This is the live blog for April 2, 2020.

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Non-German native speakers have a hard time to stay on top of the news concerning the development of the situation of CoViD-19 specifically in Germany. Because of that, we curate a live blog in English for all people living in Germany. The information published on this site is translated from German and 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 live-translating between 09:00 am CEST and 17:30 pm CEST

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Short Facts

  • Putin declares April as a paid holiday month
  • Almost 3000 deaths in the UK
  • Compromise for harvest workers
  • EU wants to provide even more money
  • Almost 6.65 million applications for unemployment benefits in the USA

17:37 That's it for today. Join us tomorrow for more live updates!

From now on, please head over to Tagesschau to follow the updates (German only).

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17:31 Fake e-mails in circulation

The Federal Employment Agency warns against fake serial e-mails. The messages are sent under the address, mainly to companies, and contain the request to disclose personal data.

The Federal Employment Agency recommended that the e-mails should be deleted immediately and not to reply to them under any circumstances.

17:28 Luxembourg orders schools to stay closed for longer

In Luxembourg, schools, kindergartens, and universities will remain closed until at least May 4th. This has been announced by the Minister of Education, Claude Meisch. Until now, the government had been considering resuming regular operations after the Easter holidays.

Regular school operations in Luxembourg have been suspended since March 16th.

17:19 EU Hospital Alliance warns of drug shortages

The European University Hospital Alliance, of which the Berlin Charité hospital is also a member, has warned that there might be acute problems in drug deliveries.

This not only concerns medicines for corona patients, but also drugs to relax muscles as well as sedatives and pain medications. In those hospitals in the EU hit hardest by the corona pandemic, stocks of some drugs are said to only last for two more days.

17:12 State of Hesse adopts catalogue of fines

In Hesse, there will be high fines if people do not comply with the imposed bans on gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic from tomorrow onward. Penalties of up to 5,000 euro can be imposed in cases of violation.

17:04 Stuttgart Airport to close temporarily

From Monday onward, Stuttgart Airport will close for a little over two weeks due to the corona crisis. The Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Transport has communicated their approval of halting flight operations from April 6th to 22nd.

17:04 Study on new coronavirus symptoms

A study by scientists from the University of Mons in Belgium has found that the disease caused by the coronavirus can also affect the sense of smell and taste.

417 patients with mild symptoms were studied. 86 percent of them indicated that their sense of smell had been severely impaired or that they lost their sense of smell completely for some time.

88 percent of patients complained about a reduced sense of taste. The researchers therefore assume that in people with an infection without any pre-existing throat, nose, ear conditions, this impairment should be considered a "specific characteristic" of corona infection. This also is the case if patients do not have any other symptoms.

16:53 Federal Government to support organizers

With concerts and sporting events canceled, the Federal Government wants to help protect organizers against financial damages and supports the proposal that they can offer vouchers instead of refunding cash.

16:45 Unreliable test results in Saxony-Anhalt?

In Saxony-Anhalt, the authorities are currently examining whether numerous corona tests do not deliver reliable results. The Ministry of Social Affairs has confirmed to the dpa news agency that 1,675 test sets might be shoddy. It is suspected that they are above all suitable for detecting bacteria, and not viruses.

The State Office for Consumer Protection is now investigating whether the tests provide unreliable results. How many of these tests have already been used is unclear.

16:42 Request for compensation in the event of quarantine will be online soon

Employers can soon apply for reimbursement of compensation paid for employees in quarantine online. Currently, the application must still be sent by post. The Federal Ministry of the Interior expects the online reimbursement application to go live at the end of April.

Companies must pay six weeks of compensation for employees in quarantine because of a corona infection or a suspicion of an infection in advance. However, they can have the authorities reimburse the amount.

16:20 Russia extends time off for citizens

To minimize the spread of the coronavirus, Russian President Vladimir Putin has extended the original week off for the population until April 30th.

In Russia, severe curfews are in place because of the pandemic. Violations can be severely punished as of this week, ranging from high fees up to prison terms.

16:04 Agreement for harvesters

Federal Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner (CDU) and Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer (CSU) have agreed that harvest workers from abroad may enter Germany under certain conditions.

As a result, 40,000 harvest workers are now allowed to come to Germany this month and next month. However, they must first undergo a health check and may only enter in groups by plane.

During the first 14 days of their deployment in Germany, the helpers must work separately from other workers and may not leave the company where they are employed.

15:48 Lufthansa to keep flying minimum schedule until early May

Lufthansa has announced that it will continue its current flight schedule, limited to basic services, until May 3rd. Compared to the previous year, the airline is currently using only five percent of its actual capacity, according to a Lufthansa spokesperson.

The flight schedule now includes 18 long-haul connections per week to the six destinations Newark and Chicago in the US, Montreal, Sao Paolo, Bangkok, and Tokyo. In addition, 50 daily connections from Frankfurt and Munich are planned to major cities in Germany and Europe.

