The coronavirus variant discovered in Great Britain is spreading across the continent. In many countries the situation is unclear. Because too few countries analyze positive corona tests.
Before the EU video summit, holiday countries like Malta, Greece and Spain in particular had one for one Uniform vaccination certificate and related advantages such as free travel for vaccinated people advertised. Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected this discussion as premature.
EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday evening that we had to differentiate: The documentation of the vaccination was one medical need, and with the yellow vaccination certificate from the World Health Organization, there is a worldwide standard. The second question is what the certificate can be used for. This has to be weighed carefully, as some things are still unclear.
So it is not clear whether vaccinated persons continue to transmit the virus and how long the vaccination protection lasts, said von der Leyen. A political question is how to protect the rights of those who have not yet been vaccinated or who have a legitimate reason not to be vaccinated. People’s personal data must also be protected. When the time is ripe, a detailed debate will have to be held and consensus found among the EU countries.
UPDATE ON THE SITUATION – New reports, new measures, highlights: Le Figaro takes stock of the latest developments in the Covid-19 pandemic around the world.
As Joe Biden’s arrival at the White House signals the return of the United States to the World Health Organization (WHO), the world is taking new steps to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus and of its new variants: confinements in China, curfew in the Netherlands … In Europe, new border controls are being discussed. To not miss any of the latest highlights related to Covid-19, Le Figaro takes stock of the latest news from this Thursday, January 21.
Invested in Washington on Wednesday, Joe Biden reaffirmed that the fight against the coronavirus was among the country’s priorities. Among the first measures, he ordered the return of the United States to the World Health Organization (WHO), after the withdrawal decided by his predecessor Donald Trump in 2020, and signed a decree making the wearing of the mask and mandatory physical distancing for US officials working in federal buildings.
The coronavirus toll in the United States exceeds that of American soldiers killed in World War II. There have been 405,400 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The most bereaved country in absolute terms, the United States is also the most affected country in terms of the number of cases (more than 24.4 million).
Chinese authorities on Wednesday reported the first cases in Beijing linked to the British variant. Beijing announced the strict containment of five residences in Daxing, a suburb in the south of the capital, after the discovery of new cases. This confinement concerns a few tens of thousands of people, a small fraction of the 21 million inhabitants of the city. Several hundred patients have been identified in recent weeks in the north and northeast of the country, where millions of people have been confined or must restrict their movements.
In France, it will still not be possible to go downhill skiing in the country. The authorities decided on Wednesday not to reopen the ski lifts on February 1. During a press conference organized by telephone this Wednesday, January 20, the Secretary of State for Tourism extinguished the meager hope of winter sport professionals. “There will be no reopening of ski resorts on February 1, and the prospect of reopening in mid or late February seems highly unlikely.», He affirmed.
In Europe, the Twenty-Seven meet Thursday evening for a new summit by videoconference devoted to the fight against the pandemic, at a time when several countries, like Germany, toughen their measures to try to counter the spread of the new strains. Response to variants, acceleration of vaccination and establishment of a common certificate are on the agenda. The French government also said on Wednesday it was in favor of health controls at intra-European borders, an option that German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not rule out on Tuesday.
Coronavirus mutations continue to spread around the world. The British variant, much more contagious than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, is now identified in 60 countries and territories, according to the WHO. The South African variant spreads more slowly and is present in 23 countries and territories, 3 more than on 12 January. But it risks posing another problem: several new studies seem to confirm that, unlike the English variant, it risks at least partially escaping the expected protection of vaccines against Covid-19. WHO has also indicated that it is monitoring the dissemination of two other variants that have appeared in Brazil, P1, reported in the state of Amazonas and also detected in Japan in four people from Brazil, and another variant.
The Netherlands have announced a curfew from Friday until February 10, which will run from 8:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. The measure should make it possible to reduce home contact and combat the phenomenon of clandestine parties, according to the Minister of Health, Hugo de Jonge. Until now, the Dutch could accommodate two people over the age of 13 in their homes. This number is reduced to a single contact person.
