cloudy.png
Thursday June 24th, 2021 8:13AM

Germany enters harder lockdown as virus deaths hit new high

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BERLIN (AP) — Germany reported a record level of coronavirus deaths as it entered a harder lockdown Wednesday, closing shops and schools to try to bring down stubbornly high new daily infections.

The country recorded 179.8 virus infections per 100,000 residents over the last seven days, a new high and significantly more than the 149 per 100,000 reported a week ago by the Robert Koch Institute, the country's disease control center.

It also blew past its previous daily death toll, with Germany's 16 states reporting that 952 more people had died of the virus, the institute said. That was far greater than the previous daily record set Friday of 598 deaths, although it included two days of figures from the hard-hit eastern state of Saxony, which did not report Tuesday. It brought the country's overall pandemic death toll to 23,427.

“It's as if the virus wanted to remind us how important what we're now doing is,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said of the surge in deaths being reported on the day new restrictions come into force.

Faced with exponentially increasing cases in October, Germany implemented a “lockdown light” at the start of November, which closed bars and restaurants but left shops open. The measures slowed the weekly increase in new infections but didn't bring them down, prompting officials to take more drastic measures.

In addition to closing shops and moving children to remote learning for the few days before the Christmas holidays, private gatherings are being limited to two households with a maximum of five people, among other things.

On Berlin's upscale Kurfuerstendamm boulevard, Berlin resident Noury Oeddin looked around at the empty streets and shuttered shops in disbelief as the lockdown measures announced Sunday were put into force.

“It's very strange, it's not normal,” said the 46-year-old bakery manager. "I don’t know what these politicians want to do — they left it all open for too long, and now all of a sudden we had to quickly buy everything in two days. We people don’t know what they are doing anymore.”

Retiree Hans-Joachim Pauer said, however, that the measures were understandable.

“This is certainly harmful to the economy, but what alternative do we have?” the 71-year-old asked. “Certainly it is not good.”

Grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, banks and other businesses providing services deemed essential — including Christmas tree vendors — can remain open.

In Saxony, where the virus is spreading most rapidly in Germany at the moment, hospitals are filling up. The state's governor said more drastic restrictions might be necessary, calling it “pure poison” when too many people were still going out and about.

The restrictions are expected last until at least Jan. 10 but enjoy wide support, with the latest polls showing more than 80% of Germans approve of the lockdown measures or think they should be stricter.

“This year, I don't think Christmas is that important, in the face of the facts we have in society right now,” said Stella Kretschmer, who was picking up a prescription in the western city of Cologne.

The 27-year-old student said she was in favor of shops being closed down.

“For me, consumption is not the most important thing,” she said, adding, however, that she does “feel sorry for the people who ... have to fear for their jobs.”

Germany was widely praised for slowing the spread of its outbreak in the spring, but as people grew lax with distancing and mask rules over the summer the numbers of cases started to climb again.

While daily new cases peaked in March at about 6,000, they are now more than four times that level, with 27,728 new cases reported Wednesday by the Robert Koch Institute.

German officials have pressed the European Union's regulatory agency hard to speed up its approval of a coronavirus vaccine, and the European Medicines Agency has scheduled a meeting Monday on that. With vaccinations expected to start before year's end, German officials have urged people to stay patient and respect the regulations over the holidays.

Spahn, the health minister, said Germany was ready and could begin vaccinations within two to four days of the EMA's approval.

“These are difficult days and at the same time they're days that give rise to optimism, to hope, because there's light at the end of the tunnel,” he told lawmakers. “Vaccination is the way out of this pandemic and we are well prepared for this path.”

Authorities in Berlin said late Wednesday that Spahn had informed health officials from the country’s 16 states about progress in getting regulatory approval for the vaccine made by BioNTech and Pfizer, and plans for shipping it.

“The states conclude from this that Dec. 27 will be the start date for vaccinations,” Berlin’s health office said in a statement. “In particular, the vaccination should begin in nursing homes.”