Lufthansa's subsidiary Austrian Airlines will completely halt flight operations until May 3rd. So far, the halting op operations had been scheduled until April 19th.

15:26 Over 1,000 dead in the UK within 24 hours

In the UK, the death toll has risen from 1,600 to 2,921 within a single day, as reported by the Ministry of Health. So far, nearly 163,200 citizens had been tested for the virus, and about 33,700 of these tests have turned out positive.

15:21 Thailand imposes night curfew

Starting tomorrow, there will be a curfew in place in Thailand between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Exceptions will apply, among other things, to health workers, shift workers, and suppliers of consumer goods, newspapers, and gas, as well as to persons traveling to or from an airport.

Last week, the country had already imposed a one-month emergency due to the corona pandemic.

15:19 Robert Koch Institute advises people to wear masks

Contrary to previous advice, the Robert Koch Institute now recommends people without symptoms to also wear respiratory masks.

The institute's website states: "Wearing a makeshift mask "can help intercept droplets that are emitted when speaking, coughing, or sneezing, for example. This would reduce the risk of infecting another person by coughing, sneezing, or speaking." This has not been scientifically proven.

15:09 Belgium top-flight soccer cancels season

The top flight of Belgian soccer will be terminated before the last day of regular play and the playoffs. The Pro League's Board of Directors has recommended this, as reported by news agency Belga.

If the League's General Assembly follows this recommendation, Club Brugge will be declared the champion. No teams will be relegated to the 2nd League, but two clubs from the 2nd will be promoted to the 1st nevertheless. No games are currently being played.

15:06 Israel: Health Minister Litzman tested positive

71-year-old Israeli Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman and his wife have tested positive for the coronavirus and are undergoing medical treatment.

Prime-Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also decided to self-quarantine again, having been in contact with Litzman.

15:03 More than 100,000 Austrians download "Stop Corona" app

For a few days now, Austrians have been able to download the "Stop Corona" app, which was developed by the country's Red Cross. The app works a little like a contact diary: it should quickly inform uses about suspected cases or positive tests in people with whom the user has been in contact over the last 48 hours. In a next step, the Red Cross wants to implement additional features. This includes a symptom check if someone is afraid of having contracted the virus.

So far, over 130,000 Austrians have already downloaded the app on their smartphone.

14:56 Corona crisis leads to lower electricity consumption

Closed stores, working from home – according to the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), the coronavirus restrictions have resulted in lower electricity consumption. In the first three days of this week, consumption dropped by 8.7 percent compared to the same period at the beginning of March. In the last week, it is 7.4 percent less than in the first week of March.

In other countries, consumption has dropped even more significant, according to the BDEW: In Italy, consumption was 30 percent lower in the first three days of this week than it was four weeks ago. In France, it was 20 percent, in Spain 19 percent, and in the Netherlands 18 percent.

14:52 Federal Ministry of Health confirms purchase of flu medications

Germany will purchase medicines from abroad that could help combat coronavirus. The Federal Ministry of Health confirmed corresponding reports of the "FAZ". Accordingly, the medications include, for example, Avigan, approved in Japan as an anti-flu agent, as well as malaria agents containing the active substance Chloroquin.

The chemical and pharmaceutical group Bayer has also announced that it will start producing its malaria agent Resochin in Europe.

14:52 Massive increase in unemployment in the US

According to the US Department of Labor, nearly 6.65 million people have reported for unemployment over the last week. In the week before, there has already been 3.3 million first applications for unemployment benefits – the highest figure since 1982.

14:40 Thousands of returnees have already landed in Switzerland

Switzerland also makes it possible for holidaymakers who are facing travel restrictions abroad to return home via repatriation flights. Twelve such flights have already been organised by the country, bringing back over 2,000 Swiss citizens and around 1,200 citizens of other EU countries, including about 200 Germans.

14:32 Munich airport applies for reduced hours

Munich Airport, the second-largest of Germany, applies for reduced hours for thousands of employees. In addition to Flughafen München GmbH (FMG), the airport’s subsidiary AeroGround is also affected. According to FMG, there is also a "hours reduced to zero" plan with flight traffic interrupted. The airport wants to increase the legal reduced hours wage to up to 90 percent of the regular net salary.

The Frankfurt airport operator Fraport had already applied for reduced hours two weeks ago.

14:25 New date for the Democratic Convention in the US?

Joe Biden, one of the favorites in the race for the presidential candidacy of the Democrats, doubts that his party’s nomination convention can take place in mid-July, as planned. He expects that a new date will have to be found in August, Biden said in an interview with television station NBC.

At the convention, the Democratic candidate for the presidential election in November is officially selected, who will challenge President Donald Trump.

