UK, Spain, India and More Live Coronavirus World Coverage

UK, Spain, India and More Live Coronavirus World Coverage

People must stick to restrictions, Merkel warns.

Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed “cautious hope” that Germans were preventing the spread of the coronavirus from straining the health system and slowing the infection rate, but warned that the numbers were no cause for abandoning severe restrictions on social contact and personal freedoms.

“The latest developments give us reason for cautious hope,” Ms. Merkel said. “The numbers are an indication that measures are working.”

But with the long Easter weekend approaching, and summerlike temperatures forecast, she cautioned Germans not to give in to the temptation to roam outside and congregate.

“We can’t be reckless, we can’t allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of security,” she warned at a news conference. “I know this from personal experience: you have a little bit of hope, then you gain confidence, then you are a little bit more relaxed inside and then you are a little bit reckless.”

The daily tally of new infections in Germany has dropped from as many as 7,000 to an average of about 4,000 in the past week. Other hard-hit countries in Europe have seen comparable declines.

German authorities have credited early planning, widespread testing and a robust health system with resulting in a low death toll compared to neighboring countries. In Germany, more than 2,000 people have died of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, compared to about 7,000 in Britain, 11,000 in France, 15,000 in Spain and almost 18,000 in Italy, according to a New York Times database.

The chancellor said her government was working to procure more masks and protective equipment from abroad, as well as looking into ways to increase domestic production, to meet domestic and European needs.

Returning workers accounted for at least a third of the known cases on the West Bank, including its only death, Palestinian officials say. Only a few hundred infections have been confirmed there, though testing has been very limited, compared to about 10,000 in Israel.

At first, Palestinian officials expected Israel to care for any workers who contracted the virus. But after an ailing worker was unceremoniously dumped at a checkpoint by the Israeli police (he later tested negative), the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, Muhammad Shtayyeh, reversed himself and urged workers to return to the West Bank for their own safety.

Now, however, the fear is that many will take his advice — and that large numbers of returning workers could prove unwitting carriers of the virus. That would quickly overwhelm the West Bank’s underequipped hospitals.

The stress on the Palestinian side is showing itself in a ratcheting up of rhetoric that belies the close cooperation between Israeli and West Bank officials behind the scenes — cooperation that the United Nations has publicly praised.

Some 13 percent of income earned by West Bank residents comes from jobs in Israel or Israeli settlements.

European finance ministers meet for a second time this week on Thursday afternoon to take another stab at potential joint measures to cushion the blow of the coronavirus outbreak on the region’s economy, after their previous attempt collapsed in acrimony without a result.

At stake is the recovery of the world’s richest bloc of nations, of which 19 members also share one of the most important currencies in the world, the euro. The recession ahead will be brutal: The bloc is likely to shrink by around 10 percent, economists predict. At its worst year, in 2009, the recession that followed the global financial crisis was a 4.5 percent shrinkage.

But the meeting will also determine whether European nations hit by the virus unevenly, with Spain and Italy suffering the most losses, will be able to leave aside their usual battle lines — north versus south, richer versus poorer — and tackle the issue as one.

While some of the proposed measures have been largely uncontroversial, for example a joint scheme to fund unemployment benefits, and investment to support small businesses, bigger and braver suggestions have proven divisive.

Particularly tough has been reaching an agreement on whether or not to attach reform conditions to any loans that a bailout fund might give to Italy and others. Italy, the bloc’s third-largest economy, is keen to ensure no-strings-attached financing, but the Netherlands is pushing for conditions.

The ultimate stumbling block is whether ministers can agree to possibility of issuing joint bonds in future. This is a no-go for a some northern European countries like Germany and the Netherlands: They don’t want to subsidize cheap debt for their southern counterparts, and claim the move would be legally and practically time-consuming and political untenable at home.

He made his comments after President Trump unleashed a tirade against the organization on Tuesday, accusing it of acting too slowly to sound the alarm, and of treating the Chinese government too favorably. While the president, who threatened to withhold American funding for the organization, spoke in unusually harsh terms, he was not alone in such criticism.

Critics say that the W.H.O. has been too trusting of the Chinese government, which initially tried to conceal the outbreak. Others have faulted the organization for not moving faster in declaring a global health emergency.

