This is a live blog from May 4, 2020.

Head here for today's news: https://www.lengoo.de/blog/05-28-2020-live-blog-for-covid-19-updates-in-germany-in-english/


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 is based on the live blog of Tagesschau.

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Short facts

  • Online donor conference: Germany gives 525 million euro for the development of vaccines
  • Three million antibody tests to be delivered in May
  • Heinsberg study: Possibly 1.8 million infected
  • Italy eases curfew
  • RKI: 679 new infections

17:32 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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17:15 Unemployment in Austria at historical height

Unemployment in Austria has risen to a historic high because of the coronavirus crisis. In April, 571,477 people were registered as unemployed, according to the Employment Agency (AMS). The unemployment rate was 12.8 percent. This means that at the end of April, more than 210,000 more Austrians were without a job than at the same time last year. Short-time work also increased significantly: 104,000 short-time work applications for 1.2 million people had been submitted, the AMS explained.


16:43 South Africa launches study with the tuberculosis vaccine

South African scientists searching for a remedy against lung disease CoViD-19,  have started a test with the BCG tuberculosis vaccination on 500 subjects. “The clinical study has begun, we were able to vaccinate the first participants this morning,” said Duncan McDonald of the medical research organization Task to the news agency AFP. In doing so, 250 people had received a BCG injection and another 250 had received a placebo. “Some observations suggest that BCG has an effect on the immune system that we do not fully understand yet, including that it strengthens the immune system against respiratory tract infections,” said Professor Andreas Diacon, who is leading the study in Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town. Several studies have shown that children injected with BCG seldom suffer from respiratory tract infections. Thus the South African scientists want to find out if BCG also has an effect on the novel coronavirus. “If we could only relieve the CoViD-19 symptoms a little the survival chances for people will rise. Or that don’t even have to go to hospital or not become ill in the first place.“ said Diacon.


17:00 Italy reports significantly more deaths than in previous years

The Italian National Statistic Authority Istat has reported significantly more deaths in the course of the coronavirus pandemic from the end of February to March than in previous years. More than 90,000 people have died from 20. February to 31. March, almost 38.7 percent more than average for this time from 2015 to 2019. The coronavirus outbreak was discovered in Lombardy and the Venice region on 20. February. The heavily affected North, above all, reported considerably more deaths in these weeks. This means an “extra mortality“ of 25,345 cases in this period, 13,710 of which were diagnosed CoViD-19 cases, reported Istat. The extra deaths could, however, be undiagnosed CoViD-19 cases or people who did not go to hospital or could not be treated because of the crisis.


16:20 Chinese anger over Pompeii's statements

China has angrily repudiated statements by U.S. Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo, who considers the origin of the novel coronavirus from a laboratory in Wuhan as proven. Pompeo’s “ludicrous statements” exacerbated tensions between the governments in Beijing and Washington,  commented the Chinese state television CCTV under the title “Diabolical Pompeo willfully spreads poison and lies”. Pompeo had said on Sunday to the U.S. television station ABC that there was “overwhelming evidence” that the novel pathogen came from a laboratory in Wuhan City. China was known for “infecting the world and operating inferior laboratories”. The former Director of the CIA Secret Service did not comment on the speculation that the virus was deliberately released.


16:10 Ten German League football players tested positively


Ten players and crew from the 1st and 2nd German divisions have been positively tested for the coronavirus. This was reported by the  German Football Association (DFL) reports after a series of tests for all 1700 players, coaches, and other people working with the teams.


15:59 Baden-Württemberg  police have access to coronavirus data

Starting on Tuesday, police in Baden-Württemberg are allowed to access health authorities‘ data on people infected with the coronavirus. There is a secure legal basis for this with an approved regulation, said the deputy Baden-Württemberg State Premier and Interior Minister Thomas Strobl. "This allows the police to identify persons who do not comply with the requirements and endanger others," stated Strobl. Data from people who are no longer contagious would be deleted from the retrieval system every day.


15:47 Germany gives 525 million euro for the development of vaccines

Germany wants to fund the development of vaccines and medicines against the coronavirus with 525 million euro for international cooperation. Chancellor Angela Merkel said so during an online donor conference, on invitation by EU Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen.

