Boris Johnson Announces a Coronavirus Quarantine for Travelers to U.K.: Live Coverage

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Cases soar past four million worldwide, and cautionary reopening tales emerge.

Worldwide, the officially reported number of coronavirus cases has soared above four million people across 177 countries, and more than a quarter million people have died, according to a New York Times database.

For many reasons, the numbers are almost certainly drastic undercounts, but tracking reports regionally and from specific countries can reveal trends, like uneven outbreaks in the U.S., the rising crisis in Russia and the ebbing of Italy’s disaster.

At the same time, small new outbreaks and other warning signs have been detected in countries that had been successful in containing the virus, presenting a cautionary tale as nations around the world debate whether to restart their economies.

China, the country where the outbreak erupted, began to to reopen weeks ago after reports of new cases slowed to a relative trickle. It now ranks behind 10 other countries, including Brazil, the U.K. and Iran, in its official count of cases.

But areas of northeastern China have had to increase controls after a spate of cases traced to people returning from Russia, where infections are increasing at a rapid clip. One town in Jilin Province, Shulan, recorded 11 new cases on Saturday.

South Korea had all but halted its outbreak with large-scale testing, contact tracing and surveillance, and encouraged people to cautiously resume their lives. But on Saturday, bars and nightclubs in Seoul were ordered closed after dozens of new infections were reported among people who visited nightspots and their close contacts. The country reported 34 new cases on Sunday

Germany, hailed as a model of public health efficiency, has moved to restart public life but is warily monitoring case reports. Over the weekend, the reproduction factor — the average number of people who get infected by every newly infected person — which the government wants to stay below 1, crept back up to 1.13. The Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s public health agency, cautioned against reading too much into the number, which is highly variable, especially when the overall number of infections is low.

In India, a weekslong lockdown seemed to be slowing the virus’s spread — the country of more than 1 billion has reported a total of more than 62,000 cases. Then the government began easing restrictions and the number of new infections shot up. The doubling rate — the amount of time it takes for the number of reported infections to double — dropped from around 12 days to 9.5 last week.

A lack of testing and disparate methods for counting coronavirus cases has left many deeply suspicious of the official tallies in many countries. A stark example: Mexico, where interviews and data obtained by The Times indicate that the government is not reporting hundreds, possibly thousands, of deaths in the capital.

Another factor that may delay a return to some semblance of normal: the lingering effects of the virus itself. In Italy, for example, some people who are counted as recovered say they are still experiencing debilitating symptoms.

“It never finishes,” said Martina Sorlini, a 29-year-old teacher who has been running a low-grade fever since the beginning of March.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces a quarantine for incoming travelers.

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transcript

‘This Is Not the Time Simply to End the Lockdown,’ Boris Johnson Says

In a recorded message to the British people, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said coronavirus restrictions would largely stay in place.

It is now almost two months since the people of this country began to put up with restrictions on their freedom, your freedom, of a kind that we have never seen before in peace or war. And it’s thanks to your effort and sacrifice in stopping the spread of this disease that the death rate is coming down and hospital admissions are coming down. And thanks to you, we’ve protected our N.H.S. and saved many thousands of lives. And so, I know, you know, that it would be madness now to throw away that achievement by allowing a second spike. We must stay alert. This is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week. Instead, we’re taking the first careful steps to modify our measures. And the first step is a change of emphasis that we hope that people will act on this week. We said that you should work from home if you can and only go to work if you must. We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home — for instance, those in construction or manufacturing — should be actively encouraged to go to work. And we want it to be safe for you to get to work. So you should avoid public transport if at all possible. Because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited. So, work from home if you can. But you should go to work if you can’t work from home. And from this Wednesday, we want to encourage people to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise. You can sit in the sun in your local park. You can drive to other destinations. You can even play sports, only with members of your own household. You must obey the rules on social distancing.

