Germany will review its coronavirus locking measures next week to see what impact they have had on infections after a recent surge in cases, said Angela Merkel’s chief of staff.
The Chancellor is in talks with regional leaders today on the loosening of measures – including the reopening of schools and the possibility for sports teams to train – but no decision will be made until at least May 6.
This is to give the current measurements time to get into the data, said aide Helge Braun. He spoke as Germany reported 1,478 new virus cases on Thursday, which means the daily total has increased every day this week.
Merkel previously warned that harsh measures will have to come back if infections start to get out of control.
Meanwhile, France should draw up plans for regions where the number of infections is lower in order to start easing the blocking measures more quickly, the Italian Prime Minister said that his country could also follow suit.
In Spain, the Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, was also to announce time slots during which the elderly and children can be outside in order to protect the elderly vulnerable from the virus – which can be worn by children well that they generally do not suffer from severe symptoms.
Germany reported Thursday 1,478 new cases of coronavirus, which means that the total daily infections increased every day this week
Germany reported 173 more deaths from the virus, up from 202 deaths on Wednesday
The Spanish and Italian leaders are both facing rebellions over their plans to loosen the lockdowns of regional ministers who insist that comprehensive approaches unfairly penalize places where the virus is less concentrated.
The Spanish government faces a possible parliamentary defeat in its four-step plan, the governors urging the Prime Minister to reverse the state of emergency and give them powers to deal with the crisis on their own.
In order to get around this problem, France proposed to divide the country into “red” and “green” zones when the isolation was lifted on May 11, with green zones – where the impact of the virus was less severe. – enabled the measures to be lifted more quickly.
A second wave of coronavirus is feared in Europe – already the most affected region in the world with 1.4 million confirmed cases and nearly 130,000 deaths – while the control measures are relaxed.
But while some of the continent’s largest economies are experiencing record falls, leaders have no choice but to relax measures before a vaccine becomes available.
Here is the latest information on how European leaders are managing their blockages …
Social distancing measures will not end until at least May 10, Angela Merkel’s chief of staff said, even as the German chancellor met with regional leaders to discuss plans to further loosen up lockout measures.
Ministers are expected to discuss when it would be possible to reopen schools and kindergartens and resume sporting events, but no firm decision will be made until at least May 6, said Helge Braun, an assistant to Merkel.
This is to allow time for the initial easing of lock restrictions last week to show up in the data.
Woman exits shopping center in Berlin after Germany became one of the first European countries to start easing foreclosure measures
He spoke as Professor Tobias Welte, a senior government adviser, denied that an increase in infections this week was due to a relaxation of the restrictions.
Total unemployed German workers soar in April due to coronavirus
The total number of unemployed in Germany rose unusually in April, according to official data on Thursday, highlighting the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Europe’s largest economy.
The total unemployed rose to 2.6 million in April from 2.3 million in March, according to data compiled by the federal labor agency BA.
And in seasonally adjusted terms, the unemployment rate climbed to 5.8% this month from 5.0% the previous month, the agency said.
“The coronavirus pandemic will probably lead to the most severe recession in Germany after the Second World War,” BA chief Detlef Scheele said in a statement. “The job market is also under pressure.”
Economy Minister Peter Altmaier on Wednesday unveiled government projections for a record 6.3% year-on-year decline in gross domestic product.
In addition to the increase in the number of unemployed in April, some 750,000 businesses have asked to place 10.1 million workers in shorter government-funded hour programs, the BA announced on Thursday.
Known in German as “Kurzarbeit” and credited with saving hundreds of thousands of jobs during the 2009 financial crisis, Berlin has expanded access to the program as the magnitude of the coronavirus threat becomes Claire.
Applying for the plan does not mean that workers will actually be placed on shorter hours.
“Nevertheless, this is a figure never seen before compared to the last decades, and a multiple of the notifications observed during the great recession of 2008-2009,” said the BA.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, he said cases have tended to fall overall despite an apparent increase in daily data.
He highlighted the “weekend effect” that has been observed across Europe – where less case data is saved on weekends because people are away from their desks, causing a backlog that is cleared all week long.
This leads to an apparent peak in infections midweek, when in fact the numbers may have remained stable or even decreased on average.
For example, Germany reported an average of 2,040 cases last week, although daily figures were down.
For comparison, the country reported an average of 1,236 cases per day this week, although the daily figure has increased.
Professor Welte added that it is also too early for the effects of lifting the lock to appear in the daily infection data due to the incubation period of the coronavirus – which can be up to 14 days.
He said: “The end of the lockdown started about a week ago, normally with a coronavirus, it is a very long time.
“From infection to severe infection and admission to intensive care, the delay is usually around 14 days. We are still in this window.
“We will see next week what the consequence of the judgment was. “
Outlining the German government’s strategy for the future, scientists from four reputable research groups – including the Max Planck Society and the Leibniz Association – have described what they think is the best answer.
They rejected the idea of pushing for “collective immunity” because they say there is not enough evidence that a person who has been infected with a coronavirus cannot be infected a second time. time.
Angela Merkel chaired a meeting of regional governors on Thursday to discuss new foreclosures, but her chief of staff said that social distancing will remain in place until at least May 10
The long-term effects of the infection, such as heart and lung trauma, are also poorly understood, they told Die Welt.
