This is the live blog for April 19, 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.

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Short Facts

  • Federal Chancellery against the strategy to develop herd immunity in Germany
  • Aid packages for hotels and restaurants discussed by Altmaier and Scholz
  • Federal Development Minister Müller demands China to show complete transparency
  • Australia calls for an investigation into the global crisis management of CoViD-19

17:10 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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16:52 Nearly 13,000  intensive beds free in Germany

Nearly 13,000 intensive beds are free in Germany according to current figures of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine (DIVI). The association stated that the clinics had at least 30,000 beds overall. "One has finally achieved a reliable overview of all the intensive medicine capacities in Germany," said DIVI President Uwe Janssens. This knowledge would provide a short breathing space for doctors and politicians in North Germany - not to be confused with false euphoria. "We are not out of the woods yet!".

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all German clinics with intensive beds have recently been obliged to report the occupancy rate to the DIVI, where they are recorded in a register that is freely accessible online. In the meantime, more than 95 percent of hospitals report their free and occupied intensive beds every day. A 100 percent coverage is expected next week, he said. A look at the German map shows a decline in the north-south and east-west: in terms of percentages the most coronavirus patients to receive intensive medical care are in South Germany and the west of the Republic. In the north-east, the situation is still relatively relaxed.

16:23 South Korea eases restrictions under strict conditions

South Korea intends to maintain its policy to prevent social contacts for the time being, despite significant declines in the number of new coronavirus cases. However, Prime Minister Chung Sye Kyun has announced some easing of restrictions on churches, entertainment facilities, private cram schools, and sports events. The so-called "extended social distance" measures by the authorities are now to be maintained until 5 May.

The South Korean government issued a regulation in March urgently recommending the closure of religious facilities, sports venues, and nightclubs. According to Chung, these operations could now be resumed as long as disinfection rules and other protective measures are complied with. Sports competitions could also take place without spectators.

The country had not introduced country-wide curfews up to now. Thanks to its rigid program for mass testing and infection chain tracing, the country is seen as a role model in the fight against the spread of the virus. The health authorities stated on Sunday that there were only eight new infections on Saturday establishing it as the lowest increase since February.

16:14 Orthodox church members celebrate Easter

Orthodox churches in many Eastern European countries have celebrated their Easter holiday today. The celebratory services for the faithful have been largely canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic: in Russia, Ukraine, Greece, Georgia, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Romania. This was also the case in Poland, Albania, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, where spiritual dignitaries held the masses without a congregation. The priest and the followers mostly wore face masks and stayed further apart from each other more than normal for the wide-spread practice of blessing Easter cake with holy water.

15:47 Italian Coast Guard places rescued people under quarantine

The Italian Coast Guard wants to move 34 refugees and migrants from the Spanish rescue ship "Aita Mari" onto a naval ship. They will be under quarantine there. There are already 146 refugees and migrants on board "Rubattino",  who had come from the German rescue ship "Alan Kurdi" on Friday. The naval ship is anchored a mile off the coast near the city of Palermo for the duration of the quarantine. The quarantine will be monitored by the Italian Red Cross.

15:12 Green Party wants to end the ban on visits to those in need of care

The Green Party wants to use a seven-point plan to counteract the isolation and increasing loneliness of endangered groups in the coronavirus crisis. Among other things, "bans on visits to care facilities should be prevented as far as possible" according to the paper which was made available to the newspapers of the Funke Media Group newspapers (Monday editions). Time management: "to assign people time corridors for their visit" is one of the Green Party’s proposals.  In addition, a contingent of protective equipment should be provided.

The Green Party group leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt told the Funke newspapers that solidarity must be the model for this crisis. "If we internalize this and look as hard as we can for creative but robust solutions, we will find ways to prevent the isolation of elderly people, people in need of care or other particularly vulnerable people while protecting their health". Kordula Schulz-Asche, the spokeswoman for care and elderly policy in the Green Party, also called for compensation payments for relatives: "When relatives leave their gainful employment to jump into the breach and provide care for them, there should be temporary compensation payments."

14:45 More than 100,000 coronavirus deaths in Europe

Despite strict lockdown measures in many countries, the number of coronavirus deaths in Europe has risen to more than 100,000. According to an official report from the news agency AFP, the number of Covid-19 deaths stood at 101,493 on Sunday afternoon. Europe has recorded almost two thirds of all coronavirus deaths worldwide – it is the continent that has been hardest hit by the pandemic. More than 1.15 million people have been infected with the virus in Europe.

Experts assume that the actual figure is much higher, as testing capacities in many European countries are limited. Italy has reported the highest number of coronavirus deaths in Europe.