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In a recorded message to the British people, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said coronavirus restrictions would largely stay in place.CreditCredit…via Agence France-Presse

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Sunday that Britain would soon impose a mandatory quarantine on travelers arriving in the country by air to try to avert a new wave of coronavirus infections, signaling how cautious the country will be in relaxing its seven-week lockdown.

In a much-anticipated national address, Mr. Johnson offered no details about how the quarantine would work. But with the transmission rate of the virus having declined sharply throughout the country, he made clear the government now views people from abroad as the greatest threat to a country that is already one of the contagion’s hardest hit in Europe.

Mr. Johnson urged the British public to “stay alert,” softening his earlier admonition to “stay home,” and said that people could exercise outside as much as they wanted, sunbathe in parks, and return to work, if they could not work from home. Other than that, he said, the current restrictions would stay in place.

“This is not the time simply to end the lockdown,” Mr. Johnson said, as he credited social distancing for slowing the spread of the virus. “Instead we are taking the first careful steps to modify our measures.”

Critics claimed that the new guidance to “stay alert” was so vague that it risked confusion, and it set off fissures with political leaders in other parts of the United Kingdom, which had largely moved in lockstep in combating the virus. Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said that Scotland would be sticking with the guidance for people to stay at home.

Mr. Johnson did not announce another measure that had been rumored for days: asking people to wear face masks in public.

India takes another major step, restarting one of the world’s largest train networks.

Credit…Dibyangshu Sarkar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

India’s train network will gradually restart operations on Tuesday as the country eases its coronavirus lockdown, even as infections there are on the rise.

The train network, one of the world’s largest, closed in late March when a strict lockdown was implemented. But as the country begins to slowly open back up this month, trains are the first mode of transport being allowed to crisscross the country.

On Sunday, India reported more than 67,000 coronavirus cases with more than 2,200 deaths.

The March closure was the first since the country gained its independence in 1947, offering a potent symbol of the global panic sweeping into the country.

The Indian government converted some 20,000 train carriages into isolation wards, bracing for a devastating wave of coronavirus infections that many predicted would overwhelm hospitals. That disaster has largely failed to materialize, although some cities have fared worse than others, with entire hospitals shut in as staff became infected with coronavirus.

On Sunday, the railways ministry said some trains would restart, running from the capital to cities across the country, but passengers would have to wear masks and undergo health screenings before being allowed to depart. New routes will also be introduced, the railways ministry said in a statement.

The announcement comes after the government arranged for trains to shuttle thousands of migrant workers stranded in cities across India back to their homes, mostly in the rural hinterlands. Up to 45 million Indians travel each year from those areas to the country’s big cities to look for work. When the lockdown was announced, millions of migrant workers became homeless and jobless overnight and with interstate travel banned, many set off on foot to travel to their homes, sometimes hundreds of miles away.

Ethiopian troops may have shot down an aid plane in Somalia.

Credit…Reuters

A plane carrying coronavirus-related supplies that crashed in Somalia on Monday may have been shot down by Ethiopian troops, according to a new report from the office of the African Union Force Commander in Somalia.

The report, which was leaked on Twitter, said Ethiopian troops not affiliated with the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia brought down the Kenyan-registered private plane out of fear that it was about to carry out a “suicide” attack.

The Somali authorities and officials within the African Union verified the authenticity of the report, but did not confirm its findings. An investigation of the crash is still underway.

The cargo flight plunged to the earth on the afternoon of May 4 in the town of Bardale, in southwestern Somalia, killing all six people aboard. The plane had approached the airfield in Bardale from the west instead of the east, which is more common.

The aircraft, owned by African Express Airways, was carrying supplies to assist in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. It initially left the capital Mogadishu and stopped in Baidoa before heading to Bardale.

The airstrip and the town surrounding it are secured by Somali and Ethiopian troops. They are part of an African Union peacekeeping mission meant to help Somalia fight the Shabab, a terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda.

The U.S. plans to accuse China of trying to hack vaccine data.

Credit…Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security are preparing to issue a warning that China’s most skilled hackers and spies are working to steal American research in the crash effort to develop vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus.

