Coro­n­avirus lat­est: Spain over­takes China in to­tal death toll

Spain has recorded more deaths than any coun­try ex­cept Italy, with global fatal­i­ties sur­pass­ing 20,000. The Ger­man par­lia­ment has ap­proved a multi-bil­lion euro coro­n­avirus aid pack­age. Fol­low DW for the lat­est.

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Only Italy now has a higher num­ber of coro­n­avirus deaths than Spain

Global deaths have sur­passed 20,000, mostly in Europe, global cases have ex­ceeded 450,000

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel has tested neg­a­tive on sec­ond coro­n­avirus test

The Ger­man par­lia­ment has ap­proved a coro­n­avirus aid pack­age that is ex­pected to see Germany take on new debt for the first time since 2013

Read more: Coro­n­avirus: What are the lock­down mea­sures across Europe?

Up­dates in Uni­ver­sal Co­or­di­nated Time (UTC/GMT)

23:00 The Prime Min­is­ter of Kosovo Al­bin Kurti has lost a no-con­fi­dence over his re­sponse to the pan­demic, top­pling his govern­ment.

Read more here: Kosovo's govern­ment top­pled through no­con­dence vote over coro­n­avirus re­sponse

22:43 France is with­draw­ing troops from Iraq due to the pan­demic.

France has around 200 mil­i­tary per­son­nel work­ing in Iraq, mostly train­ing lo­cal armed forces or in the coali­tion's Baghdad head­quar­ters.

"In co­or­di­na­tion with the Iraqi govern­ment, the coali­tion has de­cided to ad­just its de­ploy­ments in Iraq and pro­vi­sion­ally sus­pend train­ing activities," it said in a state­ment.

The UK has al­ready an­nounced it will with­draw some of its troops, as have the Czech Repub­lic.

21:35 Ear­lier to­day, Ger­man ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ters agreed that school-leav­ing ex­ams would go ahead na­tion­wide.

States had been dis­agree­ing on whether to post­pone or can­cel the "Abitur" exam sea­son as all schools have closed, but now states have agreed that the exam sea­son must go on.

Read more: Germany: School­leav­ing ex­ams will go ahead de­spite coro­n­avirus

21:20 Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepul­chre, be­lieved by Chris­tians to house Christ's tomb, had been shut. Ear­lier on Wed­nes­day, Is­rael tight­ened move­ment re­stric­tions and Pales­tini­ans an­nounced their first death.

"We have been in­formed of the clo­sure. Our un­der­stand­ing is that it is for one week. We hope it will re­open as soon as pos­si­ble," Wadie Abunas­sar, a spokesper­son for the lo­cal clergy, told AFP news agency.

20:47 Spain's death toll is sec­ond only to Italy now. Watch DW's lat­est re­port for the de­tails.

20: 40 Penn­syl­va­nia has be­come the lat­est US state to de­lay its pres­i­den­tial pri­mary elec­tion. Law­mak­ers voted to post­pone the vote, sched­uled for April, un­til June, when they hope the COVID-19 pan­demic may be re­ced­ing in the US.

More than 10 states have now post­poned their pri­mary elec­tion dates. The only two can­di­dates who re­main in the run­ning for the Demo­crat nom­i­na­tion are Bernie San­ders and Joe Bi­den, both of whom have cut back on cam­paign­ing as pub­lic life in the US faces in­creased re­stric­tions.

20:40In the wake of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic,EU Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Ur­sula von der Leyen has urged mem­ber states to screen po­ten­tial out­side in­vestors carefully, and said Brus­sels would is­sue re­freshed guide­lines.

"To those mem­ber states that do not have such a mech­a­nism, I tell them now is the time to cre­ate it," she said in a video mes­sage.

"In the mean­time, you should use all options to pro­tect crit­i­cal Euro­pean com­pa­nies from for­eign takeovers or in­flu­ence that could un­der­mine our se­cu­rity and pub­lic or­der."

20:20Global deaths have sur­passed 20,000, mostly in Europe, with con­firmed cases at just un­der 460,000, ac­cord­ing to data from Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity.

20:07 The UK par­lia­ment has closed its doors a week be­fore the planned Easter break to help slow the spread of COVID-19. "The House of Com­mons has agreed to ad­journ for Easter re­cess and will next sit on 21 April 2020," the lower cham­ber an­nounced on its Twitter page.

"Obviously par­lia­ment has to lead by ex­am­ple," House Secretary Robert Jen­nick told par­lia­ment.

The early clo­sure meant a has­tened de­par­ture for op­po­si­tion leader and Labour party chief Jeremy Cor­byn, who an­nounced his res­ig­na­tion af­ter be­ing de­feated in the De­cem­ber 2019 elec­tion. His suc­ces­sor is ex­pected to be an­nounced on April 4.

19: 49 French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron has pledged "mas­sive in­vest­ments" in the coun­try's pub­lic hospi­tal health sys­tem.

"Once this cri­sis is over, a mas­sive in­vest­ment plan and an up­grade of the ca­reer paths will be put in place for our hospi­tal sys­tem," Macron said in the city of Mul­house in east­ern France.

France has seen over 1,300 deaths from COVID-19, and their pub­lic health sys­tem has been pushed to break­ing point, with Germany tak­ing some pa­tients in need of in­ten­sive-care beds.

Macron thanked his Euro­pean neigh­bors for the as­sis­tance, stress­ing that Europe had shown "sol­i­dar­ity."

19:40 The Ger­man Bun­destag on Wed­nes­day ap­proved a €750 bil­lion aid pack­age to cush­ion the eco­nomic ef­fects of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic. Watch this lat­est re­port from DW for de­tails:

19:32 The eco­nomic down­turn caused by the coro­n­avirus pan­demic is ex­pected to be worse than the 2008 fi­nan­cial crash, the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s chief has said.

