Coronavirus Live: World News Coverage


A cautious start to travel as countries, and businesses, navigate reopening.

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the tourism industry, as countries sealed their borders, flights ground to a halt and billions of people sheltered at home.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer of Germany said that together with Austria, France and Switzerland, his country would begin easing border restrictions beginning Saturday, with the aim of lifting them entirely by June 15.

And the European Commission on Wednesday recommended the reopening of borders closed in the pandemic — cross-border vacation travel had been expected to generate 1.3 billion euros, or $1.4 billion, in spending in 2020 before the lockdowns.

“We are helping European tourism get back on track while staying healthy and safe,” Thierry Breton, European commissioner for the internal market, said in a statement.

The Commission’s advice is not binding and a lack of coordination threatens to create a patchwork of measures. That could make it hard to plan trips and endanger public health.

Iceland, whose economy is hugely reliant on tourism, plans to open its borders on June 15. International travelers must decide on arrival whether they want to pay for a coronavirus test or spend 14 days in quarantine, according to a government plan presented on Tuesday.

Amy Qin, a China correspondent for The Times, was based in Beijing for eight years before moving to Taiwan this month. In January, she raced to cover the outbreak in Wuhan with two shirts and a bag full of protective gear. From there, she stayed on the move, doing four stints of quarantine in four different cities as the pandemic spread. We asked her to share some thoughts about her experiences.

That’s because in the last three months, I have completed four rounds of quarantine on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

Like many others, I passed the time by dialing into Zoom calls and bingeing on reality television. But along the way, I also rode the wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Each city where I idled — San Diego, Beijing, Los Angeles and Taipei — offered a window into the different ways in which governments were grappling with the virus.

The novel coronavirus spreading around the globe “may never go away,” becoming a long-term fact of life that must be managed, not an enemy that can be permanently eradicated, a top World Health Organization official said on Wednesday.

“This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away,” Mike Ryan, head of the organization’s health emergencies program, said at a news briefing. “H.I.V. has not gone away but we’ve come to terms with the virus and we have found the therapies and we have found the prevention methods, and people don’t feel as scared as they did before.”

“There are no promises in this and there are no dates,” he said, tamping down expectations that the invention of a vaccine for the coronavirus will provide a quick and complete end to what has become a global health and economic calamity. A good vaccine might be developed, but there is no telling when, he added, calling it “a moon shot.”

If infected people become immune or resistant, then when enough people have had the virus, there will be fewer left who can catch it or spread it, making outbreaks more manageable. But no one knows how long that will take.

“The current number of people in our population who’ve been infected is actually relatively low,” Dr. Ryan said.

He also expressed cynicism about the prospects for eradication even with a vaccine, saying, “we have some perfectly effective vaccines on this planet that we have not used effectively for diseases we could have eradicated.” He cited the recent outbreaks of measles around the world.

The only human disease that has been eradicated is smallpox.

At least 70 people have died across Mexico since late April after drinking tainted alcohol, including at least 20 residents of a poor mountain town who consumed a cheap, popular moonshine.

Mexican officials said the rash of deaths might be related to the imposition of dry laws and other measures meant to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

As the outbreak has worsened in Mexico, some local and state governments have banned the sale of alcohol to discourage people from gathering in groups or having parties.

The federal government has also declared breweries as nonessential businesses, forcing them to shut down and leading to widespread beer shortages.

These restrictions, officials say, may have driven more people than usual to buy alcohol on the black market.

Mexico already had a robust illegal trade in alcoholic beverages that have been adulterated or produced under unregulated conditions, and in the past, Mexicans have been sickened and even killed by tainted alcohol.

But the surge of alcohol-related deaths in the past two weeks is unusually high.

One of the hardest-hit places has been the mountain town Chiconcuautla in the state Puebla. For weeks, the town had kept the coronavirus at bay, with no confirmed cases among its residents, many of whom work in the surrounding fields growing coffee, chiles and tomatoes.

Since Monday, 20 people, from a population of about 12,000, have died after drinking a cheap moonshine known as “refino,” officials said.

A 66-year-old woman and her 5-year-old granddaughter, who live separately, were infected, health officials said on Wednesday. Neither had recently traveled, and it was unclear how they had contracted the virus, the officials added.

The locally transmitted cases indicate that there is still an “invisible transmission chain in the community,” a Department of Health spokeswoman told reporters.

Health officials said on Wednesday that there were currently no plans to bring back the stricter distancing measures and closures imposed more than a month ago.

The auto industry was bracing for a brutal year even before the coronavirus idled factories, closed dealerships and sent sales into a free fall. Now, things are about to get really Darwinian.