A draft of the forthcoming public warning, which officials say is likely to be issued in the days to come, says China is seeking “valuable intellectual property and public health data through illicit means related to vaccines, treatments and testing.”

It focuses on cybertheft and action by “nontraditional actors,” a euphemism for researchers and students the Trump administration says are being activated to steal data from inside academic and private laboratories.

The efforts are part of a surge in cybertheft and attacks by nations seeking advantage in the pandemic.

More than a dozen countries have redeployed military and intelligence hackers to glean whatever they can about other nations’ virus responses. Even American allies like South Korea and nations that do not typically stand out for their cyberabilities, like Vietnam, have suddenly redirected their state-run hackers to focus on virus-related information, according to private security firms.

The decision to issue a specific accusation against China’s state-run hacking teams, current and former officials said, is part of a broader deterrent strategy that also involves United States Cyber Command and the National Security Agency. Under legal authorities that President Trump issued nearly two years ago, they have the power to bore deeply into Chinese and other networks to mount proportional counterattacks.

The forthcoming warning is the latest iteration of a series of efforts by the Trump administration to blame China for being the source of the pandemic and exploiting its aftermath.

Australians who lost their homes to last summer’s wildfires face the added anguish of the pandemic.

The buffer of community events, rebuilding efforts and in-person therapy that sprang up after the fires has largely vanished as public health authorities have instructed Australians to have little to no contact with anyone outside their immediate households.

Bush-fire relief centers that once offered donated clothing, meals or a warm embrace have been mostly shuttered. Volunteers who came in droves to clear noxious rubble and build new fences around burned-out farmland have left.

The sense of displacement that comes with isolation and the loss of basic possessions and familiar routines could lead to high levels of distress and depression, and potentially a spike in self-harm and suicide, experts said.

“This is pretty uncharted waters,” said Brett McDermott, a professor of psychiatry at James Cook University in Queensland. “It worries me that these people have got stress on top of stress.”

More than 6,900 coronavirus cases have been reported in Australia, with more than 90 deaths — evidence of a largely successful battle with the virus.

But the cost is high. With millions of Australians shut in their homes and hundreds of thousands without jobs, people are calling the national suicide help line, Lifeline Australia, in unprecedented numbers, said John Brogden, the organization’s chairman. It is receiving up to 3,200 calls per day — up nearly 30 percent from the usual numbers.

Countries where hardship is familiar sometimes fare better against the virus.

Credit…Kostas Tsironis/EPA, via Shutterstock

As the coronavirus has hopscotched the world, a paradox has emerged: Rich nations are not necessarily better at fighting the crisis than poorer ones.

In Europe, the disease has been burning through Britain, France and Italy, three of the continent’s four biggest economies. But smaller, poorer nations in the region quickly imposed and enforced tough restrictions, stuck to them, and have so far fared better at keeping the virus contained.

The nations include many in the former Communist East, as well as Greece and Croatia, where the authorities are cautiously optimistic about their people’s endurance in the face of adversity.

Those countries could draw on deep reservoirs of resilience born of relatively recent hardship. Compared to what their people had been through not long ago, the stringent lockdowns seemed less arduous, apparently prompting a larger social buy-in.

In Greece, where the strictures of the country’s debt crisis are fresh in most minds, the specter of one in three people being out of work is nothing new. In Croatia, many remember being barricaded indoors and hearing air raid sirens blaring for weeks on end during the conflict in the Balkans in the 1990s.

Ive Morovic, a 45-year-old barber in Zadar, Croatia, believes the focused way in which Croats have responded to the pandemic harks back to wartime and the legacy of communism.

“People today are afraid, and the discipline we all learned helps us get in line and creates some sort of forced unity,” he said.

Overlooked no more: June Almeida, the scientist who identified the first coronavirus.

Overlooked is a series of obituaries about remarkable people whose deaths, beginning in 1851, went unreported in The Times.