___

Dorothee Thiesing and Frank Jordans contributed to this story.

___

Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Health, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Germany enters harder lockdown as virus deaths hit new high
Germany has hit a new record level of deaths from the coronavirus as it enters a harder lockdown, closing shops and schools to try to bring down stubbornly high new cases
4:45AM ( 3 minutes ago )
Verdicts due for 14 over links to Jan. 2015 Paris attackers
The terrorism trial in Paris of 14 people linked to the January 2015 attacks on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket is ending
4:34AM ( 14 minutes ago )
World stocks advance after stimulus talks lift Wall St
Shares have risen in Europe and Asia after revived hopes for more aid for the U.S. economy broke a four-day losing streak on Wall Street
4:06AM ( 42 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Deaths rising in Pakistan with Karachi hard hit
The number of daily COVID-19 deaths in Pakistan has crossed 100 for the first time in five months with the virus spreading fast in the financial capital of Karachi
2:04AM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: S. Korea reports new daily high, mulls new steps
South Korea has reported another high in daily coronavirus increases as health officials face growing pressure to enforce stricter social distancing to slow the spread in the capital area
1:44AM ( 3 hours ago )
Negotiators report progress on long-delayed COVID aid bill
Top Capitol Hill Republicans are laboring to keep the price tag for a long-delayed COVID-19 aid package in check, seeking to prevail in a battle over help for state and local governments, while capping the cost of bonus jobless benefits and direct payments sought by Democrats
10:36PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Health
China prepares for return of lunar probe with moon samples
Chinese ground crews are standing by for the return of a lunar probe bringing back the first fresh samples of rock and debris from the moon in more than 45 years
12:35AM ( 4 hours ago )
Australia to seek WTO intervention in barley row with China
Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says Australia will ask the World Trade Organization to intervene in its dispute with China over barley and expects other nations to become involved in the case
11:25PM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: Kansas mayor resigns over mask mandate threats
A western Kansas mayor says she is resigning, effective immediately, because of threats she has received after she publicly supported a mask mandate
8:17PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP World News
Asian stocks advance after stimulus talks lift Wall St
Shares have risen in Asia after revived hopes for more aid for the U.S. economy broke a four-day losing streak on Wall Street
1:53AM ( 2 hours ago )
Florida might shut down bay known nationally for its oysters
A Florida agency is expected to shut down oyster harvesting in Apalachicola Bay through the end of 2025 on Wednesday
1:12AM ( 3 hours ago )
Trump asking about special prosecutor for Hunter Biden
President Donald Trump is considering pushing to have a special counsel appointed to advance the federal tax investigation into the son of President-elect Joe Biden
12:54AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business
Verdicts due for 14 over links to Jan. 2015 Paris attackers
The terrorism trial in Paris of 14 people linked to the January 2015 attacks on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket is ending
4:34AM ( 16 minutes ago )
World stocks advance after stimulus talks lift Wall St
Shares have risen in Europe and Asia after revived hopes for more aid for the U.S. economy broke a four-day losing streak on Wall Street
4:06AM ( 44 minutes ago )
EU chief von der Leyen sees progress on Brexit talks
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says she is seeing clear progress in the trade talks with the United Kingdom, turning a post-Brexit deal from a fleeting possibility into an ever more realistic possibility
4:00AM ( 49 minutes ago )
Virus shuts many UK theaters but online the show goes on
When Andrew Lincoln steps onstage at London’s Old Vic Theatre as Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” he looks out on an empty auditorium
3:47AM ( 1 hour ago )
Shackleton expedition artifacts to be donated to UK museums
A sledge and flag used in one of explorer Ernest Shackleton’s famed expeditions to the South Pole have been bought by a British government-funded body to keep the treasured artefacts in the U.K. The National Heritage Memorial Fund, a government-funded body, said Wednesday it paid 204,000 pounds ($274,000) to help purchase the two items, which will be donated to two English museums
3:47AM ( 1 hour ago )