2022 RT Banner.gif

China Daily

News> World> Content
Monday, April 20, 2020, 21:03
Merkel warns of virus-relapse risk as Germany eases curbs
By Agencies
Monday, April 20, 2020, 21:03 By Agencies

People wearing protective masks queue up to go in a garden store in Munich, Germany, April 20, 2020. Smaller stores across Germany were allowed to reopen after a month-long shutdown. (MATTHIAS SCHRADER / AP)

WASHINGTON / BRUSSELS / LIMA / RABAT / CAIRO / MILAN / PARIS / TEGUCIGALPA / TUNIS / MEXICO CITY / ADDIS ABABA / RIYADH / LAGOS / NAIROBI / OTTAWA / LONDON / WARSAW / BERLIN / MOSCOW / MADRID - German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that public discussion about easing restrictions to contain the coronavirus risked sparking a new wave of infections even as Germany took its first tentative steps toward normalcy.

Smaller stores across Germany were allowed to reopen on Monday, as infections rose by the least this month, with 2,018 new cases in the 24 hours through Monday morning

In a closed-door meeting of her Christian Democratic party on Monday in Berlin, she said “orgies” of opening discussions threatened to destroy the progress in fighting the pandemic, according to a participant, who asked not to be identified because the discussions were private.

At the meeting, Merkel expressed her hope that people would continue to follow rules designed to limit contact between people, but that she was skeptical about the latest developments.

ALSO READ: New infections in Germany rise by the most in 7 days

After weeks on stringent lockdown, smaller stores across Germany were allowed to reopen on Monday after a month-long shutdown deprived German retailers of 30 billion euros (US$33 billion) in sales and pushed many shops to the brink of bankruptcy.

Students in Germany went back to class to take their final exams on Monday as schools that had been shut last month to stem the spread of the coronavirus epidemic began to reopen.

The partial re-opening, agreed last week by Merkel and regional premiers, started with the oldest students, who will observe strict social distancing as they write their papers.

The number of coronavirus cases in Germany rose by the least this month, with 2,018 new infections in the 24 hours through Monday morning, taking the total to 145,742, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The number of fatalities rose by 104, the lowest since April 1, to 4,642.

This photo taken on April 19, 2020 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, shows G20 health ministers attending a virtual meeting. (G20 SAUDI ARABIA / HANDOUT VIA XINHUA)


Health ministers from the Group of 20 (G20) major economies discussed weaknesses in health systems that made the world vulnerable to the coronavirus outbreak and other pandemics, according to a statement issued after a virtual meeting on Sunday.

The Saudi G20 secretariat said that the ministers shared their national experiences, addressed necessary actions to improve preparedness and discussed systemic weaknesses exposed by the pandemic.

Saudi Arabia is the current chair of the G20.

Health Ministers recognised that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted systemic weaknesses in health systems. It also has shown vulnerabilities in the global community's ability to prevent and respond to pandemic threats.

Statement by G20 health ministers

"Health Ministers recognised that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted systemic weaknesses in health systems," the statement reads. "It also has shown vulnerabilities in the global community's ability to prevent and respond to pandemic threats."

According to the statement, the ministers adopted preventative measures to contain the pandemic, but did not elaborate.

In opening remarks provided via video to media, Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah said urgent actions included the need for collaboration and engagement of global organisations for coordinated responses to the novel coronavirus pandemic, with an emphasis on supporting countries in need, and investing in research and discovery to produce technology, tools, vaccines and therapies.

He also referred to the creation of a global task force to respond to pandemics, an innovation hub for knowledge sharing to improve value in health and a patient safety leaders group to provide shared platforms aimed at reducing patient safety risks.

ALSO READ: UN chief pledges to defeat COVID-19, rebuild fairer world

Leaders from Spain, Singapore, Jordan and Switzerland were invited to attend Sunday's meeting as well as international and regional organisations including the World Health Organization and the World Bank, according to an earlier G20 statement.

Global toll

The number of coronavirus cases globally is now more than 2.4 million, and the global death toll has surpassed 165,000, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

With continuous drop in the daily numbers of new deaths and new infections in European countries hit hard by COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic is showing more encouraging signs of abating, bringing hope to this continent.

In Europe, over 1.12 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly 100,000 deaths have been reported so far, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

In Africa, the death toll on the continent has reached 1,080 as the number of confirmed cases hit 21,317 as of Sunday, the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.

The Africa CDC said that some 5,203 patients have recovered.

