The Latest: German car sales down despite open showrooms

Jun 4, 2020

Germany’s auto industry says car sales in the country remained very weak in May despite the reopening of showrooms and the easing of other coronavirus restrictions

BERLIN — Germany’s auto industry says that car sales in the country remained very weak in May despite the reopening of showrooms and the easing of other coronavirus restrictions.

The German Association of the Automotive Industry, or VDA, said Thursday that 168,100 cars were registered last month, 50% fewer than a year earlier. That’s a bit better than the 61% drop recorded in April.

Exports were even weaker. The VDA said 105,100 cars were exported in May, 67% fewer than a year earlier. While production has picked up in Germany after being all but halted at the height of European lockdowns, it was still down 66%, with 151,100 cars produced.

A 130 billion-euro ($146 billion) stimulus package drawn up Wednesday by the German government includes an increase in financial incentives for electric and hybrid vehicles. There are no incentives for cars with conventional engines, though the main value-added tax rate is being cut from 19% to 16% for six months in a bid to spur purchases across the board.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— There are no secrets in the tightly packed lanes of Dharavi, India’s largest slum. Especially when it comes to the coronavirus.

— The pandemic has stranded merchant ship crews at sea for months

— Emergency room visits in the U.S. for chest pain and heart attacks fell as the virus scared people away from hospitals.

— Barcelona residents are reclaiming their city as Spain's virus restrictions provide a respite from the thongs of foreign tourists that flood Spain's top tourist destination each summer.

— Watch what you flush: Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney says home-bound residents are clogging sewers and storm water drains with face masks, gloves and wipes.

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY:

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan reported a record single-day spike in coronavirus-related deaths with 82 new fatalities and 4,688 cases that it says resulted from increased testing in the past 24 hours.

Pakistan’s outbreak has grown steadily since the country’s first case in February. Since then, 1,770 people have died and 85,264 have tested positive.

As many as 901 patients were listed in critical condition at hospitals Thursday. The country has barely 3,000 intensive care beds serving a population of 220 million.

Pakistan for the first time conducted over 20,000 tests in the past 24 hours. It has done more than 615,000 tests after increasing its testing capacity from only two labs in February.

The spike comes after Prime Minister Imran Khan eased lockdown restrictions over expert’s recommendations to maintain them to prevent the spread of the virus. Authorities have blamed people not adhering to social distancing regulations for the growing outbreak.

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NAYPYITAW, Myanmar — Myanmar’s official election commission has announced that this year’s general election will take place as planned in November and not be postponed because of the coronavirus crisis.

Union Election Commission member Myint Naing said at a Thursday press conference that the body would announce the exact date about three to four months in advance.

He said: “Since we’re able to control the COVID situation and it (the election) is a long way from now, the election date won’t be changed.”

Myanmar reported one new confirmed coronoavirus case on Thursday, bringing the nationwide total to 234, including six deaths.

The last general election in 2015 brought the National League for Democracy party of Aung San Suu Kyi to power after more than five decades of military rule.

The election commission has said that more than 37 million people will be eligible to vote.

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NEW DELHI — India’s COVID-19 fatalities have passed 6,000 after registering 260 deaths in the last 24 hours.

The country registered 9,304 new cases in yet another record single-day spike in infections, raising its totals to 216,919 cases with 6,075 deaths, the Health Ministry reported Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry said it was ramping up the testing across the country and has performed 4 million. It said the daily capacity was almost 140,000 tests done through 480 government and 208 private laboratories.

India's infections have spiked in recent weeks, mostly in its cities. The coastal state of Maharashtra continues to be the worst affected, with 74,860 cases and 2,587 deaths. The state capital is densely crowded Mumbai, India's financial and entertainment capital.

India is the seventh worst-hit nation by the pandemic.

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JAKARTA — Authorities in Indonesia’s capital will ease a partial lockdown as the world’s fourth most populous nation braces to gradually reopen its economy.

Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan announced the reopening of mosques, churches and temples on Friday but only at half capacity.

Offices, public transport. restaurants, grocery stores and beaches will be allowed to operate, also at half capacity. Malls and parks are scheduled to reopen in mid-June and schools remain shut this month.

