Angela Merkel gives Emmanuel Macron the red carpet treatment – from six feet away


France and Germany aren’t quite as close as they used to be! Angela Merkel gives Emmanuel Macron the red carpet treatment – from six feet away

  • German Chancellor Merkel and French President met at Meseberg Castle today
  • Pair seemed at ease as they kept two-metres apart amid the coronavirus crisis 
  • Talks came ahead of Germany taking over the six-month EU presidency in July

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron remained a safe six feet apart today as they met for talks as Germany prepares to take over the EU presidency.  

German Chancellor Merkel greeted the French President on a red carpet at Meseberg Castle outside Berlin ahead of the meeting, and the pair were later seen sitting down for refreshments outside. 

The leaders kept a two-metre distance at all times amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 100,000 people across European Union nations. 

Germany will begin its six-month presidency on July 1, as the EU faces the challenge of trying to get economies back on track and restore freedom of moment after the pandemic.

This weekend, Merkel said she was convinced Europe could overcome these challenges even though coronavirus continues to be a threat. She added that EU economic recovery measures need to be passed as quickly as possible.        

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron remained a safe six feet apart today as they met for talks as Germany prepares to take over the EU presidency

Merkel and Macron in May proposed creating a one-off £456 billion ($561 billion) recovery fund that would be fulfilled through shared EU borrowing.

The proposal was expanded upon by the EU’s executive Commission, which put forward plans for a £685 billion fund made up mostly of grants. 

It is facing resistance from some countries, however, which oppose grants and are reluctant to give funds with no strings attached.

Speaking in a joint press conference today, Merkel held out hope that EU member states will agree on a multi-year budget of more than $1.12 trillion as well as a recovery fund at a summit of leader next month.

She said: ‘We hope we can find a solution, even if there is still a long way to go.’

EU leaders agreed earlier this month that urgent action was needed to haul their economies out of the deepest recession since World War Two.

German Chancellor Merkel greeted the French President on a red carpet at Meseberg Castle outside Berlin ahead of the talks

German Chancellor Merkel greeted the French President on a red carpet at Meseberg Castle outside Berlin ahead of the talks

The leaders kept a two-metre distance at all times amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 100,000 people across European Union nations

The leaders kept a two-metre distance at all times amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 100,000 people across European Union nations

Germany will begin its six-month presidency on July 1, as the EU faces the challenge of trying to get economies back on track and restore freedom of moment after the pandemic

Germany will begin its six-month presidency on July 1, as the EU faces the challenge of trying to get economies back on track and restore freedom of moment after the pandemic

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron give a press conference after talks in the grounds of Schloss Meseberg

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron give a press conference after talks in the grounds of Schloss Meseberg

They will seek to bridge differences at their summit in July over a proposal by the European Commission, the bloc’s executive, to borrow £456 billion ($561 billion) from the market for a recovery fund that would help revive economies hardest hit by coronavirus, notably Italy and Spain.

With more than 100,000 deaths from Covid-19, the EU is keen to demonstrate solidarity after months of bickering which has dented public confidence and put the bloc’s global standing at risk.

Macron reiterated his position that a deal on the EU budget and recovery fund could be found at the July summit. He said the fund should include £456 billion ($561 billion) of grants to the hardest-hit countries.

Merkel and Macron appeared at ease as they met at the German government villa in Brandenburg

Merkel and Macron appeared at ease as they met at the German government villa in Brandenburg

They chatted as they walked through the garden before sitting down at a small table outside and talking in the afternoon sun

They chatted as they walked through the garden before sitting down at a small table outside and talking in the afternoon sun

‘The chancellor and I put it on paper: It’s our absolute priority,’ Macron said. ‘Without this, Europe wouldn’t rise to the challenge.’  

Merkel and Macron appeared at ease as they met at the German government villa in Brandenburg, chatting as they walked through the garden before sitting down at a small table outside and talking in the afternoon sun. 

In addition to the upcoming plans for the German EU presidency, the two leaders were expected to talk about multiple other issues, including relations with China, the US and migration policy.   

Trump says thousands of U.S. troops will move from Germany to Poland


Donald Trump says thousands of U.S. troops will move from Germany to Poland as he attacks Angela Merkel’s government for ‘not paying’ for NATO

  • President Trump said Wednesday at a press conference with the Polish president that he was open to sending U.S. troops stationed in Germany to Poland 
  • ‘Some will be coming home and some will be going to other places, but Poland would be one of those other places,’ Trump said 
  • Trump wants to pull American forces out of Germany who he accuses of not spending enough money on NATO, but buying Russian oil 
  • ‘You’re spending billions of dollars to Russia, then we’re supposed to defend you from Russia,’ he said in the Rose Garden 
  • Trump met with Polish President Andrzej Duda in advance of his country’s election, where like Trump, Duda has been rallying his conservative base  

President Trump said Wednesday at a press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda that he was open to sending U.S. troops stationed in Germany to Poland.  

‘We’re going to be reducing our forces in Germany. Some will be coming home and some will be going to other places, but Poland would be one of those other places,’ Trump said in the White House Rose Garden.  

Trump wants to take thousands of U.S. forces out of Germany because he says the United States bears too much of a financial burden for the deployment and criticizes the government in Berlin for buying Russian energy.  

President Trump said Wednesday that thousands of U.S. troops will be moved out of Germany and said some could be headed to Poland 

President Trump (right) was making a joint appearance with Polish President Andrzej Duda (left) Wednesday afternoon, in advance of the Polish election where Duda is on the ballot

President Trump (right) was making a joint appearance with Polish President Andrzej Duda (left) Wednesday afternoon, in advance of the Polish election where Duda is on the ballot 

President Trump lashed out at Angela Merkel's (pictured) Germany government for buying Russian energy while not paying enough into NATO. Trump used this as his explanation for why he wanted to remove U.S. troops from Germany

President Trump lashed out at Angela Merkel’s (pictured) Germany government for buying Russian energy while not paying enough into NATO. Trump used this as his explanation for why he wanted to remove U.S. troops from Germany 

‘Germany is paying a very small fraction of what they’re supposed to be paying,’ Trump said, suggesting Berlin should be paying nearly double than what they do now into NATO. ‘That’s a tremendous delinquency,’ he said. 

Trump said that he expected to keep 25,000 American troops in Germany down from 52,000. 