To date, according to an AFP count, at least 60 countries or territories, comprising 61% of the world’s population, have launched their vaccination campaign. But 11 countries concentrate 90% of the injected doses. The Russian authorities have filed an application for registration in the European Union of the Sputnik V vaccine and are awaiting a “first examination (of the documents sent, note) in February”. In Turkey, the authorities announced that they had vaccinated more than a million people in less than a week.
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The UK hit a new daily death record from Covid-19, with 1,820 dead on Wednesday. The United Kingdom announced that it will close its borders to arrivals from all countries in South America and Portugal as of Wednesday due to the new Brazilian variant. In Ireland, the famous St. Patrick’s Day Parade scheduled for March 17 in Dublin has been canceled for the second year in a row.
Despite the global health situation, officials for the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled for this summer after being postponed last year, said they were “inflexible” on this new calendar, not excluding, however, that the competitions are held without spectators.
In Manaus, Amazonas state, doctors are struck by the virulence of the second wave, which has overwhelmed hospitals, facing a dramatic shortage of oxygen, and question the link with the Brazilian variants . The rapidity of the deterioration of the state of health of the patients is surprising.
The pandemic has killed a total of at least 2,058,226 people around the world, according to an AFP report on Wednesday.
Because of the ongoing exceptional situation in schools, the Education Minister of the Länder agreed on a common framework for exams and school year repetitions in the current school year. In a switching conference on Thursday, they agreed that also the qualifications acquired in this Corona school year “are equivalent to those of earlier and later years and be mutually recognized ”.
The joint decision also confirms that the Abitur exams should take place. The federal states should also ensure that qualifications can be obtained in lower secondary education, such as secondary school or secondary school qualifications.
Countries can also give students the option of To repeat the school year without this being counted towards the length of stay – “especially in the upper secondary school”, as it is called.
EThe man from the Black Forest survived the first corona infection, but he did not survive the second. The case is tragic, but experts say it is no cause for concern. “This is an exceptional case, after which I would not ring any alarm bells,” said Carsten Watzl, Secretary General of the German Society for Immunology, on Thursday of the dpa.
Reinfections – i.e. an infection after an infection that has already been passed through – are rare, but also not completely excluded. The known cases showed that infected people did not always build up sufficient immunity with an initial illness and could become infected again, said the immunologist from the Leibniz Institute for Labor Research at TU Dortmund. How many antibodies an infected person develops is usually related to the severity of the disease. For example, those who show no symptoms often produce few or no antibodies.
Only a few dozen cases of reinfection are known worldwide. Most of the registered reinfections were also milder than the first infections, although there were also a few exceptions, according to the British Medical Journal (BMJ). “It is almost certain that the immunity does not last long after a mild initial infection,” the BMJ quotes the medical professor Paul Hunter from the British University of East Anglia. The bottom line is that a new infection is usually less difficult because the immune system is already equipped.
According to the State Health Office, a 72-year-old Covid patient from the Freudenstadt district who had previously recovered from an illness with the virus had died in Baden-Württemberg. According to the LGA, it is the first such case in the southwest and possibly also in Germany that has become known. According to the LGA, it is a man who fell ill with Covid-19 for the first time in April 2020. At the end of December 2020, the man was infected again, which was found in early January.
The chance that a person will contract the coronavirus a second time has been very low, said Stefan Brockmann, who heads the health protection and epidemiology department at the state health office. There are isolated cases in which the patients did not develop enough antibodies the first time. The man from the Black Forest had previous illnesses. It is therefore likely that he did not develop strong immunity when he was first infected.
The Robert Koch Institute had recently reported “only a few cases” and pointed out that there were still no final answers to many questions. Studies available to date have provided evidence that reinfections are possible.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, scientists have repeatedly examined the blood of people who were once infected for antibodies and other antibodies. The longer Corona has been rampant, the more you can say about the course. So far it seems certain, among other things, that the natural immune protection wanes over time as a result of infections. “Only the vaccination will get us out of this pandemic,” said Watzl.
