Coronavirus pushes Germany into recession: Live updates | News

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  • Germany’s coronavirus-hit economy has contracted by 2.2 percent in the first quarter of the year in its steepest three-month slump since the 2009 financial crisis.

  • Wuhan, the Chinese city planning to test all of its 11 million residents, has assessed more than three million people since April and will focus its testing efforts on the remaining residents. 

  • Globally, more than 4.4 million people have been infected and more than 301,000 have died from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. About 1.6 million people have recovered.

Here are all the latest updates:

Friday, May 15

09:50 GMT – Water shortages cause hardships in Zimbabwe amid ogoing pandemic

Water shortages are causing increased hardships for many in Zimbabwe, on top of the coronavirus restrictions in place and a crippling economic crisis.

“Social distancing, here? You can’t avoid the pushing, everyone wants a drop,” a resident in Chitungwiza says. 

09:20 GMT – Hundreds get virus at main Kazakh oil field

More than 400 people have tested positive for the coronavirus at Kazakhstan’s top-producing oil field, health officials have said.

The number of infections at the giant Tengiz oil field rose from 17 on Thursday to 401 by Friday, according to officials in the Atyrau region.

They said the workers were being treated and their contacts traced. However, Health Minister Yelzhan Birtanov on Thursday criticised quarantine measures at the field.

08:55 GMT – Japanese economist: Coronavirus could last years

Japan should boost coronavirus testing and offer more generous cash payouts to households as the epidemic could last for several years, an economist appointed to a government panel on the virus response has said.

The government can fund huge spending on the coronavirus by issuing more bonds, which the central bank can buy to avoid causing a rise in long-term interest rates, said Keiichiro Kobayashi, who was appointed on Tuesday to join a committee advising the government on measures to combat the pandemic.

“It could take up to four years,” he said, referring to the time needed to develop and distribute an effective vaccine or medicine to combat the virus. Consumption will fall globally during that time, he added.

Japan has reported nearly 16,000 coronavirus infections and over 650 deaths [Koji Sasahara/AP] 

08:35 GMT – Hong Kong economy contracts 8.9 percent in first quarter

Hong Kong’s economy shrank 8.9 percent in the first quarter compared with a year earlier, the government said, as the coronavirus pandemic dealt a heavy blow to the city following months of social unrest.

It is the third straight quarter of year-on-year contractions for the Asian financial hub, and its worst quarterly drop since records began in 1974.

The first quarter’s pace compares with a decline of three percent in the previous quarter, and an advance estimate of negative 8.9 percent.

08:15 GMT – Portugal’s economy tanks 3.9 percent in first quarter 

Portugal’s economy contracted 3.9 percent in the first quarter from the preceding three-month period as the coronavirus epidemic and subsequent restrictions on movement started taking their toll mainly in March, official data showed.

The National Statistics Institute also said in its flash estimate that the country’s gross domestic product shrank 2.4 percent compared to the same period a year earlier.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, the economy grew 0.7 percent quarter-on-quarter and 2.2 percent year-on-year.

08:55 GMT – Malaysia reports 36 new coronavirus cases with no new deaths

Malaysia has reported 36 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours with no additional deaths, the health ministry said.

The country has recorded a total of 6,855 infections with 112 fatalities. 


Since the beginning of the pandemic, Malaysia has recorded a total of 6,855 infections with 112 fatalities [EPA]  

08:30 GMT – Virus-hit German economy suffers worst contraction since 2009

The German economy contracted by 2.2 percent in the first quarter, its steepest three-month slump since the 2009 financial crisis as shops and factories were shut in March to contain the spread of the coronavirus, preliminary data showed.

On the year, gross domestic product in Europe’s largest economy fell by 2.3 percent from January to March after a 0.4 percent expansion in the previous three months, seasonally adjusted figures from the Federal Statistics Office showed.

Analysts polled by the Reuters agency had expected national output to shrink by 2.2 percent quarter-on-quarter and two 2 percent contraction year-on-year in seasonally adjusted terms.

08:15 GMT – Philippines’ coronavirus infections top 12,000, deaths pass 800 mark

The number of novel coronavirus cases in the Philippines’ has passed the 12,000 mark, and more than 800 people have now died, the health ministry said.

In a bulletin, the ministry reported 16 more coronavirus deaths, bringing the total to 806. It recorded 215 additional infections, increasing the total tally to 12,091. But 123 more patients have recovered, bringing total recoveries to 2,460.

07:50 GMT – Russia reports 10,598 new coronavirus infections

Russia reported 10,598 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing its nationwide case tally to 262,843.

Russia’s coronavirus taskforce said 113 people had died over the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll from the virus to 2,418.

Coronavirus cases in Russia exceed 232 thousands

Russia’s coronavirus taskforce says 113 people died in the country over the last 24 hours [Anadolu]

07:35 GMT – China: COVID-19 risks from imported cases are ‘controllable’

The risk of a COVID-19 resurgence in China from so-called imported infections is controllable, an official of the National Health Commission (NHC) said.

China reported four new coronavirus cases on the mainland on May 14, all of them locally transmitted. China has banned most foreigners from entering its borders since late March as the pandemic spread globally.