READ MORE: Africa faces stern virus test with hit in economy

The virus has so far spread into 52 African countries, it was noted.

Meanwhile, Latin America has registered more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases as the pandemic spreads through the region, with Brazil and Peru together accounting for over half of the caseload.

On Sunday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that lifting lockdown restrictions for COVID-19 is not the end of the epidemic, but it's just the beginning of the next phase.

People walk on the boardwalk on Coney Island, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, the United States, April 19, 2020. (MICHAEL NAGLE / XINHUA)


The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States exceeded 750,000 with over 40,000 deaths recorded as of Sunday, as governors in US states hardest hit by the coronavirus sparred with President Donald Trump over his claims they have enough tests and should quickly reopen their economies as more protests are planned over the extension of stay-at-home orders.

New York continued to see hospitalizations decline to 16,000 from a high of 18,000, and the number of patients being kept alive by ventilators also fell. There were 507 new deaths, down from a high of more than 700 a day.

"If the data holds and if this trend holds, we are past the high point and all indications at this point are that we are on a descent," Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a daily briefing, while urging residents to continue social distancing. 

READ MORE: Social distancing works, but how long must it remain in place?

Trump's guidelines to reopen the economy recommend a state record 14 days of declining case numbers before gradually lifting restrictions. 

Trump said that US Democrats and Republicans are near agreement on extra money to help small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic and could seal a deal as early as Monday.

An agreement on an interim deal would end a stalemate over Trump's request to add US$250 billion to a small-business loan program established last month as part of a US$2.3 trillion coronavirus economic relief plan. That fund has already been exhausted.

Vice-President Mike Pence said the United States has enough testing nationwide to allow any state to start lifting lockdown orders forced by the coronavirus, if they have met other criteria.


The number of people with the coronavirus in Canada is trending in the right direction but strict physical distancing will need to stay in place, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday.

The total number of people killed by the coronavirus in Canada rose by just under 12 percent to 1,506 in a day, official data showed on Sunday. The figure for those diagnosed with the coronavirus had climbed to 33,922.

"People need to know that it (the economy) is not suddenly going to reopen in any part of the country overnight to what it was before. We are going to have to be very very careful (and) very gradual" to prevent a resurgence, Trudeau said.

People sit on benches obeying the social distancing rules, at St James's Park in London, April 19, 2020. (KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH / AP)


Britain needs to be sure that any lifting or easing of social distancing measures does not lead to a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday.

Britain will review its approach to the coronavirus pandemic to learn what it could have done better, Culture Minister Oliver Dowden said, following criticism that the government was too slow to react.

“When we’re dealing with an unprecedented crisis like this we’re not going to have perfect 20:20 hindsight vision on this,” he told BBC TV. “Of course we will need to look back and see the things we could have done differently.

“But right now people would not be expecting us to be looking back over the past few months, they would be expecting us to be dealing with this crisis on a day to day basis. We have said that we will of course review all the lessons that we need to learn from this and indeed learn the lessons globally.”

Britain has secured 25 million protective gowns from China and is working across the globe to secure more supplies of medical clothing after some hospitals warned they were running dangerously low, Culture Minister Oliver Dowden said on Monday.

The government has also said it is expecting 400,000 gowns to arrive from Turkey, protective clothing worn by medics to shield them from the virus in hospitals.

“We’ve secured 25 million gowns from China, those will be coming in,” he told LBC Radio. “We’re working across the globe to get supplies.”

Bratian is preparing to collect the blood from COVID-19 survivors to investigate if convalescent plasma transfusions could improve an infected patient's speed of recovery and chances of survival.

As of Sunday morning, a total of 120,067 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the country, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

The latest data show 16,060 people have died in British hospitals after testing positive for the coronavirus, a rise of 596 from data published on Saturday.

While that marked the smallest increase in almost two weeks, figures published over weekends usually show smaller-than-average increases in the death toll, and these daily figures do not include deaths in the wider community.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said Sunday that Britain is not considering lifting its lockdown given "deeply worrying" increases in the death toll.

England's deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries said it was too early to call a peak in terms of deaths, although she added that the trends were starting to move in the right direction.


Italy said on Sunday that deaths from the coronavirus pandemic rose by 433, the lowest daily tally in a week, and the number of new cases slowed to 3,047 from a previous 3,491.

The death toll as reported by Italy's Civil Protection Agency had risen by 482 on Saturday, down from 575 on Friday.

Sunday's number of deaths marked the lowest daily rise since April 12, when it came in at 431, before rising again during the week.

