This is the live blog for March 22, 2020.

Head here for the latest news:

Many non-German native speakers are facing quite a challenge 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 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.

We are publishing translations between 09:00 am CET and 17:30 pm CET

Short Facts

  • Angela Merkel in quarantine
  • Italy closes all "non-essential" businesses
  • Federal and State Governments announce restrictions on contact
  • WHO calls for more testing

19:30 That's it for today!  Join us tomorrow for more live updates!

Read the full transcript of Angela Merkel's address to the nation calling for 'sense and heart'.

You can follow additional live updates on Tagesschau (German only).

18:40 Angela Merkel in quarantine

Steffen Seibert, the speaker of the Federal Government, said: "After her press appearance today, the Federal Chancellor was informed that a doctor who had administered a prophylactic pneumococcal vaccination to her on Friday afternoon, had now been tested positive for the coronavirus. Consequently, the Federal Chancellor has decided to put herself in quarantine in her home immediately. She will frequently be tested over the next few days because a test would not yet be entirely meaningful. The Federal Chancellor will continue to pursue business from home quarantine."

18:21 The number of people infected in Italy rises by 5,560 to 59,138

The number of people infected in Italy has increased from 53,578 to 59,138. The number of deaths has increased by 651 to 5,476, the authorities report.

18:13 Number of infected in the UK rises from 5018 to 5683

The number of those infected with the corona virus in the UK has increased from 5018 to 5683 within 24 hours. The number of deaths has increased from 233 to 281, the government reports.

18:00 Merkel: "Show sense and heart"

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the population to "forgo and sacrifice" in the fight against the coronavirus crisis. Public life and social contacts will be further reduced by new distancing rules and closures, she said in the announcement of new measures by the Federal and State Governments. "This is how we save lives," she stressed. "Please unite in this goal," she called. "Show sense and heart."

She explicitly thanked all those who had adhered to the already agreed rules in recent days. That was the majority of the population.

17:53 Bavaria will not ban gatherings of more than two persons

Bavaria does not want to take over the ban on gatherings of more than two persons, agreed by the Federal and State Governments in order to curb the corona crisis. This is reported by the Deutsche Presse-Agentur, on the basis of sources in the Bavarian State Chancellery. The Bavarian curfew will remain intact, which specified that one can only leave the house for fresh air with people living in the same home.

17:49 Plácido Domingo tested positive for Coronavirus

"I feel it as my moral duty to inform you that I tested positive for Covid-19," the 79-year-old wrote on his Facebook page. He is currently self-isolating together with his family. "We are currently in good health, but I have been showing symptoms such as fever and a cough, and therefore decided to have a test," said Mr. Domingo. The singer urged everyone to be very careful, follow the instructions of governments, and stay at home as much as possible, "so that we can hopefully return to our normal daily lives soon".

17:46 Merkel: Restrictions are rules, not recommendations

Chancellor Angela Merkel warns that the restrictions on gatherings agreed with the Minister Presidents of the States are rules, and not recommendations. The police will ensure compliance. A minimum distance of 1.5 meters should be observed in public. Groups of people celebrating in public or at home are unacceptable.

17:34 Kretschmann asks for patience

The Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, asks all of us to be patient. “The science has shown that it will take up to 14 days to see the success of our measures." Until then, the number of infections will continue to increase. “We have to persevere.”

17:33 Balcony performances of "Ode to joy"

Musicians all over Germany want to join forces in making a statement from 6 p.m. today, playing Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" from their balconies or through their open windows. They follow the example set by the Italians, who have been playing and singing from balconies and windows from the beginning of the corona crisis.

17:18 Curfew in Greece from Monday

A curfew will be imposed in Greece to control the corona crisis, starting Monday. This was announced by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

17:15 Laschet: "Zero tolerance" in case of infringements on gatherings ban

The Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, has announced drastic fines for breaches of the ban on public gatherings intended to curb the coronavirus. Fines of up to EUR 25,000 are foreseen. A “zero-tolerance policy against lawbreakers,” will be imposed, Mr. Laschet has said, “to punish the reckless – hard and clear”.  

The Vice Chairman of the CDU has also expressed skepticism about imposing curfews, which is the case in Bavaria. He considers bans on gatherings, as have been jointly decided by the Federal and State Governments, to be more sensible than general curfews. The risk comes from people being in close contact with each other, and not from leaving the house.

