Live Coronavirus News: World Updates


Church service in Germany leads to more than 40 infections.

As countries tentatively lifted lockdowns imposed on all facets of public life because of the pandemic, the perils of reopening are becoming increasingly clear. In Germany, which for weeks now has allowed houses of worship to hold services, 40 churchgoers became infected with the coronavirus during a service on May 10 at a Baptist church in Frankfurt, the health authorities have said.

Six parishioners were hospitalized, according to Wladimir Pritzkau, a leader of the parish.

The state of Hesse, where the infections occurred, has been allowing church services under special guidelines, including asking worshipers to keep five feet apart and requiring churches to have disinfectant readily available.

“We followed all the rules,” Mr. Pritzkau told the German news agency DPA, noting that the church did not know how many people were at the service two weeks ago.

The church has since moved its weekend services, which are held in German and Russian, back online.

There are relatively few Baptist churches in Germany, and many people came to the church in Frankfurt from outside the immediate area. In the city of Hanau, about 15 miles east of Frankfurt, 17 new coronavirus infections were traced back to the church service.

Schools and restaurants have reopened in Germany, but infections remain low, apart from several local outbreaks in refugee camps, senior homes and meat processing plants. On Saturday, 431 new cases were added to the country’s toll of 178,281. There have been 8,247 deaths.

On Sunday, France resumes religious gatherings after a two-month hiatus caused by the coronavirus outbreak, but worshipers have to wear masks, the French Interior Ministry announced. And in Jerusalem, the Holy Sepulchre church reopened after a two-month lockdown.

Each one is more than a name. Each one had a unique life story. Each one succumbed to the coronavirus pandemic that swept across the globe, devastating families and industries and dealing a crippling blow to the world’s economy.

As the number of fatalities from Covid-19 passed 1.5 million, The New York Times sought to memorialize the tens of thousands who died of the coronavirus in the United States with a print front page like no other, framing the incalculable loss with a presentation of obituaries and death notices from newspapers around the country.

The death toll is approaching a grim marker: “One. Hundred. Thousand,” as our correspondent Dan Barry writes:

“A number is an imperfect measure when applied to the human condition. A number provides an answer to how many, but it can never convey the individual arcs of life, the 100,000 ways of greeting the morning and saying good night.

The immensity of such a sudden toll taxes our ability to comprehend, to understand that each number adding up to 100,000 represents someone among us just yesterday. Who was the 1,233rd person to die? The 27,587th? The 98,431st?

Why has this happened in the United States of 2020? Why has the virus claimed a disproportionately large number of black and Latino victims? Why were nursing homes so devastated? These questions of why and how and whom will be asked for decades to come.”

President Trump, meanwhile, played golf at his members-only club in Virginia, his first game since shutdowns began, as states reopened businesses, restaurants and other activities. He has been pushing states to reopen houses of worship, deeming religious institutions essential. In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz said he would allow houses of worship to open this week. In New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that gatherings of up to 10 people would be allowed, provided that social-distancing protocols were followed.

Other governors — including Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Mike DeWine of Ohio and Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey — were to appear on the Sunday talk shows. So were several Trump administration officials, including Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator.

A new study from Northern California found that, compared with white or Hispanic patients, black patients seeking care have more advanced cases of Covid-19. The finding suggested that black patients may have had limited access to medical care or that they postponed seeking help until later in the course of their illness, when the disease was more advanced.

As it tracks the spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is combining tests that detect active infection with those that detect recovery from Covid-19 — a system that muddies the picture of the pandemic but raises the percentage of Americans tested as President Trump boasts about testing.

Now that serology tests, which look for antibodies in the blood of people who have recovered, are more widespread, C.D.C. officials said on Friday they would work to separate them from the results of diagnostic tests, which detect active infection. One agency website that tracks the data has been lumping them together.

Stunned epidemiologists say data from antibody tests and active virus tests should never be mixed because diagnostic testing seeks to quantify the amount of active disease in the population. Serological testing can also be unreliable. And patients who have had both diagnostic and serology tests would be counted twice in the totals.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” said Natalie Dean, a biostatistician at the University of Florida. “All of us are really baffled.”

Protesters gathered in a central shopping district around midday, chanting slogans against the government and the Chinese Communist Party like “Heavens will destroy the C.C.P.” and “Hong Kong independence is the only way out.”

Dozens of police officers in riot gear swarmed the area, but many protesters pressed around them, ignoring their warnings to disperse. Just before 1:30 p.m., the police fired at least four rounds of tear gas, sending protesters scrambling. The Hong Kong police said in a statement that they arrested 120 people, most on charges of unlawful assembly.