Von der Leyen pledged 1 billion euro for the joint development and distribution of a coronavirus vaccine, effective medication, and tests. Overall, the donor conference should result in pledges of 7.5 billion euro. The aim is to accelerate the development of vaccines and medications and then make them accessible to all of mankind at affordable prices.


15:17 EU: UK and four other countries still haven't weathered the storm

The worst is still to come for the UK and four countries of the European Union, according to the competent EU authority. Andrea Ammon, head of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), has said that the peak of the spread of the disease has not yet been reached. She contradicted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who declared on Thursday that his country had already reached its peak.

In the United Kingdom, Poland, Romania, and Sweden, the rate of new infections has remained unchanged for two weeks, said Ms. Ammon. In Bulgaria, the pandemic is even gaining ground. In all other European countries, however, fewer new diseases are said to be reported. "It looks as if we have reached the climax of the first wave in Europe on Saturday,” said Ms. Ammon. The ECDC is the competent body for all 27 EU Member States plus the UK, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland.


In several federal states, the authorities have warned of new scams concerning coronavirus emergency aid. North Rhine-Westphalia's Minister of Economics Andreas Pinkwart reported fraud attempts with a fake e-mail address which is used to collect data on recipients of emergency aid. In Bavaria and Saxony-Anhalt, the ministries and the police also issued warnings - other federal states are apparently also affected. According to Pinkwart, in North Rhine-Westphalia, misleading e-mails are sent from the sender "Landregierung Nordrhein-Westfalen", asking recipients to submit personal data. Alleged legal instruction are attached. In Bavaria, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, recipients are asked to fill in an alleged certificate for the Ministry of Finance. As the State Criminal Police Office in Saxony reported, the fraudsters sometimes called companies directly and explicitly referred them to a website. The callers claimed to be members of the only official body that processes emergency aid.


14:32 Federal government continues to strive for uniform procedures

Relaxed contact restriction in Saxony-Anhalt, catering operations to open soon in Lower Saxony: The federal states are embarking on increasingly different paths in their coronavirus policies. Nonetheless, the federal government strives to establish a common procedure. Of course, there could be "regional and local nuances" in relaxing the measures, said government spokesman Steffen Seibert. The most important thing is that the federal government and the states are "on the same path" and pursuing a "common strategy".

The deviating decisions made by state governments are also related to the different "regional circumstances", he said. But the heads of the federal government and the states would  continue their regular consultations concerning a "unified strategy" in order to "agree on guidelines in major areas of life" such as the question of when to open schools, kindergartens, and sports.


14:25 Hundreds of Germans still stranded abroad

According to the Federal Foreign Office, several hundred German travellers are still stuck abroad due to the coronavirus crisis. The local consulates continue to work on enabling their return,” said a Ministry spokesman. “This could be done by joining flights on planes organized by other European countries. Sometimes commercial flights could also take place. At the start of the crisis, about a quarter of a million Germans on holiday were stranded abroad.


13:28 Museums in Saxony to open gradually

Museums in Saxony will open gradually over the next few days and weeks, subject to restrictions. This will be a step-by-step process to return to normality," said Culture Minister Barbara Klepsch (CDU) on Monday in Dresden. "Especially art and culture live from direct exchange." But they too would also have to learn to deal with the continued presence of coronavirus. This means that a maximum of 20 visitors per square meter are allowed and a minimum distance of 1.50 meters is required. Interactive exhibitions will be canceled and facilities with many tactile exhibitions will remain closed. Because of the expected loss of revenue over the course of the pandemic, the state is working on an aid program for the non-governmental museums, according to Klepsch.


12:59 Lower Saxony wants to reopen the gastronomy sector

The state government of Lower Saxony has presented a phased plan for easing the coronavirus measures. According to this plan, the gastronomy industry will reopen, subject to restrictions, from next Monday. This will allow restaurants, pubs, and beer gardens to open with a maximum of half of their seating for guests, says Minister of Economics Bernd Althusmann. In addition, a reservation requirement will apply. In addition, the 800-square-meter rule for shops will be abolished from Monday.

