Outside International Spotlight, Latin America Suffers From Coronavirus: Live Coverage

Here’s what you need to know:

Credit…Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times

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 grounded to a halt and billions of people sheltered at home.

Airlines have begun re-establishing routes halted weeks ago as coronavirus cases ballooned. Emirates Airlines said on Wednesday that it would restart limited passenger flights to nine destinations — including London and Frankfurt — from May 21, and other carriers have also begun reinstating routes.

But the promise of travel was not enough for some companies that depend on it. TUI, the world’s largest travel company, said it would cut more than 8,000 jobs — over 10 percent of its work force. Though the company, based in Hanover, Germany, said it would begin reopening some of its 400 hotels and resorts in coming days, but the pandemic has brought its operations nearly to a standstill.

Travel is not only big business on the continent, but free movement across borders is a core element of life in an interconnected Europe.

The European Commission on Wednesday announced its recommendation for travel across the European Union, saying countries with similar levels of coronavirus outbreaks should ease restrictions. But some countries have already begun plotting their own way forward.

Three border checkpoints between Austria and Germany were opened Wednesday morning, a day after Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of Austria agreed to the measures that would institute free movement between the two nations.

Others have also begun experimenting with “travel bubbles,” allowing movement within a group of specific nations.

The Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will allow travel among the three nations beginning Friday, though travelers from outside the region will be required to spend 14 days in quarantine.

The leaders of New Zealand and Australia, which have had relatively few cases compared to elsewhere in the world, have also agreed to allow travel between their two countries and have expressed interest in opening up to other nations where transmissions remain low.

The devastation in Latin America is less visible, but compares to the worst in Europe or the U.S.

Credit…Victor Moriyama for The New York Times

Deaths from all causes doubled in Lima, Peru, and tripled in Manaus, Brazil. In Guayaquil, Ecuador, deaths reached five times the usual number for the time of year.

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.

And while no measure is perfect, the increase in overall deaths offers the most complete picture of the pandemic’s toll, demographers say.

Latin America has confronted the crisis with far fewer medical or economic resources than Europe or the United States. As jobs disappear, Peruvian highways have swelled with people fleeing the cities, and tens of thousands of Venezuelans in neighboring countries have been forced to walk back to their ravaged homeland.

“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.”

Our correspondent looks back on her time in quarantine. Actually, her four times.

Credit…Amy Qin/The New York Times

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.

Before the pandemic, my friends called me “the empress,” a joking reference to my last name. But these days, they have begun referring to me by another, slightly less esteemed royal moniker: I am now the Quarantine Queen.

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.

Some, as we now know all too well, were more successful than others.

Tap here to read more about Amy Qin’s experiences in quarantine.

Germany and Austria are among nations starting ‘travel bubbles’ as restrictions ease.

Credit…Andreas Gebert/Reuters

After reopening, shops, schools and museums in recent days, Austria and Germany are now preparing to open their shared border.

Three border checkpoints between Austria and the German state of Bavaria were opened Wednesday morning, a day after Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of Austria agreed to the measures. The first opened at 6 a.m., according to local reports.

The border is scheduled to be entirely opened on June 15, just in time for summer vacation. German holidaymakers are an important source of income for many Austrian tourist destinations.

Horst Seehofer, Germany’s interior minister, said on Wednesday that Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland had agreed to reopen borders by June 15, if infections remained low in the meantime, with the ultimate goal of re-establishing free travel in parts of Europe by mid-June.

“We want to see free travel in Europe again from mid-June onward, and we aim to achieve this,” Mr. Seehofer told reporters. The German border with Luxembourg is to be opened on Friday.

More announcements for other European border openings are expected in the coming days as the continent eases restrictions and looks to restart travel. For most European Union members and those in the Schengen zone, which has free movement across all states, borders have been closed to nearly all travel since mid-March, when coronavirus infections began to balloon across the region.

Germany and Austria are not the only countries to begin a cautious restart of movement between specific nations. Beginning Friday, residents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will be allowed to travel freely among those Baltic states. The plan, announced by the leaders late last month, would still require travelers from outside the region to spend 14 days in quarantine.

Leaders of New Zealand and Australia have also agreed on a travel bubble between their two countries, which have seen relatively few cases compared to elsewhere in the world.

Bats are still available, if no longer the best seller at one Indonesian market.