A defense agreement would send more U.S. troops to Poland, bolstering defense cooperation between the two NATO allies and acting as a further counterweight against Russian aggression.

‘I think it sends a strong message to Russia,’ Trump said.  

‘Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars to purchase energy from Russia. And through the pipeline. And I’m saying what’s that all about? You’re spending billions of dollars to Russia, then we’re supposed to defend you from Russia. So I think it’s… very bad,’ Trump said.

Washington objects to the Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would double the amount of gas piped directly from Russia to Germany and reduce the amount piped in Ukraine.

The U.S. Army already has an area support group in the region that can be tailored to increase the number of U.S. soldiers in Poland.

According to Polish media reports, the United States could offer 2,000 soldiers to Poland, 1,000 more than initially agreed in June 2019. Those additional troops would include the U.S. Army V Corps from Kentucky and F-16s from Germany.

Another official with knowledge of the talks told Reuters that moving the V Corps to Poland was under discussion and that Poland could get more than the 1,000 troops agreed to last year, but would not say if 2,000 would be sent.

Trump also told the news conference that the United States and Poland were discussing a project to construct a nuclear-powered plant in Poland.

Duda was the first foreign leader to visit Trump since the coronavirus pandemic led to global lockdowns, and the two leaders said they looked forward to signing the defense cooperation agreement. 

Critics have accused Duda and Trump of calling the visit just before the Polish election in order to improve the right-leaning Duda´s chances of winning, as his lead in opinion polls has dropped in recent weeks.

Duda’s campaign has focused on rallying his conservative base with attacks on what he calls lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ‘ideology,’ while promising to protect popular social benefit programs for families and pensioners that have transformed life for many poorer Poles. 

The nationalist Polish leader has emerged as one of Trump’s preferred foreign partners. 

The two have met one-on-one at least five times.

The two leaders spoke after meeting in the Oval Office.

Duda said it was an honor to discuss next steps in relations at the White House. 

‘Today we are entering another stage, namely there is a possibility of further increase in American troops in our country,’ he said. 

Keanu Reeves, 55, makes appearance with Alexandra Grant, 46, as they join Matrix 4 stars in Berlin


Keanu Reeves was joined by his girlfriend Alexandra Grant at Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport late last week alongside his The Matrix 4 co-stars. 

The esteemed actor, 55, was giggling and looking happy alongside the artist and philanthropist, 46, as he prepared to resume shooting alongside Neil Patrick Harris and Carrie-Ann Moss after things skidded to a halt amid coronavirus. 

The Matrix 4 will be released in 2021 and production began in early January with Lana Wachowski returning as co-writing and director, and while filming stopped in Berlin in March the stars were returning to the German capital on Sunday.

He’s back! Keanu Reeves was joined by his girlfriend Alexandra Grant at Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport late last week alongside his The Matrix 4 co-stars

She said in a statement: ‘Many of the ideas Lilly and I explored 20 years ago about our reality are even more relevant now. I’m very happy to have these characters back in my life and grateful for another chance to work with my brilliant friends.’

Aleksandar Hemon and David Mitchell co-wrote the Matrix 4 script alongside Wachowski. Keanu is again playing Neo with Carrie-Ann Moss back as well.

The Matrix 4 will also also feature Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who’s best known to audiences as Black Manta in 2018’s Aquaman.

Reeves’ next film is the next Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure with Alex Winter.

Happy days: The esteemed actor, 55, was giggling and looking happy alongside the artist and philanthropist, 46, as he prepared to resume shooting alongside Neil Patrick Harris and Carrie-Ann Moss after things skidded to a halt amid coronavirus

Happy days: The esteemed actor, 55, was giggling and looking happy alongside the artist and philanthropist, 46, as he prepared to resume shooting alongside Neil Patrick Harris and Carrie-Ann Moss after things skidded to a halt amid coronavirus

Ever since Reeves and Grant went public in November, there has been much speculation about when they first started dating.

Some publications said they had been romantic for only a few months but then earlier this month Jennifer Tilly told Page Six that they had been an item for ‘years.’

Grant is an artist and philanthropist. Born in Ohio, Alexandra has been working in the arts since graduating from Swarthmore College in 1994 with a BA in history and studio art.

The artist is known for her use of language and exchanges with writers as a source for imagery in her sculpture, painting, drawing, and video works.

'I never thought that it would happen,' Carrie-Anne told Empire 'It was never on my radar at all. When it was brought to me in the way that it was brought to me, with incredible depth and all of the integrity and artistry that you could imagine, I was like, "This is a gift."'

‘I never thought that it would happen,’ Carrie-Anne told Empire ‘It was never on my radar at all. When it was brought to me in the way that it was brought to me, with incredible depth and all of the integrity and artistry that you could imagine, I was like, “This is a gift.”‘

Elegant: Carrie-Anne Moss, who plays Trinity in the franchise, was also in tow

Elegant: Carrie-Anne Moss, who plays Trinity in the franchise, was also in tow

The talented artist fostered her love for the spoken word as a child, after growing up around the world, living in Mexico, Spain and France.

She has exhibited at prestigious spaces around the world including Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Galerie Gradiva in Paris and The Harris Lieberman Gallery in New York.

In 2008, Alexandra founded the philanthropic grantLOVE project which produces and sells original artworks and editions to benefit artist projects and arts non-profits.

Star: It was revealed in October that Neil Patrick Harris was added to the ensemble cast

Star: It was revealed in October that Neil Patrick Harris was added to the ensemble cast

Happy days: Alexandra slotted in to the group happily

Happy days: Alexandra slotted in to the group happily 

Alexandra and Keanu have a history that goes back years, first collaborating together on a grown-up’s picture book, Ode to Happiness, in 2011.

The book was a success, sparking the poet-artist duo to create their second book together, Shadows, in 2016, with Grant photographing Reeves while he was filming John Wick.

Since then, the two have been spotted together at art galleries, book signings, posed for Vogue Spain and even traveled to Germany to work together.

Speaking of working together on their second book, Grant told W Magazine: ‘We can spend a lot of time debating. Like, A raspberry hue? And should it be darker? We can get obsessive.’