"Re­cent pro­jec­tions pre­dict an eco­nomic down­turn and job losses that are worse than the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis a dozen years ago," Direc­tor-Gen­eral Roberto Azevedo said in a video

mes­sage posted on the Genev­abased body's web­site.

Azevedo has called for coun­tries to work to­gether to face up the eco­nomic down­turn as quickly as pos­si­ble. He ac­knowl­edged that the WTO was "still crunch­ing the num­bers" and was yet to pub­lish an of­fi­cial fore­cast.

19:26 Tur­key will be able to slow the trans­mis­sion of COVID-19 within two to three weeks, Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan has an­nounced. School clo­sures in Tur­key were also ex­tended un­til April 30, and pub­lic life re­mains se­verely re­stricted.

Er­do­gan, speak­ing to the na­tion on tele­vi­sion, ex­pressed con­fi­dence that Tur­key will over­come the coro­n­avirus out­break "in the short­est pos­si­ble time with the least dam­age pos­si­ble."

Tur­key’s death count rose to 44 on Tuesday, and the num­ber of con­firmed cases rose by 343 to 1,872.

19:24: In the US, the num­ber of con­firmed COVID-19 cases rose to 61,167 while 849 have died, ac­cord­ing to Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity's tracker on the novel coro­n­avirus.

The US trails China and Italy among the coun­tries with the most con­firmed in­fec­tions world­wide.

18:43 The Tony Awards, the world’s most fa­mous the­ater awards, have been post­poned in­def­i­nitely. The New York awards rec­og­nize the best on Broad­way ev­ery year. Broad­way the­aters closed their doors sev­eral weeks ago.

"The health and safety of the Broad­way com­mu­nity, artists and fans is of the ut­most im­por­tance to us," the awards com­mit­tee wrote on their web­site.

18:29 France's death count sur­passed 1,300 on Wed­nes­day, with over 25,000 con­firmed cases over­all. This is an in­crease of 200 deaths from the day be­fore.

17: 58 The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion has urged all coun­tries that have im­posed lock­downs to in­tro­duce "ag­gres­sive mea­sures to find, iso­late, test, treat and trace" cases.

The WHO has also stressed the im­por­tance of coun­tries us­ing the "lit­tle bit of time" that lock­downs are buy­ing coun­tries. "Now you have to use this time."

17:55 Crim­i­nals are "flood­ing" Euro­pean mar­kets with coun­ter­feit drugs, masks and med­i­cal equip­ment amid the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, Europol said on Wed­nes­day.

"The dis­tri­bu­tion of coun­ter­feit or sub-stan­dard goods has been a key area of crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity in re­la­tion to the COVID-19 pan­demic," the spokesman for the Euro­pean po­lice agency, Jan Op Gen Oorth, said.

Af­ter many prod­ucts were pulled from sale for false claims of cur­ing or pro­tect­ing against COVID-19, crim­i­nals were now "tak­ing ad­van­tage of the sit­u­a­tion," he added.

17:37 More than 400,000 peo­ple have vol­un­teered to help the fight against COVID-19, UK Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son said at his daily press con­fer­ence.

He made a plea for vol­un­teers to step up to help the UK’s Na­tional Health Service (NHS) 24 hours ago and said the govern­ment had been over­whelmed by the re­sponse.

He also said that the UK govern­ment was mov­ing with "ex­tra­or­di­nary speed" to prop up the Bri­tish econ­omy, as busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als face a loss of earn­ings from mea­sures put in place to tackle coro­n­avirus.

17: 26 All en­ter­tain­ment venues, parks and malls in Moscow will be closed next week and all pub­lic events can­celed to curb the spread of the virus, says Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin. Ear­lier on Wed­nes­day, Russia's Vladimir Putin said busi­nesses and pub­lic of­fices across Russia would not be work­ing next week.

17:14 Ital­ian of­fi­cials say 683 peo­ple have died of the coro­n­avirus in the last 24 hours, bring­ing the to­tal death toll to 7,503. The au­thor­i­ties also re­ported over 5,000 new cases, putting the to­tal num­ber of coro­n­avirus pa­tients in Italy to 74,386. Italy has had more coro­n­avirus-re­lated deaths than any other na­tion in the world.

17: 11 Check out DW's COVID-19 spe­cial. This episode looks at the im­pact of the pan­demic on the African con­ti­nent:

17:05 The top diplo­mats of G7 coun­tries called for a global "early-warn­ing sys­tem" on se­cu­rity and for­eign pol­icy is­sues amid the coro­n­avirus cri­sis.

Germany's Heiko Maas said that he and his UK coun­ter­part, Do­minic Raab, jointly pre­sented a pro­posal that was ac­cepted as a ba­sis for the co­or­di­nated G7 re­sponse to the cri­sis.

The ini­tia­tive should also in­clude a joint ef­fort to pro­tect "rules-based global trade," Maas said in a state­ment fol­low­ing the G7 talks on Wed­nes­day.

17:04 G7 coun­tries must help de­velop med­i­ca­tion and vac­cines to fight COVID-19, but should also help the coun­tries with fewer re­sources and fight the "dra­matic eco­nomic con­se­quences of the pan­demic," Germany's For­eign Min­is­ter Heiko Maas said af­ter con­fer­ring with his G7 coun­ter­parts.

"The na­tions which are most pow­er­ful eco­nom­i­cally are the ones that need to act with sol­i­dar­ity and re­spon­si­bly and think be­yond their own in­ter­ests," he said in a state­ment pub­lished by his min­istry. "Germany will do what­ever is pos­si­ble and nec­es­sary."

17: 00 Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel talked to China's Xi Jin­ping by phone on Wed­nes­day. Both stressed the need for "close in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion," ac­cord­ing to a Ger­man govern­ment spokesman.

On Twitter, DW's Michaela Küfner points out the "ele­phant in the phone line: the pub­lic­ity war with China seek­ing to up­stage EU over lack of co­op­er­a­tion."