Asked about Mr. Trump’s comments on Wednesday, Dr. Tedros said: “Please don’t politicize this virus. If you want to be exploited and you want to have many more body bags, then you do it. If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it.”

African leaders came to Dr. Tedros’s defense, with state and government leaders from South Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Rwanda saying they had full confidence in the W.H.O. and its leader.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairman of the African Union, said on Twitter: “The focus should remain on collectively fighting Covid-19 as a united global community. The time for accountability will come.”

More than 50 African states have so far reported a total of 10,252 coronavirus cases and 492 deaths, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On Thursday, the World Bank said sub-Saharan Africa would suffer its first recession for 25 years as a consequence of the outbreak.

With Prime Minister Boris Johnson having spent his third night in intensive care and Britain creeping toward the end of an initial three-week lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the government is preparing to make a decision on whether to extend the measures.

The government’s emergency Cobra committee will convene on Thursday to discuss the effectiveness of lockdown measures introduced on March 23, although a decision over whether the restrictions should be extended, relaxed or tightened is not expected until next week.

With temperatures expected to reach up to 77 degrees Fahrenheit this weekend, the public has been urged to stay at home. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, asked the public on Wednesday to refrain from sunbathing, having barbecues in parks and playing team sports.

“I think we’re nowhere near lifting the lockdown,” he told the BBC, indicating the country was at least 10 days away from a potential peak in the number of cases.

Mr. Johnson, meanwhile, “had a good night and continues to improve” in intensive care after becoming infected with the virus, officials said on Thursday. He is still receiving standard oxygen treatment, Downing Street said, but was in “good spirits.”

After Britain reported its highest daily death toll from the virus on Wednesday, with 938 deaths recorded in hospitals in 24 hours, the public health services of England, Scotland and Wales reported 887 new fatalities on Thursday. Northern Ireland had not yet reported its daily tally.

For those who have spent months preparing for the procession, “there is no doubt some inner feelings of nostalgia and sadness,” said Mr. López. “But we are all mature Christians.”

Not everyone has heeded the lockdown measures, and last Sunday, officers broke up a Mass on a Seville rooftop with a dozen people. The police have been intervening to halt any religious event that could breach the rules of the nationwide lockdown.

Spain is still in the grip of a major outbreak: On Thursday, the country passed the grim milestone of 15,000 dead, with 683 more fatalities reported overnight.

The Australian authorities on Wednesday boarded the cruise ship Ruby Princess, which is docked off the country’s east coast, and seized the vessel’s “black box” as part of a homicide investigation into how infected passengers were allowed to disembark last month.

In addition to eight doctors, all immigrants, who have died while fighting the coronavirus outbreak in Britain, at least six nurses and one health care assistant are thought to have died after contracting the virus.

The authorities have drawn some criticism for apparently not keeping a precise tally of coronavirus fatalities among medical workers other than doctors.

Matt Hancock, the British health secretary, came under fire last week after he said on national television, “We’ve seen very sadly four doctors die so far and some nurses.”

“They’re not even counting the nurses,” Donna Kinnair, the chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said during the BBC show “Question Time.”

Among the dead are Alice Kit Tak Ong, 70; Aimee O’Rourke, 39; and Thomas Harvey, 57. Ms. O’Rourke, a nurse in the acute medical unit at Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, a town in southeastern England, died after testing positive for coronavirus, the hospital said in a statement last week. The hospital plans to put up a permanent memorial in her honor.

Ms. Ong, who was originally from Hong Kong and had worked for the National Health Service for 44 years, died on Tuesday in London, her daughter, told The Guardian. She said that her mother had been working without protective equipment.

The family of Mr. Harvey, who fell ill after treating a patient who later tested positive for the virus, said that the health care system had failed them.

The police in a southwestern corner of Germany will monitor who follows outdoor social-distancing orders over the Easter weekend by deploying an unusual mode of transportation — a zeppelin.

The city of Friedrichshafen commissioned the airship — emblazoned with the slogan “Alle fur Alle,” or “Everyone Together” — to make a daily loop through the skies over the banks of Lake Constance to motivate Germans to follow regulations to stay indoors.