14:38 NRW Prime Minister Laschet: Guidance should not depend solely on virologist expertise

According to the prime minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, politicians should not only be guided by virologists in the fight against coronavirus, but also consider other aspects. The risk of infection coupled with other social, human, and economic damage due to the lockdown should be taken into account, said Laschet in an interview with Deutschlandfunk. "A virologist could not tell him whether it would be good if a child did not go to school for months – nor what the damage would be if someone started suffering from depression as a result of unemployment. He stressed, however, that he was listening to the opinions of virologists.

Laschet is also considering easing the coronavirus restrictions for churches. "If we’re opening the shops, we should also be able to pray in churches."

14:00 Spain: Lowest monthly increase in coronavirus deaths

In Spain, the number of new coronavirus deaths has fallen sharply. In the last 24 hours, 410 people died of the Covid-19 lung disease, the Ministry of Health reported.

On Saturday, this figure was 565, and 950 deaths were recorded in a single day during the peak of the infection in early April.

13:51 Bavaria to relieve pressure on Abitur students

Students in Bavaria will be able to concentrate solely on their exams going forward. This means they will no longer have to sit any other tests prior to their Abitur exams, said Minister of Culture Michael Piazolo.

From 27 April, only targeted preparation for exam subjects will be provided – due to the coronavirus regulations, these will take place in smaller groups. Exams at grammar schools in Bavaria are due to start on May 20. At the technical and vocational schools, they are scheduled from June 18.

13:34 Giffey: Parents "burdened beyond what is reasonable"

Minister for Family Affairs, Franziska Giffey, has called for a timely solution for families with children in the coronavirus crisis. "The welfare of families must be a priority during the gradual reopening," the SPD politician told the German news agency dpa. "A blanket statement saying that nurseries will remain closed until the summer is causing even more stress for many families and cannot be the only answer."

Parents, children, and preschool teachers needed more specific information – set against the background of the pandemic, of course.

From Monday, a working group made up of state representatives, members of government, and experts wants to develop guidelines on how a gradual reopening of nurseries could look like. "It's about well-balanced steps, without jeopardizing the progress made in the fight against the virus," emphasized Giffey. Families were increasingly reaching their limits and parents – in particular women – were being “burdened beyond what is reasonable”.

13:22 Boris Johnson "making good progress"

One week after being discharged from hospital, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is making a good recovery, according to the government. Johnson is "recovering well and is in good spirits," the prime minister’s deputy Michael Gove told Sky News. Johnson was "absolutely in control of the situation" and had a good handle on government affairs.

Johnson had tested positive for the novel coronavirus at the end of March and had required intensive care treatment. After being discharged from hospital he retreated to Chequers Court. Foreign Minister Dominic Raab has been deputizing for the prime minister in the interim.

13:07 "Charles de Gaulle" – fatal port of call in Brest?

The coronavirus is highly likely to have reached the French carrier "Charles de Gaulle" at a stopover in Brest, the Chief of Staff, François Lecointre, told the radio station France Inter.

At the same time, Lecointre defended the decision to allow the warship to dock there in March. The stopover had been necessary for logistical reasons. There were also no contact restrictions in place in France at that time.

Meanwhile, 1,081 of the nearly 2,000 crew members have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. More than 500 military personnel are showing symptoms, the head of the French Navy, Christophe Prazuck, told the Sunday newspaper "Journal du Dimanche".

12:35 Care associations demand more protective equipment

"There is still a very strong demand for respiratory masks and protective clothing, and not enough is arriving in the care facilities," criticised Caritas President Peter Neher in the German newspaper "Augsburger Allgemeine". Only since Easter had there been a somewhat positive development. "One could also say that things have improved from very bad to bad," Neher said.

Care homes for the disabled and homeless shelters are also highly dependent on protective equipment. The same applies to care workers who care for two-thirds of dependent people in Germany, Neher said.

Representatives of the Diakonie and the German Nurses Association have also complained about a lack of protective equipment for social care professionals. The Nurses Association complained that many care homes were being forced to reuse protective equipment. “No doubt this has contributed to the pandemic escalating in these environments, resulting in growing numbers of infections, often with fatal consequences,” said spokeswoman Johanna Knüppel to the same newspaper.

12:13 China rejects U.S. laboratory allegations

In the US, there is persistent theory that SARS-CoV-2 could have originated in a research laboratory in the Chinese province of Wuhan. Yuan Zhiming, the head of the institute, once again rejected the claims on state television. The US media reports were “purely speculative”.

12:02 Free face masks for all Parisians

All citizens of Paris are to receive free face masks by the end of May. By the end of April, around half a million reusable masks are to be available, announced mayor Anne Hidalgo in the Sunday newspaper "Journal du Dimanche".