16:47 The relics of Saint Corona, a lit­tle-known pa­tron saint of re­sist­ing epi­demics, are to go on pub­lic dis­play in Aachen Cathe­dral once the cur­rent coro­n­avirus out­break ends, Ger­man of­fi­cials said.

Corona is Latin for "crown." Coron­aviruses, in­clud­ing COVID-19, are named af­ter the crown-like spikes on their sur­face.

How­ever, Corona is also the name of a teenage girl who was de­clared a saint af­ter be­ing bru­tally mur­dered by Ro­mans in ei­ther the 2nd or 3rd cen­tury BC. She is also con­sid­ered the pa­tron saint of lum­ber­jacks.

The man­age­ment of Aachen Cathe­dral, a western Ger­man city near the Dutch bor­der, has been pre­par­ing and clean­ing the gold, bronze and ivory shrine - which con­tains the relics - for a pub­lic dis­play even be­fore the out­break reached Germany. With this sum­mer's ex­hi­bi­tion on gold crafts­man­ship de­layed, it was not clear when the pub­lic will be able to view the re­li­gious ob­ject.

"We have brought the shrine out a bit ear­lier than planned and now we ex­pect more in­ter­est due to the virus," said Aachen Cathe­dral spokes­woman Daniela Lo­evenich.

16:33 Spain's death toll from the COVID-19 pan­demic now stands at more than 3,430, ac­cord­ing to data from Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity. Only Italy's toll stands higher, at more than 6,800.

16:15 Ac­cord­ing to US Secretary of State Mike Pom­peo top diplo­mats of G7 na­tions, which in­cludes the US, Canada, Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Ja­pan, agreed that China was run­ning a "dis­in­for­ma­tion" ef­fort on the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

"Ev­ery one of the na­tions that were at that meet­ing this morn­ing was deeply aware of the dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign that the Chi­nese Communist Party is en­gaged in to try and de­flect from what has re­ally taken place," Pom­peo told re­porters af­ter the video­con­fer­ence with his coun­ter­parts from the world's most in­dus­tri­al­ized na­tions.

16: 00 Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel has tested neg­a­tive on her sec­ond coro­n­avirus test, a spokesman for the Ger­man govern­ment said on Wed­nes­day. The pre­vi­ous test was also neg­a­tive for the 65year-old politi­cian, who is cur­rently in self-quar­an­tine.

15:39 The Syr­ian White Hel­mets have urged the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to help curb the spread of the novel coro­n­avirus in Syria. Talk­ing to DW, the or­ga­ni­za­tion's rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Am­mar Al Selmo, warned there were hun­dreds of thou­sands of in­ter­nally dis­placed peo­ple liv­ing in over­crowded camps in north­west­ern Syria. "If this virus spreads here, we will die like cat­tle," he told DW's Brent Goff. "We will be dev­as­tated."

Sep­a­rately, the hu­man­i­tar­ian aid or­ga­ni­za­tion, In­ter­na­tional Res­cue Com­mit­tee, said that a COVID-19 out­break could "soon be­come one of the most se­vere out­breaks in the world."

15:35: The Ger­man In­te­rior Min­istry is ban­ning en­try at bor­ders to sea­sonal work­ers. The Ger­man Farm­ers' As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent, Joachim Ruk­wied, says farm­ers will be hit hard and that the ban needs to be as short in du­ra­tion as pos­si­ble.

15:26 The Ger­man par­lia­ment agreed to sus­pend the debt brake that is en­shrined into the coun­try's Ba­sic Law to pre­vent ex­ces­sive bor­row­ing.The Wed­nes­day vote would al­low the coun­try to pass an un­prece­dented coro­n­avirus aid pack­age by ad­ding €156 bil­lion ($169 bil­lion) of new debt.

15:04 The World Bank and the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund (IMF) urged cred­i­tors to pro­vide debt re­lief to the world's poor­est coun­tries. The of­fi­cials called for debt pay­ments to be sus­pended for na­tions in the In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion (IDA).

The IDA lends to dozens of im­pov­er­ished World Bank mem­ber states, most of them lo­cated in Africa. The sus­pen­sion "will help with IDA coun­tries’ im­me­di­ate liq­uid­ity needs to tackle chal­lenges posed by the coro­n­avirus out­break and al­low time for an as­sess­ment of the cri­sis im­pact and fi­nanc­ing needs for each coun­try," the IMF and the World Bank said in a joint state­ment on Wed­nes­day.

14:37 Doc­tors and nurses in pub­lic hos­pi­tals in Zim­babwe went on strike on Wed­nes­day, protest­ing the lack of pro­tec­tive gear as they face the out­break."Right now we are ex­posed and no one seems to care,'' said the Zim­babwe Hospi­tal Doc­tors' As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent, Tawanda Zvakada.

The im­pov­er­ished African na­tion of some 15 mil­lion peo­ple cur­rently has three con­firmed cases, with the first coro­n­avirus death re­ported this week.

14:36 Germany has brought over 150,000 Ger­man cit­i­zens and res­i­dents who were stranded over­seas back to Germany, the For­eign Min­istry has an­nounced.

The Ger­man govern­ment worked with the air­line Lufthansa to re­turn trav­el­ers and hol­i­day­mak­ers who are in high­risk ar­eas or who had trans­port can­celed as air­lines stripped back flights. They also char­tered spe­cial planes.

All in all, Germany plans to bring back 200,000 trav­el­ers. "We still have a long way to go," said govern­ment spokesman Rainer Breul.

14:30 The Ger­man par­lia­ment has ap­proved a coro­n­avirus aid pack­age worth more than €750 bil­lion, which will al­low the gov­ern­n­ment to take on new debt for the first time since 2013.

14:21 The Ger­man state of North Rhine-West­phalia is mulling re­leas­ing pris­on­ers to free up space in cor­rec­tional fa­cil­i­ties dur­ing the COVID-19 out­break.