NHC Vice Minister Zeng Yixin also told reporters during a briefing that some COVID-19 vaccines are set to complete their second-phase clinical trials in July.

07:18 GMT – Ghana’s dancing pallbearers urge people to stay home

The Nana Otafrija service group, known as Ghana’s dancing pallbearers, provides funeral services featuring men dressed in black and white suits and sunglasses.

They get down to festive beats while carrying a coffin on their shoulders in funeral ceremonies.

The pallbearers have been enjoying international fame in pandemic times, urging people to stay home and exercise social distancing.

They say: “Now remember, stay at home or dance with us.”

06:50 GMT – UK approves Abbott’s COVID-19 antibody test

Britain has given the green light to Abbott Laboratories to produce a COVID-19 antibody test, shortly after it gave the same approval to Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding, health officials said.

Mass antibody testing with millions of kits is being considered by many countries as a way to speed the reopening of economies devastated by lockdowns and to introduce more tailored social distancing measures.

06:20 GMT – Thailand reports seven new coronavirus cases, all from overseas

Thailand reported seven new coronavirus cases, while the number of deaths remained unchanged at 56.

The new cases were all patients who arrived from Pakistan last week and have been in state quarantine, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration.

Thailand has confirmed a total of 3,025 cases since the coronavirus outbreak started in January and earlier in the week reported zero new daily cases for the first time in two months.

Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand has confirmed a total of 3,025 cases since the coronavirus outbreak started in January [Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP]

Hello, I’m Umut Uras in Doha, Qatar, taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives.

I’m handing over to my colleague, Umut Uras, in Doha, Qatar now. Here’s a quick summary of the latest developments:

– Slovenia called an end to its COVID-19 outbreak, becoming the first country to do so.

– Cafes and pubs are reopening in parts of Australia

– Brazil cases hit a daily record even as President Jair Bolsonaro lobbied business leaders to pressure the governor of Sao Paolo to lift lockdown measures.

05:35 GMT – China’s factory output posts first increase for 2020

China’s factory output rose for the first time this year as the world’s second-largest economy slowly emerged from its coronavirus lockdowns. 

Industrial production climbed 3.9 percent in April from a year earlier, data showed on Friday, faster than the 1.5 percent increase forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts and following a 1.1 percent fall in March.

But China continues to face significant challenges in its services sector, particularly in retail. Of particular concern for policymakers ahead of next week’s annual meeting of Parliament is the prospect of a spike in unemployment, which poses serious political risks for the nation of 1.4 billion.

“Overall, this set of data shows only small and gradual improvements in economic activity, which could upset markets as China is seen as the ‘first out’ economy from COVID-19,” said Iris Pang, chief economist for Greater China at ING.

05:02 GMT – Study says virus could infect more than 200 million people in Africa

A World Health Organizations (WHO) modelling study has indicated the coronavirus could kill 150,000 people in Africa and infect 231 million people in a year unless urgent action is taken.

Authors of the research said even though many African nations have been swift to adopt containment measures, health systems could still quickly become overwhelmed.

That would divert already limited resources to tackle major health issues in the region, such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and malnutrition, worsening the effects of coronavirus.

“The region will have fewer deaths, but occurring more in relatively younger age groups, amongst people previously considered healthy – due to undiagnosed non-communicable diseases,” the report said, adding that these trends are already emerging.

Transmission is estimated to be greatest in smaller nations, with Mauritius found to have the highest risk of exposure. Of the continent’s larger countries, South Africa, Cameroon and Algeria were also in the top 10 for exposure risk.

03:52 GMT – S Korea reports 17 more cases linked to Seoul night club cluster

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) has reported 29 new cases, 17 of which are linked to bars and clubs in Seoul’s nightlife district of Itaewon.

The latest figures brought the total number of cases in the Itaewon cluster to 148.

The Yonhap news agency said health authorities will disinfect nightclubs and bars this weekend, “in an effort to prevent the Itaewon infection cluster from expanding into a mass outbreak.”

3:18 GMT – China’s Wuhan tests almost a third of residents

Wuhan, the original epicentre of China’s coronavirus outbreak, has tested more than three million residents for the pathogen since April and will now focus its testing efforts on the rest of its 11 million population, according to state media.

The priority will be residents who have not been tested before, people living in residential compounds that had previous cases of the virus, as well as old or densely populated estates, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing a Wuhan government meeting.

Authorities in Wuhan plan to conduct tests on everyone in the city after detecting a cluster of infections over the weekend – the first since the city’s lockdown was lifted on April 8.

China Wuhan

A medical worker takes a swab sample from a resident to be tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on May 14, 2020. [STR/ AFP]

02:54 GMT – Bangladesh urged to end internet blackout in Rohingya camps

A UK charity is urging authorities in Bangladesh to lift internet restrictions in camps housing hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees after the first cases of the coronavirus were detected there on Thursday.

“We urge Bangladesh and the international community to do everything they can to ensure that all necessary aid reaches those who need it,” said Tun Khin, president of Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK).