The industry is expected to realign in ways that could have a profound effect on the eight million people worldwide who work for vehicle manufacturers.

Some automakers may emerge stronger, others too weak to survive on their own. Factories will shut down. The pressure to go electric could become more intense.

It took almost a decade for car sales in the European Union to recover from the recession that began in 2008. The United States market took about five years to bounce back, but sales have been flat since 2015.

Automakers worldwide had at least 20 percent more factory capacity than they needed before the coronavirus hit, analysts say. As sales plummet further, shutting down underused plants may be a matter of survival.

The turmoil in the market could be good for some start-ups, which have a chance to make gains as established companies struggle.

The pandemic has also made even clearer just how interconnected the world is, and how a factory closure in one part of the world can lead to the shutdown of an assembly line in a different hemisphere.

If you think flour is hard to find in a pandemic, try getting a large, steady supply of bamboo. In Calgary.

“It is too risky to keep them in Calgary,” said Clément Lanthier, the president and chief executive of the zoo. “We are very, very afraid. If there’s a second wave that will be even more complicated.”

The pandas, on loan from China, each consume more than 80 pounds of bamboo daily. Before the coronavirus struck, the bamboo reached western Canada on twice-a-week direct flights from Beijing.

When those flights stopped in late February, the zoo resorted to two-legged flights, first through Toronto to Calgary and then through Los Angeles to Calgary. As more flights were canceled, it tried trucking the bamboo from Los Angeles, but it wasn’t fresh on arrival.

Mr. Lanthier’s office found a grower on Canada’s west coast, but the notoriously picky bears didn’t like the taste.

“I prefer not to think about a day I have to say to my team, ‘Today, the animals will starve because the bamboo is only coming tomorrow or later this week,” he said.

Mr. Lanthier said he had applied last month for permits from the Canadian and Chinese governments to ship the pandas home, but had not heard back. The zoo has been shuttered for almost two months and has laid off 60 percent of its staff.

After weeks of clinging to its hopes of holding the United States Open at its traditional New York home in front of fans, the United States Tennis Association has begun to seriously explore a series of alternative plans for the signature event that accounts for more than 80 percent of its revenue.

The scheduled late-August start of the tournament, one of the largest events in New York City, is still three months away. But the financial peril the tennis association would face if the pandemic forced it to cancel has led the organization to consider whether it can hold its premier event somewhere besides the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows.

The million tournament attracted 738,000 fans last year, generated most of the U.S.T.A.’s $161 million in ticket revenue and prompted hundreds of millions more in spending in the city on things like hotels and restaurants.

No matter the venue, holding the tournament would be difficult anyway because players would need to travel to the United States from all over the world.

The actor Matt Damon arrived in Dalkey, a seaside resort town southeast of Dublin, in March to shoot scenes for a film. Then the coronavirus hit and the film shoot was halted.

On Wednesday, Mr. Damon, 49, broke his silence about living in Dalkey in an interview with a radio station in Dublin. Dalkey residents there have become fiercely protective of Mr. Damon, a phenomenon that the hosts asked him about.

“The Dalkey people have protected you like a glorious gem,” said Nathan O’Reilly of Spin 1038 radio, owning up to joining, and being swiftly booted from, a Dalkey Facebook group to learn more about Mr. Damon’s whereabouts.

“I laughed so hard when I heard that,” Mr. Damon said. “That’s when I realized how great this place was and how protective everybody here is. I had no idea that all this was happening kind of behind the scenes.”

Because of the coronavirus, the hosts naturally turned to the topic of “Contagion,” Mr. Damon’s 2011 film about the spread of a deadly virus and the rush to find a cure.

“Anybody who says you couldn’t predict this, just look at ‘Contagion,’” Mr. Damon said. “Ten years ago we made a movie just by talking to experts and asking them how would this look and how kind of would it go down. The whole thing is tragic and sad.”

Asked if he would buy a holiday home in Dalkey, Mr. Damon said: “This would not be a bad place to wind up.”

“I mean, we are really loving it,” he said.

They were among the most vulnerable as the coronavirus roared through Italy: older or riddled with serious underlying medical conditions. A brush with the coronavirus within the confines of the place where they woke up each morning might seriously threaten their lives.

They were also maximum-security inmates, international drug traffickers and affiliates of Italy’s organized crime gangs, including three who were serving time under a harsh isolation protocol that is reserved for top Mafia bosses.