The au­thor­i­ties are will­ing to re­lease in­mates who were sent to prison in­stead of pay­ing mone­tary fines, as well as those with max­i­mum sen­tences of up to 18 months.

In ad­di­tion, prison sen­tences would be post­poned for peo­ple convicted to terms of up to one year. Sex of­fend­ers and peo­ple "convicted to long prison terms due to se­ri­ous acts of vi­o­lence" would be ex­cluded from the scheme. The sen­tences would be con­tin­ued at a later date, ac­cord­ing to the epd news agency.

There have been no con­firmed cases of COVID-19 in­fec­tions among in­mates in the north­west Ger­man state, but the min­is­ter warned that the au­thor­i­ties need to be pre­pared for a "pos­si­ble epi­demic."

14:04 More than 400 peo­ple have been ar­rested in Tur­key for spread­ing "provoca­tive" so­cial me­dia con­tent on the coro­n­avirus out­break. Speak­ing to broad­caster 24TV on Wed­nes­day, Tur­key's In­te­rior Min­is­ter Su­ley­man Soylu said that nearly two-thirds of those ar­rested are mem­bers of "ter­ror groups" such as Kur­dish mili­tias or the re­li­gious move­ment headed by the ex­iled Is­lamic cleric Fethul­lah Gulen.

13:55 Germany's De­fense Min­istry has de­nied me­dia re­ports that its mil­i­tary lost 6 mil­lion face masks."No masks have been lost from the Bun­deswehr in­ven­tory," a min­istry rep­re­sen­ta­tive told re­porters in Ber­lin on Wed­nes­day. Pre­vi­ously, Germany's Der Spiegel­magazine re­ported that the masks "dis­ap­peared without a trace" at an air­port in Kenya.

13:42 Russia's Vladimir Putin has post­poned the na­tion­wide ref­er­en­dum on the con­sti­tu­tional re­form that would give him the op­tion to stay in power un­til 2036. The vote had orig­i­nally been sched­uled for April 22.

"You know how se­ri­ously I take this is­sue, and of course I will ask you to come for­ward and state your opin­ion on the mat­ter," Putin said in a tele­vised speech. "How­ever... peo­ple's health, lives and safety are ab­so­lute pri­or­i­ties for us." The Rus­sian leader did not set a new date for the plebiscite.

13:41 Ad­dress­ing the na­tion, Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin said the next week in Russia will be work-free.

He also said it was safest for Rus­sians to stay at home.

13:25 A Bavar­ian dis­tillery is do­nat­ing pure al­co­hol to med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties in Germany to help them make dis­in­fec­tant.

"We can't make dis­in­fec­tant be­cause we don't have a li­cense," Ste­fan Pen­ninger of the Pen­ninger Dis­tillery was quoted as say­ing by the Reuters news agency. "But we are get­ting a lot of queries from clin­ics, phar­ma­cies and doc­tors who want to make dis­in­fec­tant from our al­co­hol."

12:50 Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son has been ans-

wer­ing ques­tions in the UK Par­lia­ment. He's told law­mak­ers the lock­down mea­sures would be lifted at the ear­li­est pos­si­ble op­por­tu­nity, when it is safe to do so. John­son also said the govern­ment would set out "in the next cou­ple of days" what sup­port it would pro­vide to self-em­ployed work­ers to help them keep afloat dur­ing the coro­n­avirus out­break. Mea­sures to help char­i­ties sup­port­ing the vul­ner­a­ble were also on the cards, he added.

12:37 The lead­ers of nine EU coun­tries, in­clud­ing France, Spain, Bel­gium and Italy have called on the bloc to cre­ate a "com­mon debt in­stru­ment" to raise funds for strug­gling economies and health sec­tors, ac­cord­ing to a let­ter seen by news agen­cies. EU lead­ers are due to hold a video con­fer­ence on the coro­n­avirus cri­sis on Thurs­day.

"This com­mon debt in­stru­ment should have sufficient size and long ma­tu­rity to be fully ef­fi­cient and avoid roll-over risks now as in the fu­ture," the let­ter said, ad­ding that the bloc should also "ex­plore other tools like a spe­cific fund­ing for corona-re­lated spend­ing in the EU bud­get" for 2020 and 2021.

12:33 Ukraine's govern­ment has de­clared a na­tion­wide emer­gency for the next 30 days due to the coro­n­avirus out­break, Reuters re­ports. Min­is­ters have also agreed to ex­tend lock­down mea­sures un­til April 24. The east­ern Euro­pean coun­try has re­ported 113 cases so far, in­clud­ing 4 deaths.

12:30 Moscow has tem­po­rar­ily banned pub­lic events and sus­pended pub­lic trans­porta­tion for peo­ple over 65, said Mayor Sergei Sobyanin in a state­ment on the city's web­site. Food shops, banks and house­hold ser­vices will re­main open, how­ever. Russia cur­rently has a to­tal of 658 cases, 410 of which are in Moscow. How­ever, Sobyanin told Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin that he be­lieves that there are sig­nif­i­cantly more cases than have been re­ported. The coun­try is also mulling harsh penal­ties for vi­o­la­tors of quar­an­tine, in­clud­ing prison time and hefty fines, and Putin is ex­pected to ad­dress the na­tion on live tele­vi­sion later on Wed­nes­day.

12:20 The eco­nomic cri­sis spurred by the coro­n­avirus pan­demic will have worse reper­cus­sions than the 2008 fi­nan­cial cri­sis, the head of the Ifo In­sti­tute for Eco­nomic Re­search told DW.

"This time, we have a real prob­lem in the econ­omy," said Cle­mens Fuest. "We are stop­ping the econ­omy. And the only thing that can help is to rec­on­cile the end­ing of the shut­down with the fight against the epi­demic. That's what we have to do, and it's very dif­fi­cult for a num­ber of rea­sons. That's why I think this cri­sis is a lot worse than the fi­nan­cial cri­sis."