The Matrix 4: The Matrix franchise is the brainchild of transgender sisters Lana and Lilly Wachowski who created and wrote the billion dollar trilogy and the pair are returning to helm the fourth film which began filming in San Francisco in February (pictured)

The Matrix 4: The Matrix franchise is the brainchild of transgender sisters Lana and Lilly Wachowski who created and wrote the billion dollar trilogy and the pair are returning to helm the fourth film which began filming in San Francisco in February (pictured) 

Shadows is compiled of dark silhouette images of Reeves taken by Grant and poetry written by the Matrix actor.

Grant told the LA Times of her collaborator: ‘No one can move the way he can. He’s a really extreme performer. That’s a huge piece of why those images are so interesting…

‘I knew that if I moved the camera as we danced together, as photographer and subject, we could create these wonderful optical illusions.’

The two founded publishing company X Artists’ Books in 2017, with a focus on ‘unusual collaborations’ and books that ‘don’t really have a place because they’re between genres’.

Low-key: Keanu was casually clad as he arrived in Germany

Low-key: Keanu was casually clad as he arrived in Germany 

The Young And The Restless to resume filming on ‘July 6’


The Young and the Restless has been tipped to be the second U.S. daytime drama to return to filming, following COVID-19 production lockdown

The show in its 47th season, which was recently renewed through to 2024, is rumored to begin taping on July 6, 2020, according to Deadline. 

Cast and crew members have been sent letters informing them of the start date, according to reports. 

It’s back! The Young And The Restless is rumored to begin filming again on July 6, following production shutdowns amid the coronavirus pandemic

The publication reports that the date of July 6 was listed as a ‘goal’ rather than a firm start date. 

It comes after fellow CBS show, The Bold and the Beautiful, returned to production last week for a one-day shoot. 

They filmed the show before taking a step back to review the work and test protocols.

Longtime! The Young And The Restless first aired back in 1972  (pictured in 2019 -  stars Melody Thomas Scott and Eric Braeden who have celebrated 40 years on the show)

Longtime! The Young And The Restless first aired back in 1972  (pictured in 2019 –  stars Melody Thomas Scott and Eric Braeden who have celebrated 40 years on the show) 

Staying put! The Young And The Restless was renewed for four more years by CBS (cast pictured in 2019)

Staying put! The Young And The Restless was renewed for four more years by CBS (cast pictured in 2019) 

Both The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful air on CBS and were created by husband and wife William J. Bell and the late Lee Phillip, who passed away at the age of 91 in February. 

Bell-Phillip Television produces The Bold and the Beautiful while Sony Pictures Television is in charge of The Young and the Restless.  

The Young and the Restless has claimed the accolade of being the top rated daytime drama for the past three decades. 

And back in January, CBS ensured the soap would live on, renewing it for four more years, through to the 2023-24 broadcast season.

Great start: Eva Longoria (pictured 2002 with Doug Davidson) was one of the many actors who have made their start on the daytime soap

Great start: Eva Longoria (pictured 2002 with Doug Davidson) was one of the many actors who have made their start on the daytime soap 

All-star cast: Last year saw Criminal Minds star, Shermar Moore returned to The Young and the Restless for a two-day guest appearance (pictured September 2019)

All-star cast: Last year saw Criminal Minds star, Shermar Moore returned to The Young and the Restless for a two-day guest appearance (pictured September 2019) 

‘Having the #1 show for any length of time is a tremendous accomplishment,’ said Kelly Kahl, President of CBS Entertainment, at the time. 

‘But The Young And The Restless has been daytime’s top drama for over three decades. The last time any other show was on top, Ronald Reagan was president and the Berlin Wall was still standing.’

‘It’s a remarkable achievement and a testament to the extraordinary cast, gifted writers, talented producers, and supremely passionate fans, as well as our tremendous partnership with Sony Pictures Television,’ he added.

Steve Kent, senior executive vice president of programming for Sony Pictures Television, was equally as enthusiastic about the renewal.

‘We are thrilled to continue the legacy of The Young And The Restless at CBS, as this renewal will take us to our 50th anniversary in 2023, and beyond,’ he said as reported by People.

The best of the best: 'Having the #1 show for any length of time is a tremendous accomplishment,' said Kelly Kahl, President of CBS Entertainment, back in January ( pictured: Mishael Morgan, Bryton James, Victoria Rowell, Christel Khalil, and Daniel Goddard - remembers Kristoff St. John, in 2019)

The best of the best: ‘Having the #1 show for any length of time is a tremendous accomplishment,’ said Kelly Kahl, President of CBS Entertainment, back in January ( pictured: Mishael Morgan, Bryton James, Victoria Rowell, Christel Khalil, and Daniel Goddard – remembers Kristoff St. John, in 2019)

Going strong! The Young and the Restless had their 5000th episode back in 1992

Going strong! The Young and the Restless had their 5000th episode back in 1992 

‘The iconic characters created by William J. Bell and Lee Philip Bell 47 years ago continue to captivate audiences in the U.S. and across the globe, and we look forward to building on the dynamic storylines featuring these beloved characters.’  

Y&R has been a mainstay of the CBS daytime schedule since it premieres way back in March 1973.  

And during that time there have been a number of cast members who been with the show for the long haul.  

Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman) just celebrated 40 years; Eric Braeden (Victor Newman) will hit his 40th anniversary in February; Peter Bergman (Jack Abbott) has notched 30 years; Sharon Case (Sharon Newman) and Joshua Morrow (Nicholas Newman) each have 25 years; and Bryton James (Devon Hamilton) has been on the show for 15 years.

The Young And The Restless currently leads all other daytime dramas in viewers (4.11 million), as well as with women ages 25-54 and 18-49.  

The Young And The Restless premiere back in 1973; the cast are pictured in April 1974; (pictured back row, from left to right): Lee Crawford (as Sally McGuire), Donnelly Rhodes (as Phillip Chancellor) and Jeanne Cooper (as Kay, Katherine Chancellor). Middle row, James Houghton (as Greg Foster), William Greg Espy (as Snapper Foster), Trish Stewart (as Chris Brooks) and Jaime Lyn Bauer (as Lorie Brooks). Front row, Brenda Dickson (as Jill Foster Abbott), Julianna McCarthy (as Liz Foster Brooks), Robert Colbert (as Stuart Brooks), Dorothy Green (as Jennifer Brooks) and Janice Lynde (as Leslie Brooks)

The Young And The Restless premiere back in 1973; the cast are pictured in April 1974; (pictured back row, from left to right): Lee Crawford (as Sally McGuire), Donnelly Rhodes (as Phillip Chancellor) and Jeanne Cooper (as Kay, Katherine Chancellor). Middle row, James Houghton (as Greg Foster), William Greg Espy (as Snapper Foster), Trish Stewart (as Chris Brooks) and Jaime Lyn Bauer (as Lorie Brooks). Front row, Brenda Dickson (as Jill Foster Abbott), Julianna McCarthy (as Liz Foster Brooks), Robert Colbert (as Stuart Brooks), Dorothy Green (as Jennifer Brooks) and Janice Lynde (as Leslie Brooks)

Measles first spread to humans from cattle more than 2,500 years ago


Measles first spread to humans from cattle more than 2,500 years ago, likely during the rise of the first large cities, scientists claim.