So when news broke last week that 376 inmates had been moved from high-security prison cells to house arrest because of coronavirus concerns — and that hundreds more were seeking to do the same — the backlash was almost immediate. Even as the coronavirus dominated the news cycle in Italy, the homecoming of convicted organized crime figures made the front page.

The outrage has been greatest over three men: Francesco Bonura, 78, a boss with the Sicilian Cosa Nostra; Vincenzino Iannazzo, 65, a leader of Calabria’s ‘Ndrangheta; and Pasquale Zagaria, 60, a ranking member of the Neapolitan camorra. Prosecutors said that the return of the Mafiosi to their homes, where it would be more difficult to monitor their communication with the outside world, would be taken as an indication that Italy was relaxing its fight against organized crime.

The government scrambled to make amends, as critics said the mobsters were using the increased risk to their health from the pandemic as a get-out-of-jail card. They called for the resignation of the justice minister and announced a motion of no-confidence toward him.

Italian news outlets reported on Wednesday that the judicial authorities had revoked the house arrest of at least one Mafioso, Antonino Sacco, who had been sent home because of coronavirus concerns, and that the cases of other mobsters were under review.

Spain’s oldest woman recovers from the coronavirus.

At 113 years old, María Branyas is Spain’s oldest woman. Her longevity alone is impressive, but this week she added another astonishing feat: She has recovered from the coronavirus.

Ms. Branyas spent several weeks isolated in her room in her nursing home in Olot, in the northeastern region of Catalonia, after suffering mild symptoms consistent with Covid-19, and this week finally was given the all clear.

After overcoming her illness, a smiling Ms. Branyas said in a short clip broadcast on local Catalan television that she felt “very good,” and that she was grateful to be able to continue living “with very good people and in good company.”

“It’s a very big shame for everybody,” she said. “As to understanding where it came from, and how and why, it seems to me that very few people know that.”

Ms. Branyas was born in San Francisco in 1907. The family decided to return to Spain in 1915, after her father, a journalist, contracted tuberculosis. He died during the ocean crossing back to Europe, according to local news reports.

Her daughter, Rosa Moret, told local journalists that Ms. Branyas had never had a major illness, and said she could not remember her mother ever breaking a bone. She has been living in her nursing home for the past two decades.

Her relatives have not been allowed to see her since March 4, when they came to celebrate her birthday. They are now awaiting clearance to visit again.

Edgard Ziebart, 40, had traveled from Vietnam to India on March 18, planning to board a connecting flight to Ankara, Turkey. On landing at Indira Gandhi International Airport, he learned that his onward flight had been canceled.

Four days later, India shut its airspace and a nationwide lockdown followed a short time later to contain the coronavirus. With no way of getting a visa to enter India, and no way to leave, Mr. Ziebart was stranded at the airport.

Over the next few weeks, according to Saurabh Singh, an airport official, Mr. Ziebart refused to travel to Germany when the authorities tried to facilitate his return. The German government made a major effort to repatriate its stranded citizens, and it is unclear why Mr. Ziebart refused the offer.

Mr. Singh said airport employees had provided Mr. Ziebart with meals, a mosquito net and toothpaste. He slept on a thin mat at the airport, and immigration officials said he passed time by reading newspapers and traversing the empty terminal.

On an immigration form for international travelers, Mr. Ziebart listed the airport terminal as his home, according to local news outlets. The Indian authorities recently served him a “Leave India Notice.”

Some subway and bus routes across London appeared overcrowded early Wednesday, and some people reported heavier traffic, but many commuters making their first journeys to workplaces in months shared pictures of relatively empty train stations.

The number of passengers on the London subway increased 7.3 percent until 10 a.m., compared with the same time period last week, Transport for London said.

The London subway was packed on Monday, the morning after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that anyone who could not do their job from home was “actively encouraged” to return to work.

The government later clarified that the guidance would take effect on Wednesday and asked people who had to travel to consider alternatives to public transportation.

Grant Shapps, the British transport secretary, said in a statement on Saturday that even with public transportation reverting to full service, distancing requirements would leave capacity for only one in 10 passengers on many parts of the network.

“Getting Britain moving again, while not overcrowding our transport network, is going to require many of us to think carefully about how and when we travel,” he added.

After cautiously allowing some businesses to reopen and relaxing its nightly curfew, Lebanon ordered the country to lock down again for four days starting Wednesday night in an attempt to smother a spike in coronavirus cases.

The reversal illustrated the perilous path that many nations are walking as they move to ease lockdown measures, often in the face of pressure from protesters and businesses seeking relief from devastating financial damage.

Some restaurants had begun to operate at 30 percent capacity, with temperature checks at the door and masks for employees. In the streets of Beirut, the capital, many people had begun walking without masks and jogging along the seaside promenade known as the Corniche.