16:58 Spain calls for EU Marshall Plan against corona crisis

The Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchez calls on the EU to draft a “Marshall Plan” to overcome the Coronavirus pandemic. "Europe can and must do more and we demand that much more be done at this critical moment." The Marshall Plan helped reconstruct Europe after the destruction inflicted during the Second World War.

16:54 Minister-President of North-Rhine Westphalia confirms nationwide ban on gathering for groups of more than two people

Public gatherings of more than two people are from now on forbidden, to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The Federal and State Governments have reached an agreement, says Minister-President of North-Rhine Westphalia Armin Laschet at a press conference in Düsseldorf. The ban will not cover “nuclear families”, spouses, urgent work-related reasons, public transport, and funerals. This means that a rigorous nation-wide curfew is off the table for the time being. The ban is to be upheld for at least two weeks.

16:53 Hairdressers to close up shop all over the country

In the fight against coronavirus, the Federal and States Governments want to immediately close down service companies in the field of personal hygiene, including hairdressers, cosmetic studios, tattoo studios, and massage salons. This is reported by the Deutsche Presse-Agentur, which has access to the decision of the Federal Government and States. Medically necessary treatments should continue to be possible.

16:48 The Federal and State Governments to close restaurants immediately

The Federal and State Governments want to close restaurants immediately in locations where they are still open. The Federal Government and the Minister Presidents of the States have agreed on this measure during their telephone call, according to information from the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa). The decision will still allow for "the delivery and pick-up of food suitable for consumption at home".

16:42 China starts first phase of clinical trials for corona vaccine

China has started the first phase of a clinical trial to develop a vaccine. A number of volunteers have already been given their first vaccination, according to information provided by a staff member of the project funded by the Chinese government to the AFP news agency. The 108 participants in the Chinese study range between 18 and 60 years of age and are being tested in three separate groups. All participants are residents of the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus outbreak begun last year. The test phase is expected to continue until the end of the year.

According to experts, the vaccine tested in the US will also be available one year from now at the earliest. At the beginning of the week, volunteers were given their first dose of a possible vaccine against the Sars-CoV-2 virus.

There are currently no authorized vaccines or medicines against the novel coronavirus, which has taken the lives of over 13,000 people worldwide.

16:39 Saxony starts imposing a state-wide curfew

Saxony is tightening measures to curb the corona pandemic. Starting from midnight this Sunday, the curfew applies to the entire state. After midnight, it will be forbidden to leave one’s apartment or house without a valid reason, Minister of the Interior Roland Wöller has said in Dresden.

16:26 The Olympic Flame in Sendai draws 55,000 visitors

Despite concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, around 55,000 Japanese visited the Olympic Flame in Sendai. The flame was on display at the city’s railway station in a golden bowl. There were queues of up to 500 meters, with many people wearing face masks. The flame had reached the Miyagi Prefecture on Friday.

16:23 Spain to extend curfew until April 11th

In the fight against the corona pandemic, the Spanish Government will extend the curfew active throughout the country until April 11th. This was announced by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. Since March 14th, the 46 million inhabitants of Spain have only been allowed to leave their homes if strictly necessary, such as for work-related reasons, to do shopping, or for medical visits.

16:17 Conflict during discussions on measures to combat the coronavirus?

In the discussions between the Federal and State Governments, there was a falling out between CSU Chief Markus Söder and the Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschet. Laschet is said to have attacked Söder for ordering his own curfew measures for Bavaria on Friday "without consulting" with the Federal Government and other states. Söder had then threatened to leave the call. This has also been reported by the Bild newspaper.

In addition, participants reported that Laschet had joined forces with the other states to submit a policy paper during the conference call. However, the paper was not address in further discussions to reach an agreement, with Ms. Merkel submitting her own paper.

16:05 Emirates grounds passenger flights for the time being

The Emirates air carrier plans to ground its passenger fleet from coming Wednesday onwards, as a result of the spread of the coronavirus. Emirates could only ensure normal passenger operations as soon as "countries reopen their borders and travel confidence returns," Emirates Chief Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Makhtoum said in a statement. Passenger flights will be resumed as soon as possible. Global freight flights will continue as scheduled. The state-owned airline based in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates currently services 145 destinations worldwide. The company employs approximately 60,000 employees and is the largest carrier in the Arab region.