The total death toll since rose to 23,660 on Sunday, the second highest in the world after that of the United States. Total confirmed cases stood at 178,972.


Director General of Health Jerome Salomon confirmed "a slow decline" in the spread of the coronavirus in France, after the updated data on the epidemic indicated decelerating cases in hospitals and fatalities.

As of Sunday, the COVID-19 has claimed 19,718 fatalities in France, 395 more compared with the previous day's total. The daily death toll was down from 642 on Saturday and 761 on Friday. The number of hospitalized patients was 30,610, 29 less than Saturday's 30,639.

The coronavirus situation in France is improving "slowly but surely" and shortages of protective gear such as face masks are easing, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Sunday.

"From May 11, we will enter a second phase, when we will regain some of our freedoms," Philippe said.

France will lift its ban on visits to nursing home residents, provided people did not touch their relatives, Health Minister Olivier Veran said.

Meanwhile in Paris, police and youths clashed for a second night in a low-income suburb on Sunday as strict lockdown rules to curb the spread of the coronavirus threaten a fragile social peace in deprived areas. 

The trouble in Villeneuve-La-Garenne first broke out late on Saturday after a motorcyclist was hurt when he collided with the open door of an unmarked police car.

French CRS anti-riot police officers walk in a street in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, in the northern suburbs of Paris, France, early on April 20, 2020. (GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)


The spread of the new coronavirus in Spain seems to be slowing despite more than 200,000 people now having been infected, officials said on Monday, as the Bank of Spain gave wide-ranging forecasts for an economic blow of “considerable severity”.

With 200,210 recorded infections, Spain is second only to the United States in terms of confirmed cases, according to Reuters data.

But Health Emergency Chief Fernando Simon told a news conference that the rate of new infections continues to fall despite an increase in testing, suggesting the overall prevalence of the disease could be lower than expected in the population.

“Fortunately occurrence is falling a lot, even more than we had thought,” he said.

The cumulative death toll from the virus rose to 20,852 on Monday, the ministry said, after 399 fatalities were recorded in the previous 24 hours.


President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Russia had managed to curb the coronavirus crisis but the peak of the outbreak still lay ahead.

The number of Russian confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 47,000 on Monday with a death toll of 405.


Poland may reverse the loosening of restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus if the number of new cases rises significantly, Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski said on Monday.

Poland started reopening parks and forests on Monday as the government eased a few of the restrictions that have brought daily life to a virtual standstill. 

On Sunday, Poland saw its biggest spike in coronavirus cases with 545 new infections recorded, according to health ministry data.

As of Sunday, Poland had 9,287 confirmed cases and 360 deaths. 

A spokesman for the health ministry told Polish state news agency PAP that the spike was associated with the discovery of three new coronavirus outbreaks across the country - two in care homes and the other in a hospital.


The death toll from COVID-19 in the Netherlands increased by 83 in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 3,684, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) announced on Sunday.

The number of people who tested positive for the coronavirus increased by 1,066 to a total of 32,655, and that of patients who are or were admitted to hospital rose by 110 to 9,704.

"The figures for the last few days are still in line with the impression that COVID-19 is spreading slower than if no measures had been taken," the RIVM stated.

A woman wearing a face mask disinfects her hands as she enters a fabrics store in Ludwigsburg, southern Germany, on April 20, 2020. (THOMAS KIENZLE / AFP)

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic will implement blanket testing for COVID-19 starting on Wednesday, Minister of Health Adam Vojtech said on Sunday.

These tests will be conducted in a representational manner similar to opinion polls.

The tests, which are to be carried out in Prague, South Moravia, and near the towns of Litomerice and Litovel, will help public health officials understand the general infection rate in the population, Vojtech told Czech Radio.

As of Sunday night, there had been 6,701 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country.

READ MORE: Russia reports record daily rise in coronavirus cases


Belgium’s immediate coronavirus crisis appears to have passed its peak as the number of people admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 fell to its lowest level in a month, health officials said on Monday.

Belgium, with one of the highest per capita rates of confirmed COVID-19 cases and related deaths in Europe, announced that 232 people were taken into hospital on Sunday, the lowest level since March 19.

Belgium’s national security council is due to meet on Friday to discuss an easing of restriction measures from May 4.

Officials added that the country may also be beyond its peak for deaths. Belgium recorded 168 new deaths on Monday, bringing the total to 5,828 deaths. Just over half have been in nursing homes, the vast majority of them in which COVID-19 is suspected but not confirmed. Belgium’s inclusion of such cases as COVID-19 deaths partly explains why its figures appear among the worst in Europe.

