Latest news on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially the elderly and people with existing health problems, this can lead to more serious illness or death.
– Chancellor Angela Merkel defends German restrictions against coronaviruses.
– France authorizes the resumption of religious services after a judicial challenge to the government’s ban.
– Seven restaurateurs appear to have been infected in north-west Germany.
– The UN warns of increasing cybercrime during the pandemic.
BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel defends the restrictions of the coronavirus in her country and calls on her compatriots to continue to respect the rules of social distancing.
Germany began easing its lock restrictions on April 20 and since then has at least partially reopened many areas. At the same time, the country has experienced frequent protests against the foreclosure measures.
Merkel said in her weekly video message on Saturday that the measures were necessary and officials must continue to justify why certain restrictions cannot be lifted while ensuring that they are proportionate.
Merkel said Germany “has so far succeeded in achieving the goal of preventing our healthcare system from being overwhelmed.”
PARIS – France authorizes the resumption of religious services from Saturday after a legal challenge to the government’s ban on such gatherings.
Religious leaders welcomed the decision but said it would take time to put in place the necessary security measures.
To prevent the spread of the virus, visitors to places of worship in France must wear masks, wash their hands when entering, and keep a distance of at least one meter (three feet) from other people.
The French government had banned religious services until June 2, although stores and other businesses started reopening last week. The State Council, the country’s highest administrative body, overturned the ban and the government issued a decree on Saturday authorizing the resumption of services.
The French Bishops’ Conference said it would work with church leaders to prepare for the reopening, including for Pentecost Sunday services on May 31.
The rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris has declared that he would not be ready to reopen on Sunday for the celebrations of Eid al-Fitr, the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
BERLIN – Authorities say seven people appear to have been infected with the coronavirus in a restaurant in northwest Germany, in the first known case since the restaurants reopened in the country two weeks ago.
Local government officials in Leer County said Friday evening that the cases, reported between Tuesday and Friday, had led to the quarantine of at least 50 people.
Previously, no new cases had been confirmed in the region for more than a week.
Germany began easing its coronavirus restrictions on April 20 and this process has accelerated recently. The state of Lower Saxony, where Leer is located, allowed restaurants to reopen on May 11 with hygienic precautions.
These currently include a distance of 2 meters (6 ½ feet) between tables, masks for servers and an obligation to take the name, address and telephone number of guests in order to detect possible infections.
UNITED NATIONS – The Chief of Disarmament of the United Nations said that the COVID-19 pandemic was advancing the world towards increased technological innovation and collaboration, but “Cybercrime is also on the rise, with a 600% increase in malicious emails during the current crisis. “
Izumi Nakamitsu said at an informal meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Friday that “disturbing reports have also included attacks on healthcare organizations and medical research centers around the world.”
She said increasing digital dependence has increased vulnerability to cyber attacks and “it is estimated that such an attack takes place every 39 seconds.”
According to the International Telecommunication Union, “almost 90 countries are still in the early stages of their cybersecurity engagement,” said Nakamitsu.
The High Representative for Disarmament Affairs said that the threat of the misuse of information and communications technology “was urgent.” But she said there was also good news, highlighting some global progress at the United Nations to address threats arising from the development of standards for the use of these technologies.
Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas, whose country holds the presidency of the Security Council and organized Friday’s meeting on cyber stability and the promotion of responsible government behavior in cyberspace, said: “The COVID crisis -19 put additional pressure on our essential cybersecurity services. ”
He said the need for a “safe and functional cyberspace” is therefore more urgent than ever and he condemned cyber attacks targeting hospitals, medical research centers and other infrastructure, especially during the pandemic.
“These attacks are unacceptable,” said Ratas. “It will be important to hold offenders accountable for their behavior.”
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