The measles virus, measles morbillivirus, diverged from a closely related cattle-infecting virus in approximately the sixth century BC – around 1,400 years earlier than current estimates.

The highly-contagious virus emerged at roughly the same time that large urban centres were starting to spring up throughout Eurasia and South and East Asia, the experts say. 

The discovery is based on a genome of measles extracted from lung tissue, more than a century old, taken from a patient in Berlin in 1912.

The team of researchers sequenced the DNA of the unfortunate patient’s measles strain and looked backwards to assess when the virus likely arose in human populations.

After comparing the sequencing data to a more recent viral genome, the research team estimated an emergence date of 528 BC, during the Iron Age.   

Formalin-fixed lung of 1912 measles patient, from which researchers extracted a genome for their study. The team sequenced the genome and looked backwards to assess when the virus likely arose in human populations, dating this at around the sixth century BC

Similar research methods could reveal more about how and when zoonotic diseases – those that pass from animals to humans – emerged, including Covid-19.

The current global health pandemic is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 strain of coronavirus, which is thought to have been transmitted from bats to humans via an ‘intermediary animal’ in China.

Understanding the emergence and evolution of human pathogens plays a pivotal role in predicting the trajectories of outbreaks, according to scientists. 

Many infectious diseases arose after the Stone Age revolution, when hunter gatherers turned to farming. 

‘Although it is broadly accepted this also applies to measles, the exact date of emergence for this disease is controversial,’ said study author Dr Sebastien Calvignac-Spencer, an epidemiologist at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, whose research has published in Science.

A measles rash. Measles belongs to a group of diseases called morbilliviruses. They are found in various mammals - and are adept at jumping from one host species to another

A measles rash. Measles belongs to a group of diseases called morbilliviruses. They are found in various mammals – and are adept at jumping from one host species to another

Autopsy report for 1912 measles case archived by the Berlin Museum of Medical History of the Charité. To get a better fix on the origins of measles, researchers reconstructed the measles virus genome using lung samples collected from a 1912 measles case

Autopsy report for 1912 measles case archived by the Berlin Museum of Medical History of the Charité. To get a better fix on the origins of measles, researchers reconstructed the measles virus genome using lung samples collected from a 1912 measles case

Measles: a highly contagious disease 

Measles belongs to a group of diseases called morbilliviruses.

They are found in various mammals – and are adept at jumping from one host species to another.

The common ancestor of measles was a virus that jumped into humans after cattle were domesticated.

It is known non-human morbilliviruses can easily adapt to enter human cells.

There are fears relatives of measles could jump from animals to us today.

Despite immunisation programmes incidence has recently been on the rise from 2017 compared with 2018. 

In 2018 there were 9.8 million cases of measles and 142,000 deaths, according to estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.

In 2017, there were 7.6 million cases of measles and 124,000 deaths.

‘The results paint a new portrait of the evolutionary history of the measles virus.

‘They support a scenario where a bovine virus ancestor circulated among cattle for thousands of years, before jumping to humans once settlements began to surge in size in the late first millennium BC.

‘Our analyses show the measles virus potentially arose as early as the sixth century BC, possibly coinciding with the rise of large cities.’

The earliest clear clinical description of measles is often attributed to the legendary Persian doctor Al-Razi, or Rhazes, who ran a hospital in Bagdhad in the tenth century AD.

‘But Rhazes was extremely familiar with all available medical literature at his time and made use of earlier sources,’ said Dr Calvignac-Spencer.

‘Indian medical texts possibly describe measles several centuries before Rhazes.’

The measles virus is a prime target for both health authorities and scientists seeking to define the evolutionary paths of common human pathogens.

Researchers had long suspected that the measles virus emerged when the now-eradicated ‘rinderpest’ virus – German for ‘cattle-plague’ – spilled over from cattle into human populations.

This was previously thought to have happened around the end of the ninth century AD.

To learn more on the origins of measles, Dr Calvignac-Spencer and colleagues reconstructed the measles virus genome using lung samples collected from a 1912 measles case, housed at the Berlin Museum of Medical History of the Charité.

Specimens in the basement of the museum in Berlin, which features a variety of special exhibitions on medical science and history

Specimens in the basement of the museum in Berlin, which features a variety of special exhibitions on medical science and history

The lung specimen encased in formaldehyde, also known as formalin, to preserve the proteins and vital structures within the tissue

The lung specimen encased in formaldehyde, also known as formalin, to preserve the proteins and vital structures within the tissue

They then compared sequencing data to a 1960 measles genome, 127 modern measles genomes and genomes from rinderpest and another cattle virus named PPRV.

Using a series of evolutionary and molecular clock models, the researchers traced the emergence of measles in humans between the years 1,174 BC and 165 BC, with a mean estimate of 528 BC.

The authors speculate a scenario where a bovine virus ancestor circulated among cattle for thousands of years, before jumping to humans once settlements began to surge in size in the late first millennium BC.

Virologists Professor Simon Ho of the University of Sydney and Dr Sebastian Duchene of the University of Melbourne, who were not involved in the study, said the research could better explain how pathogens jump from animals to humans.

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the People's Liberation Army and Institut Pasteur of Shanghai came to the conclusion that SARS-CoV-2 (pictured) may have come from bats

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the People’s Liberation Army and Institut Pasteur of Shanghai came to the conclusion that SARS-CoV-2 (pictured) may have come from bats

‘Dating analyses of pathogens have come under the spotlight in the ongoing pandemic,’ they write in an accompanying piece in Science.

‘Further genomic data from historical and ancient samples, along with more comprehensive and intensive surveys of viruses harboured in wildlife, will lead to continued refinements of the time scales of emergence and evolution of human pathogens.