14:19 Federal Government expects strong economic collapse

According to Federal Minister Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier, the Federal Government fears that the corona crisis could lead to an even stronger recession than during the 2009 financial crisis. Back then, gross domestic product decreased by 5.7 percent.

At the beginning of the year, i.e. before the beginning of the pandemic, a growth of 1.1 percent was still expected.

14:15 Czech Republic and Portugal extend precautionary measures

The Czech Cabinet has approved prolonged border controls as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The controls at the borders with Germany and Austria will now be in place until at least April 24th. The Ministry of the Interior is to receive an additional EUR 655,000 in funding. Until Easter Sunday, there will be a ban on entry for foreigners and an exit ban for its own citizens.

In Portugal, the Parliament has approved an extension of the state of emergency, which was imposed on March 18th and is now valid until April 17th. In addition, the approximately ten million inhabitants of the country face strict curfews.

13:57 A much higher number of deaths in Bergamo?

The number of deaths caused by a coronavirus infection in the Italian province of Bergamo may be much higher than the official information indicates. This conclusion was reached in a study jointly conducted by the daily newspaper "L'Eco di Bergamo" and a data analysis company, from which the news agency AP has published quotes. The study suggests that it is likely that 4,500 people died in Bergamo in March. According to official figures, 2,060 people passed away. Many people have died at home or in retirement or nursing homes and were never tested for the virus, the mayor of the province said. Current regulations in Italy only allow for patients in hospital with severe symptoms to be tested.

13:22 WHO: The older, the more vulnerable

Almost all victims of the coronavirus in Europe were elderly individuals. As reported by the WHO, 95 percent of the deceased were aged 60 or older. At the same time, the World Health Organization warned against the making the assumption that younger people are not at risk through the virus. Even among teenagers and young adults, the disease could take a serious course, said WHO representative Hans Kluge in Copenhagen. Among the under 50-year-olds, serious cases amount to between ten and 15 percent.

12:57 India's curfew claims many victims

The Indian authorities are trying to maintain the country's curfew with drastic means. But this barely seems possible in the slums, ARD correspondent Silke Diettrich reports. Aid organizations are warning of the consequences for the poorest.

12:39 Serious allegations against the USA

The heavily coronavirus-affected French region of Grand-Est has accused the USA of buying urgently needed protective masks from China that were intended for France. The president of the region, Jean Rottner, told the television station RTL that the Americans bought masks ordered by France "on the runway" in China. "They took out cash and paid three or four times more than our order price," Rottner criticized. France has ordered one billion protective masks from China because of the coronavirus crisis. The Grand Est region includes Alsace, Lorraine, and Champagne-Ardenne. 1585 people have officially died from the lung disease Covid-19 in Grand Est alone.

12:33 EU wants to provide further billions in funding

The head of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has once again announced billions in aid to counter the economic crisis. Every available euro in the EU budget must be activated in response to the crisis. All EU rules will be eased so that the money can flow quickly and effectively. A new "solidarity instrument" would also activate 100 billion euros for jobs and companies - this refers to the announced short-time work instrument called "Sure".

12:10 950 deaths in Spain within 24 hours

Spain has reported 950 deaths within 24 hours. This is the highest number since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the country. The total number of infected persons rose by almost eight percent to over 110,000. According to the Spanish government, however, the average infection rate is falling slightly. Spain was one of the first countries in Europe to impose strict curfews.

11:50 DAK: Significantly more sick leave due to minor respiratory problems

Significantly more people are absent from work due to mild respiratory problems. According to a brief analysis by the health insurance company DAK, their number doubled in March compared to the same period last year. Due to the coronavirus crisis, doctors are currently allowed to issue sick leave by phone for up to 14 days in order to relieve the burden on their practices and to avoid unnecessary social contact. According to DAK, they evaluated all current sick leaves involving acute upper respiratory tract infections. As of March 16, just under 35,000 DAK-insured employees were absent from work. This is an increase of 40 percent compared to the previous week.

11:24 Australia's security forces plan major operation

Australia's police and army are planning a major operation on cruise ships stranded near Sydney due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to a police representative, police and soldiers will be bringing doctors on board eight ships starting this weekend. The doctors are to test the almost 9000 crew members on board for the coronavirus. Anyone who urgently needs medical help is to be taken off the ship. Australia had issued a docking ban on all cruise ships in mid-March because of the corona crisis.

10:59 Steinmeier encourages helping businesses

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has appealed to the public to also help small shops and restaurants.We can also buy vouchers from our favourite shops, which currently have to stay closed, or order take-away food from our favourite restaurants, he said in a video message. It would also be conceivable to not ask for refunds for purchased tickets. Steinmeier also mentioned the many internet platforms for volunteers who want to help farmers with their harvest.