Likewise, it is also impossible to try to eradicate the disease while it is still circulating freely in certain parts of the world.
Instead, the strategy should be to contain the virus to prevent it from spreading through the local population through increased testing and contact tracing.
Such strategies have proven to be extremely effective in places like South Korea – the site of one of the first outbreaks outside of China – where no domestic infection was reported on Thursday.
The country has never decreed a total lockout of the type seen in Europe.
It is only when the number of cases has dropped to a level that they can be adequately contained with testing and contact tracing that social distancing should be stopped, said the German scientists.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Thursday that some Italian regions may be able to roll back restrictions on coronaviruses more quickly than others, but warned local authorities against unilateral action.
He expressed himself as local right-wing administrations, which are not part of the central government, rebelled against his gradual approach to lifting restrictions which, according to Conte, is vital to prevent a second wave of infection .
For example, in Calabria, in southern Italy, which has largely escaped the worst of coronaviruses, the ministers announced that bars and restaurants can reopen immediately as long as they have tables outdoors – a month before the calendar proposed by the government.
“There will be no plan based on sudden initiatives by individual local authorities, but rather based on scientific discoveries,” said Conte.
Autonomous measures by isolated regions would be seen as illegitimate, he added, paving the way for clashes with regional leaders determined to challenge the central government.
Italy has recorded 27,682 deaths from coronaviruses, the highest death toll in Europe, and has put in place some of the toughest lock-out measures in the world, which are expected to tip the fragile economy into a deep recession .
Conte acknowledged that the economy was experiencing an unprecedented crisis and confirmed the latest Treasury forecasts for a 15% contraction in the first half.
Data released on Thursday showed the economy fell 4.7% in the first quarter from the previous three months due to the lockout.
However, the crisis was less pronounced than expected, a Reuters poll predicting a 5.0% drop.
France and Spain, which also released quarterly economic data on Thursday, posted decreases of 5.8% and 5.3% respectively – the largest quarterly retraction ever recorded in the two countries.
Conte said a new stimulus package to support the economy, expected to be released in a few days, would include € 15 billion ($ 16.3 billion) for businesses and $ 25 billion directly for employees and workers. independent.
Acknowledging that the slow withdrawal of restrictions was causing upheaval, Conte said he must act with caution to avoid a potentially catastrophic resurgence of infections.
“I’ll say it clearly, at the risk of appearing unpopular. The government cannot immediately guarantee a return to normalcy… we are still in this pandemic, ”he said.
On Thursday, Minister of Health Jerome Salomon will unveil the country’s first “red” and “green” departmental map and define the locking measures that will apply in each zone.
It comes after Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Tuesday that the lockdowns will be relaxed at different rates in different places depending on how they deal with the virus.
Although the exact criteria for marking a department as “green” or “red” have not yet been released, the ministers said it would depend on three things – local transmission rates, availability of intensive care beds, and if effective tests and contact tracing measures are applied outside.
It has also not been revealed how the lockdown measures will differ from area to area, but the ministers suggested that parks and gardens be allowed to reopen in green areas while remaining closed in areas red.
Similarly, schools and colleges may be allowed to reopen in the green zones from May 18, while they must remain closed in the red zones longer.
While the zones themselves will be revealed on Thursday, measures to lock out green zones will not begin to be relaxed until May 11.
French economic data, released on Thursday, highlighted the importance of easing the lockdown, which revealed that the economy contracted 5.8% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the last quarter of 2019.
This decline is the largest quarter-over-quarter decline since records started in 1949. It was particularly pronounced in services involving face-to-face interaction, such as hotels, restaurants, and convenience stores. retail, transportation and construction.
Health Minister Salvador Illa to announce time slots to ensure seniors are kept away from children when they are both allowed out for the first time since the lockout began on Saturday .
OAPs are expected to be told that they can go out for a walk in the morning before the children have a chance to go out in the afternoon with one of their parents.
Runners and others taking advantage of their first opportunity to practice an individual sport outside for the first time in seven weeks will probably be informed that they must choose time slots early in the morning or late in the evening when the other two groups are back inside.
Illa will explain the details on Thursday after the postponement of an early morning television address set for 11 a.m.
The Spanish Minister of Transport, Jose Luis Abalos, has already confirmed time slots for different sectors of the population, saying that measures are being taken to avoid an “explosive” mixture of young and old.
This comes after Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez presented a four-step plan to facilitate the foreclosure of Spain from May 4, each new step being subject to certain criteria before it can begin.
However, it is far from certain that his plans will be voted on in parliament as business groups and opposition leaders intensify criticism of his plans, El Mundo reported.
Regional leaders would be angry that they were not consulted on the plans, which they say are dictated by the central government and do not reflect local concerns.
Adding to the pressure, official data released Thursday showed that the economy shrank 5.2% in the first quarter of the year, the worst figure since the start of record keeping in the 1970s.
However, daily data from the coronavirus in Spain provided positive news, with the number of new infections confirmed on Thursday at just 518 – the lowest reported since March 11.
The number of deaths was 268, the lowest number recorded since March 20.