“This must also be a wake-up call to the Bangladeshi authorities to lift internet restrictions in the camps. The current blackout is not just preventing aid groups from doing their jobs, but also blocking refugees from accessing life-saving information.”

02:26 GMT – Truck drivers test positive at Costa Rica-Nicaragua border

Health officials in Costa Rica said 23 truck drivers entering the country from Nicaragua have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past week.

All of them were asymptomatic. Two others who showed symptoms were turned away without tests.

The results are another sign that the spread of the virus in Nicaragua could be greater than its government has acknowledged. The country has reported only 25 confirmed cases and eight deaths, and its government has not imposed social distancing measures and continues to promote mass gatherings.

02:12 GMT – US alerts doctors to COVID-19 linked condition in children

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned doctors about a serious rare inflammatory condition in children linked to the coronavirus.

The CDC’s case definition includes current or recent COVID-19 infection or exposure to the virus, a fever of at least 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celcius) for at least 24 hours, inflammatory markers in blood tests, and evidence of problems affecting at least two organs that could include the heart, kidneys, or lungs.

The agency called the condition multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children.

01:54 GMT – Four million girls at risk of child marriage

The global charity World Vision says four million girls are at risk of child marriage in the next two years because of the coronavirus pandemic, with deepening poverty likely to drive many families to marry off their daughters early.

The risks are further exacerbated by the fact that schools have been closed and organisations working to combat child marriage have been finding it harder to operate during lockdowns.

“When you have any crisis like a conflict, disaster or pandemic rates of child marriage go up,” Erica Hall, World Vision’s child marriage expert, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “If we don’t start thinking about how to prevent it now it will be too late. We can’t wait for the health crisis to pass first.”


Pupils observing social distance rules listen to their teacher at the Saint Germain de Charonne school in Paris on May 14, 2020, as primary schools in France reopen this week [Franck Fife/ AFP]

01:38 GMT – Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club to partially reopen

US President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club will partially reopen to members this weekend as South Florida slowly reopens from the coronavirus lockdown.

An email sent on Thursday to members said the Palm Beach resort’s Beach Club restaurant, its pool and its whirlpool will reopen on Saturday after being closed for two months, but its main building that includes hotel rooms, the main dining area and the president’s private residence will remain closed.

Members will have to practice social distancing and lounge chairs will be set two metres (six feet) apart. They will have to bring their own towels.

01:31 GMT – China hits one-month mark since last reported virus death

China has gone a month without announcing any new deaths from the coronavirus.

The National Health Commission reported four new cases of the virus on Friday, all local cross-infections in the northeast province of Jilin where a cluster of uncertain origin has been detected in recent days. The last time the commission reported any deaths was on April 14.

In total, China has reported 4,633 deaths among 82,933 cases since the virus was first detected late last year in the central city of Wuhan.

01:25 GMT – Brazil cases hit daily record

Brazil has registered a daily record of 13,944 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday as President Jair Bolsonaro urged business leaders to push for lifting lockdown orders in the country’s financial centre, Sao Paulo.

Health ministry data showed a total of 202,918 confirmed cases and 13,933 deaths in Brazil, the hardest-hit country in Latin America, at the end of Thursday. 

But Bolsonaro, who opposes the lockdowns, told a virtual gathering of business leaders to “play tough” with Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, who has issued social distancing orders and said he will not comply with Bolsonaro’s latest decree to reopen gyms and beauty salons.

“One man is deciding the future of Sao Paulo,” Bolsonaro said, referring to Doria. “He is deciding the future of Brazil’s economy. With all due respect, you have to call the governor and play tough – play tough – because it’s a serious issue, it is war. Brazil is at stake.”

Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous state and home to a third of its economic output, has seen hospitals pushed to the limit as it records the worst outbreak in the country.

00:12 GMT – Slovenia calls an end to its coronavirus epidemic

The Slovenian government is calling an official end to its coronavirus epidemic, becoming the first European country to do so after authorities confirmed less than seven new coronavirus cases each day for the past two weeks.

People now arriving in Slovenia from other European Union states will no longer be obliged to go into quarantine for at least seven days as was the case from early April, the government has said in a statement. But a 14-day quarantine remains in place for people coming in from non-EU states.

Citizens will still have to follow basic rules to prevent a possible spread of infection, the government has said, without elaborating. People have been required to wear masks in indoor public spaces, stand at least 1.5 metres (five feet) apart and disinfect hands upon entering public spaces.

The country of two million people has so far reported 1,464 coronavirus cases and 103 deaths.

00:04 GMT – Cafes and bars reopen in parts of Australia

New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous state, is reopening restaurants, cafes and bars after a two-month shutdown, under the condition they limit customers to 10 at any one time. 

Gladys Berejiklian, premier of NSW, has cautioned people to remain vigilant and maintain social distancing.

“Easing restrictions has failed in so many places around the world and I don’t want that to happen in NSW, I want people to have personal responsibility for the way we respond,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

In the Northern Territory, pubs are opening with no restrictions on patron numbers and there are no limits on public gatherings or house visits.

Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, is currently retaining most of its lockdown measures.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. 

You can find all the updates from yesterday (May 14) here. 

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