Furthermore, day care options will gradually be extended. From Monday, child minders will be permitted to care for children again. As of 18 May, emergency care in kindergarten will also be expanded significantly to a reach a nationwide care rate of up to 40 percent. In a final phase, regular operation will be resumed in kindergartens from August 1. State Premier Stephan Weil said that Lower Saxony is hereby "the first state government" to present a plan that shows "how we will emerge from this exceptional state and return to everyday life in the next few months". Weil intends to put the plan up for discussion on Wednesday during the meetings between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the State Premiers.


12:41 Three million antibody tests to be delivered in May

The pharmaceutical company Roche plans to deliver three million antibody tests to German health facilities in May. This was agreed upon on Monday by Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn and the company. For the upcoming months, deliveries of five million tests per month to Germany have been agreed. Spahn described the test as an important new milestone in the fight against the virus. "Antibody tests will help us to find out who has already had a coronavirus infection. This is how we gain insight into the actual spread of the virus," Spahn continued. As soon as secured findings concerning possible immunity after an infection are available, the tests would gain even greater significance.

The company states that it had previously received emergency approval for the test from the US health authority FDA. According to a spokesperson, this is valid for all countries that accept the CE label for products. With the CE label, a manufacturer confirms that their product complies with all relevant European quality and safety policies.


12:04 Japan has applied for approval for Remdesivir

Japan may be the second country after the USA, to use the medication Remdesivir from the US pharmaceutical company Gilead to treat CoViD-19 patients. A respective application for approval has been submitted today, says Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

On Friday, the US drug authority FDA had authorized the use of the experimental anti-virus medication in emergencies. The medication was originally developed for the treatment of Ebola and has long been considered a beacon of hope in the coronavirus pandemic. According to the US authorities, the first results of a government study were very encouraging.


11:59 Travel industry: Two out of three agencies directly threatened by bankruptcy

According to the DRV industry association, the economic situation for German travel agencies has deteriorated even further. The association is now expecting a drop in sales of at least 10.8 billion euros by mid-June. The travel agency and tour operator business has come to a virtual standstill due to government restrictions, said Association President Norbert Fiebig in Berlin. There is no improvement in sight. In addition, there are the negative effects of cancelled travel bookings. Fiebig called for a state emergency aid program with non-repayable subsidies. Two out of three agencies are already directly threatened with bankruptcy, he said. "Politicians can no longer just sit back and watch as travel agencies and tour operators lose their businesses," warned Fiebig. Worldwide travel warnings due to the coronavirus pandemic have recently been extended until mid-June.


11:45 New study in Austria: fewer acutely infected persons

In Austria, the estimated number of unreported cases of people acutely infected with the coronavirus has decreased significantly, consistent with the known cases. According to a recent study, a maximum of 11,000 infected persons can be assumed, said Research Minister Heinz Faßmann in Vienna. The first such study showed a maximum number of 60,000 infected persons aged 16 years and older at the beginning of April. In addition, antibody tests in 27 particularly affected communities showed that only about one in 20 citizens had come in contact with the virus. "The belief that the virus attacks the population unnoticed, leaving behind a high level of immunity which might act to slow down a further wave of infection, seems to be an illusion," said Faßmann. Statistic Austria selected a representative sample of 2800 persons aged 16 and over for the current study.


11:12 Heinsberg study: Possibly 1.8 million infected

According to the results of the so-called Heinsberg study, 1.8 million people may have become infected with the coronavirus in Germany. This was estimated on the basis of a model calculation, said the University of Bonn. The researchers, led by virologist Hendrik Streeck, based their estimate on the estimated number of undetected cases of infected people in the community of Gangelt in the Heinsberg district and the mortality rate of coronavirus infections calculated there. From this they calculated a theoretical figure for Germany. A team of researchers led by Streeck interviewed 919 inhabitants in 415 households in the village and performed coronavirus tests. The researchers pointed out, however, that the situation is only comparable with other regions in Germany to a limited extent: "The conclusions drawn from the study results depend on many factors that go beyond a purely scientific consideration," said Streeck. The evaluation and conclusions of the findings are the responsibility of society and politics. The study was commissioned by the NRW state government.