With no money to pay for college in post-World War II Scotland, 16-year-old June Almeida took an entry-level job in the histology department of a Glasgow hospital, where she learned to examine tissue under a microscope for signs of disease. It was a fortuitous move, for her and for science.

In 1966, nearly two decades later, she used a powerful electron microscope to capture an image of a mysterious pathogen — the first coronavirus known to cause human disease.

Almeida had just been recruited to St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, where she received a virus known as B814 from British scientists who were studying the common cold. The scientists, led by David Tyrrell, knew there was something different about the virus. Though volunteers infected with B814 didn’t get the sore throats typical of most head colds, they experienced unusual feelings of malaise. And the virus was neutralized by fat solvents, which meant that unlike the average cold virus, B814 had a lipid coating.

Still, without an image of the virus, the scientists could learn only so much.

Hearing about Almeida’s expertise from a colleague, Mr. Tyrrell shipped specimens to her that had been infected with B814, as well as well-known flu and herpes viruses, which would serve as controls.

Though he had been told she was “seemingly extending the range of the electron microscope to new limits,” Mr. Tyrrell wasn’t optimistic. Almeida, however, was confident about her technique.

The results, Mr. Tyrrell later recounted, “exceeded all our hopes. She recognized all the known viruses, and her pictures revealed the structures beautifully. But, more important, she saw virus particles in the B814 specimens!”

The only remaining problem was figuring out what to call the new virus. Influenza-like sounded a bit feeble, Mr. Tyrrell wrote. The images of B814 revealed that the virus was surrounded by a kind of halo, like a solar corona. Thus, the coronavirus was born. Read the full obituary here.

Pet grooming is among the services coming back in Thailand.

Credit…Amanda Mustard for The New York Times

In this Bangkok Dispatch, our reporter Hannah Beech chronicles her dog’s trip to a pet grooming salon, one type of business allowed to reopen in Thailand with social distancing guidelines.

When the coronavirus lockdown in Bangkok eased a bit after six weeks, the first appointment my family made was not for a medical checkup or a walk in a park.

Instead, we called the pet salon. Caper, our 9-month-old miniature schnauzer, was desperate for a trim.

Thailand remains under a state of emergency through at least the end of May, with almost no international flights in or out. But because of the country’s low confirmed caseload of virus infections — about 3,000 cases and 56 deaths, as of Saturday — certain businesses have been allowed to reopen under strict social distancing and hygiene limits. Yes, that’s right, pet salons are important enough an industry in Thailand to merit their own category, alongside parks and restaurants.

Bangkok is crazy for purebred dogs. All over town, you will see Labradors and Weimaraners, Pomeranians and pugs. There are too many Yorkshire terriers. Some wear nail polish, and many wear clothes.

A puppy hair cut might seem frivolous, but let me explain. It is the hot season in Thailand, when temperatures hover around 100 degrees. The schnauzer’s natural coat, thick and woolly, is more suited to the Black Forest of its native Germany than a tropical metropolis like Bangkok.

I tried trimming her, as my husband held her down, a project that went as well as you might expect when two journalists with zero expertise attempt animal topiary. (In my defense, I am left-handed and was using right-handed scissors.)

When Caper and my husband arrived at the Tender Loving Care Pet Wellness Center, there was a cancan line of chow chows awaiting their treatments. A bulldog idled, too.

An employee was hosing off the driveway. My husband had his temperature taken and filled in a health form. Caper, after six weeks spent with only my family, was overwhelmed by the bustle and promptly urinated on the floor. Read the rest of Hannah Beech’s dispatch here.

U.S. news: The White House is racing to contain an outbreak among its staff.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

The Trump administration is racing to contain an outbreak of Covid-19 inside the White House, as some senior officials believe that the disease is already spreading rapidly through the warren of cramped offices that make up the three floors of the West Wing.

Three top officials leading the government’s response effort began two weeks of self-quarantine after two members of the White House staff — Katie Miller, the spokeswoman for Vice President Mike Pence, and one of President Trump’s personal valets — tested positive. But others who came into contact with Ms. Miller and the valet are continuing to report to work at the White House.

