At a protest near Beijing’s representative office in Hong Kong last week, some demonstrators tired to obey virus-related rules that ban public gatherings of more than eight people — by marching in bands of eight. One of them, the pro-democracy district councilor Lo Kin-hei, said on Twitter that he had been fined by the police anyway.
Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing government has extended the ban on large gatherings until June 4, the day of an annual candlelight vigil to commemorate the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989 is usually held at a local park. Protest organizers, who say that the timing is no coincidence, have called on residents to light candles across the city instead of gathering.
Earlier this month, traditional May 1 labor rallies across Europe were called off in many countries, but some people turned out anyway, with a number of them incorporating social distancing.
This week in Minneapolis, demonstrators wore face coverings, and some had hand sanitizer. Still, the group as a whole seemed to send a message that their desire for justice had outweighed any potential concerns about the virus.
Yet even as the pace of new infections quickens — with nearly 700,000 new known cases reported in the last week after the pathogen found greater footholds in Latin America and the Gulf States — many countries are sputtering into reopenings at what experts fear may be the worst time.
In India, a nation of 1.3 billion people, doctors fear that a lockdown that began two months ago and has deeply wounded the economy is being eased too soon. Migrant workers are reporting infections at an alarmingly high rate, leading to fresh outbreaks in villages across northern India. Public hospitals in Mumbai are so overwhelmed that patients have taken to sleeping on cardboard in the hallways.
Elsewhere in Asia, a major concern is Indonesia, the world’s fourth-mos-populous country, where the caseload has doubled since early this month to nearly 25,000. Health experts say even that doubling reflects the limits of testing rather than the true number of infections, and they are bracing for runaway transmission.
Still, the Indonesian government has said that national coronavirus restrictions, already a scattershot effort, must be relaxed to save the economy.
But other countries are already seeing their gradual reopenings as successful. Christian Drosten, Germany’s top virologist, said he believed the country might escape a second wave of coronavirus infections, with cases continuing to diminish even as the lockdown lifts.
“We are really in a good situation right now,” he told the newsmagazine Spiegel in an interview. “It is quite possible that the virus will now leave us alone for quite some time.”
When asked how long, he noted that the virus was not permanently banished, but said that Germany “might be able to avoid a second shutdown.”
According to the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s equivalent of the CDC, Germany’s coronavirus reproduction rate is at 0.61, close to the lowest since the outbreak began.
Our Berlin-based reporter Patrick Kingsley and Laetitia Vancon, a Times photojournalist, are driving more than 3,700 miles around Europe to document changes on a continent emerging from coronavirus lockdowns. Here is the second dispatch from their trip.
Clad in masks, the waiters were nervous. How would the diners see their smiles?
The sommelier wondered: How would he smell the wine?
The head chef worried: How ready was the new menu? Was the cold pea soup too salty? The ice cream too sweet?
Pauly Saal, one of Berlin’s most-lauded restaurants, was minutes from reopening. Staff members were glad to be back after a two-month shutdown — “a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel,” said one waiter, Dennis Rohde.
But they were anxious as well as excited. The authorities’ sudden decision to allow restaurants to reopen had left them with only 24 hours to perfect a radical revision of their working practice.
And amid a profound economic crisis, there was also a more existential question: With no tourists in the city, was there still a market for Michelin-starred gastronomy?
Like all German restaurants, Pauly Saal was abruptly ordered to close in March. After an easing of restrictions in Germany, it is reopening in a strange, changed world — a barometer of the extent to which fine dining can survive during a pandemic.
“It’s a completely different style,” said the restaurant’s longest-serving waiter, Michael Winterstein, who joined at its founding in 2012.
“And we have to make that work,” added Mr. Winterstein, once a professional composer, “without it looking like a medical station in a hospital.”
One in 10 diabetic patients with Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, died within a week of being hospitalized, according to a study published on Thursday by French researchers in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
Another 20 percent were put on ventilators to assist with breathing by the end of their first week in the hospital. Just 18 percent were discharged within a week.
“I don’t want to scare people, but what is true is we did not expect to see such high mortality, with 10 percent of people admitted dying in the first seven days,” said Dr. Samy Hadjadj, a professor of endocrinology at the University of Nantes in France and one of the authors of the paper.
A majority of patients in the study had Type 2 diabetes. Many people with diabetes also have a cardiovascular disease, which raises the risk of death in Covid-19 patients.
The new study, which included 1,317 patients at 53 French hospitals, found that microvascular injuries — involving tiny blood vessels supplying the eyes, kidneys and peripheral nerves — were also linked to a higher risk of death.
Obstructive sleep apnea also raised the risk of early death in these patients, while obesity and advanced age were linked to a greater likelihood of severe disease, the study found.
“This is serious,” Dr. Hadjadj said. “If you have diabetes and are elderly or have complications, be very careful. Keep away from the virus. Go on with social distancing, wash your hands carefully, keep people away who can bring you the virus.”
Dr. Hadjadj added, “You are not the kind of person who can afford to disregard these rules.”
Thailand could lose as many as 8.4 million jobs this year, many of them in the hard-hit tourism industry, officials said on Thursday, reflecting how much the pandemic has hurt a country that received nearly 40 million visitors last year.
The government hopes to stimulate employment through government spending, including a plan to boost domestic travel starting in July. But it has banned all foreign visitors until at least July because of the coronavirus, and the number of tourists in 2020 is expected to fall dramatically.
The plan to increase domestic tourism in the third quarter could include hotel room subsidies, according to local news reports. “Tourism should be a fast economic stimulator,” the head of the National Economic and Social Development Council, Thosaporn Sirisumphand, told reporters earlier this week. “If the situation improves, we may open for tourists to come in.”
