This is the live blog for April 8, 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

  • WTO fears massive decline in world trade
  • Federal government expects 40 million protective masks
  • Rapid increase of infected in Africa
  • Spain plans to gradually ease restrictions from the end of April
  • Economic researchers expect severe recession
  • More than 103,000 infected people in Germany

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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17:27 Passengers stuck on the cruise ship

Almost 60 percent of the 200 passengers on board the cruise ship ‘Greg Mortimor‘, which belongs to the Australian shipping company Aurora, are infected with the coronavirus. The ship is currently anchored off Uruguay and is not allowed to dock.

Eight passengers have been taken ashore to hospitals. The other 128 passengers haven’t shown any symptoms so far despite being infected. They now have to wait to be taken home. According to the shipping company operators, planes have been chartered to fly the holidaymakers back home. Most of the passengers come from Australia and New Zealand.

17:18 World Medical Association Chair Montgomery: Duty to wear masks would be inadmissible

The Chair of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, doubted in an interview with the "Passauer Neue Presse" that a general duty to wear masks would be legally admissible. According to Montgomery, there are not enough masks available for everyone. Therefore it would be difficult to introduce a duty that citizens could not fully comply with.

17:12 Hamburg cancels Derby

The German Jumping and Dressage Derby in Hamburg has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The tournament should have taken place from May 20 to 24. The organizers are now considering a new date, possibly in July or August.

17:09 An advance in the Franco-German financing dispute?

As the news agency dpa reports, Germany and France are planning to settle the dispute within the EU over financial aid in the coronavirus crisis through joint proposals. This was announced by French President Emmanuel Macron, the agency said, citing circles in the presidential office in Paris.

So far, France and Germany have, to some extent,  taken different positions in the dispute, especially on the issue of the so-called corona bonds.

17:02 EU Commission for prolonging entry ban

The EU Commission has proposed continuing to suspend entry into the EU until 15 May. However, the decision about whether the measures should be applied longer is with the individual EU states.

16:53 WTO makes a gloomy forecast for the world economy

The World Trade Organization (WTO) forecasts that the coronavirus pandemic could cause global trade to collapse by up to a third. WTO head Roberto Azevedo fears the prospect of the "deepest economic recession in our lifetimes".

The organization refers to an optimistic scenario with an economic decline of 13 percent and a pessimistic scenario. The latter provides for a plummet in world trade plummet by as much as 32 percent.

16:33 EU relaxes antitrust law for pharmaceutical companies

Pharmaceutical companies are allowed to coordinate their activities in the coronavirus crisis more closely than provided for under EU law. This is to prevent bottlenecks in the supply of medicines. The EU Commission has temporarily relaxed the relevant antitrust rules for this purpose.

For example, the companies are allowed to make agreements on the production and distribution of medicines, announced Margrethe Vestager, the EU Competition Commissioner. This should prevent companies from concentrating too much on certain medicines while other medicines are lacking.

16:29 Head of UKE Intensive Care Medicine: Easing coronavirus measures in April

The head of the Department of Intensive Care Medicine at the University Medical Center in Hamburg-Eppendorf, Professor Stefan Kluge, has spoken out in favor of easing the first coronavirus measures this month – admittedly "in very small doses", but "you have to start slowly".

Social distancing could not be maintained for months. The situation in the federal states also has to be taken into account: Bavaria still has the highest number of infections from the virus. In other states, such as Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the rate is lower, therefore it is possible to reopen schools earlier, Kluge continued.

16:18 Ethiopia declares state of emergency

East African Ethiopia has declared a national emergency due to the spread of coronavirus. This was announced by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office. The state of emergency allows the tightening of already existing restrictions.

Ethiopia had already postponed the parliamentary elections scheduled for 29 August because of the corona crisis.

16:15 Federal Constitutional Court rejects emergency appeal against precautionary measures

Federal Constitutional Court judges in Karlsruhe have decided on an emergency appeal against the restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. The plaintiff had criticized the measures as too drastic; such as the ban on meeting friends or not being allowed to visit parents.

The court admitted that the measures considerably restrict basic rights but that the dangers to life and limb would outweigh them.

16:02 US Institute expects fewer deaths from coronavirus

Experts from the University of Washington expect fewer deaths from the pandemic in the USA than initially predicted. Yesterday, the institute had stated a death toll of around 82,000 by August 4, but now the authors of the study assume that 60,000 corona deaths will have occurred by that date.

15:58 Basketball Bundesliga club Brose Bamberg opts for reduced hours

Nine-times German basketball champion club Brose Bamberg is giving its employees reduced hours. How long the measures will last depends on whether and when the German basketball season is continued. It is currently suspended until at least the end of April. In addition, both the players and the coach have agreed to waive 50 percent of their salary in order to minimize the economic losses.