The officials in quarantine are Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

“It is scary to go to work,” Kevin Hassett, a top economic adviser to the president, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program on Sunday. Mr. Hassett said he wore a mask at times at the White House, but conceded that “I think that I’d be a lot safer if I was sitting at home than I would be going to the West Wing.”

He added: “It’s a small, crowded place. It’s, you know, it’s a little bit risky. But you have to do it because you have to serve your country.”

A mosque in Britain is forced to build a makeshift mortuary in its parking lot.

Credit…Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Normally, the mosque, one of England’s largest, would be filled with thousands of worshipers during the holy month of Ramadan. Now it is mostly empty, except for stacks of coffins.

Every few hours a van pulls up in front of Birmingham’s Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif. Volunteers dressed in protective coveralls and masks come out and carefully unload black-velvet-covered coffins and carry them inside a makeshift mortuary in the mosque’s parking lot. There the bodies are washed, shrouded and refrigerated.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, the funeral service at the mosque in the hard-hit city of Birmingham, Britain’s second largest, would receive one or two bodies a week. But last month — as Britain hit its peak infection numbers — five to six bodies were brought in each day, forcing the mosque to build a makeshift mortuary in its parking lot, which it has opened to all faiths.

“I’ve lost count of the bodies that have come in and out of here,” said Javid Akhtar, the mosque’s funeral director. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

While London has been the epicenter, Birmingham and surrounding areas in the West Midlands have emerged lately as a virus hot spot. Communities from black and religious minority backgrounds, which make up around 26 percent of Birmingham’s 842,000 residents, have been disproportionally affected by the virus, prompting a government investigation into the cause.

“Everyone in the community knows someone who has died or is sick,” said Tariq Mahmood, a 24-year-old volunteer.

Hong Kong police storm malls, accusing protesters of violating social distancing rules.

Credit…Tyrone Siu/Reuters

A few hundred protesters in Hong Kong chanted antigovernment slogans in at least three malls on Sunday afternoon, prompting riot police officers to fire pepper balls and cordon off sections of the mall as they stopped and searched people.

Hundreds of police officers stormed into the malls on Sunday, saying that they had received complaints of illicit public gatherings. Groups of more than eight people are banned, and the police say that protesters are violating social distancing regulations, even if they arrived individually or in groups of fewer than eight people.

“It is infuriating that ill-intentioned parties, using different excuses, are inciting others to wreak havoc, ruin the holiday mood and endanger public safety,” the police said in a statement on Saturday, referring to online calls for antigovernment singalongs on Sunday, Mother’s Day.

Later in the evening Roy Kwong, a pro-democracy lawmaker, was arrested as the police confronted demonstrators in the Mong Kok district.

Critics of the police force say that officers have been selectively detaining and fining antigovernment protesters over social distancing violations, while turning a blind eye to counterprotesters or revelers rubbing shoulders in nightlife districts after bars reopened on Friday.

The demonstrations, occurring simultaneously in multiple districts, came after a brawl broke out in Hong Kong’s legislature on Friday between opposing groups of lawmakers over the leadership of a core policy committee. The pro-democracy camp accused opponents of illegitimately seizing control of the committee, which for the past months has been led by Dennis Kwok, a pro-democracy lawmaker.

Chinese officials and pro-Beijing officials accused Mr. Kwok of filibustering and creating a backlog of new legislation, including one that would criminalize disrespect for China’s national anthem, and a pro-Beijing lawmaker took Mr. Kwok’s seat on Friday. The hours of chaos that resulted led to the hospitalization of two pro-democracy lawmakers who were dragged on the floor by pro-Beijing lawmakers.

A government spokesperson backed the pro-Beijing camp’s move, describing it in a statement Saturday night as a “successful handling.”

The shock of the pandemic has deepened an economic crisis in Lebanon.