According to a report by WDR, NDR and “Süddeutscher Zeitung”, the Freudenstadt case is likely to be only the third known death worldwide after a corona reinfection. An 89-year-old Dutch woman died in October, although she was immunocompromised. In December, an Israeli newspaper reported that a 74-year-old resident of an old people’s home there became infected again and died after surviving the initial infection in August.
According to the current plans of the state ministers of education, the final exams at schools and vocational schools should also take place as planned in this Corona school year. In addition, all qualifications in the countries should be mutually recognized and classified as equivalent to those of other years. The ministers agreed on this in a switching conference on Thursday.
“The Conference of Ministers of Education confirms that the Abitur exams will also take place in 2021,” said the joint resolution. The common Abitur task pool should also be used for this, “if there are no compelling reasons to the contrary”.
The federal states also promise to ensure that secondary school leaving certificates, such as secondary school and secondary school leaving certificates, can be obtained. Restricting it says here: “depending on the infection rate” and “while maintaining the regular standards and observing the country’s own regulations”. Regarding professional qualifications, it says: “At vocational schools, examinations are to be carried out as far as the infection process allows.”
Overall, the ministers agree that exams can also take place in closed schools, “provided there are no conflicting state regulations”. Exams were also held in closed schools last spring. In exceptional cases, oral exams should also be possible this time via video.
The KMK decision also takes up the debate on “staying seated”. The German Teachers’ Association had repeatedly demanded that pupils with learning difficulties should be offered a voluntary repetition of the school year without evaluating this as “staying down”. In the KMK agreement it is now said that the federal states could give pupils the opportunity to repeat the school year without this being counted towards the length of stay – “especially in the upper secondary school”. The voluntary repetition of a school year is already possible today. In some places, however, it is rated as “staying seated”. This means that a student may have to leave school if he repeats voluntarily and his performance at the end of the repeat year is insufficient for a transfer.
Basically, the appointment of the ministers of education is a legally non-binding common framework. The federal states are responsible for school policy themselves and ultimately decide independently how they should proceed in the pandemic.
The federal state of Brandenburg takes a different approach to daycare centers. In contrast to the joint decisions of the federal and state governments on Tuesday, the childcare facilities there will not initially be closed. “We will keep the daycare centers in the country open until further notice,” said Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD) in Potsdam. The daycare centers are only supposed to close in rural districts and urban districts with an incidence of more than 300 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in one week.
Schools, on the other hand, remain closed according to the federal-state resolutions. There are still exceptions for final classes and special needs schools. The country is also following the agreed line with the other measures. The lockdown will be extended until February 14th, medical face masks such as FFP2 or surgical masks are to be worn in buses, trains and shops as well as in the parking lots in front of them and in office and administrative buildings. Employers are obliged to enable their employees to work from home as far as possible.
According to the federal government, volunteers should receive an hourly remuneration of 20 euros for the acceptance of corona rapid tests in old people’s and nursing homes. That said a government spokeswoman for Düsseldorf Rheinische Post. “The Federal Employment Agency will set up a website and a hotline that anyone interested can use to report,” she said.
If possible, the volunteers should have previous medical knowledge or experience in a nursing area. But that is not absolutely necessary. You will be trained beforehand by the German Red Cross or another aid organization. “The people should also be between 18 and 70 years old and have German language skills,” said the spokeswoman. “They should be in good physical condition so that they can work in personal protective equipment, including an FFP-2 and 3 respirator, protective goggles, and disposable gloves.”
In Germany, the number of people infected with corona increases by 20,398 to 2,088,400. The Robert Koch Institute reports 1,013 new deaths. This increases the number of people who have died after being infected to 49,783.
The so-called seven-day incidence has thus decreased significantly. The RKI gave it on Thursday morning as 119.0 – the lowest value since November 1st. The seven-day incidence, i.e. the number of new infections reported to the health authorities per 100,000 inhabitants and week, had fallen continuously over the past ten days. It had reached its previous high just before Christmas (December 22nd) with 197.6. However, the differences between the federal states are large: Thuringia has the highest incidences with 225.0 and Brandenburg with 203.3. Bremen has the lowest value with 76.6.
The state of North Rhine-Westphalia has imposed an immediate vaccination ban in hospitals that are supplied with Biontech vaccine. The reason are delivery problems, according to an email from the Ministry of Health.