‘In turn, these refinements will improve our understanding of the circumstances under which pathogens emerge in their hosts and the mechanisms by which they do so.’

Since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in Wuhan, China late last year there’s been much uncertainty surrounding the virus’s origin.

A previous report from scientists said the virus is 96 per cent identical to one found in bats, although this is yet to be officially confirmed as the source.

While it was initially assumed that the virus passed to humans in a Wuhan wet market, a scaled, more recent studies have pointed to an anteater-like animal called a pangolin being the intermediary animal.

Pangolins are consumed as food in China and are also used in traditional medicine.

Professor Ho said the human SARS-CoV-2 virus split from its closest known relative – another coronavirus from a horseshoe bat – about 30 to 40 years ago, but the jump to humans most likely happened more recently.

‘Had the coronavirus jumped from its animal host to a human much earlier than November or December last year, it probably would have been detected,’ he said.

Scientists in China believe SARS-CoV-2 came from bats

The human COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 virus split from its closest known relative ¿ another coronavirus from a horseshoe bat (pictured) ¿ about 30 to 40 years ago, according to University of Sydney Professor Simon Hothe jump to humans most likely happened more recently

The human COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 virus split from its closest known relative – another coronavirus from a horseshoe bat (pictured) – about 30 to 40 years ago, according to University of Sydney Professor Simon Hothe jump to humans most likely happened more recently

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the People’s Liberation Army and Institut Pasteur of Shanghai came to the conclusion that the coronavirus may have come from bats.

In a statement, the team said: ‘The Wuhan coronavirus’ natural host could be bats… but between bats and humans there may be an unknown intermediate.

Research published in the Lancet also determined bats as the most probable original host of the virus after samples were taken from the lungs of nine patients in Wuhan.

The team suggested that bats passed the disease on to an ‘intermediate’ host which was at the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan before being passed on to the ‘terminal host’ — humans.

Authorities have pointed the blame on food markets in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak that scientists are scrambling to contain.

Rodents and bats among other animals are slaughtered and sold in traditional ‘wet markets’, which tourists flock to see the ‘real’ side of the country. 

Putin ordered assassination of Georgian rebel leader who was gunned down by hitman in Berlin park


German prosecutors have filed murder charges against a Russian man accused of the brazen daylight slaying in Berlin of a Georgian man last year.

The victim, Tornike K., who also has widely been identified in reports on the killing as Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, was a Georgian citizen of Chechen ethnicity who fought against Russian troops in Chechnya.

He was shot through the head in a Berlin park last August by a man on a bicycle who was later seen throwing a wig into the nearby River Spree. 

On Thursday, federal prosecutors filed charges of murder and a violation of weapons laws against a Russian citizen they identified as Vadim K., alias Vadim S.

They also said the killing was ordered by the Russian state, led by Vladimir Putin – adding to tensions between the two countries.  

German prosecutors have filed murder charges against a Russian man accused of the brazen daylight slaying in Berlin of a Georgian man Zelimkhan Khangoshvili (right) last year. He was a confidant of the Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov (left) who was killed by Russian forces in 2005

The case prompted Germany in December to expel two Russian diplomats, citing a lack of cooperation with the investigation of the Aug. 23 killing.

Khangoshvili had previously survived multiple assassination attempts and continued to receive threats after fleeing to Germany in 2016. 

Prosecutors said that, at some point before mid-July last year, ‘state agencies of the central government of the Russian Federation’ tasked Vadim K. with ‘liquidating’ the victim.

The suspect ‘accepted the state killing assignment,’ prosecutors said in a statement.

‘He either hoped for a financial reward or he shared the motives of those who tasked him to kill a political opponent and take revenge for his participation in earlier conflicts with Russia.’

He was shot through the head in a Berlin park last August by a man on a bicycle who was later seen throwing a wig into the nearby River Spree

He was shot through the head in a Berlin park last August by a man on a bicycle who was later seen throwing a wig into the nearby River Spree 

Proseutors say that the killer approached Tornike K. from behind on a bike in the small Kleiner Tiergarten park and shot him three times. 

The suspect was arrested near the scene shortly afterwards and has been in custody ever since. 

Russia’s ambassador was called in to the foreign ministry in Berlin again on Thursday. 

Khangoshvili was a confidant of the rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov, who had declared jihad on Vladimir Putin’s forces in 1999, the BBC reported. 

On Thursday, federal prosecutors filed charges of murder and a violation of weapons laws against a Russian citizen they identified as Vadim K., alias Vadim S (pictured: a police diver searching for evidence in the river Spree. They found a silenced Glock 26, a bicycle and a wig)

On Thursday, federal prosecutors filed charges of murder and a violation of weapons laws against a Russian citizen they identified as Vadim K., alias Vadim S (pictured: a police diver searching for evidence in the river Spree. They found a silenced Glock 26, a bicycle and a wig)

Maskhadov was killed in an FSB raid in 2005 after waging a formidable guerrilla war on Putin’s troops.

Khangoshvili was on a German anti-terror watch list at one time, according to Spiegel, but later removed for a lack of evidence.

Sources said he was not considered an Islamist threat.

‘He was a religious man who went to the mosque,’ an intelligence source who worked with Khangoshvili in the Caucasus told the magazine, ‘But he was not radical.’

The murder of Khangoshvili was branded a ‘second Skripal case’ after Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with the Russian nerve agent Novichok in Salisbury in the UK.  

The incident sparked international outcry and in the following months former British Prime Minister Theresa May said the attack was ‘almost certainly’ approved at a senior level of the Russian state. 

They also said the killing was ordered by the Russian state, led by Vladimir Putin - adding to tensions between the two countries

They also said the killing was ordered by the Russian state, led by Vladimir Putin – adding to tensions between the two countries

Referring to the Berlin murder, an intelligence source told Spiegel: ‘If it turns out that a state player like Russia is behind this, we have a second Skripal case on our hands, with everything that entails.’  

The murder case and alleged Russian involvement in the 2015 hacking of the German parliament have weighed on relations between the two countries in recent months. 

Last month, Germany said it was seeking European Union sanctions against a Russian man over his alleged role in the hacking.

Speaking to reporters in Vienna on Thursday, after the prosecutors’ announcement, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said: ‘We once again invited the Russian ambassador for a meeting at the foreign ministry today to make our position unmistakably clear again to the Russian side, and the German government expressly reserves the right to take further measures in this case.’