16:01 Federal Government and States to propose a ban on gatherings to combat the corona crisis?

The Federal Government and States want to impose a gatherings ban in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus. According to information from the German Press Agency, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Prime Ministers of the States have reached an agreement to prohibit gatherings of more than two people during a conference call. This would not cover families and persons living in the same household.

15:37 Italian President: I hope Germany will be spared our suffering

In a letter to Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Italian President Sergio Mattarella expressed the wish that other countries can learn from Italy's experiences in the ongoing coronavirus crisis. "I hope that the experiences Italy has gained in combating the infection will be of use to all of Europe and the rest of the world. I very much hope that Germany and other countries will be spared the painful path Italy has taken," he wrote in a letter.

In many Italian regions, "the older generation is being decimated"; a generation that serves as a reference point for the younger generation. Mattarella thanked Steinmeier for German solidarity and support, for example in the delivery of medical products. The official death toll of the corona pandemic in Italy has surpassed that of all other countries in the world.

15:24 EU Commission approves further KfW aid

According to the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs, the EU Commission has approved further German aid for companies. "We are very pleased that the European Commission has given a green light to the KfW Special Programme 2020 today," said a spokesperson from the Ministry. This will allow for improvements in the KfW Special Programme for medium and large enterprises. Above all, the exemption from liability for operating funds for small and medium-sized enterprises can be increased from 80 percent to 90 percent. This will improve the creditworthiness of companies.

15:17 Extraordinary blessing "Urbi et Orbi" during the corona virus crisis

Pope Francis has announced the extraordinary blessing of "Urbi et Orbi". On Friday at 6 p.m. he will give the special blessing and the related general absolution. Traditionally, the blessing is only said on Christmas, Easter and after an election of a Pope. It is the first time that Francis joins the "Urbi et Orbi" (the city and the circle of the Earth) with a special prayer. The process will take place in front of an empty square of St. Peter as access to the square is prohibited due to the virus.

14:49 Amazon restricts order selection in Italy and France

Due to the corona virus crisis, Amazon is no longer accepting orders for some items that are not essential for everyday life in Italy and France. The decision also aims to maintain distance between the employees in the distribution centers and to reduce the risk of infection, said a spokesman for the online dealer. “We need to focus our existing capacity on articles of the highest priority.” Therefore, on Amazon’s French and Italian websites, “some articles of lower priority” cannot be ordered for the time being.

Amazon had already announced a few days ago that it would prioritize an increase in the stocks of medical items and everyday necessities in its logistics centers, while deliveries of other product categories could be delayed.

14:32 First infected doctor dies in France

In France, a doctor has died due to the corona virus infection for the first time. French Health Minister Olivier Véran told the radio station "RTL" that to his knowledge this was the first case. According to the regional television station "France 3 Hauts-de-France", the deceased was about 60 years old, an emergency physician in Compiègne region. The city is located about 80 kilometres north of Paris, in the region of Oise, which is one of the areas most affected by the corona virus in France.

14:07 Federal and State Governments improve aid package for hospitals

After strong criticism from the hospitals, the federal government and the states are improving the planned aid package for the clinics during the coronavirus crisis. The facilities are to receive 560 Euros per day for each bed that remains free due to the postponement of plannable treatments, according to the government sources in Berlin. Originally, depending on the size of the clinic 410 to 540 Euros were envisioned. For each new intensive medical care unit with ventilators, the clinics will receive a bonus of 50,000 Euros instead of originally planned 30,000 Euros. An additional 50 Euros per patient will be paid for a period of eight weeks. The aid package for the federal clinics, doctors and caregivers initially would have been around 3.3 billion euros. The decision resulted in a strong protest from the clinics. Yesterday, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn and his state colleagues decided on the improvements that have been announced today. Together with funds from the health and social care funds, the original draft encompassed a flow of 7.8 billion Euros.

13:53 EU Council Chief Michel advocates for common civil protection

The President of the European Council Charles Michel has called for the creation of a common European civil protection and crisis centre. "There is a lack of a single command centre," he said to the Flemish television show "De zevende dag" on the topic of corona pandemic. The lesson from the crisis is that a stronger approach to crisis management is needed at the European level, says Michel.