15:55 French unions call for strike

Trade unions in France have called on workers at the mail-order company Amazon, as well as supermarket and service sector employees to go on strike.

The workers have been working seven days a week since the extension of shop opening hours and risking their lives, is the reason given by the trade union federation CFDT. Therefore, face masks and protective clothing must be available for all employees who are in constant contact with customers.

In the USA, Amazon had promised to provide masks, disinfectants and to take temperatures after a strike by the employees.

15:28 Federal Government expects 40 million protective masks for Germany

In the fight against the corona epidemic, the Federal Government expects the arrival of further protective equipment for medical personnel. This week, 40 million protective masks are expected to arrive in Germany, announced the Ministry of Health.

This would be as many masks as had arrived over the previous two weeks. This is also thanks to a cooperation with Lufthansa, forming an "air bridge" of sorts for regular transport flights to China.

15:25 BMW now also producing protective masks

During the ongoing corona crisis, automaker BMW is also entering the production of protective masks. The machines needed for production are reported to be delivered in the coming weeks, after which up to 300,000 masks could be produced per day, said BMW CEO Oliver Zipse in Munich.

BMW also wants to produce the masks to cover its own needs. To resume production in the plants in the coming weeks, many employees will need protective masks. However, any excess masks are to be made available for doctors and caretakers to use.

15:10 Men and women may only shop separately in Italian communities

To further contain the coronavirus pandemic, a small Italian community is taking extreme measures: Men and women in Canonica d'Adda in Lombardy will no longer be allowed to buy food on the same days. Women are allowed to shop on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, men on the other days. Those who break the rule will have to pay a fine of up to 400 euros.

The aim is to reduce the number of people in supermarkets. According to him, 20 people have died of Covid-19 in the village of 4400 residents near the badly hit city of Bergamo so far.

14:59 Travel industry faces uncertainty regarding the summer holidays

In spite of the uncertainty concerning the development of the coronavirus pandemic, travel agents hope that business will pick up again this summer in the travel industry. "Just like many travellers, we hope that travel restrictions will soon be lifted and allow people to travel again," said the industry leader Tui.  

However, according Medical Association President Klaus Reinhardt thinks that travellers will still be subject to considerable restrictions over the summer holidays. "I don't believe that the Germans will be able to go on vacation again this summer," the President of the German Medical Association told the newspapers of the Funke Mediengruppe. Even if we gradually return to normal everyday life, the pandemic will continue to affect country until summer.

15:51 A "very different" Oktoberfest

Bavaria's Minister-President Markus Söder has expressed doubt in the “Bild” newspaper that this year’s Oktoberfest in Munich can take place as usual. “The Wiesn is a very international festival, with visitors from all over the world,” said the CSU politician. Therefore, “if at all”, the Oktoberfest can only be organized under completely different conditions. The situation is different, with traveling and openings of the border very unlikely.

A decision on Oktoberfest is expected in June, in line with the current plans. More than six million people visit the largest Volksfest in the world each year.

14:55 WHO defends itself against Trump's criticism

The World Health Organization (WHO) has defended itself against criticism from US President Donald Trump and his threat to cut the organization's funding. "We are still in the acute phase of the pandemic, so now is not the time to reduce funding," said WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge in Geneva.  

Trump had accused the WHO of failure and tweeted that the organization "really blew it" in terms of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. He also threatened to suspend his country's contribution payments. In 2019, the USA paid more than 400 million dollars, more than any other country.

14:39 Italy: Public prosecutor's office investigating nursing homes

Italy is seeing increasing criticism regarding mistakes hospitals and nursing homes have made in dealing with the coronavirus crisis. Nursing homes in the particularly affected region of Lombardy have experienced a seemingly unchecked spread of the virus.  

In a well-known geriatrics department in Milan alone, 110 people have died and cases have been concealed since March, the newspaper "Corriere della Sera" reported. The public prosecutor's office in Milan has started investigating the situation in several nursing homes.

14:34 Number of cases in Africa is growing

According to the World Health Organization, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Africa has risen to more than 10,000. Over 500 infected individuals have died, the WHO reported on Wednesday in Brazzaville.  

The coronavirus pandemic could lead to thousands of deaths in Africa and leave behind social and economic devastation, the WHO Regional Director Matshidiso Moeti warned. The number of CoViD-19 patients on the continent is growing rapidly, the WHO reported.  

52 countries are now affected, cases have been reported in large cities and rural areas. The first confirmed case was registered in Egypt on February 14. Many experts warn that the weak health care systems in Africa are not prepared to handle the virus.

14:21 ISS mission during the coronavirus pandemic

Astronauts are accustomed to isolation - but for the next inhabitants of the International Space Station (ISS), coronavirus has led to additional challenges even before the start of their journey: because of the pandemic, they had to self-quarantine for nearly a month before taking off, and their farewell press conference on Wednesday took place without journalists and relatives.