The in­sti­tute has also said that Germany is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the "sin­gle worst drop in 70 years of in­dus­try sur­veys," and that the out­look for man­u­fac­tur­ing, ser­vices, con­struc­tion and trade has col­lapsed.

12:10 The or­ga­niz­ers of the 2020 Olympics were left with no choice but to post­pone the sum­mer Games in Tokyo. DW looks at the un­prece­dented fi­nan­cial and or­ga­ni­za­tional chal­lenge they now face.

12:00 If you find your­self sus­pi­ciously star­ing at your pets, your pota­toes and even those birth­day cards on the man­tel­piece, you aren't alone. Coro­n­avirus is seem­ingly every­where. What's safe to touch? Check out the gallery to find out.

11:50 Cus­toms of­fi­cials at Zim­babwe’s big­gest air­port stopped re­port­ing for work on Wed­nes­day, over con­cerns about lack of pro­tec­tion against coro­n­avirus, their union said. Zim­babwe has so far recorded one death out of three con­firmed cases of coro­n­avirus, but crit­ics say the govern­ment is un­der­re­port­ing the num­ber of cases.

11:39 The Ger­man govern­ment has just held a press con­fer­ence with up­dates on the sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try.

Govern­ment spokesman Steffen Seib­ert says Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel is fine and con­tin­u­ing in­ter­na­tional talks and cabi­net meet­ings from home quar­an­tine. She is still to un­dergo tests. Germany is re­strict­ing en­try mea­sures fur­ther from Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon — this will af­fect har­vest and sea­sonal work­ers but will not ap­ply to for­eign care work­ers and nurses, for ex­am­ple com­ing from east­ern Europe.

A health min­istry spokesman says we're at the "be­gin­ning of the epi­demic in Germany," and that it's too early to talk about how high the death rate is. Germany cur­rently has a com­par­i­tively low case to death ra­tio. "We were test­ing very early on," he said, sug­gest­ing that Germany's fig­ures in­cluded more mild cases. "An­other pos­si­ble fac­tor is de­mo­graphic: so far in Germany we have been deal­ing with rel­a­tively young in­fected peo­ple on aver­age."

11:30 EU lead­ers ex­pressed sol­i­dar­ity with Spain as it strug­gles with an es­ca­lat­ing coro­n­avirus emer­gency. "I want you to know that we are work­ing tire­lessly to help you -- you are not alone," Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Ur­sula von der Leyen said on Twitter.

Euro­pean Coun­cil head Charles Michel said in a pub­lic let­ter to Spain that "Europe stands by your side in full sol­i­dar­ity, and we will spare no ef­fort to help you."

11:15 Germany’s child abuse com­mis­sioner has warned that in­stances of abuse could go up dur­ing the coro­n­avirus out­break as more and more peo­ple stay at home.

11:00 The streets of Paris have seen a 20-to-30% over­all de­cline in air pol­lu­tion since France is­sued its stay-at-home or­der on March 17, ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the re­gion’s air qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing agency, Air­parif. How­ever, the lock­down did not lead to marked de­clines in PM2.5 and PM10 fine par­tic­u­late mat­ter, the small­est and most harm­ful air pol­lu­tants.

10:45 Spain recorded 738 fatal­i­ties from coro­n­avirus over the past 24 hours, mark­ing the big­gest spike in deaths since the epi­demic reached the coun­try, its health min­istry re­ported on Wed­nes­day. The new fig­ure takes Spain’s to­tal death toll to 3,434 -- higher than China, and sec­ond in the world only to Italy. The coun­try has also con­firmed a to­tal of 47,610 cases. Spain is cur­rently on its 11th day of a na­tion­wide lock­down.

10:35 The 71-year-old heir to the Bri­tish throne, Charles, Prince of Wales has tested pos­i­tive for coro­n­avirus.

"The Prince of Wales has tested pos­i­tive for Coro­n­avirus," Clarence House said in a state­ment. "He has been dis­play­ing mild symp­toms but oth­er­wise re­mains in good health and has been work­ing from home through­out the last few days as usual."

10:20 Gov­ern­ments across the globe are scram­bling to counter the eco­nomic fall­out of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic. DW ex­am­ines what stim­u­lus mea­sures have been un­veiled. While the true ex­tent of the eco­nomic dam­age caused by the COVID-19 out­break is yet to be de­ter­mined, what's cer­tain is that the cri­sis will claim mil­lions of jobs. But a hand­ful of sec­tors may es­cape with min­i­mal pain.

10:13 Mali re­ported its first two cases of coro­n­avirus on Wed­nes­day. The two pa­tients are Malian na­tion­als — a 49year-old woman and a 62-yearold man, who had both trav­eled from France ear­lier this month. The govern­ment said the pa­tients were be­ing taken care of by the coun­try’s health au­thor­i­ties.

10:10 Saudi Ara­bia or­dered a 3 p.m. (12 p.m. UTC) cur­few and full lock­down in Riyadh, Mecca and Me­d­ina. King Sal­man also banned leav­ing or cir­cu­lat­ing be­tween any of the king­dom’s 13 regions.

10:05 Rus­sian law­mak­ers are set to dis­cuss a series of se­vere pun­ish­ments for vi­o­la­tors of quar­an­tine, in­clud­ing up to seven years in prison and hefty fines. Fines could be set at be­tween 500,000 rubles ($6,435; €5,939) and two mil­lion rubles for vi­o­lat­ing a quar­an­tine. If a vi­o­la­tor were found guilty of caus­ing a per­son’s death or in­ten­tion­ally in­fect­ing peo­ple, they could face up to five years in prison or up to seven years if two or more peo­ple died.

09: 57 Demand for "safe phones" for Aus­tralian women fac­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence un­der a govern­ment-funded plan has surged, as lock­down mea­sures ig­nite con­cerns over in­creased rates of do­mes­tic abuse. Hu­man rights groups have said that so­cial dis­tanc­ing mea­sures and lock­downs could put women in abu­sive re­la­tion­ships in greater danger, in­clud­ing in Aus­tralia, where one in six women is a vic­tim, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial data.