Coronavirus: Berlin households in lockdown after positive tests


Authorities in Berlin have placed 369 households under quarantine after dozens of people tested positive for coronavirus.

Officials in the southern district of Neukoelln said the outbreak involved homes in seven different locations and in some cases with 10 people living together.

Berlin’s top health official, Dilek Kalayci, urged those residing in the German capital to use a new government-backed contact tracing app, rolled out today, to help limit the spread of the virus.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Berlin today, where 369 households have been placed under quarantine

As of Monday, Berlin had recorded a cumulative total of 7,368 cases of Covid-19 and 208 deaths since the outbreak began. 

Nationwide, meanwhile, Germany has seen 188,044 positive cases and 8,885 deaths.

Officials say the new tracing app is so secure that even government ministers can use it – although developers acknowledge it is not perfect yet.

Smartphone apps have been touted as a hi-tech tool in the effort to track down potential Covid-19 infections. 

Experts say finding new cases quickly is key to clamping down on fresh clusters, especially as countries slowly emerge from lockdowns and try to avoid a second wave of infections and deaths.

But governments in Europe have run into legal and cultural hurdles trying to reconcile the need for effective tracing with the continent’s strict data privacy standards.

Germany, where a person’s right to their own data even after death is rooted in the constitution, has proved a particular challenge. 

Early government suggestions to use mobile phone tower information and GPS co-ordinates for the app prompted a swift backlash.

‘Tracking where a person is in real time, that does remind us of China and its surveillance system,’ said Frederick Richter, who heads the independent Foundation for Data Protection.

It also recalls Germany’s own history of dictatorships. Both the Nazis and East Germany’s communist regime amassed vast amounts of information to persecute dissidents and undesirables.

‘That’s why we have always been very sensitive in Germany when it comes to the state collecting information on its citizens,’ Mr Richter said.

Like many other European tracing apps, Germany’s system now relies on low-energy Bluetooth technology that is standard in modern smartphones. 

As of Monday, Berlin had recorded a cumulative total of 7,368 cases of Covid-19 and 188,044 nationwide, as shown in a graph, pictured

As of Monday, Berlin had recorded a cumulative total of 7,368 cases of Covid-19 and 188,044 nationwide, as shown in a graph, pictured

As of Monday, Berlin had recorded a cumulative total of 208 deaths, with 8,885 nationwide, as shown in a graph, pictured

As of Monday, Berlin had recorded a cumulative total of 208 deaths, with 8,885 nationwide, as shown in a graph, pictured

The app scans the user’s surroundings and records which other smartphones with the app are nearby and for how long.

If someone using the Corona-Warn-App tests positive for Covid-19, they can inform others who were in close proximity for at least 15 minutes that they might be infected.

Developers say their most recent tests correctly identified 80 per cent of people’s contacts. 

That still leaves 20 per cent who were either not recognised as having been close to an infected person or deemed exposed even though they were more than two meters away.

‘This app is no cure-all, it doesn’t give you a free ride,’ said health minister Jens Spahn, noting that face masks and manual tracing will still be required. 

‘But it’s an important tool to contain the pandemic.’

He acknowledged there was likely to be an increase in people seeking to get tested because of the app. ‘I’d rather a test too many than a test too few,’ said Mr Spahn.

Concerns have also been raised about the hotline some users will need to call to get their positive test result recorded in the app. 

This opens the door to trolls who could try to trick hotline staff, setting off a cascade of consequences for everyone they were close to in restaurants, supermarkets or public transport.

Opposition parties have called for a law to ensure private businesses do not try to push customers or employees into using the app, either through incentives or sanctions.

A phone showing the newly-released 'Corona-Warn-App' developed by the German government for tracking Covid-19 infections during the coronavirus pandemic, which was rolled out today

A phone showing the newly-released ‘Corona-Warn-App’ developed by the German government for tracking Covid-19 infections during the coronavirus pandemic, which was rolled out today

The German government insisted that ‘voluntary means voluntary’ and the app would be continually improved.

Asked whether the app meets security standards for top-tier officials, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said the country’s IT security agency has been involved from the start.

‘I presume that from their side there can be an unreserved recommendation to members of the federal government to use this app,’ said the spokesman, Bjoern Gruenewaelder.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Buedenbender, a judge, announced they were using the app.

Sceptics are more likely to be reassured by Germany’s Chaos Computer Club, which bills itself as Europe’s largest hackers association. The group has a history of punching holes in government and corporate IT systems and of campaigning against surveillance technology.

Linus Neuman, a club spokesman, praised the German app developers’ transparency for using the coding site Github to let the public look over their shoulder and recommend improvements.

He also suggested that choosing to store data only on people’s phones, rather than on central servers the way France has done, would help minimise privacy risks.

‘We can’t guarantee that someone won’t find a weak spot in (the code) tomorrow,’ said Mr Neumann. 

‘But we can say that these weak spots will have a lower overall risk than if the German government had pursued a centralised approach.’

The German government says its app cost 20 million euros (£18 million) to develop and will require 2.5 million to 3.5 million euros per month to operate. It is available in German and English, with Turkish and other languages to follow.

Hundreds of households in Berlin are locked down after dozens of people test positive for Covid-19


Authorities in Berlin have placed 369 households under quarantine after dozens of people tested positive for coronavirus.

Officials in the southern district of Neukoelln said the outbreak involved homes in seven different locations and in some cases with 10 people living together.

Berlin’s top health official, Dilek Kalayci, urged those residing in the German capital to use a new government-backed contact tracing app, rolled out today, to help limit the spread of the virus.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Berlin today, where 369 households have been placed under quarantine

As of Monday, Berlin had recorded a cumulative total of 7,368 cases of Covid-19 and 208 deaths since the outbreak began. 

Nationwide, meanwhile, Germany has seen 188,044 positive cases and 8,885 deaths.

Officials say the new tracing app is so secure that even government ministers can use it – although developers acknowledge it is not perfect yet.

Smartphone apps have been touted as a hi-tech tool in the effort to track down potential Covid-19 infections. 

Experts say finding new cases quickly is key to clamping down on fresh clusters, especially as countries slowly emerge from lockdowns and try to avoid a second wave of infections and deaths.

But governments in Europe have run into legal and cultural hurdles trying to reconcile the need for effective tracing with the continent’s strict data privacy standards.

