Germany warns that virus risk remains high as economies restart

BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Saturday that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over, as regional outbreaks raised fears of a second wave. Two of the largest states in the US reversed course and reinstated some coronavirus restrictions amid increased new infections.

India reported more than 18,000 new cases, pushing its cumulative total above the half-million mark, the fourth highest globally behind the United States, Brazil and Russia. Elsewhere, Egypt and Britain said they would ease virus controls, while China and South Korea fought smaller outbreaks in their capitals.

Merkel said in her weekly video podcast that getting Europe’s economy back on track is its main goal when Germany takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union next week, but emphasized that they all shared a “joint responsibility” in following social distancing rules. , mask and hygiene as the blocking rules are relaxed.

German authorities renewed a confinement in a western region of about 500,000 people last week after about 1,300 slaughterhouse workers tested positive for COVID-19, in a bid to prevent the outbreak from spreading throughout the area.

Germany has recorded nearly 195,000 coronavirus infections and only around 9,000 deaths, with more than 177,000 recoveries, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University.

“The risk posed by the virus remains severe,” said Merkel. “It is easy to forget because Germany has overcome the crisis well so far, but that does not mean that we are protected, that the risk has been avoided; that is not the case, as these regional outbreaks demonstrate.”

Fans of Germany’s Schalke football club planned to later demonstrate in the stadium against President Clemens Toennies, one of whose companies owns the slaughterhouse where the outbreak began. The workplace and living conditions of migrant workers employed at the facilities have been focused after the outbreak.

Elsewhere, Britain was expected to remove a 14-day quarantine requirement for people returning from abroad in an attempt to make the summer vacation trip possible. Only travelers from “red” areas, places with a high COVID-19 level, will be asked to isolate themselves. A full list of countries, to be released next week, is likely to give the green light to Spain, Greece and France.

Egypt lifted many restrictions on the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday, reopening cafes, clubs, gyms and theaters after more than three months of closure, despite a continuing upward trend in new infections.

Authorities in other countries were taking a more cautious approach, with the Indian city of Gauhati, the capital of the state of Assam, announcing a new two-week closure starting Monday, with nightly curfews and weekend closings in the rest of the state. India added 18,552 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing its total to 508,953. The death toll reached 15,685.

China saw a rebound in the cases a day after authorities said they expected an outbreak in Beijing to be controlled in the near future. The National Health Commission reported 17 new cases in the country’s capital, most in one week, among 21 in the entire country.

Xu Hejian, deputy director of the Beijing advertising department, said the situation is serious and complex. “We must not, in the least, let our guard down,” he said.

South Korea, where a revival in the past month threatens to erase the country’s previous success, reported 51 new cases, including 35 in the Seoul metropolitan area. Officials, concerned about the fragile economy, have resisted calls to reimpose restrictions that eased in April.

Australia prepared for more imported cases as citizens return home. Some 300 people were due to arrive this weekend from Mumbai, India, and others are expected to follow from South America and Indonesia. A state of health