Credit…Diego Ibarra Sanchez for The New York Times

Flawed policies, corruption and now the sudden shock of the pandemic have thrust Lebanon into its worst economic crisis in decades, with its currency collapsing, businesses shutting, prices for basic goods skyrocketing and the threat of hunger looming for its poorest people.

The country’s recent economic collapse, fueled by a major drop in the value of the Lebanese pound, has been exacerbated by lockdown measures. The Lebanese government shuttered the country early in the pandemic, before known cases had spiked, and has won praise for acting decisively to prevent contagion. But the economic toll has hit many Lebanese hard, with businesses failing and poorer people saying they now fear hunger more than than sickness.

Last month, Human Rights Watch warned that millions of Lebanon’s residents, including more than one million Syrian refugees, were at risk of going hungry during the coronavirus lockdown if the government didn’t come to their aid.

Desperation has made the country’s protests against corruption and mismanagement more violent. Bank branches have been bombed and burned, and one protester was recently killed in the northern city of Tripoli after the security forces opened fire with rubber bullets and live ammunition.

Ali Sabra, a gold merchant in Beirut, said families have been selling dowries and wedding rings for cash to buy food.

“This time you sell your gold,” Mr. Sabra said. “What will you do next time?”

A leading feminist author in Japan fears the virus ‘is widening the gap in society.’

Credit…Ryohei Tsukada

With Japan under a state of emergency, several cities have requested the closure of nightclubs and bars associated with the sex industry, to contain the spread of the virus.

Women who work in such places are particularly vulnerable, as many of them are estranged from their families and have nowhere to go if they cannot work.

An economic relief package initially excluded workers in the sex industry, but they were later added after an outcry among advocates.

That is why Mieko Kawakami, a literary feminist icon in Japan, says the coronavirus “is widening the gap in society.”

The male lawmakers “know nothing about how women are managing child care or housework” with schools closed and office staff working from home, she said.

Her best-selling novel in Japan, “Breasts and Eggs,” which won one of Japan’s most coveted literary prizes in 2008, helped establish Ms. Kawakami as one of the country’s brightest young stars. Although “Breasts and Eggs” — published in English in April — riled some traditionalists with its frank portrayal of women’s lives, those detractors are outnumbered by her fans, many of them younger women.

They relate to Ms. Kawakami’s sharp identification of society’s expectations for women and the efforts of her characters to upend them. And amid the coronavirus pandemic, Ms. Kawakami worries about blind spots among the mostly male policymakers who are crafting Japan’s response.

Though Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has promoted a platform of female empowerment, the country has lagged behind other developed nations in women’s representation in politics, the executive suite and academia. At home, women are saddled with a disproportionate amount of housework and child care.

In “Breasts and Eggs,” Makiko, the narrator’s elder sister, works as a hostess at a down-at-the-heels bar. Ms. Kawakami depicts the economic insecurity of such work, and the shifting hierarchies among the hostesses, as younger women displace older ones for the favor of customers.

Their concerns are particularly salient in the time of the coronavirus.

Berlin Cathedral holds its first Sunday services since Germany lifted lockdown measures.

Credit…Odd Andersen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Eight Sundays after going into lockdown, many German churches have reopened their doors to parishioners under strict social distancing guidelines, an important sign that life is gradually returning to normal for the country’s faithful.

In Berlin, 50 selected worshipers gathered for the first Sunday services in the capital’s main cathedral, which suspended them in mid-March when the country went into lockdown.

“We are happy to be able to celebrate church services together for the first time in many weeks, even if it is in a small circle,” said Thomas C. Müller, the cathedral’s preacher.

But this service was different.

Mr. Müller directed the attendees not to sing, to prevent infection. Parishioners were seated safe distances apart, in a church with many empty seats. For those who were not assigned a place in the Neo-Renaissance cathedral, which before the pandemic had seated as many as 1,390, Bible TV broadcast a live feed.

Located in the heart of Berlin, the cathedral first opened in 1750 and was rebuilt after being damaged in World War II by aerial bombardment. The cathedral hosted an ecumenical service on Friday to observe 75 years of the country’s liberation.