The government last week extended measures to control the spread of the coronavirus to May 3, but has now allowed home improvement stores and garden centres to reopen.


The number of COVID-19 cases in Cyprus for a 24-hour period dropped to a single digit for the first time since March 25, with the Health Ministry confirming six new cases on Easter Sunday, raising the total number of cases announced by the Ministry to 767.

The ministry noted that the new cases came out of 1,803 tests, a ratio of 0.33 percent, the lowest ever.

Authorities in the Turkish controlled part of Cyprus did not announce any new cases, with their total remaining at 108 and death toll staying at four.

The grand total for the entire eastern Mediterranean island stands at 16 deaths and 875 cases.


Ghana became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to ease movement restrictions after a 21-day lockdown of its biggest cities bought the government enough time to improve its preparedness for the coronavirus pandemic, said President Nana Akufo-Addo.

Residents of the capital, Accra, and major centers are allowed to return to work from Monday even though other restrictions such as school closures and a ban on sport and religious meetings remain in place, Akufo-Addo said Sunday in a televised address.

Ghana has spent the lockdown to conduct more than 68,000 tests and draw up plans to establish testing centers in all of its 16 regions, Akufo-Addo said. Local factories are producing protective equipment while drones are used to speed up the transportation of tests, he said.

“Lifting these restrictions doesn’t mean we are letting our guard down,” said Akufo-Addo. “Whenever the situation so warrants, a community in which the virus is identified as becoming prevalent will be locked down, until there is a clear understanding of the trajectory of the virus.”

Confirmed cases reached 1,042 with nine deaths, while the results of 18,000 testing samples remain outstanding.


Nigeria's health authorities on Sunday night confirmed 86 new cases of COVID-19, the highest daily increase since the west African country reported its first case on Feb 27, bringing the tally to 627.

Figures from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) show that the epidemic has spread faster in the country recently, with daily cases staying at or exceeding 30 for the last six days in a row.

So far, Nigeria has recorded 21 deaths, and 170 persons have been discharged from hospitalization after recovery.

South Africa

South Africa on Sunday reported 124 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths, bringing the total infections to 3,158 including 54 deaths.

So far, South Africa has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent, registering an average daily infection rate of 90 to 95 cases since March 5 when the first case was reported.  


Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh announced on Sunday evening that the general confinement across the country will be extended until May 3, as part of the preventive measures to confront the spread of COVID-19.

"The curfew will be carried out from 8 pm to 6 am to allow more flexibility for Tunisians during the holy month of Ramadan, the month of fasting in the Islamic calendar, which will start from April 24," Fakhfakh said in his speech broadcast in the state television channel Watanya.

Earlier, Health Minister Abdellatif Mekki said that Tunisia has so far overcome the worst scenario in its fight against COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health reported 13 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections to 879 in the country.

So far, Tunisia has reported 38 deaths from the coronavirus.  


Egypt recorded on Sunday 112 new COVID-19 infections and 15 more deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 3,144 in the country.

The death toll in the country has increased to 239, according to a statement of spokesman for Egyptian Health Ministry Khaled Megahed.


Ugandan scientists are developing a COVID-19 vaccine, President Yoweri Museveni said on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the president also thanked health workers for what he called a wonderful job in treating the 55 Ugandan COVID-19 patients.

"We do not have a single death from coronavirus. All the 55 are alive and 28 of these have been cured and discharged," Museveni said. 

Health workers disinfect a road in Sale, Morocco, April 19, 2020. (CHADI / XINHUA)


A total of 170 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Morocco on Sunday, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 2,855, said Morocco’s Ministry of Health.

A total of 141 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported while 327 patients have recovered, according to the ministry.

Morocco has extended on Saturday the state of health emergency until May 20, as part of the strengthening of preventive measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.


Algerian health authorities on Sunday reported 95 new COVID-19 infections and 8 more deaths in the past 24 hours.

The total infection cases surged to 2,629, Djamel Fourar, head of the COVID-19 Detection and Follow-up Commission, told reporters. 

Fourar added that the death toll now stands at 375.

He further noted that recoveries have been taking an upward trend, as the total number of cured cases increased to 1,046. 

Meanwhile, the government decided to extend the nationwide lockdown by 10 days until April 29.  


Kenya's health ministry on Sunday confirmed eight new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number to 270.

Mercy Mwangangi, chief administrative secretary for health, said that two more patients have died from the disease, raising the death toll to 14.

