitor flow management, and compulsory seat reservations would be recommended, for example. Artistic programmes would also need to be adapted. Small-format performances, open-air performances, formats with smaller ensembles and multiple performances of shorter programs would be conceivable.
12:03 New Zealand is considering a four-day work week
The idea of a four-day working week is being discussed in New Zealand during the coronavirus crisis to help boost the battered economy. Head of government Jacinda Ardern also welcomes the idea and encouraged employers in the country to consider introducing a four-day week and other flexible working models.
"I hear many people suggesting that we should have a four-day working week," Ardern said in an informal live video on Facebook. A New Zealand law firm with more than 200 employees caused a worldwide sensation when it introduced the four-day week in 2018.
11:50 Federal government to guarantee travel vouchers
The German government wants to help the travel companies that have been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic and to this end has decided on a voluntary voucher solution for package tours. Vouchers as compensation for package tours cancelled due to the corona crisis, which were booked before 8 March, will in future be covered by the state up to one hundred percent of their value, according to the Federal Ministry of Justice. In the event of insolvency of the travel company, customers will not be left empty-handed.
The vouchers are voluntary, and package tourists can refuse them, the Ministry emphasized. The EU Commission had rejected an obligatory voucher solution. With the additional state insolvency insurance, the government is creating "a real incentive" to opt for vouchers instead of repayment of the deposit if the trip has to be cancelled due to the corona pandemic. Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht appealed to consumers: "Whoever decides in favour of a voucher is also making an important contribution to maintaining the diversity of offers and services in the travel sector".
11:26 Cabinet approves protection law for medical companies
The Federal Cabinet has adopted amendments to the Foreign Trade and Payments Regulation in view of the coronavirus crisis. As announced by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, a notification requirement will apply in future if companies from countries outside the European Union wish to acquire shares of more than 10 percent in German companies that develop or produce vaccines, drugs, or personal coronavirus protection equipment.
"With the current amendment to the Foreign Trade and Payments Regulation, we are ensuring that the Federal Government learns of critical company acquisitions in the health sector and can examine them," said Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier. "The current coronavirus crisis has shown how important medical know-how and domestic production capacities in Germany and Europe can be in crisis situations." The ministry will present further proposals to amend the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance this summer. These will supplement the amendment to the Foreign Trade Act, which is currently in the parliamentary process.
11:05 Germans continue to buy disinfectant and soap
Demand for disinfectants and soap in Germany remains high during the coronavirus crisis. According to the Federal Statistical Office, sales of disinfectants in the previous week were not at the level of March, but were still about two and a half times as high as usual. The demand for soap was one third higher than normal.
However, the time of hoarding is over: According to the evaluation, the typical hoarding products toilet paper ( down 28 percent), pasta (down 30 percent), and strained tomatoes (down 16 percent) were much less in demand than the average for the months of August 2019 up to and including January 2020. The statisticians assume that the demand for these products is saturated for the time being.
11:01 Russia confirms 300,000 infections
Russia has now registered more than 300,000 cases of the coronavirus infection. This was confirmed by the local authorities the day after the Johns Hopkins University published corresponding figures yesterday. The largest country in the world is still far behind the USA, which has more than 1.5 million cases.
Russia's capital, Moscow, remains the most severely affected accounting for more than half of all infections in the country. According to Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, 18,000 seriously ill people are currently being treated in clinics, but there has not been a "humanitarian catastrophe". Critics and international observers believe that the number of infections and almost 3000 Covid-19 deaths are too low, which the Russian authorities vehemently deny.
Since last week, the implementation of coronavirus protection measures in Russia is a matter for the regional governors. Parts of the country have already been reopened, while a curfew continues to apply in Moscow. People over 65 and the chronically ill must continue to stay at home.
10:02 Presidential elections take place with face masks in Burundi
Presidential elections have begun in Burundi in East Africa in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Voters began arriving at the polling stations at 6:00 a.m. local time, wearing face masks and keeping their distance. The election is regarded as one of the most important transfers of power in Burundi since its independence in 1962. The current president, Pierre Nkurunziza, is stepping down after 15 years.
The country's government has been criticised for not taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously enough. There have been 42 official infections reported in Burundi. Election observers from the region are not present, as arriving foreigners would have to spend 14 days in quarantine. Citizens and journalists reported in the morning that there was no internet connection. Before the election, government representatives had been accused of harassing the largest opposition party CNL. Their top candidate, Agathon Rwasa, is predicted to have a close race with Nkurunziza's designated successor in the governing party CNDD-FDD, Evariste Ndayishimiye.
09:22 Sweden's economy weakens despite opening up
The Swedish economy is experiencing a steep decline - even though economic activity has not slowed down at all despite the coronavirus pandemic. Economic experts are shocked. The reason is obvious, reports correspondent Carsten Schmiester from the ARD studio in Stockholm.
09:15 Rolls-Royce cuts 9000 jobs
The British engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce plans to cut at least 9000 jobs due to the decline in air traffic during the coronavirus pandemic. "We did not cause this crisis. But we have to face the crisis," said CEO Warren East. In such unprecedented times, tough decisions have to be made.
The Group has some 52,000 employees worldwide. It mainly builds engines for wide-body aircraft used on long-haul routes between continents. Many airlines and the major aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus expect the long-haul business to be the last to recover from the crisis. They, too, have cut their production plans in the wake of the pandemic - especially in the case of wide-body jets, whose engines often come from Rolls-Royce.
08:59 Compulsory mask for all Spanish citizens over six years old
Spain has imposed a mandatory mask requirement: all people over the age of six must wear face masks in enclosed public places. Masks are compulsory outside if the safety distance of two metres cannot be maintained, announced the Ministry of Health. The measures are necessary to stem the spread of the coronavirus. With more than 232,000 registered cases of infection, Spain is the EU country most affected by the coronavirus crisis.
08:00 Here's what happened last night
- CoViD-19 numbers for Germany: Robert Koch Institute reports 797 new cases of CoViD-19 (176,007 total) and 83 new deaths (8,090 total) due to the virus
- Hundreds of people from Germany are stuck abroad
- Klöckner threatens meat industry with higher penalty charges
- Report: 11 percent of corona infections in health professions
- The president of German Medical Association warns against opening European borders for vacationists
- Trump threatens WHO to stop payments and to exit