13:41 Curfew violations in Bavaria

Police in Bavaria have issued penalties for dozens of curfew violations. In addition to private gatherings such as "coronavirus parties", business people have also not been complying with the requirements that have been in force in Bavaria since the weekend. With more than 5,300 inspections by Sunday morning, officials in Munich alone recorded more than 160 violations.

13:36 14-day curfew in Tunisia

In Tunisia, all citizens are being told to self-isolate due to coronavirus. Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh said that all those who are not classed as key workers should remain at home until April 4. "Much wisdom, responsibility, and discipline" was needed. The state would provide financial support to at-risk companies and workers who had been made redundant, as well as defer bank loans. Payments for electricity, water, and phone lines would be suspended for two months.

13:33 Jobsite for workers in Agriculture

In order to find urgently needed workers in agriculture, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Federal Association of Machinery are launching a jobsite on Monday.

The Farmers Association warns that between April and October around 300,000 seasonal workers from Eastern Europe might be absent, as they won't be able to arrive due to travel restrictions.

13:27 White Helmets disinfect areas in northern Syria

The Syrian rescue organisation White Helmets intends to prevent the spread of coronavirus in northern Syria. Up to 260 schools and other important facilities have already reported infections there, said a spokesman for the organization. Helpers wearing protective suits have been present in the last large rebel area of Idlib as well as the provinces of Hama and Aleppo for some days.

13:16 The Rhineland-Palatinate also admits French patients

Rhineland-Palatinate also wants to admit ten coronavirus patients from the French neighborhood Grand Est, which is severely affected by the pandemic, as Regional President Jean Rottner announced on Twitter. "Thank you to Winfried Kretschmann, Malu Dreyer, and Tobias Hans for supporting us!" he wrote to the Prime Ministers of the German Federal States.

13:10 GEMA provides relief for closed establishments

Venues, cultural establishments, and leisure facilities that have had to close until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak do not have to pay any royalties for music. The Society for Musical Performance and Mechanical Reproduction Rights (GEMA) stated on its website: "No licensee will be charged GEMA fees for the duration of the closure." This will apply retroactively from March 16. The drastic restrictions to public life are necessary and reasonable, the society emphasized. However, they threaten the existence of both licensees and originators. "In representing our approximately 78,000 members, we want to do everything in our power to ensure that our music culture has a future," says GEMA.

13:08 WHO: Isolate more infected

The World Health Organization (WHO) called on European governments, to massively increase the number of tests, similar to what China, Singapore, and South Korea have done. "What we really need to focus on is to find the infected and isolate them,” said WHO expert Mike Ryan on Sunday to BBC. Along with limitations on going outside, this was a model for Europe, which has replaced Asia as the epicentre of the pandemic. “If we manage to suppress the transmission, we can defeat the virus,” he said. British Housing Minister Robert Jenrick said that the production of the tests will double in the UK in the next week. Ryan called to remain realistic about the development of the vaccine. The development and required testing will take "at least one year", he said.

12:44 The Czech borders to remain closed for months

The Czech borders will remain closed for "many months" to come, yet at least half a year. A travel ban for both incoming and outgoing people is to remain in place due to the risk of coronavirus. This was stated on TV by the head of the Czech coronavirus crisis team, the epidemiologist Roman Prymula. Foreigners are allowed to leave, but cannot return. Exceptions apply to cross-border commuters who work in Saxony, Bavaria and Austria.

12:40 Giffey calls for easier access to emergency care

Federal Minister of Family Affairs Franziska Giffey called for parents working in the system-relevant occupations not to remain at home. The states should pragmatically facilitate their access to emergency care, she told Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. The hurdles are currently "high" as both parents need to justify the system-relevance of their jobs and demonstrate that they have no other option to accommodate their children. From Monday, emergency care will be extended to kindergartens and schools in Bavaria: it can be used by families even if only one parent works in health or social care. The decision was made by the state government's disaster task force over the weekend. The target group of beneficiaries for the program was considered broadly.