It had previously been announced that the start of vaccinations for people over 80 who live at home would be postponed due to the delayed deliveries. The 53 vaccination centers in the state will only start operating on February 8th – a week later than previously planned, said a spokesman for the NRW Ministry of Health.
Federal Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil has presented the new Corona rules with regard to home office and other regulations in the workplace. Heil said that in order to prevent the spread of the more dangerous virus variants and thus a complete lockdown that would be detrimental to the economy, it was also important to act “quickly and preventively” with regard to occupational safety. The working world must also make its contribution to combating the pandemic.
In the explanations to the regulation, his ministry speaks of a “duty” to offer home offices “as far as this is possible according to operational conditions”. Heil warned employers against arbitrarily canceling the option to work from home and announced controls. “They have to say clearly where it is possible – and also where it is not possible. Where it is possible, they should make it possible and that is checked by the occupational safety and health authorities in case of doubt.”
Heil emphasized, however, that the current regulation should not be confused with the debate on an enforceable right to work from home, but a measure of occupational safety in the pandemic. The regulation does not focus on sanctions against employers. In an emergency, however, known means would be available as punitive measures to sanction violations of occupational safety measures that would presumably be considered administrative offenses. No one could be forced to work in the home office with this requirement, Heil also said.
The associated ordinance states that employers must offer employees in the case of office work or comparable activities to carry out these activities in their home if there are no compelling operational reasons to the contrary. The home office requirement is no longer linked to a specific incidence value, as provided for in a previous draft regulation. The regulations are expected to come into force next Wednesday and initially apply until March 15. Heil urged the employees to actually accept home office offers. There are studies with different statements on how common home work is currently. However, it has been shown in other countries that having to work from home can go a long way towards stopping the spread of the virus. In Germany, however, there is still “room for improvement”.
The “Corona-Arbeitsschutzverordnung” also provides for a limitation of the number of employees in closed rooms and a requirement for employers to provide “medical face masks”, “FFP2 masks” or “comparable respiratory masks” if it is not possible to maintain distances .
The virologist Christian Drosten assumes that the more contagious Corona variant, which was first discovered in Great Britain, has so far been less widespread in Germany. He now sees a time window to nip the spread in this country in the bud, said the expert from the Berlin Charité on Tuesday in the podcast “Coronavirus Update” at NDR-Info. “We have to do something now if we want to influence the germination of the mutant in Germany. You can’t do it well later, then it will be too late.” In the UK, lockdown measures have already shown effects.
Based on the data now available, the virologist can assume that the variant is actually more contagious than previous forms. “We have the results on the table. We are dealing with a mutant that is spreading faster. The quantitative extent, that really has to be discussed again.” According to Drosten, the variant is a smaller percentage more contagious than initially assumed – at the beginning there was talk of 50 to 70 percent compared to previous forms.
After a strong spread of certain Corona variants was recently observed abroad, there is now an increasing search for them in Germany. But this does not apply to every sample. Drosten assumes that cases have been introduced over the Christmas period. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), variant B.1.1.7 discovered in Great Britain has so far been detected in 20 cases in six federal states. Drosten said that data was still being collected and that more could be said about the situation in this country in the coming weeks. According to his estimate, the mutant makes up about one percent or less of the cases in Germany.
In general, Drosten emphasized that virus mutations are normal and are not necessarily associated with relevant changes in properties. Of course, he does not know all Corona variants either. Regarding the slight decrease in the number of corona infections in Germany, the virologist said that the trend was probably “slowly real” and no longer distorted by the holidays. The number of cases could not only grow exponentially, but could also decrease exponentially through containment measures, affirmed Drosten.
In Portugal, the more contagious variant of the coronavirus discovered in the UK is spreading rapidly. About 20 percent of all new cases of infection were due to this variant, said Health Minister Marta Temido to the broadcaster RTP. The share could rise to 60 percent next week. The national health system is already on the verge of collapse. There is a lack of beds for intensive care and nursing staff to take care of corona patients. “The health system cannot handle this level of infection,” said Temido.