09:45 The Nether­lands has "prob­a­bly" stopped the ex­po­nen­tial growth of coro­n­avirus in­fec­tions, ac­cord­ing to the Dutch In­sti­tute of Health.

09:30 The coro­n­avirus death toll in Iran has sur­passed 2,000, with a to­tal count of 2,077, the coun­try’s health min­istry said to­day. Iran re­ported 143 new deaths over the past 24 hours, and cur­rently has a to­tal of 27,017 cases.

09: 10 Tai­wan and China traded barbs over China’s han­dling of the coro­n­avirus cri­sis on Wed­nes­day, ac­cus­ing each other of cover-ups and slan­der. Tai­wan’s govern­ment ac­cused China of in­ten­tion­ally curb­ing ef­forts to re­ceive virus in­for­ma­tion di­rectly from the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO). China has blocked Tai­wan’s WHO mem­ber­ship, as it con­sid­ers the is­land na­tion to be one of its prov­inces. On Tuesday, Tai­wan Pre­mier Su Tseng-chang ac­cused China of cov­er­ing up the cri­sis in its early stages, and not warn­ing the world quickly enough. That ac­cu­sa­tion was lev­eled again on Wed­nes­day by Cho Jung­tai, the chair­man of Tai­wan’s rul­ing Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party (DPP).

"Since the out­break of the epi­demic at the end of last year, China has cov­ered it up and ma­nip­u­lated the WHO to pre­tend that ev­ery­thing is go­ing well," Cho told a party meet­ing.

"The Chi­nese Communist Party regime’s ap­proach of main­tain­ing sta­bil­ity and ne­glect­ing peo­ple’s lives and health has caused the spread of the epi­demic and se­ri­ously dam­aged China’s carefully crafted im­age as a greater power," he added.

China dubbed the ac­cu­sa­tions “slan­der,” how­ever, and its re­sponse to the epi­demic has also been praised by the WHO.

08:35 The num­ber of coro­n­avirus cases in Pak­istan reached 1,000 on Wed­nes­day, with around 100 new cases iden­ti­fied over the course of 12 hours, ac­cord­ing to the coun­try’s health min­istry. Pak­istan re­ported its first case on Fe­bru­ary 26 and has a death toll of seven. Ad­di­tion­ally, the South Asian coun­try an­nounced that all do­mes­tic air travel will be sus­pended from Thurs­day un­til April 2. Pak­istan had al­ready sus­pended all in­ter­na­tional travel un­til April 4. Ac­cord­ing to the health min­is­ter, there are cur­rently over 7,000 sus­pected cases of coro­n­avirus in the coun­try.

08:21 About 60,000 mi­grant work­ers liv­ing in Thai­land have fled since au­thor­i­ties shut down malls and busi­nesses to curb the spread of coro­n­avirus, ac­cord­ing to a Thai in­te­rior min­istry of­fi­cial. Most of those mi­grant work­ers are from Laos, Cam­bo­dia and Myan­mar, and had re­turned home as of Tuesday. Thai­land cur­rently has the sec­ond high­est num­ber of coro­n­avirus cases in South­east Asia, while Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-ocha is set to in­voke a state of emer­gency on Thurs­day. Images on so­cial me­dia showed one of Bangkok's main bus ter­mi­nals packed with mostly mi­grant work­ers try­ing to get home.

08:15 A govern­ment min­is­ter lead­ing Sin­ga­pore’s coro­n­avirus task force abruptly stopped a speech and broke down in tears in par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day. "Please give me a minute," said Lawrence Wong, mid­way through thank­ing health­care work­ers for their ef­forts dur­ing the coro­n­avirus pan­demic. Sin­ga­pore has seen a sharp rise in cases, most of which were im­ported, over the last week, with a to­tal of 558 in­fec­tions.

08:10 The num­ber of con­firmed cases in Germany has risen to 31,554. The death toll now stands at 149 peo­ple, statis­tics from the Robert Koch In­sti­tute showed on Wed­nes­day. The pan­demic means cri­sis helplines are in higher demand than usual.

08:00 The state of Western Aus­tralia has an­nounced re­stric­tions on al­co­hol sales, in or­der to stop bulk buy­ing and curb prob­lems caused by al­co­hol amid coro­n­avirus-re­lated re­stric­tions. Un­der the new reg­u­la­tion, each per­son will only be able to pur­chase one car­ton of beer, cider or pre-mixed spir­its; three bot­tles of wine; one liter of spir­its or one liter of for­ti­fied wine. The re­stric­tions are set to ap­ply for two weeks, but may be ex­tended.

"We know it’s a stress­ful time for our com­mu­nity and we don’t want peo­ple buy­ing to ex­cess. We have seen that hap­pen with other foods and sup­plies and I have had re­ports of peo­ple fill­ing shop­ping trol­leys right up with al­co­hol," said Mark McGowan, the state's pre­mier.

07:45 De­spite its prox­im­ity to China, Ja­pan hasn't seen the mas­sive out­break of the coro­n­avirus that has shut down much of Europe and North Amer­ica. DW looks at what the Ja­panese are do­ing dif­fer­ently to help slow the spread.

07:30 Hubei res­i­dents formed long queues to board crowded trains and buses on Wed­nes­day af­ter the Chi­nese prov­ince most heav­ily hit by the coro­n­avirus out­break lifted a twom­onth lock­down. Wuhan, the epi­cen­ter of the out­break, was ex­cluded from that lift­ing of re­stric­tions, how­ever. The city’s res­i­dents will be able to travel freely by April 8.