Credit…Bay Ismoyo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The butchers of Tomohon gather at Indonesia’s most notorious market six days a week, carving up bats, rats, snakes and lizards that were taken from the wilds of Sulawesi island.

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.”

The earliest cluster of coronavirus cases in the global outbreak was linked to a market in Wuhan, China, where live animals were kept close together, creating an opportunity for the virus to jump to humans. The SARS virus, which killed 800 people worldwide, is believed to have originated in bats before spreading to civets in a wildlife market in China, and ultimately infecting people in 2002.

Most of the wild animals at Tomohon are slaughtered before they reach the market. It is mainly dogs that are kept alive in cages and killed on the spot for customers who say that they taste better when freshly killed.

“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.”

Modi announces a rescue fund of more than $260 billion, 10 percent of India’s G.D.P.

Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times

Mr. Modi, who made the announcement in a televised address on Tuesday, did not provide many details about the package, which would amount to about 10 percent of India’s gross domestic product. But he said it would help all classes of business, from farmers and migrant laborers to big companies.

“It’s overdue, as the economic impact on India is going to be quite severe,” said Arvind Subramanian, a former chief economic adviser to Mr. Modi.

Mr. Subramanian said that India could afford to spend the money through a combination of bond issuance, overseas borrowing and central bank spending because the country was not heavily indebted internationally. And, he added, India had no choice.

Mr. Modi also urged Indians to become more economically self-reliant and referred to Mohandas K. Gandhi’s self-sufficiency campaign nearly 100 years ago that boycotted British textiles.

Mr. Modi said the finance ministry would announce the specifics of the relief package in the coming days.

Many Indians were listening to Mr. Modi’s speech desperate to hear whether the lockdown, imposed in late March and set to expire May 18, would be lifted. But Mr. Modi did not directly address it, instead saying that the next version of the lockdown would be governed by different rules.

New Zealand and Thailand record no new cases.

Credit…Mark Baker/Associated Press

New Zealand, which has seen some of the lowest coronavirus case numbers in the world, lifted its state of emergency on Wednesday, as it reported no new infections for the second day in a row.

And Thailand, which halted international flights in early April, announced on Wednesday that it had recorded no new cases of the coronavirus for the first time since March 9.

Other countries that have had success battling the virus, like South Korea and Singapore, have seen their fortunes rapidly shift with the emergence of new outbreaks. But the progress thus far in New Zealand and Thailand have officials there beginning to ease restrictions.

New Zealand, which has moved toward eliminating the virus by enforcing stringent measures and locking down its borders, planned to relax restrictions on Wednesday night, allowing people to go to bars and restaurants, attend theaters and museums, return to schools, travel between regions and gather in groups of up to 10 people — all while practicing 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. “It is essential we all follow the alert level requirements to ensure we do not lose the gains we have made.”

The island nation has recorded 1,147 confirmed cases and 21 deaths. The rate of new infections has slowed to a dribble in the past month, and just two people who tested positive for the virus remain in hospitals.

Under the new guidelines, New Zealanders are still expected to remain one to two meters apart when possible. Borders will remain locked for now, the authorities said, though the country has considered opening a “travel bubble” including itself, Australia and other Pacific countries later in the year. Venues are also limited to 100 patrons, including staff.

The announcement came seven weeks after the country entered lockdown on March 25, and the new, relaxed guidelines will be reviewed again on May 25, the authorities said.

In Thailand, an influx of Chinese tourists in January kicked off local transmission of the virus in Bangkok, which is normally one of the world’s most-visited cities. The first reported case of the virus outside China was in Thailand in mid-January. A later wave of infections was traced to people arriving from Japan, Europe and the United States.

But the virus has so far failed to take widespread hold in Thailand, according to official data. As of Wednesday, the health authorities had confirmed 3,017 cases and 56 deaths. About 286,000 people have been tested in a country of roughly 70 million people, and 117 of those who tested positive are still hospitalized.

The biggest surge of cases this month came from an outbreak in a detention center for foreign migrants. Human rights groups have warned that disease spreads quickly in such confined quarters.

Thailand began to ease its lockdown in early May, with everything from restaurants to pet salons allowed to resume operations with proper social distancing. Shopping malls are expected to open in the coming days, but incoming flights will be banned for at least the rest of this month.

Europe’s museums begin reopening, cautiously, with new rules.

Credit…Mustafah Abdulaziz for The New York Times

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.