The protest was the biggest the territory had seen in several months. The Hong Kong government has banned public gatherings of more than eight people until at least June 4, and attempts since January to revive the protests were sparsely attended and quickly stifled by the police.

Many Hong Kong residents see China’s move to impose the security laws as a major blow to the city’s relative autonomy, perhaps an irreparable one.

In Beijing on Sunday, the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, asserted that the protests that had roiled Hong Kong posed a grave threat to national security, proving that such legislation was long overdue. “We must get it done without the slightest delay,” Mr. Wang said at a news briefing.

Only weeks ago, Massimiliano Cassina was running a fabric company that had international clients and specialized in sports T-shirts. But the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 30,000 Italians and wrecked the national economy also dealt a deathblow to his business. Desperate for a paycheck, he became one of an increasing number of Italians seeking a future in the country’s agrarian past.

“They gave me a chance,” said Mr. Cassina, 52, wearing a blue mask, blue rubber gloves and sweat-stained shirt. He now works on a small farm outside Rome, tending to corn stalks for the coming harvest.

The virus has drastically reordered society and economies, locking seasonal workers in their home countries while marooning Italians who worked in retail, entertainment, fashion and other once-mighty industries.

A return to the land once seemed reserved for natural wine hipsters or gentry sowing boutique gardens with ancient seeds, but more Italians are now considering the work of their grandparents as laborers on the large farms that are increasingly essential to feed a paralyzed country and continent.

Without them, hundreds of tons of broccoli, fava beans, fruit and vegetables are in danger of withering on the vine or rotting on the ground.

“The virus has forced us to rethink the models of development and the way the country works,” Teresa Bellanova, Italy’s agricultural minister, who is herself a former farmhand, said in an interview.

She said that the virus required Italy, which has remained at the vanguard of the epidemic and its consequences in Europe, to confront “a scarcity of food for many levels of the population,” including unemployed young professionals, and that agriculture needed to be “where the new generations can find a future.”

As countries begin to open their economies, a monthslong deep freeze on tourism and cultural life is gradually thawing — with caveats.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of Spain announced that the country, which is highly dependent on tourism for the health of its economy, would allow international visitors in July.

Mr. Sánchez did not set a specific date, but his government has been under intense pressure to help salvage the summer for a tourism industry that accounted for 12 percent of Spain’s gross domestic output last year, when Spain received almost 84 million visitors.

“There will be a summer tourism season,” Mr. Sánchez said in a televised address on Saturday. “We will guarantee that tourists will not face any risks, nor will they bring any risk to our country.”

Exceltur, a Spanish tourism lobby, said that the decision to reopen in July could help reduce the cost of the lockdown, which began in mid-March, by about 20 billion euros, or about $22 billion. Exceltur previously forecast the Spanish tourism sector would lose as much as €92 billion in revenue this year.

In the United States, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston became the first major art museum to reopen since the country went into lockdown in March. Mask-wearing visitors encountered virus-specific restrictions even before they went inside on Saturday, lining up on large blue stickers placed six feet apart.

Other countries are also eager to restart their tourism industry, with officials in Greece suggesting an “air bridge” with other nations that have few cases of the coronavirus.

International flights to Athens are to resume June 15, followed by the rest of the country’s airports on July 1. But tourists will be admitted only if their home countries meet certain “epidemiological criteria,” officials said.

Britain will make international travelers self-isolate for 14 days from June 8. The government published a list of travelers who would be exempt, including truck drivers, seasonal farmworkers and medical workers, but airlines and tourism companies say that the move to order travelers to stay indoors at a home or hotel will damage their industries. Home Secretary Priti Patel said the move was necessary to “reduce the risk of cases crossing our border.”

In a reciprocal move, France announced that people arriving from Britain would have to self-isolate for 14 days from June 8. Travelers arriving from Spain by plane will also be asked to go into quarantine from Monday.

In Australia, officials on Sunday laid out plans to allow tourism in parts of the state of Victoria starting in June. Skiing, for example, will be allowed starting June 22. But many ski resorts plan to operate at half capacity, The Canberra Times reported, and they’re bracing for a raft of distancing restrictions.

The number of daily coronavirus deaths in New York State dipped below 100 for the first time since late March, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced. The governor reported 84 new deaths of the virus on Saturday, the lowest daily death toll since March 24.

Mr. Cuomo called the number of new casualties “a tragedy,” but he said that he could not ignore that the downward trend was a positive sign.

“The fact that it is down as low as it is, is really overall good news,” Mr. Cuomo said during his daily briefing from the governor’s mansion in Albany. “In my head, I was always looking to get under 100. For me, it’s just a sign that we are making real progress.”