But the authorities pulled back this week, citing an outbreak in the army and a wave of new infections among returning expatriates. A lockdown on commerce and movement was imposed from Wednesday night to Monday morning, with curfew at 7 p.m.

In a seeming contradiction, the government also said this week that restaurants could move to 50 percent capacity, leaving business owners confused and dismayed. It was unclear whether or when the country could proceed with its phased reopening, under which schools, beaches, bars, gyms and the airport were tentatively scheduled to reopen in early June.

Brazilian cities are burying rows of stacked coffins in mass graves. Hundreds of Ecuadoreans are searching for the bodies of family members who went to hospitals and never returned.

The Times measured the impact of the pandemic by comparing total deaths in recent months to the averages of recent years. They include deaths from Covid-19 and other causes, including people who could not get treatment from overwhelmed health care systems — or were afraid to try.

“We weren’t prepared for this virus,” said Aguinilson Tikuna, an Indigenous leader in Manaus, a metropolis in the Brazilian Amazon. “When this disease hit us, we locked ourselves in, locked our homes, isolated ourselves, but no one had the resources to buy masks, medicine. We lacked food.”

The Aventa-M ventilators, made by a subsidiary of the state-owned manufacturing giant Rostec, are believed to have caught fire on Tuesday in the intensive care unit of a hospital in St. Petersburg, killing five patients. A similar event in Moscow on Saturday killed one person, according to Russian news reports. The operation of Aventa-M models manufactured after April 1 is to be suspended because their “use threatens the lives and health of citizens,” Russia’s federal health care watchdog said.

For years, animal lovers and wildlife activists have urged officials to close the bazaar, boastfully known as the Tomohon Extreme Market. Now, the coronavirus pandemic is putting renewed pressure on officials to finally take action.

“The market is like a cafeteria for animal pathogens,” said the lead expert for Indonesia’s coronavirus task force, Wiku Adisasmito, who has urged the government to close the country’s wildlife markets. “Consuming wild animals is the same as playing with fire.”

Most of the wild animals at Tomohon are slaughtered before they reach the market.

“It is like a time bomb,” said Billy Gustafianto Lolowang, manager of the Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Center in the nearby town of Bitung. “We can only wait until we become the epicenter of a pandemic like Wuhan.”

New Zealand on Wednesday reported no new coronavirus infections for the second day in a row, and Thailand recorded no new cases in a day for the first time in more than two months.

New Zealand lifted its state of emergency on Wednesday, allowing schools, bars, restaurants, theaters and museums to reopen, with attendance limits. People can resume travel between regions and gather in groups of up to 10 people, but are still advised to observe social distancing.

“This move does not signal that New Zealanders should stop being vigilant in protecting themselves and others from the virus,” Peeni Henare, the civil defense minister, said in a statement.

The biggest recent cluster of cases was in a detention center for foreign migrants — confined quarters where the pathogen can spread quickly. Dormitories for migrant laborers have proved to be Singapore’s weak spot.

Germany’s 16 states have set their own timelines for easing the lockdown measures. Museums in Berlin were allowed to reopen on May 4, but many remain closed.

Governments in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Greece and Italy have all announced dates in May or June by which they hope to have museums open, with similar safety measures to those in Berlin.

With tourism at a standstill, however, many museums are anticipating lower-than-usual visitor numbers. That is likely to help social distancing, but it also means that spaces that depend significantly on international guests face an uncertain financial future.

Our critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott and our awards season columnist, Kyle Buchanan, all festival veterans, won’t be hitting the red carpets this year. But it is not just a personal loss for a trio of film lovers deprived of attending what Scott calls “a cinematic universe in its own right.”

Reporting was contributed by Melissa Eddy, Richard Pérez-Peña, Mihir Zaveri, Catherine Porter, Claire Moses, Elisabetta Povoledo, Emma Bubola, Raphael Minder, Anton Troianovski, Vivian Yee, Ceylan Yeginsu, Christopher F. Schuetze, Richard C. Paddock, Dera Menra Sijabat, Monika Pronczuk, Elaine Yu, Amy Qin, Anatoly Kurmanaev, Megan Specia, Manuela Andreoni, Letícia Casado, Mitra Taj, Jeffrey Gettleman, Hari Kumar, Maria Abi-Habib, Hannah Beech, Thomas Rogers, Abdi Latif Dahir, Sameer Yasir, Kai Schultz, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Andrew Das, Johnny Diaz, Jack Ewing, Matthew Futterman and .





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