Coronavirus digest: Germany accepts COVID patients from Slovakia | News | DW | 06.03.2021
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Coronavirus digest: Germany accepts COVID patients from Slovakia

A medical plane carrying seriously ill coronavirus patients is expected to land in the western German city of Dortmund later Saturday. Follow DW for the latest.

A coronavirus ward at a German hospital

Germany has agreed to take patients from Slovakia who need ventilator treatment

The western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia has agreed to take COVID-19 patients from Slovakia, according to Bratislava's top diplomat.

A medical plane with patients is expected to land in the city of Dortmund later Saturday.

Germany has joined Poland in helping to ease the pressure on the Slovak health care system, following a request to help treat those patients who need artificial lung ventilation.

Earlier in the latest wave of the pandemic, Germany took seriously ill COVID patients from neighboring France and the Netherlands.

DW has an overview of other major COVID developments around the world.

Watch video 00:53

COVID-19: How the pandemic began in Europe

Americas

In the United States, the state of California has lifted some virus restrictions on outdoor sports and entertainment venues from April 1, allowing for the reopening of theme parks like Disneyland. The new rules will also allow fans to attend games on Major League Baseball's opening day. 

The rules only apply to people living in California. Organizers are not allowed to sell tickets to those living out of state.

Movie theaters in New York City also reopened on Friday, after being closed for nearly a year. 

Canada has authorized the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, making it the fourth COVID-19 shot on the approved list after the AstraZeneca, BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna jabs. It's the first single-dose coronavirus vaccine to be authorized in Canada.

The latest clinical data found that the J&J jab was 85% protective against severe COVID-19 in testing that took place across three continents while new virus variants were spreading.

While the Moderna and BioNTech-Pfizer shots reported higher efficacy, the data reported before the newer, more transmissible mutations took the world by storm.

Protesters took to the streets in northern Argentina to demonstrate against new virus-related restrictions on movement. The region is returning to phase one curfews with all non-essential businesses in Formosa closed and traffic to be severely restricted.

Police fired rubber bullets and used tear gas to disperse the protesters.

Venezuela's leader Nicolas Maduro has received a first shot of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. The country began immunizing its healthcare workers on February 18, after receiving the first shipment of the Sputnik vaccine.

"I am vaccinated," said Maduro. In jest, he added that he should now be able to speak Russian.

Europe

Germany's sluggish vaccine roll out will speed up significantly in April, according to the head of the country's Standing Committee on Vaccination (Stiko). Thomas Mertens told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper that he understood people's frustration with the slow pace of vaccination in Germany, but that the main cause of this was the shortage of vaccines.

Self-testing kits have gone on sale in supermarkets across the country as part of a new coronavirus lockdown plan announced earlier this week, but sold out within hours.

Watch video 00:29

Germans react to government virus strategy

In the northern German port of Bremerhaven, hundreds of ship-building workers are now stuck on a brand-new luxury cruise ship after two were diagnosed with the coronavirus. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for vigilance against deteriorating conditions for women due to the pandemic ahead of International Women's Day. She says the crisis should not lead to "a relapse into old gender roles." Merkel said that women are forced to balance homeschooling, childcare, and their own jobs, and that women are particularly burdened as they represent a substantial proportion of care workers.

Some 9,557 new coronavirus cases have been reported in the past 24 hours, and another 300 deaths, according to the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases.

Italy has seen its highest annual death toll since World War II with 746,146 deaths recorded in 2020. This figure is nearly 15% higher than the average recorded for the years 2015 to 2019, statistics office ISTAT announced.  

Hungary's mass vaccination drive is facing a hurdle after a bureaucratic glitch disrupted the distribution of AstraZeneca's coronavirus shot. The delay is set to affect tens of thousands of people.

"We will apologize to them in a text message," Istvan Gyorgy, a state secretary in charge of the vaccination working group, told a press briefing. Around 74,000 people were due to get a dose over the weekend.

France has extended a weekend lockdown in the northern part of the country as authorities stepped up a mass vaccination campaign. Pas-de-Calais joined Dunkirk and Nice in being put under lockdown.

Police in Paris also had to clear the banks of the Seine after a large number of people gathered to bask under the spring sun.

Protests in Europe

In Austria, thousands of people gathered in the capital Vienna to demonstrate against lockdown measures, having been bused into the city. About 200 counter-demonstrators gathered for a bicycle rally. 

At a similar event in Sweden, one police officer has been hospitalized after clashes at a protest in Stockholm. Hundreds were dispersed by authorities after they gathered in central Stockholm to protest virus restrictions.

According to local media, the protesters included some far-right activists, several people who oppose vaccines and some families with children.

Hundreds of people in the German city of Leipzig protested against the government's coronavirus restrictions with several motorcades on Saturday. Around 350 vehicles took part in the protests, which was a lower turnout than what was expected.

A number of counter-protests also took place in the Leipzig city area, with nearly a thousand people taking part in bicycle rallies and dozens of vehicles taking part in a motorcycle demonstration.

Africa

African officials warned against "selfishness" on the part of rich nations as the continent welcomed doses from the global COVAX initiative to vaccinate a part of its population.

"Rich countries should not be so selfish," said Pontiano Kaleebu, head of the Uganda Virus Research Institute. "It's a concern, and everyone is talking about it."

This came as Uganda received its first doses — 864,000 shots for a nation of over 45 million people. Uganda is expecting a total of 18 million doses, but the timeline of delivery remains unknown.

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has been given his first vaccine dose, one day after the rollout of vaccines. Buhari encouraged all Nigerians to have the vaccine, despite the security and logical challenges in the country.

Asia

Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was administered the first shot of the coronavirus vaccine in the north Indian hill town of Dharmsala on Saturday.

"In order to prevent some serious problems, this injection is very, very helpful,'' the 85-year-old said, urging others to come forward to be vaccinated. He was given the Covishield vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and manufactured by India's Serum Institute.

The federal government in India has urged local governments to prioritize vaccine roll-outs in areas with high levels of infection. More than 60 districts across New Delhi, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Chandigarh, "continue to be of concern", according to the government.

Middle East

Saudi Arabia is set to ease some coronavirus-related restrictions from March 7. The announcement affects entertainment and events, allowing for the reopening of cinemas, gyms and sports centers.

The government will increase inspection campaigns to ensure that venues adhere to the measures that are still in place, for example, restricting the number of people in social events to 20 only.

aw, see/rs (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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