Baswedan said the decision to reopen follows a significant decrease in the number of infections in recent days. He said everyone except the elderly, children under age 5, pregnant women and sick people will be allowed to leave their homes wearing masks.

Jakarta has recorded 7,690 confirmed cases with 523 deaths, while the toll nationwide stands at 28,818 infections and 1,721 fatalities.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Authorities in Norway have turned down applications to hold rallies in the country's three largest cities in support of protests in the U.S. over the police killing of George Floyd, citing coronavirus social distancing.

Rallies were planned in Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim but local authorities said that without a dispensation from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, they cannot allow more than 50 people to gather in one place, said Mohamed Awil, the president of the African student association UiO.

The association is co-organizing the rally in Oslo, where more than 15,000 people said they planned to take part in the demonstration Thursday outside the U.S. Embassy. He said they were considering an alternative but details were not immediately available.

Thousands gathered Wednesday in support rallies in the capitals of Sweden and Finland.

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MADRID — Spain says restrictions on land border crossings with France and Portugal will be lifted from June 22.

Under special measures imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, only residents, cross-border workers and truck drivers were allowed since mid-March.

Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto also said 6,000 German tourists are expected to test new safety measures for travelers in the Mediterranean Balearic islands in mid-June, as the country prepares to fully reopen to international tourism on July 1. The tourists will have their temperatures checked and will fill out health questionnaires on arrival. They also will be encouraged to use a contact-tracing mobile app that authorities want to test in the archipelago.

Maroto said building trust in a safe destination is key for the recovery of tourism, an industry that generates 12% of Spain’s GDP and helps employ 2.6 million people.

The COVID-19 outbreak has claimed at least 27,000 lives and infected just over 240,000 people in Spain.

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JOHANNESBURG — Testing materials remain in short supply across Africa, but the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a new platform to pool the continent’s purchasing powers has obtained about 15 million coronavirus testing kits for the next six months.

John Nkengasong said Africa’s 54 countries are still far behind the goal of conducting at least 10,000 tests per 1 million people. He said just about 1,700 tests are being carried out per million compared to about 37,000 per million in Italy and 30,000 per million in the UK.

Nkengasong said 3.4 million tests have been conducted so far across Africa, which has a population of 1.3 billion people, and testing capacity is “increasing very, very rapidly.” Africa’s numbers are rising steadily as testing improves, with a 31% increase in new confirmed cases since last week. The continent’s confirmed cases are now above 162,000, representing less than 3% of the global cases.

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MOSCOW -- The United States has delivered another batch of ventilators to Russia as part of a $5.6 million humanitarian donation to help the country cope with the pandemic.

The U.S. Embassy said the second shipment of U.S.-manufactured breathing machines arrived in Moscow on Thursday, following a batch delivered last month.

Russia has reported more than 441,000 coronavirus infections, including 5,384 deaths. Officials have scrambled to secure ventilators and other essential supplies.

Russia sent a planeload of medical supplies, including ventilators, to the U.S. in April. Russia’s state investment fund said this week it fully funded the delivery.

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MEXICO CITY -- The coronavirus toll in Mexico has soared to a new daily high, with the health department reporting 1,092 deaths. That is more than double the previous one-day record and in line with numbers in the United States and Brazil.

Wednesday’s report was an embarrassment for officials, who have consistently predicted that cases in Mexico were about to start leveling off.

Officials rushed to say many of the new confirmed deaths had occurred days or even weeks ago and were being announced now because of delays in processing tests or other reasons. But such delays have presumably been a constant reflected in every previous daily tally.

Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell did not cite any specific clearing of testing backlogs.

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GENEVA — The top U.N. human rights official is urging some Asia-Pacific governments to be proportionate in their efforts to stop the spread of misinformation about the coronavirus outbreak and warning of a “clampdown” against freedom of expression in the region.

The office of Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, cited a “further tightening of censorship in several countries” and the arbitrary arrest and detention of people who had either criticized their governments or shared information about the pandemic.

Her office said arrests for expressing discontent or allegedly spreading false information had been reported in a dozen countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

It cited information from China about more than a dozen cases of medical workers, academics and other citizens who “appear to have been detained, and in some cases charged” for publishing their views on the outbreak or airing criticism of the government’s response.