While nearly 47 million Germans are registered as Christian, less than 10 percent attend regular church services, a number that includes a disproportionate number of older residents, who are especially vulnerable to the ravages of the virus.

Physical religious services could not be forbidden outright even during the pandemic, the country’s constitutional court ruled in April, although strict distancing and hygiene rules had to be followed. But the court’s decision did not change reality on the ground. Churches, temples, mosques and synagogues remained closed for everything other than quiet and individual prayer.

During the lockdown, which Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government significantly loosened last week, many of the faithful continued to celebrate Mass online. In some parts of the country, parishioners even flocked to drive-in movie theaters for church services. Last Sunday, Rhineland Palatinate state allowed its churches to hold services again, as long as all social distancing and hygiene rules were observed. Cologne Cathedral also held Sunday Mass last weekend for 122 prescreened worshipers wearing masks and sitting apart in pews.

Harsh hit on the economy pushes Afghan cities to lift the lockdown.

Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Several cities in Afghanistan ended weeks of lockdown on Sunday even as the spread of the coronavirus intensified across the country, with officials saying that the dire economic reality had worsened to such a level that they could no longer keep shops closed and people at home.

The major cities of Mazar e Sharif and Kunduz in the north and Jalalabad and Mehtar Lam in the east were among those that officially ended the lockdown. Other cities such as the capital, Kabul, and Herat technically remained under lockdown, but the police appeared to be no longer enforcing it. Movement increased on the streets and in the markets of Kabul, while in Herat, near-normal activity returned to the roads.

The Afghan government has registered about 4,400 coronavirus cases nationwide, but officials say many more infections are likely because testing is limited. They point to the high percentage of positive cases among the tests conducted — some days, nearly half have turned up positive. On Sunday, 361 of the 995 samples tested in the previous 24 hours were positive, said Wahid Majrooh, the deputy health minister.

Some provincial officials have said that lifting the lockdown could be temporary, in order to breathe some life into local economies by allowing shopping before Eid al-Fitr, the Islamic festival celebrated at the end of Ramadan. In a sign of concern that the economic shock could bring widespread starvation, the government has begun distributing bread in several cities and plans to expand the effort to 28 urban centers.

“When I went to the city today, I saw all the shops were open — it was so crowded as if there is no coronavirus; it felt like people had been let out of cages,” said Dr. Shams Samadi, who works at a private clinic in Kunduz.

“There were no masks; people were shaking hands,” he said. “It pains me, because I know what the virus can do and how it spreads.”

Germany’s Bundesliga, set to return May 16, gets a body blow from an invisible foe.

Credit…Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters

The widely watched return to professional soccer after Germany went into lockdown has hit a hurdle before it has even started, after two players from the club Dynamo Dresden tested positive for the virus, forcing its entire roster into quarantine for 14 days.

Sports leagues around the world are closely watching the return of German soccer as they try to forge their own plans to restart games. More than the integrity of a completed season is at stake. Officials have painted a grim financial picture for the sport, warning that if the season does not restart soon, as many as one-third of the teams in the top two divisions are at risk of insolvency, estimating losses of around 750 million euros, or more than $800 million.

The setback in Germany came as La Liga in Spain said on Sunday that five players in the top two divisions had tested positive for the coronavirus after a wave of tests that are a prerequisite for a return to training. The players, who were not identified, have been isolated and will not be allowed to return to practice until they test negative two times in a row, according to the league’s protocol. The league requires government approval before games are allowed to resume.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany cleared the Bundesliga and the Bundesliga 2 to resume operations after the league created a 51-page safety protocol to resume play. The games, like much of the rest of the world, were stopped in March in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Dynamo said it would not be able to participate in the first two rounds of scheduled matches, including the team’s first game on May 15 against Hannover 96. “The fact is that we can neither train nor participate in the game in the next 14 days,” said Dynamo’s sports director, Ralf Minge.