12:34 Saarland wants to receive severely ill coronavirus patients from France

After Baden-Württemberg, the Saarland also wants to receive severely ill coronavirus patients from the French neighboring region Grand Est, which is severely affected by the pandemic. President Tobias Hans offered this to the French Regional Council President Jean Rottner in a phone call, the State Chancellery in Saarbrücken informed. It is about emergency patients who are urgently dependent on breathing. "We win the fight against the virus only together," Hans said.

12:28 Media report: Macron threatens London with border closure

French President Emmanuel Macron threatens to close borders, media reports. The French newspaper "Liberation" states that the reason for this move is the dissatisfaction with Britain taking less drastic measures to fight the coronavirus.

12:26 Experts: Sports events with spectators unlikely in 2020

Recognized virologists are no longer expecting regular sporting activity with spectators this year in the face of the coronavirus crisis. Berlin virologist Christian Drosten told the news magazine “Stern” that he “does not in any way believe we will be filling soccer stadiums at any point in the foreseeable future. It’s unnecessary,” he said, “and won’t be possible until after this time next year. We’ll have to forgo things that are nice to have but not necessary for a long time.”  

Virologist Alexander Kekulé had also given sports fans little hope for a summer with Olympic Games or football matches in front of full stadiums. "I don’t believe it will be possible to hold the Olympic Games in Tokyo this year,” the expert told the ARD-Sportschau.

12:16 Almost 400 deaths during one day in Spain

In Spain, nearly 400 new deaths due to coronavirus were reported within 24 hours. There were 394 new deaths registered, the government reported in Madrid. The previous day, the increase was about 300 deaths. The total number of confirmed infections continued to increase to 28,572 out of 24,926 the previous day. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez addressed the population and warned that very tough days are ahead of the nation - the worst is still to come.

12:10 EU collaboration on repatriation flights

The countries of the European Union want to cooperate on repatriation flights for holidaymakers, states Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas. After the countries first recovered their citizens on their own, they now register their flights in an additional European system, he told the newspapers of the Radio Media Group. "If we have idle capacities, we also bring citizens from other EU countries with us" Maas said. Germans could also join repatriation flights of other countries. "In a join effort, we will be able to get all Europeans home much faster," Maas said.

12:08 WHO: Curfews are not sufficient

The World Health Organization WHO warns governments that, in the fight against the coronavirus, focussing primarily on curfews is not sufficient. “What we really need to focus on is finding infected people and isolating them,” said WHO expert Mike Ryan to the BBC.

“Imposing curfews holds great danger: If we do not decide on strong health measures, the virus may spread again after curfews have been lifted”, he warned.

12:02 Madrid: Curfew to be extended

To curb the coronavirus crisis, the Spanish government intends, according to media reports, to extend the emergency and the curfew throughout the country by two weeks, which is until 12 April. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez informed the Regional President in a video conference, reported the state television station RTVE and several Spanish newspapers, referring to government circles. However, an extension of the so-called state of alarm, the third-highest emergency level, must be approved by Parliament.

12:00 No plan to tap into state’s food reserves  

Despite panic buying due to the coronavirus outbreak, food supply in Germany is not at risk, according to the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance. At the moment, there is “no plan to access the state’s food reserves in any way,” the President of the Federal Office, Christoph Unger, told the “Tagesspiegel am Sonntag”. Water and electricity supplies will also remain unaffected. Unger advised against panic buying. “Stocking up is good, panic buying is pointless,” he told the paper – even though yeast or flour might occasionally end up being out of stock.

11:56 Scheuer: New rules against supply shortages

To prevent bottlenecks in supply during the coronavirus crisis, Federal Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer intends to keep logistics centres open for a longer period. These should be allowed to stay open 24 hours a day, to avoid bottlenecks in the supply of branches, for example in supermarket chains, the German Press Agency learned from government circles. To this end, there should be more flexibility in working time.

Scheuer claims to be in discussions on this and also to be in close communication with local associations about facilitating more night deliveries between 10 pm to 6 am.