On Thursday at 10:05 am (CET), the two cosmonauts Iwan Wagner and Anatoli Iwanischin as well as their USA-based colleague Chris Cassidy are scheduled to leave the spaceport in Baikonur, Kazakhstan to embark on their six-month ISS mission. But already the press conference broadcast by the Russian space agency Roskosmos felt a little alien. "We would rather speak to people, not just cameras," Cassidy said in Baikonur. The 50-year-old astronaut from the USA reported that the crew had been "affected" by the fact that they had to leave for the ISS without their families. "But we understand that the entire world is affected by the crisis." Their time in isolation before the start of their journey was more "stringent" than usual, Iwanischin said.

13:30 South African minister suspended for flouting the rules

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa has suspended his Minister of Communications for two months because she failed to observe the curfew imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams had been invited to lunch by a former cabinet colleague - a total of six people sat around the table, as could be seen on a photo on Instagram.  

"The nationwide curfew applies to all South Africans," the president rebuked the minister in a statement. "None of us, and especially not a member of the government, may sabotage our efforts to save human lives. No one is above the law." Ndabeni-Abrahams immediately apologized: "I regret the incident and I apologize for this." She acknowledged that the curfew is "necessary" to curb the spread of the virus.

13:17 WHO Europe: Not the time to relax restrictions

The European office of the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned against prematurely easing coronavirus measures. "Now is not the time to relax these measures," said WHO Regional Director Hans Kluge at a press conference broadcast online. Increased knowledge of CoViD-19 and positive developments in a few countries by no means suggest that Sars-CoV-2 has been defeated. Instead, this offers the chance to better control virus.  

According to Kluge, this is not the right time to take our eyes off our goals. "We still have a long way ahead of us in this marathon." He later added: "A country cannot fight or stop CoViD-19 alone." The battle against the coronavirus crisis must be an internationally coordinated effort.

13:07 European Parliament to take in the homeless

The European Parliament plans to take in homeless people and others in need during the coronavirus crisis. A part of the parliament in Brussels will be made available as accommodation in agreement with the regional authorities," said President of the European Parliament David Sassoli. Homeless individuals will be able to stay the night in the Helmut Kohl Building, an adjoining building named after the deceased German chancellor, Sassoli's cabinet reported.  

In addition, the kitchens of the European Parliament plan to make more than 1,000 meals a day to be distributed to the needy and health care workers," said Sassoli. "Concrete solidarity with the citizens. This is what the European Parliament stands for," the Sassoli explained.

12:51 Government plans to offer support for students

The federal government wants to mitigate the consequences of the coronavirus crisis for academics and students. The cabinet has launched a corresponding initiative by Research Minister Anja Karliczek. It provides incentives for recipients of Bafög loans to engage in the crisis in so-called system-relevant areas.  

It had already been decided that profits from activities in health facilities would no longer count towards Bafög. This will now to be extended to other areas such as the food industry. The Bafög amount that is paid out should remain the same despite this additional income.

12:33 Günther expects only minimal loosening

Schleswig-Holstein's Minister President Daniel Günther does not expect the coronavirus restrictions to be largely relaxed after the Easter holidays on April 19. "It is quite possible that there will be little relief then", the CDU politician told the newspaper "Wirtschaftswoche". The exceptional situation will define life for quite some time, he said.

"At the moment, it is primarily the elderly whose health is at great risk." They will remain restricted even longer. "On the other hand, the economic effects will continue to affect the younger generation," Guenther said. The younger generation will have to pay off high national debts. Therefore, he does not agree with Bavarian Premier Markus Söder's call for lower taxes: "It is not the time to talk about tax cuts now".

12:10 Hans: "We cannot give the all-clear"

Saarland's Prime Minister Tobias Hans has dampened hopes for a rapid relaxation of the coronavirus restrictions. "We cannot give the all-clear", the CDU politician said in Saarbruecken. Citizens must also prove their patience over the Easter holidays. It is unclear when the restrictions can be relaxed, he said, adding that no one could give a reliable answer to this question. "There is far too much we do not know yet", Hans said about the coronavirus. He was aware that the current state "cannot be maintained arbitrarily". The restrictions would not last a day longer than necessary. When the time came, the restrictions would be relaxed "step by step". The top priority is to prevent a new wave of infection.

12:01 President of the European Research Council resigns

The President of the European Research Council ERC, Mauro Ferrari, has resigned in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. Ferrari submitted his resignation on Tuesday with immediate effect, the EU Commission has now confirmed in response to a query. The "Financial Times" had previously published Ferrari's resignation statement, in which he accused the ERC, as the most important donor for European research projects, of failing to fund scientific research to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. Ferrari complained in his letter that his proposal for a special program to combat the novel coronavirus had been rejected by the ERC's Executive Board.