06:38 France is set to an­nounce a €4 bil­lion ($4.33 bil­lion) liq­uid­ity sup­port plan for start-ups, dig­i­tal ju­nior min­is­ter Cedric O told French ra­dio sta­tion Ra­dio Clas­sique. Early stage dig­i­tal com­pa­nies have grown in re­cent years, spurred by tax cuts and busi­ness-friendly mea­sures im­posed by Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron, who hopes to turn the coun­try into a start-up na­tion.

06:20The US has an­nounced an agree­ment on a $2 tril­lion (€1.85 tril­lion) fed­eral re­lief pack­age to aid work­ers, busi­nesses

and the health­care sys­tem.

"Ladies and gentle­man, we are done. We have a deal," said top White House aid Eric Ue­land. The pack­age would give di­rect pay­ments to most Amer­i­cans, ex­pand un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits and pro­vide a $367 bil­lion pro­gram for small busi­nesses to pay work­ers who must stay home.

The agree­ment fol­lowed days of ne­go­ti­at­ing, and the Se­nate and House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives still need to pass the leg­is­la­tion be­fore send­ing it to US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for his sig­na­ture.

06:05Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Heiko Maas called for in­ter­na­tional sol­i­dar­ity and warned against hav­ing a "na­tional ego" ahead of a G7 meet­ing on Wed­nes­day.

"The na­tional ef­forts that are re­quired of all of us now must not re­sult in a spi­ral of na­tional ego," Maas told the news agency dpa. "The Ger­man govern­ment's pri­or­ity is to co­or­di­nate our ac­tions with part­ners world­wide and to show sol­i­dar­ity wher­ever we have scope for do­ing so," he said.

The for­eign min­is­ters of the G7’s seven ma­jor economies are set to hold a four-hour video con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, with a fo­cus placed on man­ag­ing the im­pacts of the virus out­break.

05:59 Malaysia has ex­tended its lock­down un­til April 14 as coro­n­avirus cases con­tinue to rise in the coun­try, which has the high­est num­ber of in­fec­tions in South­east Asia. Malaysia re­ported 172 new cases on Wed­nes­day, tak­ing the to­tal to 1,796, with 17 deaths. The orig­i­nal re­stric­tions were ini­tially set to be lifted af­ter March 31.

05:42 Thai­land has re­ported 107 new coro­n­avirus cases, bring­ing the to­tal up to 934. The South­east Asian coun­try, which was the first na­tion to see a coro­n­avirus case out­side of China, is set to de­clare a state of emer­gency on Thurs­day, giv­ing its mil­i­tary-run govern­ment sweep­ing pow­ers to im­pose cur­fews, cen­sor me­dia and fur­ther de­ploy the mil­i­tary for en­force­ment.

05:31 Viet­nam has halted rice ex­ports over fears that the coro­n­avirus out­break, com­bined with a se­vere drought and salt­wa­ter in­tru­sion in the Mekong Delta could lead to a food short­age, ac­cord­ing to a govern­ment state­ment.

"The Covid-19 epi­demic and drought and salt­wa­ter in­tru­sion are com­pli­cated, and so the Prime Min­is­ter is wor­ried that Viet­nam's food sup­ply will de­crease. There­fore, [Prime Min­is­ter Nguyen Xuan] Phuc has re­quested that rice ex­ports be sus­pended and asked the coun­try to ur­gently buy ex­tra rice for stock­pil­ing," the state­ment said. Viet­nam is the world’s third-largest rice ex­porter, af­ter In­dia and Thai­land.

05:20Bali’s "Day of Si­lence" was over­shad­owed by virus fears on Wed­nes­day, as many of the In­done­sian is­land’s res­i­dents re­mained in self-im­posed lock­down. The Hindu fes­ti­val, known as Nyepi, is usu­ally pre­ceded by street pa­rades fea­tur­ing "Ogo­hOgoh" ef­fi­gies that are then burned as a sym­bol of re­newal and pu­rifi­ca­tion.

05:06 Re­ports from the US say the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Se­nate have reached a deal on a "mas­sive" coro­n­avirus re­lief pack­age.

04:47 South Korea says it will en­force 14-day quar­an­tines on cit­i­zens and for­eign­ers with long-term stay visas ar­riv­ing from the United States, start­ing Fri­day.

02:11 China has lifted its tough re­stric­tions on Hubei prov­ince, the orig­i­nal epi­cen­ter of the coro­n­avirus out­break. The re­open­ing of Hubei comes af­ter a months-long lock­down and China has re­ported no new do­mes­tic cases. Schools, how­ever, re­main closed.

The coun­try did reg­is­ter 47 new in­fec­tions im­ported from over­seas, the Na­tional Health Com­mis­sion said, bring­ing the to­tal to 474 im­ported cases – most of them Chi­nese na­tion­als re­turn­ing home.

02:00 Here is the lat­est from the Amer­i­cas:

Mex­ico: Deputy Health Secretary Hugo Lopez-Gatell said that busi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions whose work re­quires peo­ple to travel be­tween home and work sites, or be in pub­lic spa­ces, must stop.

In the pop­u­lous State of Mex­ico, which bor­ders the cap­i­tal on three sides, a long list of busi­nesses and pub­lic spa­ces in­clud­ing day­care cen­ters, bars, gyms and the­aters, have been closed since Mon­day. Gov­er­nor Al­fredo del Mazo in­structed busi­nesses that do not sell food or phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals to close and res­i­dents to only leave their homes for ne­ces­si­ties.

Mex­ico has reg­is­tered a to­tal of 405 coro­n­avirus cases and five deaths. Pres­i­dent An­dres Manuel Lopez Obrador has drawn crit­i­cism for not tak­ing the virus se­ri­ously enough, en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to go out to restau­rants, de­spite the more strin­gent mea­sures rec­om­mended by his govern­ment.

Brazil: Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo, went into lock­down, but Pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro has crit­i­cized what he sees as a "hys­te­ria" over the coro­n­avirus, urg­ing that life must con­tinue and jobs be pre­served.