On Wednesday, both the new infections reported daily and the number of deaths had peaked. Almost 14,700 cases of infection were reported within 24 hours, an increase of 40 percent over the previous day. In addition, 219 other deaths related to the virus were registered, also a high.
In the country with its ten million inhabitants, the government imposed a 15-day lockdown on Friday last week in order to contain the spread of the virus. All non-essential shops and facilities are closed. People are encouraged to stay at home.
However, contrary to harsh criticism, the government decided to leave the schools open. The government will decide in the course of Thursday whether these should also be closed, said Temido. In Portugal’s neighboring country Spain, the number of infections has recently increased significantly.
Australia has not reported any new local coronavirus infections for the fourth day in a row. Only eight cases have been reported within the past seven days, according to the Ministry of Health.
The total number of infections is 28,740, 186 patients are currently still ill. The death toll is just over 900. The Johns Hopkins University numbers, however, look a little different. The day before yesterday, nine new infections were counted there.
Australia’s strategy is first and foremost to isolate itself from the rest of the world. If possible, non-Australians should not enter the country at all; exceptions are only available for certain groups such as citizens from New Zealand or the crew of aircraft and ships. Anyone who is otherwise allowed to enter must present a current negative Corona-PCR test. A quarantine of 14 days is required after arrival, which must be spent in a hotel at the airport. People in transit are also allowed to enter, but they are only allowed to stay in the country for 72 hours – in quarantine.
The restrictions within the Australian states are otherwise no greater than in many other countries. Although masks have to be worn in many places, the number of people who are allowed to meet is relatively high. Further relaxation of the measures is currently being discussed. The head of government of the most populous state of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, signaled about im Sydney Morning Herald a relaxation of the restrictions there.
Acting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has proposed a night curfew. It should last from 8:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. and initially be limited to February 9th. Otherwise, the infection situation can no longer be brought under control, said Rutte on Wednesday with a view to the mutated corona virus from Great Britain, which is spreading in the Netherlands, and other variants. Parliament has yet to approve the curfew. Anyone who would then be found without a special permit risked a fine of 95 euros, said Rutte.
For the Dutch, the exit ban is a politically sensitive issue. The memory of the nightly “lock time” with which the hated German occupiers tormented the country during the Second World War is still very much alive. Prime Minister Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge described the possible consequences if the applicable measures were not tightened. “I don’t want a curfew either, nobody wants that, but we believe it has to be,” said Rutte. “We see a third wave coming our way,” said de Jonge. The British variant will dominate the country in March or April, it is currently spreading with an R number of 1.3.
Citizens are also “strongly advised” not to receive more than one visitor a day at home. Entry from Great Britain, South Africa, Brazil and several other countries will be banned from Saturday.
Russia is striving to register its corona vaccine “Sputnik V” in the European Union. A corresponding application had been submitted to the European Medicines Agency (EMA), announced the state direct investment fund in Moscow on Wednesday, which is co-financing the vaccine and marketing it abroad. An exam is expected in the coming month. As early as this Friday, Russia wants to have the quality, safety and effectiveness of “Sputnik V” assessed by the World Health Organization.
The active ingredient was the first in the world to be released for broad use in the population in mid-August, although important tests had passed by then. This triggered international criticism. No independent studies are known to date. In Russia, vaccinations with “Sputnik V” have been running since the beginning of December – parallel to test phase III. According to the Russian government, 60 percent of the population should be vaccinated by summer. To date, more than 1.5 million people have received the vaccine. With “EpiVacCorona” the Russian government has already released a second vaccine. According to the authorities, mass production will begin next month. Therefore, only “Sputnik V” will be injected until March.
Russia also sells the vaccine abroad – including to Hungary, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in Central Asia. According to Russian information, it will also be used in Argentina, Bolivia, Serbia and Venezuela after an emergency approval. According to experts, various vaccines are necessary to fight the pandemic around the world.