Germany, where a person’s right to their own data even after death is rooted in the constitution, has proved a particular challenge. 

Early government suggestions to use mobile phone tower information and GPS co-ordinates for the app prompted a swift backlash.

‘Tracking where a person is in real time, that does remind us of China and its surveillance system,’ said Frederick Richter, who heads the independent Foundation for Data Protection.

It also recalls Germany’s own history of dictatorships. Both the Nazis and East Germany’s communist regime amassed vast amounts of information to persecute dissidents and undesirables.

‘That’s why we have always been very sensitive in Germany when it comes to the state collecting information on its citizens,’ Mr Richter said.

Like many other European tracing apps, Germany’s system now relies on low-energy Bluetooth technology that is standard in modern smartphones. 

As of Monday, Berlin had recorded a cumulative total of 7,368 cases of Covid-19 and 188,044 nationwide, as shown in a graph, pictured

As of Monday, Berlin had recorded a cumulative total of 7,368 cases of Covid-19 and 188,044 nationwide, as shown in a graph, pictured

As of Monday, Berlin had recorded a cumulative total of 208 deaths, with 8,885 nationwide, as shown in a graph, pictured

As of Monday, Berlin had recorded a cumulative total of 208 deaths, with 8,885 nationwide, as shown in a graph, pictured

The app scans the user’s surroundings and records which other smartphones with the app are nearby and for how long.

If someone using the Corona-Warn-App tests positive for Covid-19, they can inform others who were in close proximity for at least 15 minutes that they might be infected.

Developers say their most recent tests correctly identified 80 per cent of people’s contacts. 

That still leaves 20 per cent who were either not recognised as having been close to an infected person or deemed exposed even though they were more than two meters away.

‘This app is no cure-all, it doesn’t give you a free ride,’ said health minister Jens Spahn, noting that face masks and manual tracing will still be required. 

‘But it’s an important tool to contain the pandemic.’

He acknowledged there was likely to be an increase in people seeking to get tested because of the app. ‘I’d rather a test too many than a test too few,’ said Mr Spahn.

Concerns have also been raised about the hotline some users will need to call to get their positive test result recorded in the app. 

This opens the door to trolls who could try to trick hotline staff, setting off a cascade of consequences for everyone they were close to in restaurants, supermarkets or public transport.

Opposition parties have called for a law to ensure private businesses do not try to push customers or employees into using the app, either through incentives or sanctions.

A phone showing the newly-released 'Corona-Warn-App' developed by the German government for tracking Covid-19 infections during the coronavirus pandemic, which was rolled out today

A phone showing the newly-released ‘Corona-Warn-App’ developed by the German government for tracking Covid-19 infections during the coronavirus pandemic, which was rolled out today

The German government insisted that ‘voluntary means voluntary’ and the app would be continually improved.

Asked whether the app meets security standards for top-tier officials, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said the country’s IT security agency has been involved from the start.

‘I presume that from their side there can be an unreserved recommendation to members of the federal government to use this app,’ said the spokesman, Bjoern Gruenewaelder.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Buedenbender, a judge, announced they were using the app.

Sceptics are more likely to be reassured by Germany’s Chaos Computer Club, which bills itself as Europe’s largest hackers association. The group has a history of punching holes in government and corporate IT systems and of campaigning against surveillance technology.

Linus Neuman, a club spokesman, praised the German app developers’ transparency for using the coding site Github to let the public look over their shoulder and recommend improvements.

He also suggested that choosing to store data only on people’s phones, rather than on central servers the way France has done, would help minimise privacy risks.

‘We can’t guarantee that someone won’t find a weak spot in (the code) tomorrow,’ said Mr Neumann. 

‘But we can say that these weak spots will have a lower overall risk than if the German government had pursued a centralised approach.’

The German government says its app cost 20 million euros (£18 million) to develop and will require 2.5 million to 3.5 million euros per month to operate. It is available in German and English, with Turkish and other languages to follow.

How hotels plan to keep us safe from COVID-19 this summer


Hotels will be dramatically different when their doors reopen. Here’s how they plan to keep us safe this summer…

  • Most hotels plan table service for breakfast and you may have to book a time slot
  • Rooms are likely to get minimalist makeovers and mini-bars may be empty
  • The big chains are arming housekeeping with ‘hospital- quality’ disinfectants

Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at an important holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: how hotels are adapting as guests return.

It will be check-in, but not as we know it. Hotels will be dramatically different when their doors reopen. Here’s how they plan to keep us safe this summer…

Smiles from staff may be hidden by face masks, even if they are the colourful, designer ones that match the uniforms at fashion-conscious Kempinski Hotels from Berlin to Bangkok. And at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo on Lake Como, equally stylish face coverings designed by a local artist are given to guests.

Room service is expected to boom as guests shun potentially busy restaurants

Traditional welcome mats may get an anti-viral upgrade. The Madrid-based Room Mate chain is installing germ-busting carpets at the doors of its hotels from Milan to Miami. The idea is that the ‘diluted bleach mats’ help disinfect shoes as guests walk across.

In Croatia, staff at the Hotel Dubrovnik Palace will spray disinfectant over your luggage before you go to your room.

Hotels everywhere will focus on ‘high-touch’ areas such as lift buttons, door handles and hand rails, so expect to see a lot more spraying and polishing. The big chains are arming housekeeping staff with upgraded ‘hospital- quality’ disinfectants for rooms.

The Magnolia Hotel on Portugal’s Algarve goes further. It is offering to launder the clothes you arrive in so you can be sure that you’re bug- and crease-free after your journey.

Check-in itself is likely to become increasingly automated. Forget queuing at reception to get a key card. Hilton, Marriott and others let you choose rooms online or on their app. Or ignore key cards and open your room with your phone at Hilton hotels, Preferred Hotels properties from St Lucia to St Tropez, and Disney World sites.

In the UK, the six Pig hotels, including The Pig-on the Beach on Dorset’s Studland Bay, are employing new, full-time cleaners for public areas. If you want to avoid all staff contact, many hotels plan to offer ‘Do Not Enter My Room’ policies that last the length of a stay.

Designer: A trendy mask at a Kempinski hotel

Designer: A trendy mask at a Kempinski hotel

If you want new towels, for example, simply put old ones in bags provided and replacements will be left outside your door.