By mid-May, all of the 2.2 million inhabitants in the French capital will be equipped with their own mask. These will be available in pharmacies. The cost is estimated at three million euros, according to Hidalgo.
Initially, the masks will mainly be distributed to people in need of special protection, said the mayor. Hidalgo has also called for mandatory masks on the metro, in buses, and on suburban trains. There are no regulations regarding this in France thus far.

Strict lockdown measures have been in place in France since mid-March. They are set to last until May 11. Only then will the restrictions be eased gradually.

11:40 Event promoters demand clear statements from policy makers

The events industry is demanding clarity from policymakers on how to proceed with concerts and other events. So far, it has only been clear in exceptional cases what is considered a major event by the federal states, criticised the CEO of the German Association for the Concert and Event Industry(BDKV), Jens Michow. According to BDKV, all summer festivals have already been cancelled. "However, we urgently need to know which of the many smaller events that have been planned for a long time for the coming months may take place and under what hygienic conditions," said Michow. The background to this is the agreement between the federal and state governments ststing that all major events should remain banned until the end of August due to the coronavirus crisis.

11:29 Coronavirus ends migrant trek to the USA

Authorities in Panama have prevented 1700 migrants on their way to the USA from continuing their journey after 17 coronavirus infections were detected within the group. The migrants are being held in a refugee camp in the jungle near the border with Colombia, an official said. Those infected have been taken out of the refugee camp. The camp in La Penita, however, is only designed for 200 people. Panama has reported almost 4300 cases of infection and 120 deaths from the coronavirus.

11:04 Berlin rally disbanded

Berlin police disbanded an unauthorized demonstration on Saturday against the restriction of basic rights by coronavirus protection measures. According to the police, hundreds of people had gathered at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. Some of them carried posters as well as copies of the German constitution's basic law. The police reported that personal data was collected from 79 participants. Two people were taken into temporary police custody for identification purposes.

10:45 More than 6,000 new cases in Russia

In Russia, 6,060 new coronavirus infections have been registered in the past 24 hours. This is the largest increase to date, bringing the total number of cases to 42,853. The number of infections in Russia has increased dramatically this month.

10:30 Federal Development Minister Müller criticizes China

German Development Minister Gerd Müller is demanding clarity from the Chinese government on the outbreak of the coronavirus. "The Chinese must show complete transparency - especially regarding the origin of the virus," the CSU politician told the newspapers of the Funke Media Group. "China should have been quicker to enter into international exchanges about the spread of the virus in Wuhan."

10:24 Great Britain maintains security precautions

The British government is not changing their security measures. "The facts and advice at the moment clearly show that we should not yet be thinking about relaxing restrictions," Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove told Sky News. The high level of fatalities is worrying. No decision has yet been taken on when schools will reopen, said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson. Schools will not reopen until researchers say that the timing is right.

09:56 Australia calls for investigation into the global handling of the coronavirus crisis

Australia has called for an independent inquiry into the global management of the coronavirus pandemic. Foreign Minister Marise Payne told the public broadcaster ABC that the actions of the World Health Organization (WHO) must also be investigated.

In addition, the Chinese Government's crisis management at the beginning of the outbreak must be examined. The Australian Government wants details on the origin of the virus, the handling of the pandemic, and transparency in the dissemination of information.

US President Donald Trump recently accused the WHO of "mismanagement" in the Corona crisis and announced the stop of US payments to the UN agency. The US president's move provoked worldwide criticism. Trump also accused China of hiding the true extent of the crisis at the beginning.

08:42 Contaminated masks delivered in Japan

The Japanese government has made mistakes in distributing fabric masks to the population. At least 1,900 masks were delivered with stains, dirt, and other contaminants. They had been sent to pregnant women last week.

The Ministry of Health announced that it has demanded that the manufacturers of the fabric masks correct the error. The local authorities who made the shipment have asked the manufacturer to make a visual inspection beforehand.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had announced on April 1 that two fabric masks would be sent to each of the 50 million households in Japan to counteract the shortage of respirators.

08:00 Here's what happened last night

  • CoViD-19 numbers for Germany: Robert Koch Institut reports 139,897 infected and 4,294 deaths
  • The German government expects the country will need up to 12 billion masks every year to meet the domestic demand
  • 46.2 percent of Germans support a possible obligation to wear face masks in public spaces according to a study carried out by Civey for "Tagesspiegel"
  • More than 100,000 people have died from CoViD-19 in Europe alone, while the global number of reported infections rises to 2.3 million
  • McDonalds to close all 135 restaurants in Singapore after 7 employees tested positively for SARS-CoV-2