Germany’s largest state Bavaria announced a lockdown on March 20 to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection, becoming the first region in the country to do so. Bavaria’s premier Markus Söder, who has overshadowed German Chancellor Angela Merkel with his decisive handling of coronavirus outbreak, said that there will be fundamental restrictions on going out starting midnight.
Speaking at a press conference, the 53-year-old German politician said that the lockdown will be for a provisional period of two weeks. Söder added that the administration is not locking Bavarians in but winding down public life almost completely. As per the directive, restaurants will be closed and citizens will not be allowed to meet in groups anywhere outside.
On March 16, Bavaria announced funds worth up to 10 billion euros to help the local government buy stakes in companies struggling due to coronavirus outbreak. Söder said that the fund will allow the government to prevent struggling companies from insolvency.
Germany has reported over 16,000 coronavirus cases and 44 deaths, comparatively fewer than Spain which has reported over 18,000 cases but 831 people have died due to the infection. According to the latest report, over 240,000 people across the world have been confirmed of coronavirus infection and more than 10,000 people have succumbed to it.
Italy has been the worst-hit due to the novel coronavirus as it has overtaken China in death toll with 3,405 deaths. Since China has registered a significant decline in the rate of coronavirus cases, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is working with Chinese suppliers to export protective gears for health workers.
With economies hit hard due to the virus, the World Bank Group has approved an increased $14 billion package to help companies and countries prevent, detect and respond to the rapid spread of COVID-19. The original response package of $12 billion announced on March 3 included $6 billion in financing by the World Bank to strengthen health systems and another $6 billion by IFC to help provide a lifeline for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
“It’s essential that we shorten the time to recovery. This package provides urgent support to businesses and their workers to reduce the financial and economic impact of the spread of COVID-19,” said David Malpass, president of the World Bank Group, in a statement.