Thailand, the first country outside China to report a case of the virus, has handled the pandemic better than most with measures such as closing schools, limiting business activity and imposing a nighttime curfew. It had 3,065 infections as of Thursday, including 57 deaths, and most new cases are Thais returning from abroad.
But before the virus struck, travel and tourism accounted for more than 20 percent of Thailand’s gross domestic product and employed nearly 16 percent of its work force. The nation’s flagship airline, Thai Airways, which was already suffering financially before it halted international flights in March, is now seeking rehabilitation in bankruptcy court.
It looked like any other Zoom meeting of the coronavirus era: blurry images of people on couches, and many shots so wide that they included more ceiling and wall than people.
But as Denmark’s top soccer league kicked off again on Thursday after an 80-day hiatus, those video feeds were part of a 40-meter-long “virtual grandstand” of spectators.
The screens at Ceres Park stadium displayed a changing selection of 10,000 live feeds from spectators’ homes. As the home team, AGF Aarhus, struggled against Randers — saving face with a last-minute equalizer that ended the match in a 1-1 tie — the fans’ faces alternated between joy and despair.
Mads Wessberg, an AGF supporter who was among the faces in the virtual grandstand, wore the team’s white jersey. Speaking with a local television station from his couch, beer in hand, he said he appreciated the invitation to see the game, but missed the rush he normally got from being in the stadium.
Ever since Denmark began a gradual reopening in mid-April, the rates of hospital admissions and Covid-19 deaths have been in steady decline. But even though shops, restaurants and schools are open again, restrictions are still in place for spectator sports and other large events, and the country’s borders remain closed to most travelers.
To make up for the lack of spectators in its stadium, AGF Aarhus has taken other measures besides the virtual grandstand. It added canned cheers and stadium noises, for example, plus a team of online moderators to filter out obscene gestures.
After Thursday’s match, the team’s coach, David Nielsen, praised the “somewhat alternative 2020 atmosphere.”
The $1,200 checks sent to most households are long gone, at least for those who needed them most, with little imminent prospect for a second round. The lending program that helped millions of small businesses keep workers on the payroll will wind down if Congress does not extend it.
The latest sign of the economic strain and the government’s role in easing it came Thursday, when the Labor Department reported that millions more Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week. More than 40 million people have filed for benefits since the crisis began, and some 30 million are receiving them.
Here’s what else is happening:
Eight dancers from the Ballet du Rhin were partway through a class at their studio in eastern France, recently, when the director, Bruno Bouché, asked them to perform a short routine, heavy on pirouettes, in socially distanced pairs.
Alice Pernão, 22, one of the first dancers to try, performed the spins with the relish of a dancer moving her limbs fully for the first time in months.
But as soon as she finished, Ms. Pernão performed a little extra routine that dancers worldwide might soon have to get used to: She flipped her face mask off an ear, and, breathing heavily, rushed back to her place at the barre to gulp down some water.
She then disinfected her hands with gel, put the mask back on, and tried to catch her breath for the next exercise.
The Ballet du Rhin, which is in Mulhouse, this month became the first company in France to return to work, having agreed on measures with the local authorities. Across Europe, other dance companies have also started practicing again to varying degrees.
Performances are still a long way off for most, although some theaters are reopening with social distancing. Austria is allowing events of up to 100 people starting Friday. On Tuesday, Bavaria announced that theaters in the German region could reopen on June 15, albeit for a maximum 50 people.
In the months after his mother died from the coronavirus, Veranda Chen searched daily for new distractions. He read Freud and experimented in the kitchen. He joked on WeChat about opening a restaurant. Its signature dish, he said, would be called “remembering past suffering, and thinking of present joy.”
But recently, cooking has lost its appeal. His mother used to ask him to cook for her, but he had said he was too busy applying for graduate school.
“I thought, ‘I’ll focus on getting into my dream school, and then after that, I can put all my time into doing the things they’d always asked me to,’” Mr. Chen, 24, said of his parents.
“Now, there’s no chance.”
Mr. Chen’s mother fell sick when the outbreak was at its height. An overwhelmed hospital turned her away on Feb. 5. She died in an ambulance on the way to another. She was 58.
She and Mr. Chen had been close, though they had often struggled to show it. She had insisted on saving money for his eventual wedding, rather than indulging a trip to the tropical island of Hainan. He considered her old-fashioned and often felt smothered.
After she died, he realized he had so many questions he had wanted to ask her — about her childhood, about his childhood, about how she had seen him change.
Mr. Chen had to learn to grieve in lockdown, when the usual rituals of mourning were impossible. He couldn’t see his friends. His father wasn’t around, either; he had tested positive and was in a hospital.
Mr. Chen turned to Tinder — not for romance but for conversation. “Sometimes, talking to strangers is easier than talking to friends,” he said. “They don’t know anything about your life.”
Now that Mr. Chen and his father are reunited, they, too, are searching for new ways to talk.
They don’t discuss his mother; his father finds it too painful. But Mr. Chen wants to invite his father to go fishing, and to ask him the questions he never asked his mother. He also wants to learn from him how to stir-fry tomatoes and eggs, a traditional dish his parents used to make.
He is most fixated on getting into a psychology program. After his mother’s death, that plan feels more urgent than ever. “I want to use it to ease other people’s suffering,” he said.
Reporting was contributed by Christopher F. Schuetze, Mike Ives, Elaine Yu, Sarah Mervosh, Megan Specia, Patrick Kingsley, Martin Selsoe Sorensen, Kai Schultz, Sameer Yasir, Vivian Wang, Richard C. Paddock, Roni Caryn Rabin, Jason Gutierrez, Choe Sang-Hun, Jin Wu, Alex Marshall and Jenny Gross.