– The US has over 1 million coronavirus cases and its more than 58,000 fatalities exceed the death toll from the Vietnam War
- German companies are concerned about a potential wave of insolvencies
– China has scheduled the National People’s Congress for May 22
Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)
08:26 Turkey has extended the closure of schools until the end of May, Education Minister Ziya Selcuk said.
Ankara announced the initial closure on March 12 after it reported its first case of COVID-19. Almost 115,000 cases later, and with a death toll of nearly 3,000, Selcuk told a news conference not to expect schools to reopen again until June at the earliest.
08:15 Coronavirus cases in Russia are approaching the 100,000 plateau as President Vladimir Putin has fielded criticism for the handling of the crisis.
Russia reported 5,841 new cases over the past 24 hours, bringing its total case number to 99,399. The death toll also increased to 972 after 108 further deaths.
On Tuesday, Putin extended a partial economic shutdown, due to expire on Thursday, through May 11. Russian opposition activists staged an online protest against the lockdown measures, claiming the government has used the pandemic to impose illegal restrictions that violate people’s rights.
According to a government-affiliated poll, trust in Putin sits at 28% among Russian citizens, the lowest figure in 14 years.
08:05 Roy Horn, famed for being one half of the big-cat-trainers act Siegfried & Roy, is the latest celebrity to have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Horn’s publicist told US media outlet ABC: “We can confirm that Roy Horn has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 and is currently responding well to treatment. Most importantly, Siegfried & Roy send positive wishes to everyone impacted by the pandemic. We will have no further comment on Roy’s recovery at this time and ask everyone to respect his right to privacy.”
Horn’s career working with dangerous animals in Las Vegas ended after a tiger attack in 2003.
07:40 As Germany begins easing lockdown restrictions, pupils in some parts of the country are preparing to return to school. For principals and teachers, that means enforcing physical distancing rules and hygiene standards.
07:15 Germany’s leading lender, Deutsche Bank, has posted a loss for the first quarter of 2020, while British banking giant Barclays has registered tumbling net profits for the same time period.
Despite the deficit of €43 million ($46.6 million), announced by the Frankfurt-based Dax group, Deutsche Bank remains upbeat in the midst of the economic downturn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The German bank’s CEO, Christian Sewing, who is overseeing an overhaul of the financial institution, said: “In the current crisis, we were able to present robust figures and have shown a strong performance in supporting our customers in all of our core businesses.”
Barclays saw its net profits plummet 42% in the first quarter, hit by the economic shock sparked by the novel coronavirus. But like its German rival, the British bank talked up its chances of emerging vigorously from the difficult period.
“Despite the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the group’s position remains robust,” an official statement read. “The impact of COVID-19 came late in what was until that point a good quarter.”
06:43 Tourism is a major industry in Greece. And the government in Athens hopes Greece’s near-COVID-free situation may give it an edge over rival Mediterranean destinations. But without a vaccine against the coronavirus, tourists may not want to travel to Greece should it open up again.
06:40 Hotels in Poland will be open for business during the summer holidays, government spokesman Piotr Müller has told state radio. These summer holidays traditionally occur in July and August.
The announcement comes in spite of the number of infections from the novel coronavirus continuing to rise in the country.
Later on Wednesday, the Polish government is set to announce whether it will reopen some businesses any time soon, while it recently extended school closures until May 24.
06:18 China has accused Australia of “petty tricks” as its spat over the pandemic shows no signs of easing up.
The Australian government has been calling for an international inquiry into how the outbreak began, a notion which has received short shrift from Beijing.
06:02 German economic institute Ifo has revealed “worrying numbers that point to a wave of bankruptcies“ set to hit Europe’s largest economy in the coming months.
According to a study, a number of German companies see their existence under threat from the crisis caused by the outbreak. Indeed, Ifo said that 29.2% of the firms surveyed felt they could survive for a maximum of three months under the restrictive measures currently in place. A further 52.7% suggested they could survive no more than six months under the current circumstances.
On Tuesday, Ifo released further predictions, including the forecast that Germany’s economy will contract by 6.6% overall in 2020 due to the global outbreak of COVID-19.
05:29 A vacation abroad looking highly unlikely for most travelers this summer. But through books we can escape from our coronavirus isolation to countries we miss and experiences we crave. The editorial team of DW’s Travel desk has put together a few wanderlust-inspired reading tips.
05:16 Airbus has cited COVID-19 as being responsible for a net loss of almost €500 million ($542 million) in the first quarter of 2020, as the planemaker’s CEO described the moment as “the gravest crisis the aerospace industry has ever known.”
The €481 million loss is put into context when Airbus’ net profit was €40 million during the same timeframe last year.
“We saw a solid start to the year both commercially and industrially but we are quickly seeing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic coming through in the numbers,” said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury.
04:45 Numerous countries did not take the outbreak serious enough and ignored international advice during the initial phase of the pandemic, according to a German defense think tank report.
“This crisis shows that various nations have partially ignored or even denied the early warning signals,” said Christian Haggenmiller, a doctor with the German Institute for Defense and Strategic Studies (GIDS). The medical expert was particularly critical of the United States as the country has “very extensive means” but the virus “was not considered a priority by the current political leadership.”