Officials reached out to the police and offered a ride-along, said Markus Sauter, spokesman for the regional police in Ravensburg. The authorities readily accepted.

“Our focus will be the Lake Constance region, because from the zeppelin it is easier for us to see where large groups of people may be forming than it is on the ground,” Mr. Sauter said in a telephone interview. The lake, which forms Germany’s southern border with Switzerland and a corner of Austria, is a popular destination for cyclists, hikers and other day-trippers.

While some of the governors want to ask businesses to close now, the central government wants them to wait to see if individual citizens will flatten the curve of infections by refraining from going outside and working from home. On Thursday, the health ministry announced 511 newly confirmed cases — a 46 percent jump over a day earlier.

One municipality is taking matters into its own hands. Gotemba, a city of about 88,000 in the foothills of Mount Fuji, is offering owners of businesses such as bars and nightclubs a maximum of 1 million yen (about $9,200) in compensation for closing between April 16 and 30.

The pandemic has played a critical role in this drama, but there is also a lot of jockeying among the three oil superpowers: Saudi Arabia and Russia, two longtime petro-rivals, and the United States, whose rising prominence as an oil exporter has disrupted the industry.

How to celebrate in coronavirus times.

Stay-at-home orders don’t have to put a damper on your special days. Here’s some ways to celebrate birthdays, weddings, and the upcoming spring holidays.

In Dubai, the largest and most cosmopolitan of the United Arab Emirates, the large foreign population can now have alcohol delivered to the home even as the city has frozen in place to halt the spread of a coronavirus outbreak.

Allowing alcohol deliveries in Dubai during the pandemic may be surprising to some, since drinking is illegal in the neighboring emirate of Sharjah and the nations of Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

But in normal times, Dubai residents can sip at cocktail lounges or soak themselves at Champagne brunches, perhaps the most visible compromise the emirate has made between its Muslim identity and its many expatriate workers and tourists. Foreigners drive cabs, pick up the garbage, run restaurants and power the other industries that make Dubai a global business hub and tourist destination, leading to looser restrictions on behavior than in many of its neighbors.

But allowing home deliveries of spirits is new.

Alcohol delivery, now offered via online order by the city’s major alcohol distributors, is a nod to another reality — that of a citywide lockdown, in which only one member of each household is allowed outside at a time for essential trips. Only tourists who can show a foreign passport and residents with an alcohol license, available to non-Muslims over 21, can order the alcohol, which ranges from a $4.36 bottle of Indian blended whiskey to a $780 bottle of California red wine.

The lockdown is being stringently enforced, blending the high-functioning efficiency that has streamlined Dubai’s economy and government authoritarianism that brooks little dissent. People must obtain a police permit online each time they leave home. Everyone must wear masks and gloves outside.

The Dubai police have said they will not hesitate to “name shame,” arrest and even jail people who mock the stay-home measures on social media.

But it was a striking contrast to the policy in Bangkok, where the authorities announced on Thursday that the sale of alcohol would be banned from Friday until April 20 to discourage gatherings next week during Songkran, the Thai New Year. Songkran celebrations, which can attract large crowds, were canceled earlier.

Bangkok, which is under a partial lockdown, is one of more than 10 jurisdictions in Thailand that have enacted some form of alcohol ban in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Reporting was contributed by Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Jane Bradley, Stephen Castle, Abdi Latif Dahir, Vivian Yee, Melissa Eddy, Raphael Minder, Ceylan Yeginsu, Iliana Magra, Richard C. Paddock, Mike Ives, Megan Specia, Yonette Joseph, Kai Schultz, Elaine Yu, Motoko Rich, Hisako Ueno, Makiko Inoue, Rory Smith, Tariq Panja, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Carl Zimmer, James Gorman, Michael Levenson, Dan Barry, Ben Hubbard, Stanley Reed, Clifford Krauss, Andrew E. Kramer, Dionne Searcey, Ruth Maclean, Denise Grady, Katie Thomas, Patrick J. Lyons, Karen Zraick, Richard Pérez-Peña, Mohammed Najib, David M. Halbfinger, Melissa Eddy and Christopher F. Schuetze.

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