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Coronavirus latest: European borders set to reopen despite virus circulation

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In this Monday, June 1, 2020 photo, people walk past a terrace bar with local customers in Barcelona downtown.
In this Monday, June 1, 2020 photo, people walk past a terrace bar with local customers in Barcelona downtown.   -   Copyright  Emilio Morenatti/AP Photo
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Several European countries will reopen borders from June 16 with COVID-19 now seemingly under better control.

They include Germany and Austria. The latter will open up its frontier with Italy, one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe.

Spain will open its borders to international travellers starting on July 1 but restrictions on border crossings with neighbours Portugal and France are set to be lifted on June 22.

Read more: Which European countries have opened their borders ahead of the summer holiday season?

The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is set to be huge.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) expects GDP in the eurozone to fall by more than 9%. It could drop by 11.5% if there is a second wave of COVID-19 infections, it adds.

But although the pandemic has improved significantly across Europe, many countries including France and Spain continue to report hundreds of new daily infections.

Latest coronavirus news

European leaders criticised for handling of coronavirus crisis

Giuseppe Conte will appear before prosecutors in Bergamo, the worst-hit city in Italy with hundreds of daily deaths at the height of the pandemic.

Conte is set to answer questions over his handling of the pandemic after relatives filed complaints over the deaths of family members due to COVID-19.

"Citizens have the right to know and we have an institutional responsibility to answer in all the institutional forums and in front of our citizens even informally sometimes," Conte told reporters on Thursday.

In France, the Paris prosecutor opened an investigation earlier this week into the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Prosecutor Remy Heitz said possible charges against the government include endangering the lives of others, involuntary homicide, failure to assist those in danger, and willingly abstaining from fighting a threat.

This too comes after at least 62 complaints were filed with the prosecutor's office from people impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

'This isn't over,' World Health Organization experts warn

World Health Organization (WHO) experts warned on Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic was still accelerating and that even countries that have managed to suppress their epidemics need to remain vigilant.

"We are seeing an acceleration in many areas and this isn't over," said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead for COVID-19.

"Even in countries that have had the success in suppressing transmission, there is that risk that a resurgence remains," she added.

"If we look at the numbers over the last number of weeks, this pandemic is still evolving," said WHO's director of health emergencies Dr Mike Ryan.

"It is still growing in many parts of the world and we have deep concerns that health systems in some countries are struggling and they are under a huge strain and require our support and our help and our solidarity," he added.

Ahn Young-joon/AP Photo
Workers wearing face masks to help protect against the spread of the new coronavirus stage a rally against the government's labor policy in Seoul, South KoreaAhn Young-joon/AP Photo

South Korean officials warn about virus resurgence

South Korean health officials warned on Thursday about a second wave as the country confirmed 45 additional cases of the virus.

The daily rise has been consistent since May but experts are still warning about the possibility of a fresh spike.

"Considering the quick transmission of COVID-19, there are limits to what we can do with contact tracing alone to slow the spread,” said Yoon Tae-ho, a senior Health Ministry official during a virus briefing on Thursday.

Taeho urged residents to continue to stay home to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The director of Korea's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention Jung Eun-kyeong echoed the warnings on Thursday stating that health officials "chase transmissions after belatedly discovering them.”