On the evening before their swearing in, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris held a memorial ceremony to remember the hundreds of thousands of corona deaths in the country. “In order to heal, we have to remember,” said the future US president on Tuesday evening (local time) at the ceremony in the capital Washington. Future Vice President Harris said that Americans had mourned alone for many months. That evening the nation mourned together. She hopes that the country will emerge from the crisis with the knowledge to appreciate the simple moments more and to open up to one another.
Biden and Harris are due to be sworn in on Wednesday afternoon in Washington. The reflection pool at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington was illuminated for the ceremony, which the two of them attended with their spouses. There were also light installations on public buildings in other US cities in memory of the victims of the pandemic in the USA.
On Tuesday, the United States passed another gloomy milestone in the corona crisis: More than 400,000 people have died there since the beginning of the pandemic after being infected with the Sars-CoV-2 pathogen, according to new data from the Johns Hopkins University of Baltimore. In the past few days, more than 3,000 new deaths and more than 200,000 new infections within 24 hours have been recorded. In absolute terms, the United States is the country with the highest number of recorded infections and deaths. Biden has made containing the pandemic one of the top priorities of his future government.
The new US President Joe Biden wants to maintain the entry bans for passengers from Europe and thus repeal an order by the outgoing President Donald Trump. Trump had ordered an end to the entry ban for foreigners from large parts of Europe and from Brazil to the USA. The restrictions on travelers from the Schengen area, Great Britain and Ireland as well as Brazil would be lifted on January 26, according to a ruling published by the White House on Monday evening (local time). Trump pointed out that from this date on, proof of a negative corona test was required on all international flights to the USA before departure.
On medical advice, the government is not planning to lift the entry bans, a spokeswoman for Bidens tweeted on Monday – immediately after Trump announced their cancellation. “With the pandemic worsening and highly contagious varieties spreading around the world, it is not the time to lift restrictions on international travel,” the spokeswoman tweeted.
Trump’s term of office ends this Wednesday with the swearing-in of his successor Joe Biden. Biden has made fighting the pandemic one of its most important immediate goals. The pandemic is still out of control in the US. Since the first case became known about a year ago, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University, more than 24 million coronavirus infections have been detected in the USA. Around 400,000 people were killed.
Trump had imposed the entry ban for foreigners in mid-March 2020 because of the rapid spread of the corona virus in several European countries. Currently, travelers from the Schengen area, Great Britain and Ireland are not allowed to enter the USA with a few exceptions. Trump had also issued strict entry bans for foreigners from China and Iran and recently introduced extensive entry restrictions for people from Brazil. Travel across the US border to the neighboring countries Canada in the north and Mexico in the south are also restricted because of the pandemic.
The US health authority CDC announced last week that a negative corona test for flights to the USA will be mandatory from January 26th. The regulation will apply to all international flights to the USA, regardless of the place of departure and the citizenship or visa of the travelers.
IIn Germany, more than 20,000 new infections with the coronavirus were recorded within one day. As the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced on Thursday morning, citing information from the health authorities, a further 20,398 cases of infection were registered. The total number of proven corona infections in Germany since the beginning of the pandemic rose to 2,088,400.
According to the RKI, 1013 deaths in connection with coronavirus infections were also counted within 24 hours. The total number of corona deaths recorded in Germany increased to 49,783. This includes both people who died directly from the illness caused by the virus and people with previous illnesses who were infected with the coronavirus and for whom the exact cause of death cannot be conclusively proven. The number of people recovered from a corona infection in Germany put the RKI on Thursday at around 1,762,200.
The RKI gave the so-called 7-day incidence on Thursday morning at 119.0 – the lowest value since November 1. The 7-day incidence, i.e. the number of new infections reported to the health authorities per 100,000 inhabitants and week, had fallen continuously over the past ten days. It had reached its previous high just before Christmas (December 22nd) with 197.6. However, the differences between the federal states are large: Thuringia has the highest incidences with 225.0 and Brandenburg with 203.3. Bremen has the lowest value with 76.6.
The federal and state governments are striving to reduce the 7-day incidence to below 50 in order to bring the virus under control and to relieve the health system. When the lockdown measures were extended, Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized that this goal was achievable and urgently needed to protect against the spread of the more infectious virus mutations.