10:46 Esken warns against easing restrictions too quickly

SPD leader Saskia Esken has rejected demands by the business community for rapid relaxation of the coronavirus measures. "A second, unchecked wave of infection would destroy all the hard-won successes in the fight against the pandemic with one blow", she told the newspaper "Handelsblatt". Any relaxation or continuation of measures must therefore be "appropriate and comprehensible to people". This debate needs to be conducted in a constructive dialogue, she said. Exerting pressure, on the other hand, is the wrong tactic, the SPD leader warned, pointing out that production resumed in mid-April with distance and hygiene requirements. "We must simply ensure that not only the restrictions but also the easing of them are comprehensible, well justified, and well balanced against each other so that they are accepted," Esken added on SWR. In this context, the question must also be asked whether families can visit each other again and children can have contact with each other again.


10:36 Russia: More than 10,000 new infections again

In Russia, the number of detected coronavirus infections increased by 10,581 within one day. According to the crisis centre in Moscow, there are 145,268 proven cases in Russia now. On Sunday, the number of new infections had reached five digits for the first time with 10,633. A total of 1356 people have died so far in connection with the Covid-19 disease, and more than 18,000 people have recovered.


10:01 Great Britain provides more than 400 million euros

The United Kingdom is providing £388 million (approximately 442 million euro) for the global development of a vaccine against coronavirus. "To win this battle, we must work together to build an indomitable protective shield around all people," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at a donor conference. The race for the vaccine is "not a competition between countries, but the most urgent common endeavour of our lives". In the fight against the pandemic, a global alliance wants to raise at least 7.5 billion euros in start-up funding. The online donor conference is planned for Monday afternoon and will be hosted by the EU Commission. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, among others, are planning to attend. The aim is to bring remedies to the market quickly and then make them available worldwide at low cost.


09:57 Pharmaceutical company is allowed to distribute test for antibodies

The pharmaceutical company Roche can launch a test for antibodies against the coronavirus. The test is already operational, said Christoph Franz, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the company, in Gabor Steingart's "Das Morning Briefing". According to Roche, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted emergency approval for the test. According to a spokesperson, this is valid for all countries that accept CE marking for products. This includes all countries within the European Union. "This is not a test for home use," the spokesperson made clear. It is a blood test, and technical equipment is needed to evaluate it. How exactly the test could be rolled out in Germany is a matter for the federal government, among others. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) and Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) plan to learn more about the test this morning.


09:15 EU approves billion euro aid for Air France

France may help the airline Air France with seven billion euros in the form of loan guarantees and a loan as a shareholder. The EU Commission approved the liquidity aid, pointing out among other things that without government support the airline could face insolvency. France had proved that all other ways of raising money on the financial markets had been examined and exhausted. On the one hand, a state guarantee of up to 90 percent for loans of up to four billion euros was approved.

The subordinated loan from the French state as shareholder had been approved according to the rules of the EU treaty. According to this, state aid is possible if there is otherwise a serious disturbance of the entire economy of a member state to be feared, the EU Commission explained. The French state has a 14.3 percent stake in the Air France/KLM group, one of the largest airlines in Europe with a fleet of more than 300 aircraft.


09:06 Saxony-Anhalt defends its own way

The Minister President of Saxony-Anhalt, Reiner Haseloff, has defended his planned relaxation of the corona restrictions. Due to the different levels of affected citizens, different measures must be taken and "situation-specific" reactions must be made, the CDU politician said on Deutschlandfunk. In Bavaria, he said, the infection rates per 100,000 citizens are five times as high. In the Altmark district, for example, which is as large as the Saarland, there are currently three infected citizens. "I cannot convey that people who meet at the garden fence are not allowed to talk to each other."


08:46 Japan extends state of emergency

The Japanese government wants to extend the state of emergency until the end of May despite initial signs of declining numbers of new infections. This was reported by Japanese media. Earlier, a committee of government experts had already spoken out in favour of an extension. During the emergency, the country's citizens are urged to stay home if possible. There is no curfew like in many European countries. However, many shops, restaurants and shopping centres are closed.


08:00 Here's what happened last night

  • CoViD-19 numbers for Germany: Robert Koch Institute reports 679 new cases of CoViD-19 (163,175 total) and 43 new deaths (6,692 total) due to the virus
  • Travel industry prepares for domestic holidays
  • North Rhine-Westphalia threatens to open their day-care centers single-handedly
  • More than 100,000 cases in Brasil
  • USA: Fast 30,000 new infections confirmed