When the games resume, they are likely to be nearly unrecognizable: Players will be quarantined in a hotel and tested frequently, and the matches will take place in empty stadiums — “ghost games,” as they are called in German.

The players from home teams will drive themselves to the stadiums in their own cars, and representatives from visiting teams will be split into small groups to travel in designated vehicles that will be disinfected after each use. Players will dress in several different locker rooms, shower separately, and will be kept apart from substitutes.

Garment workers in Asia fear operators are using the virus as ‘an opportunity to get rid of us.’

Credit…Minzayar Oo for The New York Times

That was why it let go almost half of its 1,274 workers in late March, the factory’s managing director said in response to protesters who arrived at the factory’s doors to denounce the dismissals.

Three fired sewing operators, however, said the factory was taking an opportunity to punish workers engaged in union activity. In an interview, the operators — Maung Moe, Ye Yint and Ohnmar Myint — said that of the 571 who had been dismissed, 520 had belonged to the factory’s union, one of 20 that make up the Federation of Garment Workers Myanmar. About 700 workers who did not belong to the union kept their jobs, they said.

Myan Mode’s South Korea-based owner did not respond to requests for comment, and did not provide details about the firings.

Mr. Moe, 27, was the factory union’s president and had organized several strikes. Mr. Yint, 30, was the union’s secretary, while Ms. Myint, 34, had been a union member since its founding in June 2018.

“The bosses used Covid as an opportunity to get rid of us because they hated our union,” Mr. Moe said. He said he and other union members had been in discussions with the factory managers before the firings, demanding personal protective equipment and that workers be farther apart on the factory floor. “They thought we caused them constant headaches by fighting for our rights and those of our fellow workers.”

Union-busting — practices undertaken to prevent or disrupt the formation of trade unions or attempts to expand membership — has been a serious problem across the fashion supply chain for decades. And with the global spread of Covid-19 placing fresh pressures on the industry, it is a particular issue in South Asia, where about 40 million garment workers have long grappled with poor working conditions and wages.

With live music on hold in Hong Kong, Filipino rockers are feeling the pain.

Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Hong Kong’s live music scene was all but silenced by the coronavirus. Some infections were linked to what the government called a “bar and band” cluster in nightclubs. Music venues, including bars, were ordered shut as part of a broad package of restrictions. On Friday, bars were allowed to reopen, but they still aren’t allowed to host live music.

That has meant unemployment for the singers, guitarists, pianists, drummers and bassists who power the live music scene — many of whom come from the Philippines.

One musician, Charles Tidal, said he typically sent about $1,300 back to the Philippines each month to support his five children. His gigs dried up in February, and a new part-time job as a clerk isn’t making up the difference.

“It’s hard,” he said. “I owe money to lots of people right now to survive and feed my kids.”

Musicians from the Philippines have been performing across Asia for decades, known for playing covers of Western pop songs. Filipino cover bands in Hong Kong have wide repertoires, spanning rock, reggae, R&B and much else. A case in point is Icebox, the main house band at Amazonia in the Wan Chai district, which covers everything from Frank Sinatra to Iron Maiden.

“Everything’s there, and it’s cool,” said its frontman, Spike Cazcarro, 52, explaining how the band got its name.

Reporting was contributed by David E. Sanger, Nicole Perlroth, Abdi Latif Dahir, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Mark Landler, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Maria Abi-Habib, Ben Hubbard, Jason Horowitz, Ceylan Yeginsu, Mihir Zaveri, Karen Zraick, Ezra Cheung, Michael D. Shear, Maggie Haberman, Mujib Mashal, Najim Rahim, Fatima Faizi, Tiffany May, Iliana Magra, Hannah Beech, Melissa Eddy, Christopher F. Schuetze, Tariq Panja, Austin Ramzy, Michael Levenson, Michael Crowley, Vivian Wang, Edward Wong, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Denise Gellene, Mitch Smith, Andrew Jacobs, Edgar Sandoval, Elisabetta Povoledo, Mike Ives, Elizabeth Paton and Nick Cumming-Bruce.

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