11:54 EU Commission approves French aid

The EU Commission has approved French aid to support the economy after the coronavirus outbreak. By its own account, the institution in Brussels has approved three schemes for France to support struggling firms with loans to the amount of 300 billion euro. The Commission gave its approval within 48 hours of adopting a new framework for state aid on 19 March to support the economy in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

11:52 Rapid increase in Corona infections in the USA

In the US, the number of people infected with the coronavirus increased by more than 10 times to more than 26,000 cases within a week. These figures are reported by the American Johns Hopkins University. Almost a quarter of the U.S. population, 80 million out of 330 million inhabitants, are now affected by more or less harsh curfews. Such restrictions existed in California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

11:47 Belgium: Minister of Health expects Coronavirus situation to last longer

Maggie De Block, the Minister of Health in Belgium, expects the situation in Belgium to be dominated by coronavirus for at least eight more weeks. The prediction is based on countries like China and South Korea, where the virus had broken out earlier, De Block told the newspaper "De Zondag". The increasing rate of infection will similarly fall again: "This virus may be new, but it behaves like other viruses from the same family," said the minister.

11:44 Improvements to the conditions around loans

The Federal Government is apparently planning improvements in special credit programmes for medium and large enterprises. Accordingly, the state funding bank KfW is now to take over 90 percent of the credit risk for operating capital loans instead of 80 percent, as the German Press Agency learned from the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

11:41 Number of cases in Germany

The Robert Koch Institute reported 18,610 infections in Germany today – 1948 more than yesterday. That means the number of new infections has decreased for the fourth day in a row, given that on Saturday the number of cases had increased by 2705. However, the Institute warned that not all local authorities had submitted data over the weekend, meaning the actual increase in cases could be higher than reported. "The data will be submitted on Monday," the Robert Koch Institute said. It announced that the number of deaths stood at 55, compared with an increase of 15 to 46 reported on Saturday. The Institute also announced that one patient had wrongly been confirmed as deceased on Saturday.

11:37 TV broadcast of ecumenical service from Gedächtniskirche in Berlin

An ecumenical church service was broadcast on Sunday from the empty Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche in Berlin. Because of the coronavirus crisis, services have been suspended in churches, mosques, and synagogues. The broadcast seeks to reach as many people as possible and to be understood as a sign of solidarity and hope. The few participants kept a distance from each other. The church service was broadcast live on RBB TV and via the Internet on RBB Kultur.

11:23 BMW stops US production

BMW is stopping production at its large US plant in South Carolina due to the coronavirus crisis. “Health and protection of our employees is our top priority,” said the German automobile manufacturer. At the same time, the coronavirus pandemic has an enormous impact on the global demand for cars. Therefore, production will be adjusted accordingly. The US plant at the Spartanburg plant in South Carolina is expected to close initially for two weeks from April 3rd.

11:21 Scholz sceptical of curfews

Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz is sceptical of curfews in Germany: "In the current situation, everyone has a need for fresh air," the SPD politician told the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung". "I, for one, hope we won’t be denied access to the outdoors in a time when most leisure activities are no longer possible," said the Finance Minister in advance of the phone call between the Federal Government and the Prime Ministers. It is not about gestures, but about measures that help.

11:20 Impact of the crisis on the British health system

An unrestrained spread of the virus in the UK would, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, overburden the state health system NHS. "If we do not work together; if we do not master this heroic and nationally united action to slow the spread - then it is only too likely that our NHS will be overburdened (in a similar way)," Johnson said several newspapers referencing the situation in Italy. "We are only weeks - two or three - behind Italy," he added.

11:14 Expert recommendation on curfews

Leopoldina, the National Academy of Science, has recommended a three-week “shutdown” which is also supported by further researchers.

11:14 Situation in Thailand aggravates

In Thailand, the number of people infected with the novel coronavirus has increased by one third to nearly 600 cases. According to the Thai Ministry of Health, this is the largest increase within a day since the outbreak of the pandemic. The increase mainly affects the capital Bangkok with its more than ten million inhabitants, the ministry told.

The ministry called on people to stay at home and not to travel inside the country. Doctors are now demanding curfews, especially for Bangkok. The nation is "on the verge of a crisis" and steers towards a situation like in Italy, a doctor of the news agency AFP said.

11:08 129 new virus deaths in Iran

In Iran, the number of deaths from the coronavirus pandemic has increased by 129 to 1685. The number of confirmed cases of infection increased to 21,638. Health Ministry spokesman Kianusch Jahanpur announced the figures at a press conference broadcast on television.