Bol­sonaro urged may­ors and state gover­nors to roll back lock­down mea­sures. "We must re­turn to nor­mal­ity," he said. "The few states and city halls should aban­don their scorchedea­rth poli­cies."

The pres­i­dent claimed that the large-scale coro­n­avirus out­break tak­ing place in Italy would not oc­cur in Brazil be­cause the coun­try has a younger pop­u­la­tion and warmer cli­mate.

Brazil has reg­is­tered some 2,201 cases and 46 deaths, ac­cord­ing to govern­ment fig­ures.

Panama: The govern­ment has widened its ex­ist­ing cur­few to slow the spread of coro­n­avirus, in­clud­ing re­quir­ing peo­ple to be in quar­an­tine at all hours start­ing to­day.

Pres­i­dent Lau­rentino Cor­tizo did not say how long the cur­few would be in place, but added there would be "log­i­cal ex­cep­tions," in­clud­ing for health work­ers and cer­tain busi­nesses such as banks and su­per­mar­kets.

Panama has reg­is­tered 443 cases of COVID-19, with a to­tal of eight deaths.

Gu­atemala: Gu­atemalan law­mak­ers voted to ex­tend a na­tion­wide state of emer­gency due to the coro­n­avirus for an­other 30 days. The coun­try now has 21 con­firmed cases of the in­fec­tion, the govern­ment said.

Paraguay: Pres­i­dent Mario Abdo Ben­itez closed the coun­try's bor­ders un­til Sun­day fol­low­ing a sec­ond death from COVID-19.

"Peo­ple can only leave, not en­ter," said In­te­rior Min­is­ter Eu­clides Acevedo, ad­ding that Paraguayan­s and res­i­dents were ex­empt but would face quar­an­tine in mil­i­tary bar­racks upon re­turn.

Com­mer­cial air­lines will not be al­lowed to land at Paraguayan air­ports dur­ing that time­frame.

"It's a week of sac­ri­fice, a tough week," said Acevedo.

Ecuador: The Galapagos Is­lands govern­ment said four peo­ple on the ar­chi­pel­ago had tested pos­i­tive for the virus. All of them had re­turned to the is­lands from the port city of Guayaquil, the worst af­fected city in Ecuador with more than half of the coun­try's con­firmed cases.

The Ecuado­rian govern­ment or­dered a to­tal ban on vis­i­tors to the is­lands last week. The coun­try has reg­is­tered some 1,000 cases of coro­n­avirus.

Colom­bia: Thou­sands of Colom­bians rushed to re­turn to their home cities, while oth­ers hur­ried to banks, su­per­mar­kets and other shops be­fore the start of a manda­tory 19-day na­tional quar­an­tine. Pres­i­dent Ivan Duque has or­dered Colom­bians to stay in their homes, blocked in­ter­na­tional and na­tional flights and re­stricted the use of longdis­tance pub­lic trans­port.

Colom­bians will be al­lowed out­side un­der 34 ex­cep­tions which in­clude travel for med­i­cal staff and de­liv­ery work­ers, while only one per­son per house­hold will be al­lowed to go out­side to buy food and medicine.

The coun­try has re­ported 306 cases of the dis­ease and three deaths.

01: 29 New Zealand an­nounced a state of emer­gency on Wed­nes­day to com­bat the spread of COVID-19. A na­tion­wide lock­down will take place from mid­night. The coun­try has re­ported 47 new in­fec­tions, bring­ing its con­firmed to­tal to 205.

Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern warned the num­ber of cases will rise: "Make no mis­take, this will get worse be­fore it gets bet­ter."

01:13 Sports­wear gi­ant Nike said shop­pers in key Asian mar­kets were be­gin­ning to re­turn to stores and online shop­ping. "Traf­fic is back," Nike Chief Ex­ec­u­tive John Don­a­hoe said of China, ad­ding that the same dy­namic was be­gin­ning to play out in Ja­pan and South Korea.

"Con­sumers are back in the stores," he said. "They are of­ten wear­ing face­masks, but they're back in the store."

Dur­ing its peak, the COVID-19 cri­sis in China forced the clo­sure of 75 per­cent of Nike-owned stores.

00:39 In­stances of panic buy­ing were re­ported across In­dia in the af­ter­math of a na­tion­wide lock­down an­nounced on Tuesday to stop the spread of coro­n­avirus.

Within hours of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi's ad­dress to the na­tion an­nounc­ing the lock­down, peo­ple flocked to mar­kets to stock up on essentials.

Phar­ma­cies and gro­cery stores saw peo­ple queu­ing up even as a lock­down was al­ready in place in sev­eral parts of the coun­try, in­clud­ing the cap­i­tal, New Delhi.

In­dian me­dia re­ported queues at gro­cery stores even be­fore Modi's speech, de­spite the prime min­is­ter's call for so­cial dis­tanc­ing in a prior ad­dress.

Af­ter re­ports of panic buy­ing, Modi took to Twitter to pacify the pub­lic.


00:30Italy re­ported a rise of743 new deaths from the novel coro­n­avirus epi­demic, af­ter fig­ures had de­clined the pre­vi­ous two days.The govern­ment an­nounced harsher penal­ties for peo­ple who vi­o­late home con­fine­ment rules, in place since March 10. These in­clude one to five years in prison for peo­ple leav­ing their homes if they have tested pos­i­tive for the virus.

00:05In­dia be­gan a to­tal lock­down at mid­night lo­cal time (19:30 UTC) on Tuesday. Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi said that the lock­down will be in place for the next 21 days.

"For the next few days, for­get about go­ing out. Stay at home. Do just one thing and stay at home," Modi urged more than 1 bil­lion peo­ple.

The prime min­is­ter said that he called on the state and re­gional gov­ern­ments in In­dia to fo­cus pri­mar­ily on health ser­vices. So far, the coun­try has logged 469 ac­tive cases and 10 deaths.

00:00 Catch up on yes­ter­day's news here: In­dia an­nounces com­plete lock­down

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