10:49 Belgium plans blood tests

Large-scale blood tests in Belgium should provide information on the actual spread of the coronavirus in the population. The Red Cross and the health authorities agreed on a large-scale testing campaign for antibodies. The Red Cross will make 3000 blood samples available for testing every two weeks. Antibodies can be detected even if a person has developed few or no symptoms - even if the infection dates back some time. The examination should provide information on the degree of infection of the virus as well as on the development and strength of the immune system.

10:31 Emergency aid to be paid

After the initial rush for coronavirus emergency aid for businesses, disbursement is slowly getting underway. By Tuesday evening, more than 374,000 applications had been approved in eleven German states alone, according to a state survey by the news agency DPA. According to the survey, approximately 1.3 billion euros have already been given to companies whose very existence is in jeopardy. In thirteen states, the number of applications received by the responsible state development banks totalled more than 929,000. 1.8 billion euros have already been allocated to self-employed and freelance workers, according to a survey by the "Bild" newspaper. 1.1 million applications for emergency aid have been approved.

10:09 Ministry allegedly orders flu medication

According to a media report, the German Federal Ministry of Health has ordered a drug on a large scale to be used to help combat the Covid-19 lung disease. As the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reports, it is the antiviral flu tablet Avigan. According to the report, Avigan has limited approval in Japan for use against the coronavirus. The government in China recently announced that promising clinical studies are available from Wuhan. As the ministry confirmed on "FAZ" request, the procurement of Avigan for use in the treatment of severe cases of Covid-19-infected patients is being initiated. This also applies to the drugs Kaletra, Foipan, and chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine containing drugs. "

09:51 Coronavirus costs hundreds of thousands of jobs in Spain

Some 900,000 workers have lost their jobs in Spain since mid-March as a result of the coronavirus crisis, figures from the Spanish social security system have revealed. Half of those affected were temporary workers. Unemployment in Spain thus rose to 3.5 million last month.

09:27 Greek refugee camp under quarantine

The Greek coronavirus response team has quarantined a refugee camp in northern Athens for 14 days. According to national radio, coronavirus had previously been detected in a woman after the birth of her child at the beginning of the week. Subsequently, another 20 refugees in the Ritsona camp tested positive for the virus. The situation in the Ritsona camp – where an estimated 3,000 people live – is not nearly as bad as in the completely overcrowded camps on the islands in the east of the Aegean.

09:15 Significant decline in air traffic

Due to the coronavirus crisis, there have barely been any take-offs or landings at major German airports. In the last week of March (23-29 March), the number of passengers decreased to just under 206,000, as reported by the Flughafenverband ADV (German Airports Association). This corresponds to five percent of the previous year’s figure. The decrease in freight was significantly lower, with a volume that was only 20.4 percent below last year's figure.

09:05 Grand Canyon closed to visitors

The Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona has closed to visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic. County representatives and members of the Native American Navajo tribe reported that in recent days hundreds of people were still visiting the natural wonder, despite the ban on public gatherings. Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming as well as Joshua Trees and Yosemite National Park in California have already closed.

08:56 Bavaria still has most Covid-19 cases

Bavaria has recorded the most coronavirus infections out of all the German states, both in terms of absolute numbers as well as relative to its population. This was revealed by the latest RKI statistics. Accordingly, 142.32 people are suffering from Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants in Bavaria, followed by Baden-Württemberg (133.01), Hamburg (131.43) and the Saarland (102.60). The fewest patients per 100,000 inhabitants are in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (27.19).

08:49 Little hope for early school openings

The President of the "Kultusministerkonferenz" (Conference of Ministers of Education), Stefanie Hubig, has attenuated expectations of a rapid reopening of schools after the Easter break. "At the moment, we are not sure whether the schools can reopen on April 20," said Hubig to the newspapers of the Funke Media Group. The recommendation of health experts is crucial. It is important to have a federal regulation on this issue. At the moment, the situation is extremely dynamic.

08:25 Germany well equipped with intensive care beds

By international standards, Germany has a high supply density of intensive care beds in hospitals. There are 33.9 intensive care beds per 100,000 inhabitants, reports the Federal Statistical Office. Austria (28.9) and the United States (25.8) also have a comparatively high density. Significantly lower capacities are found in countries particularly hard hit by the pandemic, such as Spain with 9.7 and Italy with 8.6 intensive care beds per 100,000 inhabitants. According to the German Hospital Federation, the number of intensive care beds has been increased from 28,000 to 40,000. The number of beds with respiratory equipment amounts to around 30,000.

08:00 Here's what happened last night

  • Robert Koch Institute reports more than 70,000 cases in Germany
  • Germany raised number of intensive care beds from 28,000 to 40,000
  • More than 200,000 corona infections in the US
  • Federal and State governments looking to extend gatherings ban in Germany until April 19
  • More than 100,000 infected in Spain