Some, like the Berlinische Galerie, took an extra week to sort out logistics and bring in safety procedures, reopening on Monday. Major institutions like the Gemäldegalerie and the Altes Museum reopened on Tuesday.

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.

Some museums in the Czech Republic, France, Spain and Switzerland reopened this week or are set to do so in the coming days. In France, some small, local museums were allowed to reopen on Monday, but the government has yet to announce dates for major institutions like the Louvre.

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.

Infections in camps in South Sudan and Greece’s Aegean Islands raise fears of rapid spread.

Credit…Alex Mcbride/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Public health officials have long warned that camps for people who have fled war and privation are ideal settings for the virus to spread fast — they are crowded, and often lacking in food, sanitation and medical resources.

The United Nations said that two people tested positive on Monday in a camp in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, where two camps house about 29,600 of the roughly 4 million people who have been displaced by a brutal civil war.

“This community is an extension of the communities around them in Juba city where we know that Covid-19 already exists,” said David Shearer, head of the United Nations mission there.

South Sudan is a poor nation with a fragile health care system, and even with help from the World Health Organization, the capacity to test for and treat the infection is very limited. Officially, the country has recorded 174 cases, but the real figure is thought to be far higher.

Mr. Shearer said on Tuesday that his group had doubled water supplies at the camps to boost handwashing, broadcast awareness messages in multiple languages and distributed more than two months worth of food to keep people from visiting local markets.

In Greece, Migration Ministry officials confirmed two cases of Covid-19 in migrants on Lesbos, one of five Aegean Islands where nearly 40,000 migrants live in camps. They arrived on Lesbos last week from Turkey, which has had a far worse outbreak than Greece.

Coronavirus infections have been found among migrants on the Greek mainland, where they live in less dire conditions.

The Israeli police arrested hundreds at a mass holiday celebration.

The Israeli authorities arrested over 300 people on Tuesday after large crowds gathered for a holiday celebration in northern Israel despite coronavirus restrictions and police checkpoints on roads.

The Associated Press reported that hundreds of religious Jews assembled at Mount Meron and that some “threw stones and other objects a police officers at the scene” when they tried to control the crowd.

Those gathered were observing the feast of Lag b’Omer, when ultra-Orthodox Jews traditionally convene at the tomb of a prominent rabbi from antiquity on Mount Meron, according to The A.P. The festivities include dancing and bonfires.

In Jerusalem, thousands of ultra-Orthodox Israelis marked the holiday with large crowds, the A.P. reported.

Israel currently has a ban on public gatherings of more than 20 people as a result of the pandemic, which has hit the nation’s ultra-Orthodox community hard.

U.S. roundup: Health officials warn of dire consequences of reopening too early.



Health Experts Warn Against a Rapid Reopening of the Nation

Leaders of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response testified to a Senate panel, and emphasized life-threatening consequences of reopening the country too early.

