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 A test center employee performs a coronavirus test as she stands in the 'Kurfuerstendamm' shopping road in Berlin, Germany.
Test centers have been performing COVID tests throughout the holiday seasonImage: Michael Sohn/AP Photo/picture alliance

Germany's new COVID measures come into force

December 28, 2021

Private gatherings are to be limited against the surge of the omicron variant. Elsewhere, Turkey, Australia and Argentina have reported record infections. DW has the latest.

https://p.dw.com/p/44tZ5

Contact restrictions came into effect nationwide in Germany on Tuesday, as the country tries to slow the spread of the omicron variant.

Private gatherings are now limited to 10 vaccinated people. Among the unvaccinated, gatherings are limited to a maximum of two people from another household. Nightclubs will be closed and all large events, including football matches, will now be held behind closed doors.

Access to restaurants remains limited to people who can provide proof of vaccination or recovery from a COVID infection.

The regulations are meant to dissuade people from holding and attending large New Year's Eve celebrations

"Now is not the time for parties in large groups," said Chancellor Olaf Scholz last week.

On Monday, thousands of people rallied against the new COVID-19 rules.

The Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases reported 21,080 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday. The death toll rose by 372 to a total of 110,805.

The latest data also showed a sharp spike in omicron infections, with the institute saying 3,218 more people contracted this coronavirus variant in the previous 24 hours.

This increased the still comparatively small total number of omicron cases in Germany by 45%. German officials now believe a total of 10,443 people have been infected with the omicron variant — the first time that the number of omicron infections has reached five digits. Four people have died after being infected with this version of the virus, according to health officials, and 124 people were hospitalized since the variant was first confirmed in Germany in early December.

Omicron cases also more than doubled last week compared to the week before, going from 2,904 cases to 6,257.

 

Is Germany's omicron plan too little, too late?

Here's a look at coronavirus-related news in other parts of the world

Europe

The infection rate in Spain has exceeded 1,000 cases per 100,000 people for the first time, although hospitals are under much less strain than in previous waves of the pandemic.

Greece has announced further restrictions effective from January 3 to 16, targeting mainly nighttime entertainment venues.

New daily infections soared 30% to 26,099 in Turkey on Monday, the country's highest percentage spike this year. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca warned about the increasing spread of the omicron variant, urging Turks to "get your booster done."

Asia

India has given a go-ahead for the emergency use of Merck's COVID-19 pill molnupiravir, and Serum Institute of India's Covovax and Biological E's Corbevax vaccines, the country's health minister said on Tuesday.

Thirteen companies will manufacture molnupiravir for restricted use under emergency situations for treatment of adult patients with COVID-19, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said in a Twitter announcement.

How is India responding to the omicron threat? DW's Nimisha Jaiswal reports

In Indonesia, health authorities have started contact tracing after the country detected its first locally transmitted omicron case.

The identified case was that of a 37-year-old man from Medan who had visited Jakarta's central business district earlier this month, Health Ministry official Siti Nadia Tarmizi told the media. The patient had no recent history of foreign travel or contacts with international visitors.

Hong Kong health authorities said the city would tighten quarantine rules for air cargo crew.

The global financial hub has identified several dozen omicron infections via regular testing during quarantine but neither omicron, nor other variants, have spread into the community in recent months.

Malaysia has lifted a travel ban on eight southern African countries that had first reported the omicron variant of the coronvirus, citing the greater spread of the variant worldwide.

The eight countries, which include South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, will remain on a list of nations deemed as high-risk, with travelers from those nations subject to additional restrictions upon arrival, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told reporters.

Middle East

The United Arab Emirates has granted approval for the emergency use of Sinopharm's protein-based COVID-19 shot.

The vaccine will be made available to the public as a booster jab from January, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Americas

Health authorities in the United States have shortened the recommended isolation time for Americans with asymptomatic cases to five days, down from the previous guidance of 10 days.

In Argentina, COVID-19 cases almost doubled on Monday compared to Friday, with 20,263 new infections.

The new infection toll is the country's highest daily figure in nearly six months. However, the government has not said how many new infections are from the omicron variant.

Oceania

Australia on Tuesday saw yet another record rise in coronavirus infections as leaders debated domestic border controls.

The country registered 11,264 new cases, exceeding a record peak the previous day.

Five new deaths were also reported, taking the total reported deaths to 2,200 since the start of the pandemic.

dvv/rt (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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