She also said that seven people have been discharged after recovering from the disease, bringing the number of recoveries to 67.

Mwangangi said the country was set to start the use of technology in the tracking and surveillance of post curfew congregations and also in the process of activating community policing.


Zimbabwe will extend its COVID-19 lockdown by another 14 days to May 3, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced Sunday.

The government imposed a 21-day lockdown from March 30 to curb the spread of COVID-19. The lockdown was set to end Sunday.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe rose to 25 after a case was recorded in Harare on Saturday, including two recoveries and three deaths.


The Ministry of Health of Mozambique (MISAU) said on Sunday that the number of positive cases of COVID-19 rose from 35 to 39 in the country with four more diagnosed in the last 24 hours. 

"Until today, 1,037 suspected cases have been tested, of which 85 in the last 24 hours. Of the new cases tested, 81 were negative and 4 were positive for the coronavirus. Therefore, our country currently has 39 positive cases, 31 of which are of local transmission and 8 imported", said National Director of Public Health of MISAU Rosa Marlene.

The number of recoveries in the country increased from four to eight. 


The Libyan National Center for Disease Control on Sunday reported two new COVID-19 cases, raising the total to 51, with 11 recoveries and one death.

READ MORE: UN: Virus could kill 300,000 in Africa, even with interventions


The government of Honduras on Sunday extended a curfew through April 26 in an effort to contain the coronavirus which has infected 472 people and killed 46 in the impoverished Central American country.

"In order to better control the spread of COVID-19, we decided to extend the current total curfew from Sunday (April) 19 at 3:00 pm, until Sunday, April 26, 2020, at 3:00 pm," said the spokesman for the Honduran security ministry, Jair Meza.


The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Cuba surpassed 1,000 on Sunday with 34 deaths, according to a senior Cuban health official.

There were 49 new cases, according to Francisco Duran, national director of epidemiology at the country's Ministry of Public Health.

With 376 confirmed cases, Havana remains the worst-affected province in the country, followed by Villa Clara and Ciego de Avila with 167 and 76, respectively.

The Cuban government estimates that the island nation will have its peak of COVID-19 by the first half of May with nearly 4,500 confirmed cases expected in the worst-case scenario. 


Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said on Sunday that a total of 50 migrants deported by the United States to Guatemala have tested positive for coronavirus, including 14 sent to the Central American nation on a Tuesday flight.

Most of the Guatemalan deportees that have tested positive for coronavirus arrived from the United States on a Monday flight. Four others who tested positive arrived in March.

In total, Guatemala registered 32 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, Giammattei said, bring the total to 289 cases and 7 deaths.


Brazil on Sunday reported a death toll of 2,462, after 115 patients died of the virus in the past 24 hours, and its total number of infections hit 38,654, the country's Health Ministry said.

READ MORE: Bolsonaro attacks coronavirus lockdowns as supporters take to streets

A mother, stuck at a police blockade that is not allowing movement in or out of the capital, cradles her daughter on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, April 18, 2020. (RODRIGO ABD / AP)


Peru reported over 15,000 cases of coronavirus on Sunday, the second-highest tally in Latin America, as the disease continues to ravage the economy of the world's No 2 copper producer.

The crisis has paralyzed Peru and left millions without jobs. The central bank has said the economy had been "severely affected" temporarily by simultaneous supply and demand shocks.

Peru has reported a total of 15,628 cases and 400 deaths, the health ministry said.

In Latin America, only Brazil has more cases.


Chile reported on Sunday that there were more than 10,000 people in the country with the coronavirus, the third-highest tally in Latin America, as the disease ravages the economy of the world's top copper producer. 

Chile has 10,088 confirmed cases, up by 358 from a day earlier, health ministry officials said. They said they were beginning to see a stabilization in the numbers of new cases, in the range of 300 to 400 in recent days.

Chile has reported a total of 133 deaths, the health ministry said.


Mexican Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said on Sunday that Mexico has registered a total of 8,261 confirmed coronavirus cases and 686 deaths.

That is up from 7,497 cases and 650 deaths as of Saturday.


Panama registered 194 new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the country's total to 4,467 cases, the health ministry said.

Panama's head of epidemiology Lourdes Moreno said there were six more deaths due to coronavirus, raising Panama's death toll to 126.


Ecuador reported 9,468 COVID-19 cases with 474 deaths. The past 24 hours saw 446 new cases and 18 more deaths.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has so far registered 4,680 cases and 226 deaths.

Share this story

Please click in the upper right corner to open it in your browser !