11:04 Bundeswehr delivers protective masks to Heinsberg district

The Bundeswehr has started to provide emergency aid to the particularly affected Heinsberg district. For this purpose, soldiers handed over 3,000 respiratory masks, 15,000 mouth and nose protection masks and 8,000 gowns to the relief workers in Erkelenz. Additionally, the Bundeswehr also provided two breathing machines for intensive care units, as the North Rhine-Westphalia State Command informed.

The district bordering the Netherlands was one of the high impact areas of the wave of infection at an early stage and had asked the Bundeswehr for help. The armed forces had assembled the material at several locations in Germany and transported it by truck in the direction of Heinsberg.

11:01 Improved air quality in quarantine areas

According to scientists, air quality is improving in areas quarantined due to the coronavirus pandemic. In northern Italy, the concentration of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide has "almost halved on average", Vincent-Henri Peuch of the European Union's Earth Observation Program Copernicus told the news agency AFP. The European Environment Agency reported similar air quality changes in Barcelona and Madrid, where the Spanish authorities imposed a curfew in mid-March. Changes in air quality were first noticed China where the coronavirus pandemic originated.

10:45 Situation in Italy deteriorates

Italy had to shoulder 800 corona deaths in a single day – and immediately intensifies all measures: all non-essential industries shut down.

10:45 Russia to send help to Italy

With Italy severely suffering from the coronavirus pandemic, Russia is looking to send medical and personnel assistance to the country. The Ministry of Defense in Moscow announced that nine planes are ready for departure to Italy from the Chkalovsky air base near Moscow. A total of eight brigades with medical equipment are set to head towards the Southern European country. The number of personnel in one brigade is still unclear.

10:42 The Federal Government organizes a hackathon to develop apps

The Federal Government has organized a hackathon to look for new measures to combat the coronavirus. One proposal concerned the use of movement and health data, which has already been implemented by other countries for some time now.

10:27 Rate of new infections in Germany appears to slow down

In Germany, the rate of increase in coronavirus infections and deaths appears to slow down. Today, the Robert Koch Institute reported 18,610 infections, an increase of 1,948 over yesterday. On Saturday, there was still an increase of 2,705 in the number of new cases.

The Institute reported 55 deaths on Sunday, after the number jumped by 15 to 46 on Saturday. The Institute furthermore reported that one patient had been falsely reported as being deceased on Saturday.

The Johns Hopkins University in the US currently reports a total of 22,364 infections and 84 deaths in Germany.

08:41 Australia announces aid package

The Australian Government has announced a comprehensive aid package due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The package of 66 billion Australian dollars (nearly 36 billion Euros) includes aid payments of up to $100,000 for small businesses and other non-profit organizations, an increase in unemployment allowance and a one-time payment of $750 for retirees.

Minister of Finance Josh Frydenberg announced that "these exceptional times require exceptional measures." With the new aid package, the Australian Government and the Central Bank are reporting a total of 189 billion dollars worth of aid to help ease the impact of the coronavirus crisis. More than 1,300 cases and seven deaths have been reported in Australia so far. The government has already taken drastic measures to curb the pandemic, including the closure of borders for foreigners and the imposition of more stringent restrictions on domestic travel.

7:13 a.m. Brits with pre-existing conditions expected to stay at home for three months

In the UK, up to 1.5 million people who are considered to be particularly vulnerable to infection with CoViD-19 due to pre-existing conditions are asked to stay at home for at least three months. British health authorities have called on people with a particularly high risk of infection to take "additional" measures to "protect themselves".

Among others, patients with blood or bone cancer, as well as to people suffering from cystic fibrosis or patients who have recently received an organ transplant are addressed. People belonging to one or more risk groups will be contacted by their general physicians, or the specialists that are already providing treatment to them, and will be asked to stay at home for a period of "at least twelve weeks". There will be a special hotline as well as delivery services for food and medicines.

07:08 Summary of last night

India and Turkey have put varying curfews in place. The global number of infected surpasses 300,000. Death toll in France and Italy spikes. The US has approved a rapid test that is said to deliver results within 45 minutes.  Sydney to close all beaches in the city. Berlin has doubled down own measures: gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited now and restaurants can also serve take-away customers or delivery companies.