The GIDS is a cooperation between the German army and the Helmut Schmidt University in Hamburg, a military educational institution.
04:25 Germany has reported 1,304 more cases of COVID-19 while the number of deaths has risen by 202, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases revealed in its daily update.
Both statistics were a jump on Tuesday’s figures, when 1,144 new infections were reported by the RKI and the number of deaths recorded for the 24-hour period was 163.
Europe’s most populous country now has a total of 157,641 registered infections and its death toll from the virus currently stands at 6,115.
03:56 The German Cabinet is set to extend its strict worldwide travel warning until mid-June, according to news magazine Spiegel.
The publication cited a draft resolution from the Foreign Office stating that the measure should remain in place “until further notice,” and at least until June 14. It did not specify whether travel will be allowed during the summer holidays, saying only that the situation should be carefully reviewed with other EU states closer to the time.
The document said the travel warning aimed to limit the spread of the coronavirus and prevent German holidaymakers once again getting stranded overseas.
Germany issued the warning for all nonessential travel on March 17. Borders with its neighbours may only be crossed by freight traffic, commuters or others who may have a valid reason.
03:15 Almost half of Germans don’t think it’s a good idea to reopen borders with other European countries for the upcoming summer holidays, according to a new survey.
The YouGov poll found that 48% of people supported a ban on traveling abroad, while 20% backed the idea of only opening up borders to individual countries. Around 13% of respondents said travel within the EU should be fully restored by summer.
Travel restrictions are in place across much of Europe to curb the spread of the coronavirus, and Germany has warned its citizens against all nonessential travel.
Around a third of Germans surveyed said they had been forced to abandon their original holiday plans because of the pandemic. Around 22% said they had canceled trips abroad, but 18% said they were sticking to their travel plans.
02:50 Here’s the latest coronavirus news from the Americas:
In the United States, President Donald Trump says his administration is considering carrying out virus checks on certain international flights to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The announcement came as the US recorded its millionth infection, and the death toll surpassed the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War.
Also on Tuesday, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden won a presidential primary in the state of Ohio. It was the first statewide election to be held via mail due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Mexico’s Health Ministry has reported 1,223 new coronavirus cases, bringing the country’s total tally to 16,752. The death toll stands at 1,569, including 135 new deaths. The government said it expects the real number of infected people to be significantly higher.
El Salvador has extended its lockdown measures until May 16. The central American country’s quarantine, in place since March 21, is one of the strictest in the region. People can only leave their homes for essential activities, or to buy food or medicine. Those who go out without a good enough reason can be detained and sent to “containment centers” where they will be monitored for up to 30 days.
Human Rights Watch has accused the government of violating the rule of law with its lockdown. El Salvador has reported 345 cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths.
Brazil has now registered more than 5,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus, making it the only South American country to have more fatalities than China.
According the Health Ministry, a record 474 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. The latest figures show 71,886 cases in the country.
Peru has more than 30,000 infections and 854 coronavirus deaths — the second-highest death toll in the region behind Brazil. More than 500 cases have been reported in the country’s overcrowded prisons, where a riot this week resulted in nine inmate deaths.
02:20 China reported 22 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday. All but one were imported cases.
No new deaths were reported. The figures show a spike in imported cases as only 3 such cases were reported on Tuesday.
There was a decrease in asymptomatic cases from 40 the previous day to 26.
China has seen a total of 82,858 COVID-19 cases to date. The death toll stands at 4,633.
While social distancing restrictions have been relaxed, authorities are setting strict quarantine protocols for those coming from abroad and other parts of the nation.
Meanwhile, China’s parliament will hold its annual meeting on May 22, more than two months later than originally planned, according to Xinhua news agency.
01:26 US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order requiring meat processing plants to stay open during the pandemic to protect the country’s food supply.
The order uses the Defense Production Act to classify meat processing as critical infrastructure.
More than 20 meatpacking plants have already halted operations because of coronavirus concerns and workers falling ill, while many others have slowed production.
“Such closures threaten the continued functioning of the national meat and poultry supply chain, undermining critical infrastructure during the national emergency,” the order states.
Trump’s action angered unions, who accused the White House of putting meat supplies above workers’ health. An estimated 6,500 food-processing and meatpacking workers have been infected with or exposed to the virus at work, while 20 have died, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
A senior White House official said failure to take action could result in the “vast majority” of US meat processing plants temporarily closing, reducing the availability of meat in shops by as much as 80%.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said the administration would provide guidance to meat plants to minimize the health risks, for example by encouraging older workers and those with underlying health issues to stay home.
00:58 More than 200 Romanians working at a slaughterhouse in Germany have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement from Romania’s Foreign Ministry cited by Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The ministry said those infected had been isolated, with most of them showing only minor symptoms or none at all. They had all been working at an abattoir in the southwestern German town of Birkenfeld, where most of the employees are Romanian.
“German authorities say 300 employees are confirmed with COVID-19 and are now in quarantine. So far there is no precise data regarding the citizenship of those infected, but the majority (over 200) are Romanian citizens,” AFP quoted the ministry as saying.
Thousands of Romanians travel to Germany each year for seasonal work. However, the ministry added that the 200 were “not seasonal workers” but rather were employed by subcontractors at the slaughterhouse.