“It’s important to emphasize that we’re not out of the woods yet. The battle continues and we must, but we are more prepared. We need to stay vigilant with social distancing, it remains an imperative. We are a resilient nation and I am confident that we will emerge from this pandemic stronger together.” “Do we have the coronavirus contained?” “Right now, it depends on what you mean by containment. If you think that we have it completely under control, we don’t. I mean, if you look at the dynamics of the outbreak we are seeing a diminution of hospitalizations and infections in some places such as in New York City, which has plateaued and started to come down — New Orleans — but in other parts of the country, we are seeing spikes. So I think we’re going in the right direction, but the right direction does not mean we have by any means total control of this outbreak.” “If we don’t do better on testing, on contact tracing and on social distancing, will deaths from coronavirus necessarily increase?” Of course, if you do not do an adequate response we will have the deleterious consequence of more infections and more deaths. If we do not respond in an adequate way when the fall comes, given that it is without a doubt that there will be infections that will be in the community, then we run the risk of having a resurgence. I would hope by that point in time in the fall that we have more than enough to respond adequately. But if we don’t, there will be problems.” “I think you’re all noble public servants, but I worry that you’re trying to have it both ways. You say the states shouldn’t open too early, but then you don’t give us the resources to succeed. You work for a president who is frankly undermining our efforts to comply with the guidance that you’ve given us. And then the guidance that you have provided is criminally vague. Obviously the plan to reopen America was meant to be followed by more detailed, nuanced guidance. Why didn’t this plan get released? And if it is just being reviewed, when is it going to be released?” “We have generated a series of guidances as you know. And this outbreak response has evolved from the C.D.C. to an all of government response. As we work through the guidances, a number of them go for interagency review and get every agency input to make sure that these guidances are more broadly applicable for different parts of our society. The guidances that you’ve talked about have gone through that interagency review, their comments that have come back to C.D.C., and I anticipate they’ll go back up into the task force for final review.” “But we’re reopening in Connecticut in five days, in 10 days. This guidance isn’t going to be useful to us in two weeks. So is it this week, is it next week, when are we going to get this expertise from the federal government?” “I do anticipate this broader guidance, though, to be posted on the C.D.C. website soon. I can’t tell you — soon — but I can tell you your state can reach out to C.D.C., and we’ll give guidance directly to anyone in your state on any circumstance that your state desires guidance from.” “Soon, isn’t terribly helpful. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.” “I think the one size fits all that we’re going to do a national strategy, and nobody is going to go to school, is kind of ridiculous. We really ought to be doing it school district by school district. So I think we ought to have a little bit of humility in our belief that we know what’s best for the economy. And as much as I respect you Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end all. I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make a decision. We can listen to your advice, but there are people on the other side saying there’s not going to be a surge.” “I have never made myself out to be the end all and only voice in this. I’m a scientist, a physician and a public health official. I give advice according to the best scientific evidence. There are a number of other people who come into that, and give advice that are more related to the things that you spoke about — the need to get the country back open again and economically. I don’t give advice about economic things. I don’t give advice about anything other than public health. So I want to respond to that. The second thing is that you used the words, ‘we should be humble about what we don’t know.’ And I think that falls under the fact that we don’t know everything about this virus, and we really better be very careful, particularly when it comes to children because the more and more we learn, we’re seeing things about what this virus can do that we didn’t see from the studies in China or in Europe. For example, right now children presenting with Covid-16 — Covid-19 — who actually have a very strange inflammatory syndrome, very similar to Kawasaki Syndrome. I think we’ve got to be careful if we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects. So again, you’re right in the numbers that children in general do much, much better than adults and the elderly, and particularly those with underlying conditions. But I am very careful, and hopefully humble, in knowing that I don’t know everything about this disease. And that’s why I’m very reserved in making broad predictions.”

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Leaders of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response testified to a Senate panel, and emphasized life-threatening consequences of reopening the country too early.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Win McNamee

Two of the federal government’s top health officials painted a grim picture of the months ahead on Tuesday, warning a Senate committee that the coronavirus pandemic was far from contained, just a day after President Trump declared that “we have met the moment and we have prevailed.”

The officials — Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — predicted dire consequences if the nation reopened its economy too soon, noting that the United States still lacked critical testing capacity and the ability to trace the contacts of those infected.

If economic interests were allowed to override public health concerns, Dr. Fauci warned, “there is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control.”

That could result not only in “some suffering and death that could be avoided,” he said, “but could even set you back on the road to trying to get economic recovery.”

Dr. Fauci’s remarks, along with those of Dr. Redfield, contradicted Mr. Trump’s growing insistence that the nation has put the coronavirus behind it.

The comments appeared to rattle the markets, driving the S&P 500 down as investors weighed the potential of a second wave of infections against Mr. Trump’s promises that the economy would bounce back once stay-at-home restrictions were lifted. Worrisome reports of spikes in infections in countries like China, South Korea and Germany, where lockdowns had been lifted, seemed to confirm the American officials’ fears.

The Cannes Festival that wasn’t, and what we’ve lost.

Credit…Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

The Cannes Film Festival has been derailed only a handful of times since its inaugural gathering in 1946 — which, as it happens, was itself put off because of World War II.

For the most part, the show has gone on.

Not this year.

The 73rd iteration, which had been scheduled to start on Tuesday, is no more. Instead, in June, the festival will release a list of movies that had been chosen for this year, anointing them with the coveted Cannes label.

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.”

The writers discussed what the world has lost, too, and why it matters.

“If it’s hard for Americans to grasp the importance of Cannes to the rest of the world,” Dargis says, “it’s because our isolationism extends to culture.”

Reporting was contributed by Christopher F. Schuetze, Richard C. Paddock, Dera Menra Sijabat, 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 and Andrew Das.

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