11:58 More than 4000 coronavirus deaths in Iran

More than 4000 people have now died in Iran following an infection with the coronavirus. The Ministry of Health announced that 121 more patients have died of the disease, bringing the total number of deaths to 4003. A total of 67,286 people have been confirmed to be infected with the virus.

11:41 Spain wants to gradually ease restrictions as of the end of April

Spain, which was particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, could gradually return to a degree of normality by the end of April, according to the government. Shortly before the official extension of the strict initial restrictions until April 26th, Finance Minister and government spokeswoman María Jesús Montero assured in an interview with the channel "Antena 3" that citizens would slowly "regain their normal life" after this date. However, there will be clear instructions from the government for people in the streets and public squares,  Montero said. Spain has had a strict curfew in place since March 15th, which is now being extended for the second time. Parliament still has to approve the measure announced by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Thursday. The almost 47 million Spaniards are only allowed to go shopping and in special cases to go out for a walk or exercise. However, the strict restrictions are beginning to take effect: the number of new infections is now clearly on the decline.

11:22 Steinmeier: stressful time for families

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier sees many families in the Corona crisis facing major challenges and problems. In a joint video message with his wife Elke Büdenbender, he spoke of a "stressful time" for families. The families not only have to cope with the changed everyday life, but are also currently not allowed to visit their relatives in nursing homes. We are no longer allowed to see those who need us most - the lonely mother, the frail father, the grandparents, Steinmeier said. "It tears our hearts apart." But here too, he said, we must keep our distance to protect the elderly and sick.

11:02 Scholz hopes for agreement before Easter

Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz hopes that the euro countries will agree on a coronavirus aid package before Easter. "We were almost in agreement, but not quite", said the SPD politician after the video conference of the euro finance ministers had to be interrupted and postponed until tomorrow. Together with France, he called on all euro countries to not refuse a solution to difficult financial issues. He said that there are three proposals with a volume of 500 billion euros.

10:47 France plunges into recession

According to its central bank, France has plunged into a deep recession as a result of the coronavirus crisis. According to an initial estimate by the Banque de France, gross domestic product shrank by six percent in the first quarter of this year. This is the lowest figure since the end of the Second World War.

10:40 Many obstacles along the way to a tracing app

A so-called tracing app should help to inform possible coronavirus infected persons faster and interrupt infection chains. Before the app can actually be used, however, several obstacles must be overcome.

10:24 Voucher solution for cancelled events approved

According to information from participants, the Federal Cabinet has decided that, with a few exceptions, customers holding tickets for cancelled events shall receive vouchers and not cash refunds. In the event of cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic, the organizer should be allowed to give vouchers for tickets purchased before March 8 instead of a refund. Customers will only be given a refund in exceptional cases. If the voucher has not been redeemed by December 31, 2021, they will also be reimbursed.

10:09 Laschet: Currently no mask requirement nationwide

The North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister Armin Laschet is distancing himself from his Bavarian colleague Markus Söder on the issue of a mask requirement. "I don't see the need for a mandatory mask requirement for the whole of Germany at the moment", said Laschet in the ZDF-Morgenmagazin. Söder had spoken out in favor of a step-by-step relaxation of public restrictions under strict conditions and called a mask requirement very likely. Laschet, on the other hand, emphasizes that he is relying on the soon to be expected results of a study in the Heinsberg district, which was particularly hard hit at an early stage, to decide on measures such as distance rules and hygiene precautions.

09:21 Short-time work for the Deutsche Post?

The logistics company Deutsche Post DHL will apparently announce short-time work for 4000 employees. This was reported by the newspaper "Wirtschaftswoche" with reference to union circles. Subsidiaries offering logistical services and first production steps for the car manufacturers Ford and Audi would be particularly affected. According to the report, short-time work is expected to be introduced in the express delivery business in Germany and in the freight forwarding business as well. Group CEO Frank Appel would not comment on the number. "Our priority is to keep a maximum number of employees in the company," Appel said in a telephone conference. He was optimistic that this would succeed. In some areas, the Group was holding talks with the works councils about short-time work, but only a small number of employees would be affected.

08:55 Johnson in stable condition

The hospitalized British prime minister, Boris Johnson, is in stable condition, according to the government. He is in good spirits, said Edward Argar, Minister of State for the Department of Health and Social Care. He has been receiving oxygen but is breathing unaided. Johnson, who has Covid-19, is being treated in the intensive care unit of a London hospital.

08:00 Here's what happened last night

  • CoViD-19 numbers for Germany: Robert Koch Institut reports 108,202 infected and 2,107 deaths
  • EU consultations on Corona aid postponed
  • Germany creates "air bridge" for protective materials from China
  • Almost 2,000 Corona deaths within one day in the U.S.
  • Chinese city Wuhan ends isolation