During the peak of the outbreak, when 800 people a day were dying from the coronavirus, a death toll below 100 felt like a faraway milestone, Mr. Cuomo said. “If you can get under 100, you can breathe a sigh of relief,” he said, recalling a conversation he had with a physician at the time. “Getting below 100 was almost impossible.”

The number of hospitalizations, intubations and overall new cases also continued to see a steady decline, Mr. Cuomo said, adding, “What we are doing is working.”

As the number of cases and deaths decline, lockdown measures relaxed further. Mr. Cuomo said that groups of up to 10 people may gather anywhere the state. He urged residents to continue to practice social distancing and other safety measures at any get-together.

Martin A. Kits van Heyningen feared he was letting the team down at the company he co-founded, KVH Industries. Rather than lay off workers in response to the coronavirus pandemic, he had decided to cut salaries. When he emailed a video explaining his decision at 3 a.m. last month, he was prepared for a barrage of complaints.

Instead, he woke to an outpouring of support from employees that left him elated.

“It was one of the hardest things I’ve done, but it turned out to be the best day of my life at work,” Mr. Kits van Heyningen said. “I was trying to keep their morale up. Instead, they kept my morale up.”

Even as American employers let tens of millions of workers go, some companies are choosing a different path. By instituting across-the-board salary reductions, especially at senior levels, they have avoided layoffs.

The trend is a reversal of traditional management theory, which held that it was better to cut positions and dismiss a limited number of workers than to lower pay for everyone.

There is often a genuine desire to protect employees, but long-term financial interests are a major consideration as well, said Donald Delves, a compensation expert with Willis Towers Watson.

“A lot has happened in the last 10 years,” Mr. Delves said. “Companies learned the hard way that once you lay off a bunch of people, it’s expensive and time-consuming to hire them back. Employees are not interchangeable.”

As Muslims around the world celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday this weekend, the communal prayers, feasts and parties that usually accompany it have been restricted or scrapped. Not everyone in the Muslim world is sticking to the rules, however.

In Afghanistan, the authorities have struggled to enforce their call for people to stay home during Eid, the holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Markets were crowded in recent days, and many shoppers went maskless.

Afghanistan has nearly 10,000 confirmed cases, and nearly half of a limited number of tests being carried out are turning out positive day after day. In late March, Ferozuddin Feroz, Afghanistan’s health minister, warned that unless stricter social-distancing measures were enforced, 16 million Afghans could be infected and 110,000 could die.

As world leaders grapple with when and how to safely reopen their countries, many are also facing a political problem: how to maintain support as they oversee tanking economies, stifling restrictions and staggering death tolls.

Unable to promise physical or economic safety, many are instead offering the reassuring image of a strong leader with a steady hand, our columnist Max Fisher writes.

President Xi Jinping of China is using public appearances and state media to project a message of national triumph over adversity, with himself at the vanguard. President Emmanuel Macron of France has rallied citizens to join a collective “war” against the virus.

President Trump, like many leaders, regularly appears flanked by health officials. Appeals to national unity are practically universal.

And in Britain and Germany, people have rewarded their leaders with steep and nearly identical boosts in support.

While polls suggest that people remain deeply worried about the virus and its toll, support for leaders is increasing almost universally.

Whether they realize it or not, such leaders have a powerful force on their side: human psychology.

Sports leagues are devising plans to resume play to salvage economic lifelines and sate fans pleading to be entertained by live games on television. For athletes and team staff members with conditions that could exacerbate a coronavirus infection, balancing health needs against the zeal to play is an especially delicate matter.

“It’s scary for everyone,” said Jordan Morris, 25, a soccer player for the Seattle Sounders and the U.S. men’s national team, who learned he had Type 1 diabetes at age 9 and wears a blood sugar monitor even on the field.

He took part in the voluntary socially-distanced practices that began last week throughout Major League Soccer, which plans to resume its season as soon as next month. He said he felt safe at practice because the Sounders have done daily temperature and symptom checks, staggered workouts and encouraged frequent hand-washing.

As of Friday, unions representing athletes in major North American team sports were still negotiating specific plans for returning to play, including extra protection for the most vulnerable employees.

Reporting was contributed by Dan Barry, Christopher F. Schuetze, Raphael Minder, Jason Horowitz, Nelson D. Schwartz, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sheila Kaplan and Sarah Mervosh, Mujib Mashal, Austin Ramzy, Tiffany May, Elaine Yu, Yonette Joseph, Peter Baker, Max Fisher, Michael Hardy, Mike Ives, Michael Levenson, Sharon Otterman, Elizabeth Paton, Roni Caryn Rabin, Luis Ferré Sadurní, Edgar Sandoval, Marc Stein, Matt Stevens, Derrick Bryson Taylor, James Wagner, Vivian Wang and Alex Williams.



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