Room service is expected to boom as guests shun potentially busy restaurants. Grantley Hall in Yorkshire is setting a trend by removing the tray charge for in-room dining and allowing guests to order from any of its four restaurants rather than a limited room-service menu.

Sadly, breakfast buffets are unlikely to survive anywhere. Most hotels plan table service and you may have to book a time slot to eat. Later in the day, you may also have to book a sunlounger rather than leaving a towel on it. Kilronan Castle in north west Ireland may even use apps to reserve spots in its spa and by its pool.

The risk of having noisy neighbours could fall as hotels in the Balearics can be only 50 per cent full to comply with social-distancing rules.

Rooms across the globe are likely to get minimalist makeovers, with the removal of items previous guests may have touched. 

Expect fewer scatter cushions, no hotel pens, magazines or tourist guides. Mini-bars may be empty and anyone hoping for a chocolate on their pillow may find a sachet of antibacterial wipes instead.

Covid-19 R rate rises to 1.95 in Berlin: Authorities switch ‘traffic light’ warning systems to red


The Covid-19 R rate has risen to 1.95 in Berlin prompting authorities to switch one of their ‘corona traffic light’ warning systems to red.

The number of active cases in the German capital rose to more than 300 on Tuesday, with another 35 cases recorded as compared with 23 new cases the day before.

Berlin’s Health Senator Dilek Kalayci warned there had been a ‘turnaround’ in the city, just days after he expressed his ‘horror’ after thousands went out to enjoy the weekend’s sunny weather. 

On Sunday, a protest in support of the city’s club scene turned into a huge techno party with up to 3,000 people attending in the Kreuzberg district. 

Kalayci said today that the R number was more likely to fluctuate while the total number of infections was low, but added that ‘the number of new infections is increasing, so that you can recognise a change of trend.’

The R rate in Germany as a whole is at 0.89 and would be classed as a green light (anything under 1.1).

But Berlin’s R rate is one of three traffic lights which must turn red before lockdown changes are implemented in the city. The other two being for new infections and for the proportion of intensive care patients with coronavirus.

People attend a rave in boats of all sizes to give support to Berlin’s world renowned dance clubs which are struggling due to coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on the Landwehr canal on Sunday

Thousands attended a party on Berlin's Landwehr canal on Sunday

Thousands attended a party on Berlin’s Landwehr canal on Sunday

There were 5.1 new cases per 100,000 Berliners over the last seven days – this traffic light turns red at 30 cases – and the proportion of ICU patients is at 3.3% – the light goes red at 25%. 

WHAT IS THE R NUMBER?

Every infectious disease is given a reproduction number, which is known as R0 – pronounced ‘R nought’ – or simply R.

It is a value that represents how many people one sick person will, on average, infect if the virus is reproducing in its ideal conditions.

Most epidemiologists – scientists who track disease outbreaks – believe the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, has an R value of around 3.

But some experts analysing outbreaks across the world have estimated it could be closer to the 6.6 mark.

As an outbreak goes on, the R0 may be referred to more accurately as Re or just R, as other factors come into play to influence how well it is able to spread. 

Estimates of the COVID-19 R vary because the true size of the pandemic remains a mystery, and how fast the virus spreads depends on the environment. 

As an outbreak progress the R may simply be referred to as R, which means the effective rate of infection – the nought works on the premise that nobody in the population is protected, which becomes outdated as more people recover. 

Germany as a whole recorded another 213 cases on Tuesday, with 11 new fatalities.

It comes as the country announced it would lift a travel ban for EU member states, plus Britain, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland from June 15. 

Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, foreign minister Heiko Maas said this was contingent on there being no entry bans or large-scale lockdowns in those countries.

Maas said all countries concerned met those criteria except Norway due to an entry ban and Spain, where he said parliament was deciding whether to extend an entry ban.

Maas said the travel warning would be replaced with guidelines, adding that Germans would be urged not to travel to Britain when not essential while a 14-day quarantine in place.

‘Travel advice is not an invitation to travel – and we want to make clear that the travel guidelines may also strongly discourage travel, for example to Britain as long as there is a 14-day quarantine for all those arriving there,’ Maas said.

‘We will continue to make the lifting of the travel warning dependent on how the situation on the ground develops,’ he said, adding new warnings could be issued if a country records more than 50 newly infected people per 100,000 over seven days.

Matthias von Randow, chief executive of the German Air Transport Association (BDL), welcomed the government’s decision to lift the blanket warning, introduced for travel worldwide in mid-March, as ‘sensible and proportionate’.

‘This is a good signal for the many people in Europe who want to go on holiday in the summer or visit friends and relatives abroad,’ he said.

‘It is also good news for 26 million men and women employed in the European travel and tourism industry’.

As Germany looks to breathe life into its tourism industry, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition today wrestled over the final details of a massive stimulus package. 

People relaxing at the Holzmarkt venue watch as a techno music thumping houseboat sails past on the Spree River during the coronavirus crisis on Sunday

People relaxing at the Holzmarkt venue watch as a techno music thumping houseboat sails past on the Spree River during the coronavirus crisis on Sunday

The number of people out of work in May rose by 238,000 to 2.875 million in seasonally adjusted terms, the data showed. A Reuters poll had predicted a rise of 200,000.

The unemployment rate jumped to 6.3% from 5.8% in April.

‘The labour market remains under immense pressure due to the coronavirus pandemic,’ Labour Office head Detlef Scheele said. But he added that unemployment did not rise as much as in April.

Companies logged requests to put 1.06 million people on reduced working hours under the government’s Kurzarbeit short-time working scheme from May 1 to May 27, the office said.

That was in addition to requests for 10.66 million people made in March and April combined, the labour office said, adding that this did not, however, mean that all of those people would actually end up on the scheme.

Audi employees working at a factory in Ingolstadt on Wednesday

Audi employees working at a factory in Ingolstadt on Wednesday

Football fans take in a match at an outdoor drive-in cinema in Cologne on Tuesday evening

Football fans take in a match at an outdoor drive-in cinema in Cologne on Tuesday evening

‘Short-time work has clearly exceeded the level of the 2009 crisis,’ Scheele said. Around 1.5 million people were on the programme back then.

Short-time work is a form of state aid that allows employers to switch employees to shorter working hours during an economic downturn to keep them on the payroll.

A poll by the Ifo economic institute published on Tuesday showed the number of workers in Germany on reduced hours had risen to 7.3 million as the pandemic affects most sectors.